Good BBQ is often something you have to travel for. Even in Texas, all the best ‘cue is generally a car ride away. But the way we see it, the anticipation built from a little bit of travel is a good thing. The drive, the sweet smoky aroma upon entry, the line, and then finally confronting the beautiful, massive tray of BBQ before your face is all part of the experience. Well New Yorkers, it’s time to put that friend with a car to good use. You need a ride to Red Hook.
We got really excited earlier this month after discovering that the Texas-style BBQ at Morgan’s in Prospect Heights is the real deal. That spot, operated by a guy who used to run the pit at the Austin’s Franklin Barbeque gets the job done in a big way. Now we’ve got another Brooklyn BBQ joint in the mix, and we’re here to tell you that Hometown is the real deal too. Hometown Bar-B-Que’s New York bred pitmaster Bill Durney doesn’t come with the same Texas resume that Morgan’s does. He did, however, learn to smoke meats from some of the greats. And he’s now ushered in the first New York BBQ operation that truly nails the essence of Texas ‘cue.
First off, this is a Texas-sized restaurant. You could literally fit every other NYC BBQ restaurant inside of Hometown. This huge two barn dust hall is filled with big bars, televisions, American flags, and even a stage for live music. Quite a bit of a departure from the BBQ joints we’ve been trying to fit into studio apartments up to this point. As for the food, there are three absolute must orders at Hometown. 1) The gargantuan beef rib, which would give you a black eye if it hit you in the face. 2) The moist brisket, which has some of the most incredible crusty bark we’ve ever tasted. And 3) The pork ribs, which are the best we’ve had in this city, just beating out Morgan’s. We’ll discuss in detail in the Food Rundown, but Hometown absolutely belongs in a few “Best Of” conversations. If you love BBQ, you need to get To Red Hook immediately.
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger
Oh baby. This is what dreams are made of. Order the moist version, as the lean brisket is nothing to write home about. A Texas-style beef brisket with a caramelized crust (also known as the “bark”) that’s so sweet and delicious it’d make sense on top of ice cream. The meat explodes with flavor, and the “sticky” BBQ sauce is the perfect compliment. We had read Nick Solares’ Serious Eats piece about the brisket being under-salted when Hometown first opened a couple of months ago, but it looks like they’ve rectified that.
The fact that beef ribs are en vogue with NYC pitmasters makes us really happy. We love getting down on a big beef rib. Their prehistoric full steer on a stick isn’t quite as incredible as the ones you find at Mighty Quinn’s, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Again, it’s the bark that makes the beef here next level. There’s something special about that sweet outside layer.
Hometown’s pitmaster got schooled in pig ribs by Mike Mills of 17th Street Barbecue in Illinois, who knows a little something about the subject. I know we raved about how good the pork ribs were at Morgan’s, but these might be better. There is less meat and less seasoning than what you’ll find on those ribs, but that smoky flavor on Hometown’s specimen has seeped deep into the moist flesh, and the results are pretty damn impressive.
On a sandwich with a bunch of their awesome BBQ sauce is the best way to consume the pulled pork here. That said, we weren’t crazy about it. It just doesn’t seem to have the same intense flavor that the other stuff here does.
Jalapeno & Cheddar Sausage
We liked this OK too, although it certainly didn’t stand out. You couldn’t taste much of either the jalapeno or the cheddar.
If there’s one department Hometown could seriously improve upon, it’s their side game. Overall, we found the them to be below average. The beans are too wet and thick. The mac ‘n cheese is sort of like one big soupy bowl of cheese. Our collard greens were soggy and the cole slaw is basic and not exactly memorable. The backyard potato salad was awesome though.