We are always recruiting Cheap Eats victims, and sometimes geography works out, too. Such was the case with The Nephew — a hungry teen who lives close to the recently opened (in April) Master’s Barbecue Company in the village of Hamburg.
We invited his little lady, the Charming Rachel, for a recent al fresco lunch.
Master’s occupies what was once Jimmy’s Pizza. Seating is limited to an indoor counter or small tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Master’s has an arrangement with Braymiller’s Bowling next door, so you can grab food and have a beer with your barbecue.
But since it’s summer, we think Master’s is the perfect place to pick up something on the way to the beach or a park, like the nearby Chestnut Ridge (about 6 miles away).
The menu hits all the high barbecue notes. Rib or brisket meals ($15.50), full and half ribs ($22/$14) are above the Cheap Eats budget, but the rest is a go.
We each had a sandwich — pulled pork ($7.50), beef brisket ($8.75) and smoked turkey ($8.75) — that included a side. We went with yellow rice, mac and cheese and salted potatoes, then added beans for research.
We loved that our sandwiches - piled with meat - came on thick Texas toast. Unique.
And we each had our choice of homemade sauce - hot, sweet or original barbecue.
All our meats were tender, juicy and finger messy (in a good way), and each sauce distinct.
The teens inhaled their sandwiches before I could sample. I was happy with my beef brisket, especially because it had just the right amount of smoky flavor with some little pockets of fat. It was like biting into butter, not stringy or dry.
My savory yellow rice was tasty as well. The Nephew’s creamy mac and cheese was topped with breadcrumbs while CR’s container of salted potatoes held about five buttery spuds.
The beans – an interesting combination of kidney and white beans — came in a sauce that wasn’t too sweet, yet flavorful. It needed a little salt, but that was about it.
The rest of the menu holds intriguing items worthy of a return, like the smoked bologna sandwich ($8.95) with cheese and mayo and The Howie ($9.50) - pork or chicken with rice, beans and cheese wrapped in a tortilla shell then deep fried and served with sour cream and jalapeno salsa.
The Pig Pail is a “one pint meal” of rice and barbecue beans with pulled pork ($7.50), smoked turkey ($8.25) or beef brisket ($8.75). The Brisk-Burg sandwich ($10.50) is a combo of beef brisket, fries and cheddar cheese.
Judging by our food, we bet the jambalaya ($3.50 half pint/$5.50 pint) with shrimp and smoked beef sausage is good too. The Scuzzy Fries ($10) topped with pulled pork, bacon, jalapeno and cheddar are begging for a hangover victim.
Fresh out of the pit, a barbecue half-chicken dinner ($9.50) came home for my fella. The brined meat was tender and delicious, while the the skin had a dry rub that was sweet and spicy at the same time. A pile of crunchy and slightly sweet homemade slaw, potatoes and a dinner roll rounded out the meal.
Master’s serves a steak sandwich ($9.50), burger melt ($9.50), turkey bacon melt ($9.50) plus items like chicken fingers ($8 single) and wings ($10 single), but why would order them? It’s a barbecue place. Get the barbecue, head to a picnic spot and enjoy. Just don’t forget to grab some wet-naps on your way out the door.
Master’s Barbecue Company
43 Buffalo St., Hamburg (393-6478, mastersbbq.com, Facebook)
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Price range: $3.50-$22
Wheelchair-access: Yes, but no indoor tables. Seating at Braymiller’s Bowling.
Parking: Street or village lot across the street.