At long last the wait is over: chef Matt Horn and team are officially flipping burgers at the chef’s latest restaurant Matty’s Old Fashioned, located at 464 8th Street in Oakland. The project has been several years in the making, claiming space on lists of the most anticipated upcoming restaurants and in fans’ minds ever since Horn shared the news he’d be turning his burger pop-up into a full-fledged restaurant back in 2021. Matty’s, which officially opens on Thursday, July 20, marks the chef’s third restaurant in Oakland, starting with his breakout hit Horn Barbecue in 2020 and followed by fried chicken sandwich destination Kowbird in 2022.
The restaurant serves as Horn’s hommage to “the quintessential American diner,” per a press release, with a menu that takes nostalgic dishes and gives them a modern update with local ingredients and a touch of technique.
In keeping with tradition at Horn’s restaurants, Matty’s makes a meat lover's paradise with a menu anchored by the namesake Matty’s Burger. Thumbing its nose at all those uber-thin smash burgers across the Bay Area, it stars two hefty patties made with a blend of dry-aged beef and topped with caramelized onions and aioli all on a griddled brioche bun. But aside from that star of the show, there’s a fried bologna sandwich with honey mustard aioli and crispy onion rings, a grilled hot dog with onion and relish, and a delightfully unfussy fish sandwich topped with melty American cheese and creamy tartar sauce.
Smaller plates and starters veer into less diner-y (but no less meaty) territory: dry-aged meatballs swim in tomato sauce with aged parmesan while beef tartare gets a crown of cured yolk and capers. There’s a baked pretzel with cheese dip, and for that aforementioned nostalgia’s sake, something called Sea Dip made with crab and shrimp that’s a “Horn family holiday favorite,” per the release. And yes, there are some vegetables in the mix including fried Brussels sprouts and a Caesar salad with boquerones. For a sweet ending Matty’s will spin milkshakes in flavors including plain ol’ fashioned vanilla and bananas foster.
For now, the beverage list offers beer and wine with cocktails expect to enter the fray later this fall.
Horn designed the space, which is located on 8th Street near Broadway. A neon sign invites diners to “stay old fashioned with me” and hangs over a large bar that runs across the wall. Along the back of the space, there’s a view into the open kitchen, while floor-to-ceiling windows spanning the front of the space bathe the custom-made chairs and bench seating in natural light. Design elements including exposed brick, tin ceiling tiles, and deep blue paint round out the aesthetic.
Horn, who was named among the country’s best new chefs of 2021 by Food & Wine magazine, burst into the national spotlight during the height of the pandemic. Following years of pop-ups around the Bay Area, the self-taught pitmaster opened his eponymous barbecue restaurant in West Oakland in 2020, earning immediate praise for his slow-smoked, Central Texas-inspired barbecue, smoked over California oak. He added Kowbird into the mix two years later and opened an outpost of that restaurant in Las Vegas earlier this year.
In fall 2022, the chef came under scrutiny following a report from SFGATE that alleged the business owner had failed to make timely payments to both staff and suppliers. According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, former business partner David Kyuman Kim also alleged he was “pushed out” of the business and not compensated for his work, though SFGATE later reported a lawsuit between the two men was settled in October.
Matty’s Old Fashioned is open for limited reservations now with an official opening date scheduled for Thursday, July 20. The restaurant will serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made via Tock.