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How Pitmaster Matt Horn Developed His Signature ‘West Coast-Style’ Barbecue in Oakland

Horn Barbecue is the chef’s highly anticipated pop-up-turned-permanent restaurant

“At Horn Barbecue, we have the opportunity to create something where we’re not specifically stuck with one tradition,” says Oakland pitmaster Matt Horn. That’s because instead of sticking to just one barbecue style, Horn combines his Bay Area roots with Central Texas barbecue and traditions from the deep south to create what he calls “West Coast-style” barbecue.

Horn fell in love with barbecue from a young age, when he learned how to make juicy brisket, tender oxtail, fall-off-the-bone-ribs, hot link sausage, and other meats using his grandfather’s cooker without even using a thermometer. “Everything that we do here is by feel. You can use thermometers but we like to teach that technique and that instinct of relying on feel,” he says. “That’s how I taught myself to cook, by feel.”

Now, at his anticipated pop-up-turned-permanent restaurant, he makes all of those dishes and more for long lines of eager patrons.

“I believe barbecue is magical. Anytime you take raw cuts of meat and create something that turns into memories for our guess, I believe that there’s magic in doing that.”