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.
Not so long ago, Texas-style BBQ was impossible to find in NYC. Now, we’ve got an embarrassment of riches. Mighty Quinn’s, Morgan’s, Fette Sau, and BrisketTown are all great, but the undisputed king of NYC ’cue is Hometown Bar-B-Que. This sh*t would be hyped even if it was located in Texas.
Hometown Bar-B-Que’s New York-bred pitmaster Bill Durney may not come from Texas, but he’s a student of its barbecue culture. Durney is serious about his craft. He has dedicated his life to soaking in as much BBQ knowledge as humanly possible and learned 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. The 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 in this city. 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.
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 complement, even though it’s not even necessary.
The fact that beef ribs are popular with NYC pitmasters makes us really happy. Hometown’s 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. The smoky flavor on Hometown’s pristine specimen has seeped deep into the moist flesh of the ribs, and the results are pretty damn impressive. They freestyle with the ribs, too, and make a bunch of different varieties. We love the Jerk style ribs pictured here.
Of all the meats, the pulled pork is our least favorite. Still though, it’s pretty damn good. We recommend it on a sandwich with a bunch of their awesome BBQ sauce.
We liked this OK, too, although it certainly didn’t stand out. You couldn’t taste much of either the jalapeño or the cheddar.
ADDED BONUS, Hometown makes killer Asian-spiced chicken wings. You need these. Bad.
DOUBLE BONUS, brisket is served in taco form as well. Needless to say, these are the best brisket tacos money can buy in NYC.
If there’s one department Hometown could seriously improve upon, it’s their side game. Overall, we found them to be below average. The beans are too wet and thick. The mac and cheese is sort of like one big soupy bowl of cheese. Our collard greens were soggy, and the coleslaw is basic and not exactly memorable. The backyard potato salad was awesome, though.