Mason Dixon Smokehouse (Stamford CT) - Outrageously Great

World-class BBQ returns to CT with the homecoming of renowned pitmaster Nestor Laracuente, who is overseeing the kitchen at Mason Dixon Smokehouse in Stamford. When I heard that Nestor was teaming up with Mason Dixon, I was ecstatic, the mounds of his perfectly prepared meats that I raved about at Hoodoo Brown were indelible etched in my memory. Would Mason Dixon fill the void that I have felt for months? Bottom line…yes, the food is spectacular.

The centerpieces of any BBQ joint are the meats and the sides, and Mason Dixon’s are slowly prepared in two 108” Lang smokers.

The brisket was hand-sliced and delivered an abundance of juiciness and a moderate level of spice from the pepper-salt rub. There was a great smoke ring, with a thin strip of fat separating the crust from the meat, which was tender and rich in flavor. With a slight tug, the slices came part easily to enjoy each delectable morsel.

The St. Louis ribs were not only picture-perfect, they were perfect. Nestor’s new rub includes a hint of brown sugar to balance the salt and pepper rub and the meaty ribs were succulent throughout. The rub created a firm crust and a good level of smokiness. Avoid the urge to add any sauce to these ribs…let the meat and spices speak for themselves.

The Pork Belly at Mason Dixon sets a new standard. The large cubes were almost completely meat, nearly all of the fat was slowly rendered out. There was a thin layer of skin that was lightly crisped, just giving that little cracklin’ crunch when bit into. When a little sauce was added, it created a delicious canvas of flavors and fantastic balance of soft meaty texture offset by the slight crunch of the skin.

The smoked pork was also excellent. The portion included several large, thick slices of perfectly smoke pork. They were smoky, meaty and juicy. Of all the meats, the pork benefitted the most from the sauce as the rub was limited to the exterior of each thick cut. Adding the tangy and sweet sauce created a wonderful complementary balance to the rich pork.

The sides were equal to the challenge of accompanying the meats. The Brisket Beans was out of this world. The creamy beans were intermixed with chunks of brisket. The first bite took my palate in a different direction. While the other dishes focused on sweet and smoky, the beans brought in some spiciness, just enough to grab your attention. The house-made corn bread was moist, dense, with great texture. There was just a little touch of crunchiness throughout the piece, with sweetness kicking in from the thin layer of maple atop the cornbread. The carrot cherry salad was a little too sweet for my taste.

Overall, Mason Dixon Smokehouse is one of the best, if not the best, BBQ I have eaten in years. Nestor Laracuente has mastered the art of smoking, yet constantly looks to improve his recipes and his technique that already create flawless meats. Each and every bite brought a smile to my face, and I highly recommend grabbing a table, a large appetite and make sure you have a handful of napkins to wipe the sauce from your smiles.

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Wow, Jfood, this sounds awesome and worth a trip from Northern Westchester. Thanks for posting!

Are you saying that Hoodoo Brown is no longer very good?

Must give Mason Dixon a try. Is it a large place? Thanks for the report…

I am saying that the original pitmaster from Hoodoo is now at Mason Dixon. Smoking meats is an art and more than a few seasonings on a slab and into the smoker. There is experience, and there is technique to achieve perfection. I have not been to Hoodoo in months since Nestor left and cannot opine on the food. I tasted a whole roasted pig Hoodoo prepared at Greenwich Wine and Food and it was different, but not fair to compare since it was an offsite event.

Sounds great!! I. With ice cream. Definitely worth the trip from Northern Westchester!!

Does anyone else have recent experience with Hoodoo Brown’s? I ask because some friends recently moved to the area.

jfood: So we took the bait- had to run up to Stamford to try Mason Dixon Smokehouse. You hit the ball out of the park this time! It’s a winner! The place is nice with a bar on one side and tables on the other, with the kitchen in the back. While the menu is a little confusing, do you want meat by the weight and separate sides, or a sandwich which comes with the most delicious homemade chips ever? Big decision! Either way you will have an amazing meal. The ribs are awesome as is the brisket. There is list of sides, we tried the cucumber salad, which was perfect tanginess to cut the spiciness of the meats. Can’t wait to introduce this place to my friends. We will return, and soon!

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Glad you enjoyed.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold