Every time I try to sit down and write about the joys of Cha Cha BBQ, I realize I can’t do it justice. I’m hardly a food writer, and although I like to pretend I’m a foodie, I decided to let my awesome boyfriend take the reigns on this one, so here is Jason Brody’s take on Cha Cha BBQ (I apologize for the length, he loves his BBQ):
My love of food and adventure prevails pretty much anywhere I go. Even when everything closes at 8 or 9pm (which is often the case when you get far enough out of NYC). Thankfully my lovable girlfriend is a foodie and adventurer as well, and when she’s not in the mood, she’s often still kind enough to indulge me. Well, during our stay at the Roxbury Motel
, this paid off. Bigtime.
Props to Jacob at the hotel for turning us on to the Cha Cha Hut, a barbecue joint off the beaten path in Andes, New York, kind of behind a gas station/convenience store. Apparently it was once right near the Roxbury, but unfortunately suffered a fire last May and was completely destroyed. You can read about this tragedy here.
The good news is that the Cha Cha Hut reopened in Andes, and if the food and hospitality that Alex and I got there is any indicator, this place will become an upstate institution. It took a little coaxing and motivating as the Hut was a 25-minute drive from the hotel, through stretches of winding, quiet Catskill road. But I cannot say enough great things about this place. We ordered beef brisket, a rack of ribs, mustard coleslaw, and collard greens. They make their own sauces in house, and there are FIVE flavors, along with two seasonal additions. Alex and I chowed down and tried all the sauces with our meats. This was her first time eating brisket, and she loved it. The dishes were clearly prepared with love and the flavors were all just perfect. Brisket so tender and beefy that we demolished the plate in no time at all. Ribs with that visible pinkish ring of smoke around the outer layer of the meat, so porky and meaty and delicious that I was sad that this was the last half rack they had.
We did not stop there. Because how can you stop in a place like this? So I ordered some of their other slaw, and some of their smoked turkey. And we also ordered a small container of “pig wings,” which Frank and Cherie Davis make by–and I hope I remember this correctly–cutting the ends off of the racks of ribs and then cutting those pieces up and coating them with a dry rub and cooking them separately. The turkey is salty-smoky-umame deliciousness to the millionth degree with a dark layer of caramelized rub on the outside that gives it that extra something. Possibly the best turkey I have ever had in my life. We devoured it. The pig wings are like pork/spice heaven and I have never eaten anything like them. Think pork nuggets, but not as fatty as you might expect. Oh. And we had a bread pudding made with coconuts, pineapple, and raisins. Just sweet enough, and warm and satisfying.
But what really took the experience to the next level was the hospitality. Frank and Cherie talked to us the whole time as we were there toward the end of the day and it was relatively quiet. They told us about their excursions to NYC and the barbecue they’ve had here. We talked about our cats, mine and theirs (their Thundernagi sauce is named after their two kitties, and when you buy some they donate a dollar to their local Humane Society). The care and thought they put into their food really came through in talking to them, and Alex and I left with only the warmest of vibes. We also left with some coffee/cinnamon spice rub, three kinds of barbecue sauce, another container of pig wings, and more turkey for me to take home (thank you, girlfriend, for buying us those goodies!).
I am glad I don’t live anywhere near the Cha Cha Hut because if I did I would eat my way to a heart attack very quickly. But this place should be on everyone’s list. The food is amazing and the folks who run it are awesome. I expect that their first summer in the new location will be a great one, and here’s to many more. Cha Cha Hut, we salute you.