The wait is over. Chef and Pit Master Matt Horn will open the doors of his wildly anticipated brick and mortar restaurant Horn Barbecue in Oakland, CA on September 26, 2020. Over the course of the past five years, Horn has built a cult following for his food, including media, food critics, and fellow pit masters and chefs, with fans traveling from all across the country to attend his legendary pop-ups in the Bay Area and beyond. In an age defined by Black Lives Matter and the need for hope in the dark, Horn readily acknowledges his inheritance as a legatee of the grand cuisine of Black pit masters and generations upon generations of unheralded Southern cooks. Horn Barbecue launches in West Oakland, the final destination of the Great Black Migration. It represents the commitment to craft and tradition, community, and excellence. All are welcome.
Horn Barbecue will be open for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery in accordance with Alameda County public health mandates. Horn Barbecue will be following state mandated cleaning and safety protocols.
THE STORY OF HORN BARBECUE
Barbecue is in Matt Horn’s DNA. It’s a cuisine and tradition handed down to him from his ancestors. Matt began his journey in his grandmother’s backyard, where he honed his craft on his grandfather’s barbecue pit. After countless hours of experimentation and hard work, Matt developed and perfected his singular style of “West Coast Barbecue” inspired by Central Texas barbecue, the foodways of the Black South, and the spirit of innovation of his native California. Horn Barbecue began modestly in 2016 at the Tracy Farmers Market. What began as small gatherings quickly transformed into massive pop-ups drawing crowds of over 1,000 people. With each pop-up the legend of Horn Barbecue grew, with guests, many flying in from all across the country, willing to wait over 4 hours for a chance to meet Matt and taste his food. The reward for their wait was a singular culinary experience—beautifully smoked ribs and brisket, hot links that snapped in the ear and on the tongue, and side dishes that recalled generations of love. His co-conspirator in barbecue excellence is Lucille, a 500-gallon offset custom smoker designed and tended by Matt. Dubbed by fellow pit masters and chefs as “the future of barbecue”, Matt and his restaurant are built for the ages.
ON THE MENU
Guests can expect to see many of Horn Barbecue’s highly popular pop-up favorites on the menu, including smoked brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork, spareribs, and turkey, all sold by the pound and served on custom curated Made In sheet pans, specially designed for the restaurant. Along with the classics, Horn and his team will be adding new items including half and whole quartered chickens, homemade hot links, and a variety of sandwiches. A whole hog will be roasted each Saturday, along with oxtails and lamb shoulder on special rotation. As with his pop-ups, Matt Horn will be at the counter hand slicing meat to order. Beyond the meat, Horn Barbecue’s Southern inspired sides include pit beans, collards, black-eyed peas, potato salad, slaw, granny’s potatoes, and corn bread. Desserts, created by Matt’s wife Nina Horn, include banana pudding, bourbon bread pudding, and rum cake. The drink list includes custom-made sodas, sweet tea, and a curated beer and wine menu featuring local breweries and vineyards.
The interior of the restaurant tells the story of Horn Barbecue through photos and media stories. Lining the counter are a row of custom cowhide bar stools, all leading to a large glass wall. Behind the wall is a 750 square foot pit room that houses California’s first indoor smoker. Guests will be able to purchase Matt’s new All-Purpose Spice Rub as well as Horn Barbecue merchandise, including hats and shirts. Ample outdoor dining in a thoughtfully designed seating area will be available on the street directly behind the restaurant. Finally, the drama of the space takes its boldest expression with a hand painted mural by local artist Steven Anderson of a bull facing due North.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Horn Barbecue’s restaurant opening was put on hold, Matt and his team launched the Horn Initiative — a philanthropic effort that takes its lead from Matt and Nina Horn’s lifelong commitment to help those in need by showing love to people through food and serving others with a heart of gratitude. In a time of uncertainty and need, Horn shifted his attention from opening his restaurant to giving back to the community. In two months, the Horn Initiative raised over $20,000, making and serving over 4,000 meals to those most in need through meal giveaway pop-ups and hospital drop offs, feeding families as well as frontline and essential employees working against the pandemic. The Horn Initiative will continue to support the Oakland and larger Bay Area community in the future through serving food and educating the next generation on how to make a positive impact.