Where This Oakland Pitmaster Eats on His Days Off

Chef Matt Horn gives us his best recommendations

October 28, 2022 6:20 am
BBQ Platter by Matt Horn
BBQ Platter by Matt Horn
Matt Horn

For chef and pitmaster Matt Horn, the heart and soul of cooking is encompassed by one word: community.

“I have been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the love and connection that barbecue has afforded me and my family,” he says, “and I feel it’s important to pass down that knowledge.”

He keeps it at the forefront of his mind at his own Horn Barbecue, where he has engineered his own style of ‘cue uniting Central Texas influences and “the spirit of innovation of California,” he says. And it’s also what inspired his new venture: The Academy of Smoke, an all-expenses-paid youth program launching this spring. (Kids, with an assist from their parents, can apply now.) The goal of the program is to teach the history, craft and art of BBQ to interested youngsters between the ages of eight and 12.

Letting little kids play with fire may seem like a dangerous exercise, but Horn is undeterred.

“As a small kid, it was important not just for myself, but for other youth as well, to be able to have mentors to help navigate the waters of life and grow into an adult,” he says. “My mission with The Academy of Smoke is to help foster creativity, spark passion and create a safe space for local Bay Area youth to have fun, while hopefully inspiring a next generation of male and female pitmasters!”

How to Smoke a Turkey Like a Seasoned Thanksgiving Pitmaster
Chef Matt Abdoo of Pig Beach has some tips, tricks and a battle-tested recipe for brining and smoking your bird

The inaugural edition of the program will launch in spring of 2023, so Horn has his plate fairly full getting ready. But when he’s not cooking — or teaching fire management to local kids — Horn takes full advantage of Oakland’s varied culinary scene.

“The city of Oakland offers an assortment of diverse and unique restaurants and chefs,” he says. “I am honored to be a part of this community and to contribute to its thriving food scene, which I hold dear to my heart.”

Here’s where you’re likely to find him.

For authentic soul food:

Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement has some delicious, authentic food. The food is homestyle and based on Chef Fermat McPherson’s family recipes. You can tell there is a great deal of love and warmth in every dish.” 

For brunch:

Limewood Bar & Restaurant has an outstanding smoked salmon soft scramble. It never disappoints.”

For local wine:

Ordinaire is one of the best wine shops in the area, in my opinion. They have a vast selection of California wines, which makes it a great place to discover and support small, local winemakers.”

For cocktails:

“One of my all-time favorite cocktails in the city is the Flor y Canto, and it can be found at Sobre Mesa. It has immaculate vibes and is a great place to gather with friends.” 


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.