Some things are good enough on their own. For example, finding $50 on the ground is great. Adopting a puppy is wonderful. We could stop there and be just fine. But imagine if you went to pick up that $50 bill and discovered a $100 underneath it, or if you brought home that adorable puppy and then learned it knew how to do your taxes.
That’s what going to Hometown Barbecue feels like. They have the best barbecue in Miami - and that alone is enough of a good thing. But then you come here and discover tacos and cocktails and a piece of broccoli that makes us want to throw our fork in the air like a graduation cap. And it’s these unexpected bonuses that make Hometown one of the best places to eat in the city.
This Allapattah spot is a huge, open-air warehouse that feels like two very different restaurants depending on the time of day. During lunch, you order at the counter, take a number, and find an open table. Most people will be eating something from the absolutely beautiful selection of smoked meat: brisket, pulled pork, turkey, slab jerk bacon, pork ribs, and jalapeño cheddar sausage are all served by the half-pound. There are mole-dusted smoked chicken wings underneath a small blizzard of queso fresco and a beef rib that looks like it works out with The Rock. The brisket and pulled pork are also served in delicious sandwich form alongside a smoked turkey BLT and a fantastic lamb banh mi. And there are tacos too, in case deciding what to order didn’t already feel like the most difficult decision you’ll make this decade. All the barbecue is the $50 bill on the ground - and it’s more than enough reason to stop what you’re doing immediately and investigate.
But during dinner, Hometown transforms into a slightly more formal restaurant where you’ll have a server and might even need a reservation. It’s oddly beautiful at night, all lit up with string lights and some outdoor seating where the air smells like brisket if the breeze is right. The meat may still be the main attraction, but there’s also an additional chunk of the menu called “wood-fired specials,” where you’ll find a roasted daily catch, tamarind glazed chicken hearts, and vegetables that hold their own right alongside any porky friends.
It’s not like Hometown needed any of these extra dishes - or the really great cocktails and their impressive wine list - to convince us to eat here, but we’re definitely not complaining. Because given the choice between an adorable little beagle and an adorable little beagle who could get us a huge tax refund, we’re going with the latter every time.
This is easily the most impressive thing on the menu. It somehow tastes like brisket, steak, and ribs all at once - and it’s not something you want to eat on your own. Each bite is like an uppercut of fat and smoke and burnt crust that could easily knock you out if you have too much. So convince the table to split this with you and you’ll be able to walk out of here.
Each wing has a perfect mole dusting and a little blanket of crumbled queso fresco. It’s like they all went through a barbecue version of one of those automated car washes, and came out the other side all shiny and delicious.
If you are the kind of person who gets very excited by a proper brisket - one that’s smoky and fatty but still holds its shape and doesn’t just melt into a soggy puddle - this one won’t disappoint. And if you’re the person who’s never really understood brisket hype, try it. Then you might get it.
It might seem counterintuitive to waste stomach space on a veggie at a barbecue restaurant but this smokey broccoli deserves a place on the table. The charred poblano cream and chili oil help make this dish the best broccoli we’ve ever had.
The fish you eat here depends on the day’s catch, but you can bet that it’ll be tender, a little smoky, and go beautifully with the bright orange pepper sauce on the plate. It also comes with a perfectly lovely fennel salad, which is very low on the list of things we expected from a restaurant with “barbecue” in its name.
These charred little bites don’t really taste like chicken, but almost remind us more of a chewier, juicer mushroom. Also, the cilantro chimichurri that comes with this dish is more valuable to us than gold.
It’s like a bahn mi and a lamb gyro threw a party in a meat smoker, and you very much want to be invited to this party.
This is to a regular piece of bacon what pre-Hulk Bruce Banner is to post-Hulk Bruce Banner. Sure, you can tell that there’s bacon somewhere in there, but this thing is big and angry and so much more effective.