Unless you're specifically looking for it, you could easily drive down Myrtle Avenue and miss the unassuming Humo Smokehouse. Opened in January 2014, it similarly eluded the recently barbecue-crazed food media. It's a small joint near a street corner, with brick walls and seating by the front windows, in few small nooks and at an oasis of a patio out the back. There’s a charm to the place that might even make it that rare barbecue joint suitable for a first date. Ordering is over the counter, served mostly out of steam trays past which you can see a J&R smoker in the kitchen. There’s no bar or alcohol served, but BYOB is allowed.
The concise, barbecue-focused menu appears above the counter on a chalkboard. Smoked meats include ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage and pork belly. Chili (not smoked) is available as one of the sides. All meats are sold by the pound and locally sourced.
Three other barbecue aficionados and I visited Humo Smokehouse for a quick Saturday afternoon snack as the second stop on a 3-joint Brooklyn barbecue crawl.
Disclaimer / Spoiler alert: This is going to be a very brief review. Every single one of the meats was decent. Exactly decent (and nothing wrong with that). No better; no worse.
A few things could be considered appetizers, but for this particular visit and this particular review, it's meats and sides.
Ribs: Meaty St Louis cut ribs ($6 for 1/4 rack) had perfect doneness, decent moisture short of juice flow and a benign flavor with modest to mid-range smoke and rub levels. Hardly exciting but hardly disappointing; just a simple, straightforward and solid rib without any fanfare. The ribs were probably my favorite item. I'd get them again.
Pulled pork: A ropy pile ($6 for 1/4lb) overcame slightly dry texture with a very high bark percentage and what might have been the strongest smoke of the offerings. Rub and porkiness were less pronounced, with the vinegar barbecue sauce mitigating for moisture as well as flavor.
Pork belly: A high fat ratio, low crispness ratio and pale color made this ($6 for 1/4lb) the least successful of the meats and the only one possibly registering as less than decent. Sliced thin, it compensated with both moisture and tenderness.
Brisket: The meat ($6 for 1/4lb) with the most moisture—though steamy—came through in the tenderness department as well. Flavor was less impressive, with nothing really to hang its hat on.
Sausage: What tasted like an Italian link ($4) had light smoke, decent moisture and good tenderness. Nothing really wrong with it; nothing really special about it.
There's a thick one (a familiar tangy, sweet, spicy) and a thin one (vinegary), both nicely done.
Chili: Heavy on meat, light on beans, lighter on heat and lightest on smoke, this was a simple ground beef version ($4 for a small) that had an appealing mouthfeel—oh so soft—and pleasant enough if subtle flavor. Meatwise, probably the best value in the place.
Cole slaw: This came across as more of a sauerkraut, as the cabbage had an infused, cooked feel to it. Nice and interesting flavors though, and a good foil for smoked meat in a way that's different from the predictable creamy or straightforward vinegary.
Everything's approachable and seemingly affordable. That said, the per-pound price of some of the meats is in the same ballpark as some joints around town that are a lot closer to the elite category.
The Bottom Line
Nothing great. Nothing bad. The steam trays probably didn’t help, but there’s some promise here, and even with no improvement at all, Humo Smokehouse would make for a very doable neighborhood spot. I’d go somewhat regularly if it were in mine.
Yelp reviews of Humo Smokehouse
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