Updated: May 23, 2022
There’s are three things you can say about BBQ. One it’s good all year round. Barbecue screams summertime and eating outside, but it’s also a wonderful comfort food when the weather turns cold. Two, it is easy to tell how much love has gone into cooking it. The best BBQ is made with a lot of love, and you can taste it. Lastly, good, authentic southern BBQ is hard to find if you are not living in the south, so when you do, you want to share it with everyone! That is where Handsome Devil BBQ comes in.
Although the restaurant just opened last year, Ed Randoph, chef owner, cookbook author, and award-winning pit master has been cooking up BBQ in the Hudson Valley for years. The first time I was introduced to Randoph's magic was at the Hudson Valley Ribfest, several years ago. We sampled ribs from a bunch of different BBQ trucks but by far, the standout ribs were the ribs from Handsome Devil. The only problem was that up until last year the only place to get them were at a fair, festival or be invited to a party catered by Handsome Devil.
The BBQ at Handsome Devil is cooked the old-school way, long and slow, but what elevates it is the use of only top-of-the-line ingredients, all-natural meat and poultry and proprietary rubs and sauces. According to Randoph, the other two "must have" ingredients to the BBQ he creates is the right wood and time.
So, what smoking at the Handsome Devil? Randoph brings together the best southern style barbecue techniques from the Carolinas to Texas to give you southern BBQ at its best. Smoked meats include brisket pork ribs, Texas traditional and jalapeño cheddar links, and turkey. The entire menu is served à la cart, and the meats are served by the pound, along with plenty of great sides, sandwiches, and desserts to choose from.
The restaurant is a bit different than other BBQ places in this neck of the woods. When you enter the restaurant, you’re immediately greeted by a friendly staff member who explains how it all works. I guess you would call it cafeteria style service, where you go up to a counter and order your food, they slice and plate it by what you order, you pay and sit family style at picnic tables. It certainly doesn’t get much fresher or easier than that. A little fair warning for when you go up to order your food. If you eat with your eyes, your mouth is going to start watering immediately and you will want to try a little of everything. But don't worry, there is always doggie bags, and the food taste even better the next day!
On our trip, we started with the brisket, and I think the picture above says it all. It was chard on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. The crispy outside, or burnt ends, were thick with seasoning and the flavor was incredible. The inside meat melts in your mouth, and if I didn’t have so much other food in front of me, I could have easily made this my whole dinner.
We knew we also had to try the wings. You have four choices when you order wings: BBQ, Buffalo, Naked, or Dry Rub. I am a big fan of dry rub, so I had to give them a try. They were plump, crispy, juicy and the rub seasoning had great flavor. I just thought they could have used a touch more salt. But the good thing about salt, you can add it yourself.
Next up, the ribs, after all, you can't go to a BBQ joint and not try the ribs. The ribs are St. Louis style, which you can order by the rack, ½ rack or just get 3 bones. We decided on the 1/2 rack and loved how the meat tender but still firm. My husband and I both noted how meaty they were and how there wasn't any fat or grizzle on them. Just lean meat, not like we had had recently at a very well-known BBQ restaurant up in Troy very recently. When St. Louis ribs are cooked properly, any fat is dissolve and the ribs come out lean, juicy and tender. They nailed these!
If you like pork, but don’t want to deal with the bones, the pulled pork is definitely the way to go. Because it is not tossed with any sauce, the smokiness of the meat stands out on its own. Their signature vinegar-based sauce comes on the side, so you can use a much or as little as you want. We ordered the pulled pork on its own, but the guy next to me had it on a sandwich. He let me take a picture of it before he gobbled it down. Either way, it's a winner.
For sides there are plenty to choose from: Carolina Cole Slaw, Apple Pie Baked Beans, Potato Salad and Thai Chili Crispy Cauliflower. We opted for the collard greens and mac & cheese. The mac & cheese was good; however, I make a mean one myself, so I’d rather spend the time telling you about the collard greens, because they were absolutely the best I've ever tasted. They're made with smoke pork shoulder, and I’m not sure if it’s that, or some sort of magic ingredient they are using, but every time I took a bite, I couldn’t help but saying "Oh my!”. On its own, it's worth the trip. As in Texas barbecue fashion, there is special emphasis placed on the drink menu as well with emphasis on crafted cocktails and bourbon. They also have a nice local beer selection.
Handsome Devil is open Wednesday – Sunday for lunch and dinner, for dine in or take-out.
Keep in mind that Christmas is coming and Handsome Devil sauces, swag, cookbooks, and gift certificates are all available at the restaurant or online. They also specialize in custom, off premise catering packages for special events from 10 – 1000 people. Some of their most popular themes, are all you can eat buffet, weddings, cooperate happy hours, and trays of ribs and fixings for tailgating. Whatever you choose, with Handsome Devil BBQ, it's a party!