Matt Horn had a long road to opening his exceptionally popular barbecue restaurant, Horn Barbecue, in West Oakland. Permitting, construction delays, and, oh yeah, a global pandemic got in the way. All the while, however, the ambitious pitmaster had more than one iron in the fire: specifically, Kowbird, his fried chicken restaurant.
Though it was originally slated to open as a kiosk in a Jack London Square food hall, plans have a way of changing quickly in the Bay Area. Now he’s bringing it home to West Oakland, at 1733 Peralta Street — just down the street from the barbecue mothership. It’s a convenient location for shared logistics between the two restaurants, but it’s also a commitment to the neighborhood that has embraced Horn’s business so wholeheartedly.
The menu will stay similar to the original plan, which was to open as a counter-service restaurant serving Southern-style chicken. That means a handful of different fried chicken sandwiches — each with its own batter and sauces — in addition to chicken wings, bone-in fried chicken, sides like collards and fried giblets, plus pies and cakes. Fried chicken sandwiches will run the gamut from classic Southern-style to a Korean version, and of course, Nashville hot chicken. There’ll also be beer and wine (you’ll need it to quench the fire from that Nashville heat).
“Fried chicken is a part of American culture,” Horn told Eater SF when he announced the idea in early 2020. “Chicken is chicken. But I wanted to put my touch on it.”
Expect a mid-summer opening as the chef and his crew put the finishing touches on the interior, and navigate that dreaded city bureaucracy.