Matt Horn’s ‘Kowbird’ set to open in former Pretty Lady Spot in West Oakland

1 min read

Horn BBQ phenom chef Matt Horn is ready to debut his latest concept to the East Bay. ‘Kowbird’ is slated to open this Friday, January 14 just a half-mile down Mandela Parkway at the former Pretty Lady diner on Peralta and 18th St.

Horn BBQ of course took over the former Brown Sugar Kitchen space back in 2020. It’s been a smashing success with lines regularly extending for blocks. Brown Sugar Kitchen reopened in the Uptown area of Oakland but just recently announced the closure of this location after 15 combined years in business.

Kowbird looks to pay homage to the Southern comfort food Horn enjoyed with his family as a child. “Growing up, it was a dish that would bring my family together,” says Horn. “Whether after church or in the backyard with friends, it was always centered around love. To open a fried chicken concept in my home of Oakland is personal to me, it bridges family, love, soul, and good food.”

Kowbird Interior

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Kowbird has maintained original elements from Pretty Lady throughout, from the classic U-shaped counter from the 1940s, to the funky green tiles in the kitchen, while adding murals and images of black farmers in the South, an homage to Horn’s family roots.

With a nod to the classic diner, guests are encouraged to order at the register and enjoy their meal indoors around the counter, take their meal to go, or enjoy in Kowbird’s outdoor seating space.

Kowbird Interior

Kowbird’s straightforward menu will feature Horn’s signature “Southern Bird” buttermilk fried chicken in various versions, all served on a potato bun and accompanied by house-made pickles.

Variations include the Honey Bird, finished in a pickled mustard seed-honey sauce, the Early Bird, featuring chicken thighs, Southern-style gravy and a fried egg and, for those that prefer a little kick, the Hot Bird which is dusted with dried, fermented chilis which Horn describes as “Hot, but not unbearable.”

Fo Chicken & Waffle fans, Kowbird will offer a puffed buckwheat waffle topped with honey butter.

For non meat-eaters, Kowbird will offer an Oyster Mushroom Vegan Sandwich with special seasonings, a plant-based aioli and carrot slaw.

Other Soul food offerings include a Wings & Fries plate, and, on Sundays, a specialty Fried Catfish Sandwich.

Side dishes will include Fried Cabbage with Bacon, a fresh Chicory Slaw with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette, 3-cheese Mac dusted with crispy dehydrated chicken skins, Fried Gizzards and Steak Fries.

The dessert menu will offer Candy Apple or Salted Caramel Apple w/ Peanuts or a slice of Pecan Pie. Beverages include house-made lemonade and sweet tea, with beer, root beer and cream soda all on tap.

Horn is also working on setting up his own apiary at the restaurant, bringing in Bay Area bees to source the restaurant’s own honey.

From L-R: Maurice McMair, Matt Horn (Owner & Executive Chef), Lorenzo Fernandezees, Emilio Flores.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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