If there’s one thing Hoboken seemed to be missing up until very recently, it was a good place for serious barbecue. And also some bars along Sinatra Drive that did justice to the river and Manhattan views; let’s just be honest here and say that for a while the only reason to have a cocktail or three along Sinatra Drive was the view. The bars themselves were a little uninspiring.
Luckily, that’s all changed. The bars along the river downtown are great, and The House of ‛Que has arrived to not only satisfy a hankering for true Texas brisket, but also be a fantastic bar. My wife, who I refer to affectionately as The Duchess (when I am not referring to her in terror as ‛Boss’), hails from Texas, and she knows good barbecue. The moment we walked into HOQ, she smiled and said it smelled right—and sure enough, it turns out HOQ is a great place for a bite to eat and a few drinks.
The Texas Pit Master
The fact that the food is great shouldn’t surprise anyone; The House of ‛Que is one of Mike Rodriguez’s joints. The Texas Pitmaster learned his delicious trade in Austin, and has spent the last couple of decades tearing it up in the NYC restaurant scene. So it’s no surprise that the food is terrific, or that it has an authentic Texas vibe—you can even get slices of white bread with your meal, or Saltine crackers, just like every hole in the wall BBQ spot in Texas. The Duchess declared it to be acceptable Texas barbecue, which is pretty high praise from someone who has rejected most supposedly “authentic” BBQ places in the Northeast.
If The House of ‛Que was just a great place for a bite to eat that would be good enough, but it’s also a great place to have a few drinks. First of all, it’s huge and accommodating. Most of the seating is picnic-style tables, and there’s plenty of room in the large bar area. The crowds can skew a bit young and rowdy, especially on weekend evenings and game days, but this is one place you won’t feel crushed—though you will be forced to socialize with your fellow imbibers, fostering a nice sense of community and fun.
The beer selection isn’t huge (we’re not at Cork City, after all) but it’s a nice spread, ranging from Guinness to Fat Tire—even Shiner Bock, which completes the Texas vibe. They’ve also got some of the basics, including Coors Lite and Corona and Modelo if that’s your thing. I wouldn’t come here seeking out a good glass of wine—they do have wine, but let’s face it, if you’re in a BBQ joint and want a glass of wine you’re probably in the wrong place anyway.
Their featured mixed drinks are hilarious and spectacular, including the Spicy Laredo ‛Rita, which is a margarita with a jalapeño kick that works much better than it has any right to. They also offer tequila flights, which is either the most brilliant decision you’re going to make on a Saturday evening or the worst decision of your life. I’ll never know, because Tequila is the devil’s liquor and I won’t touch it.
I have to mention that The House of ‛Que’s Friday Happy Hour begins at 11AM. Eleven in the morning. And goes to 7PM. That means $4 Shiner drafts, $5 vodka drinks or wine, and half price cocktails. And it begins at 11AM. Did I mention that? Eight hours of $4 draft beers is, once again, either the best or worst decision you’re going to make on Friday.
More importantly, The House of ‛Que is working hard to entertain you. It’s got plenty of TVs for watching the games and plenty of specials on game day. Every Saturday starting at 10PM it features Dueling Pianos—if you’ve never experienced a dueling piano show, make some time for it this weekend, it can be incredibly fun. Karaoke on Fridays, Trivia on Wednesdays—this is a bar you can walk into any day of the week and have a great meal, some great drinks, and a fun time.
The only thing that would make it better is a wider whiskey selection, but that’s just me; I personally believe there is no experience in the world that can’t be improved by access to a long whiskey list.