“PEOPLE COULD EAT ANYWHERE IN THE CITY AND THEY CAME ALL THE WAY OUT HERE.”
If the people stuck at the wrong end of the hour-long queue that snakes through Hometown Bar-b-que appear remarkably chilled, it’s likely because they’ve just had a shot of bourbon, compliments of the house. “I want people to know that I really care about them being here,” says Billy Durney, a shed of a man whose arms are covered in tattoos and who was once a bodyguard for celebrities (he declines to name names). Still, his love of traditional barbecue – meat smoked for a day over a wood-flled pit – has seen him become a minor celebrity in his own right, as the owner of Hometown, which squats in a desolate street on the south-western edge of Brooklyn. “We care about the fact people could eat anywhere in the city and they came all the way to the end of nowhere to eat our barbecue. I’m always humbled.” And come they do, lured by headlines heralding Durney’s as the fnest barbecue in the city, which to Big Apple locals means the world. The beef brisket, sold by the half-pound, is caramelised to a shiny, external blackness with a succulent and smokey core. It’s so perfect that side dishes like Texasstyle queso mac and cheese and cornbread seem superfuous. And on frst bite, even the cow that offered up its fesh would be impressed with the results. With a giant US fag painted on one wall and fairy lights hung from the rafters, Hometown Bar-b-que feels like a small piece of the South. In fact it’s an ode to the multiple cultures that favoured Durney’s upbringing. “The beef rib and brisket are defnitely my ode to Texas barbecue,” the 43-year-old tells GQ. “But other than that everything here is based on my growing up in NYC. I grew up not far from a West Indian and Jamaican area so we serve jerk spare ribs. We have Korean sticky ribs cause I grew up near a Korean grocer. There’s lamb belly bánh mi. We do Vietnamese hot wings too. So it’s really a multi-ethnic journey through barbecue when you come here.” And a journey worth the wait. hometownbarbque.com
WE CHAT TO THE MAN BEHIND AMERICA’S MOST SOUGHT-OUT EAST COAST SMOKEHOUSE, HOMETOWN BAR-B-QUE.