Tina Visits Uncle Brutha’s New Temporary Location


My senior year of college I went through a phase where I put hot sauce on just about everything I ate. However, due in part to my unsophisticated palate and in part to the unsophisticated grocery selection of Harrisonburg, VA, my love affair with hot sauce was pretty much limited to Tabasco. It was not until I relocated to DC that I realized there was a whole world of hot sauce to explore.

Last week after brunch with a friend, as we were walking up 18th Street, a familiar sign caught my eye. I’ve often wondered what ever happened to the hot sauce heaven that was Uncle Brutha’s Hot Sauce Emporium, formerly of Eastern Market. So I was pretty excited to see that they seemed to have relocated right into my own ‘hood! It turns out I had jumped the gun a bit and the set up was only temporary, but I’ll get to that in a minute.


I dragged my friend inside and we were lucky enough to meet Brennan Proctor, Mr. Uncle Brutha himself! Brennan is a 4th generation DC native, which is something of a rarity these days. He established Uncle Brutha’s in 2003, born out of his love for cooking and homage to his great granduncle George “Brutha” Hubbud, who, as family folklore states, came across the now-famous chilies used in the sauce while working as a Pullman Porter on the (Ed. note: there is some confusion as to whether there is an Underground Railroad connection.) Railroad. 


Brennan began selling his multiple award winning hot sauce in 2004 as a vendor at Eastern Market. A short while later he opened a store on 7th Street SE, right outside the market. After the fire in April 2007 business began to drop and he just couldn’t afford to keep the place running. So unfortunately Uncle Brutha’s had to close its doors, but he continued to sell online and was most recently able to arrange the space on 1831 18th Street as a temporary lease from the owner of Sun Spectacles for the month of December. He is currently scoping out some more permanent locations, and one of them is right in our backyard! Brennan says he’s been looking at the retail spots in the first floor of the Park Place condos going up above the Petworth Metro. He’s still working out the details, but I have my fingers crossed!


In the meantime, Brennan will continue to sell his products, along with many others, through his website www.unclebrutha.com. The online selection is limited only to the Uncle Brutha brand sauces, but in the store he sells a wide variety of hot sauce, bbq sauce, spice rubs and marinades. There was also an entire shelf dedicated to Brennan’s nephew Ryan Neel’s new business venture, Icons, a t-shirt company. Hopefully all of this and more will make its way to the new permanent location. Brennan also is working on renewing a deal to make his products available at Whole Foods. Continues after the jump.


For those who have never tasted the deliciousness that is Uncle Brutha’s own brand of hot sauce, let me tell you, it is really freaking good. There are two variations, No. 9 (chile verde garlic and ginger) and No. 10 (four chiles and garlic). It’s hot alright, a little bit goes a long way, but they have a really great flavor and make almost anything taste just a little bit better! When he created his recipe, Brennan was looking for something with a lot of heat, but equally good flavor. As far as I am concerned he definitely met his goal.


If my endorsement isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps the opinion of Chef Rock (the new head chef at Ben’s Next Door) who lauds it as “the best hot sauce on the planet!” carries a little more weight. Chef Rock, also a DC native and the winner of season 3 of the reality TV cooking competition, Hell’s Kitchen, was one of Brennan’s first customers and brought Uncle Brutha’s hot sauces to B. Smith’s in Union Station, where he was serving as Executive Chef at the time. Despite his departure, Uncle Brutha’s hot sauce can still be found at B. Smith’s and is also taking up some counter space over at Ben’s Next Door, where he’ll be using the hot sauce for the wings and a couple of other recipes. I actually had a chance to meet Chef Rock the following evening when I went to check out the new spot on U Street with a couple of friends. He is really nice and very excited about getting started, and had nothing but good things to say about Brennan and Uncle Brutha’s. And, for the record, the restaurant is gorgeous and I have a feeling it’s gonna be a big hit, but that’s a story for another day!


16 Comment

  • Great post! I’ve always wanted to check out Uncle Brutha’s. I love hot sauce- usually I go to California Tortilla to fill my cravings.

  • Glad to find out he’s found a new location. I bought $60 worth of the green sauce online about 2 months ago, and its about time to restock the pantry!

  • They just started serving his sauce at my office cafeteria, I love it, and I will definately be checking out the emporium.

  • ya harrisonburg!!!

  • Vonstallin

    He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My uncle brutha”

  • He established Uncle Brutha’s in 2003, born out of his love for cooking and homage to his great granduncle George “Brutha” Hubbud, who, as family folklore states, came across the now-famous chilies used in the sauce while working as a Pullman Porter on the Underground Railroad.

    Is that what you really meant to write? Is that some kind of political satire?

  • Ooooh woo hoo! I was so sad when the Eastern Market location shut down. I’ve got to stop by and stock up on Uncle Bruthas.

    And yes, Ben’s Next Door was serving Uncle Bruthas when I went there over the weekend as a condiment. Made me feel good about the food nearly immediately.

  • Neener – nope, that’s what I meant. It’s written on their website…

  • My loss is your gain. I hate that it’s gone from the hood, but I’m glad he found at least a temporary spot. Uncle Bruthas is good stuff. (But don’t tell my friend who makes the award winning Little Willies Hot Sauce up in Baltimore.)

  • The underground railroad was not a railroad, it was a series of paths between safe houses in the days of slavery.

    Pullman Porters were the only jobs available to African-Americans on the segregated railways of the 1890s-1940s and so being a porter was a huge job for a family from the deep south.

    both terms are steeped in history, but mashed together they become some kind of political satire. Other than that, there is no way for them to be related in a sentence.

  • in that case, maybe it was intended (by Brennan) as a joke that went over my head. thanks for clarifying…

  • Be careful not to believe everything you read on a promotional website concerning the “folklore” of a product (see, e.g., Keebler elves).

  • park place! park place!

  • I wonder if one of these sauces could jazz up some dry eggs after a ride on the ferris wheel?

  • Great article Tina! My thanks to you and to everyone else for such positive feedback! Just to help clear up the “folklore” matter, it was totally conceived and always meant to be satirical in nature. While it does still appear on the website it was deleted from the product package label quite some time ago as it seemed to be misconstrued as a point of fact instead of the “giggle” it was intended to be. My Great Grand Father was actually a Pullman Porter in the 1890’s (as per Neener’s post) but of course not on the “Underground Railroad.” I guess my decision to make hot sauce instead of telling jokes for a living was a good one 😉 Keep It Hott!! – UB

  • So glad to know that Uncle Bruths is alive and well. There’s an empty spot in my pantry that’s been crying out for months now. I went to the web site but got an error message on the order pages. Are the sauces carried in any local stores?

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