After a Long Wait, Horn Barbecue Opens Saturday in Old Brown Sugar Kitchen Space

Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue at a smoker.  (Courtesy of Horn Barbecue)

The wait is finally over for pit master Matt Horn. After first announcing that he found a permanent home in August 2019 for a brick-and-mortar location, he's finally opening up with ribs, brisket and more on Saturday at 2534 Mandela Parkway in Oakland.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Horn originally intended to open in September, but had to stop because of permitting delays and hurdles. "Nothing [of] great worth in life comes without struggle," said Horn in an email. Horn also faced construction challenges, a pandemic and working with the city's restrictions.

Selection of meats, hotlinks, brisket and ribs on a metal sheet tray
A selection of meats from Horn Barbecue, including brisket, hotlinks and ribs (Courtesy of Horn Barbecue)

What started in 2016 at the Tracy Farmers Market transformed quickly into pop-ups that drew crowds of over a thousand. He became a barbecue pop-up legend, serving Texas-inspired brisket and creating a new category of "West Coast barbecue" that draws on the Lone Star State's style coupled with inspiration from the Black South. Diners were willing to wait more than four hours for the chance to get some hot links and smoked ribs.

Sandwich
Sandwiches are a new addition to Horn's menu. (Courtesy of Horn Barbecue)

The menu at the new location will feature some of the pop-up's favorites, like smoked brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork, turkey and spareribs sold by the pound. There will also be some new items, like half and whole quartered chickens, homemade hot links and sandwiches. On a special rotation, Horn is adding a whole hog roasting, along with oxtails and lamb shoulders on Saturdays. Beyond the meats, sides will include pit beans, collards, black-eyed peas, potato salad, slaw, potatoes and corn bread. There will also be desserts like bourbon bread pudding and rum cake.

Alameda county's COVID-19 restrictions are currently at the orange tier, meaning that outdoor dining is permitted and indoor dining is allowed at 25% capacity or up to 100 people. Horn Barbecue's interior features custom cowhide bar stools with a central view of the 750-square-foot pit room, which is said to be California's first indoor smoker. The West Oakland spot formerly housed Brown Sugar Kitchen.

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Horn grew up eating barbecue occasionally on the weekends, and after one bad batch of spare ribs he made for his girlfriend, he was determined to get it right. Since then, he's been called "the future of barbecue" from The Chronicle and made a name for himself as a West Coast pit master.