The latest is 5 Star BBQ & Grill, which took over the longtime Taco Bell building on Country Club, just north of Main Street, in Mesa two weeks ago.
Owners Jim and Joanne Hauer (pictured above) have been catering BBQ since 2009, but this is the Gilbert couple’s first restaurant venture.
The Hauers chose the stand-alone Taco Bell building, directly north of Blue Adobe Grille, because they eventually plan to park a trailer smoker in the drive-through (accessing it through a door that will replace the drive-through window).
Jim Hauer says his BBQ doesn’t fall within any particular regional style. “I like to incoporate flavors from here,” he says. “I like chiles and Southwestern foods.”
Hauer forgoes commonly used mesquite and hickory – “I feel their flavor is a little harsh, almost bitter,” he says – in favor of smoking meats with pecan, which he feels imparts a more mellow flavor.
Menu prices start at $5.99 for sandwiches and top out at $18.99 for a full rack of spare ribs. Sides include three-bean BBQ beans, pepper jack mac ‘n’ cheese, and grilled avocados (all $1.79). No alcohol is available.
The restaurant also offers four sauces (on the side, of course): Original, spicy, mustard-based, and green chile-based.
5 Star BBQ is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
(Warning: The website menu is for the catering business. See the restaurant menu here.)