Hoghead’s brings Southern-style barbecue to Brownsburg Terry Kirts
What makes this place worth the drive are the side dishes that stand up to that great smoked meat.
Is it a conspiracy that the best of Indy’s barbecue restaurants keep turning up on the Westside? Or do Westsiders just have more discriminating palates when it comes to slow-smoked pork, ribs, and chicken? Maybe they’ve got more time to let the sauces simmer and the beans to bake. Whatever the case, there’s one more reason to make the trek out past I-465 for one of Indy’s most well-balanced barbecue meals. But your wagon train might run into a little consternation on this Westward excursion. Though you’ll know you’re in the right place by the aromas emanating from the smoker and the silhouettes of cowboys roaming the open prairies, you’ll scratch your head a few times before you figure out just which barbecue joint you’re actually standing in. “Funny,” you’ll may say to your dining companions, “seems like this place has two names.” The puzzle is easily solved, when you know that the former Amarillo Red’s in Brownsburg was purchased by Pittsboro-based pit master Danny Broughton back in September. Broughton had been serving his slow-cooked meats to locals up the road on US 136. But he only had limited outdoor seating, and he needed space if he was going to make it big in barbecue — or feed anyone in a typical Hoosier winter. While some of the logos for the old place are still up, the place is now called Hoghead’s, and the menu is all Broughton’s. The theme may be Western, with plenty of boots and spurs, but the approach is more North Carolina than Texas, right down to the spicy mustard barbecue sauce on the tables. What’s most satisfying about this place, however, is not just the brisket and the pulled pork, which get pretty tender after 10 hours in the smoker. What makes this place worth the drive are the side dishes that stand up to all of that great smoked meat, making almost every bite you eat here delicious. Despite all its accolades at local festivals for its meats and sauces — all right, its chili won a “Haunted Chili Cook-off” — Hoghead’s hasn’t forgotten what makes a Southern-style barbecue meal complete. For starters, the fried biscuits ($2.49) are almost more a dessert than an appetizer. But you’ll eat all of these doughnut-like buns dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a thick, sweet apple butter. They’re definitely the wildcard among starters heavy with the same smoked pork you’ll get with your meal. A cup of that award-winning chili ($2.49) isn’t scary at all but one of the meatiest, most well-seasoned traditional chilis around. It will shame your mother’s. Among entrees, you can’t go wrong with the pulled pork, served here in sandwich form and as a dinner with two large sides. Leaving the tender pork to its own devices, Hoghead’s lets you put your own sauce on this purest example of its barbecuing prowess. The brisket ($9.99), too, is also quite tender, with just a slight pink cast and not too much of a burning hickory flavor. It’s not exactly a whopping serving, but the accompaniments more than fill you up. A homey sausage ($7.49), smoked on the premises, is perhaps the most comforting surprise here, again with a subtle but satisfying flavor that rivals some of the best kielbasa you’ll get your hands on in the Heartland. An added serving of three rib bones ($4.49) were packed with flavor, though a coating of sauce during cooking made these just a tad chewy. Soon enough, however, they disappeared. Sauces, which you can take home in bottles, range from a sweet and mild sauce to a hot that would trouble only the most timid tongue. The most original is a thinner, vinegary sauce with a good hit of mustard that hearkens to some of the sauces you’ll get in the Southeast. Side dishes, however, are what will convince you that Hoghead’s has it’s head on straight. The macaroni and cheese has a decidedly yellow sauce, but it does seem to have done time in an oven. The corn casserole is a starchy wonder of cornbread with plenty of real corn kernels. Green beans get paired with tomatoes rather than the typical salty bacon, and “cheesy” potatoes have a nice roasted flavor without being obliterated by their creamy sauce. “Smoked” baked beans do deliver a whiff of hickory, but green peppers lend a slightly bitter undertone. All in all, however, Hoghead’s knows how to feed a cowpoke right. The good news for barbecue lovers is that Hoghead’s plans to open a location in Broad Ripple at 6420 Cornell by sometime in April. You’ll know the location if you’ve been to La Piedad lately, which worked out an agreement to be in the future Hoghead’s space while its own kitchen is being expanded. Soon enough, though, you’ll smell the smoke, and you’ll be able to get to Hoghead’s via the Monon, not just the Chilsom, Trail. Hoghead’s BBQ 1551 N. Green St. Brownsburg 858-2493
hours Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Food : 4 Stars Atmosphere : 3.5 Stars Service : 3.5 Stars