Chef Matt Horn has made his mark in Oakland.
With countless articles written about him, this self taught pit master opened Horn BBQ in late 2020 after countless delays. There was a lot of hype regarding Horn BBQ due to the lack of great authentic Texas-style BBQ here so I was excited to try it. Initially, I tried Horn BBQ in January 2021 for takeout as they didn’t offer any onsite seating due to the pandemic. Back then, you could only order somewhat larger quantities of meat so I wasn’t able to try as much variety as I would have liked. Fast forward a year and a half later, they have a large outdoor seating area with picnic tables.
We went on a Sunday during a long weekend and that was definitely a mistake. Even though we got there around 11:30 AM (they open at 11 AM), there was already a line and this line moves slow (we waited around 1.5 hours).
If I were to go back, I would either go during the week or preorder if I was sharing with a large group because waiting in line is torture.
Once inside, you head to the counter where they portion out the meat for you depending on how much you want. They do have some daily specials not listed on the menu such as burnt brisket ends and beef rib.
Since we waited so long we got a lot of food. Was it too much?! Absolutely but yolo. We got brisket, spare ribs (we got pulled pork our first time there), two sausages (pork hot link and jalapeño cheddar link), beef rib (special), coleslaw, potato salad, beans, and mac & cheese (we tried the collard greens last time). If you love BBQ, this is your best bet in the Bay. Everything was pretty damn delicious especially the brisket and spare ribs. I also really enjoyed the mac & cheese which is surprising as I’ve had some really underseasoned versions.
We had a lot of leftovers and gave it to our foodie friend who also loves Horn BBQ. While Horn BBQ isn’t cheap by any means, it really is the best BBQ in the area where a lot of care and love are put into the cooking and you can taste that so my rating is an 8.5/10.
Chef Matt’s second restaurant that opened earlier this year is Kowbird and it’s walking distance from Horn BBQ. Here fried chicken reigns supreme! The menu is concise with a few different fried chicken sandwiches, wings, fries, and desserts.
We got two different sandwiches: southern bird (the original with pickles and bird sauce) and honey bird (honey butter sauce, pickled mustard seeds, and pickles). Both were stellar but I preferred the honey bird as it was dripping in that deletable honey butter sauce. While both fried chickens were quite dark in color (I probably would have cooked them a little less), they did not taste burnt at all. We also got an order of the dirty fries (chopped chicken, grilled onions, and bird sauce) which was also very tasty.
If I’m ever craving a fried chicken sandwich again, I would most certainly go back and get the honey bird so my rating is an 8/10. Also their lemonade was spot on!