10 best BBQ spots in Phoenix & the East Valley

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Andrew’s BBQ in Tempe

AndrewsBBQ051517xAndrew’s BBQ, referring to chef-owner Andrew Vander Stoep, focuses on catering, but this strip-mall space (map) has a large dining room that’s open for lunch on weekdays. Brisket, pork, and chicken are standards, with daily specials highlighting other meats. The hot sauce is a customer fave, but I also love the Carolina mustard.

Bootleggers in Phoenix & Scottsdale

Bootleggers051617This self-described “modern American smokehouse” may not appeal to BBQ traditionalists, but Bootleggers’ smoked meats – especially the hot links, locally sourced from Schreiner’s – are mostly above average. Be warned: So are the prices, as might be expected with locations in Old Town Scottsdale (map) and northeast Phoenix (map).

Bryan’s Black Mountain in Cave Creek

BryansBlackMtn051617The brisket and ribs at Bryan’s Black Mountain have established owner-chef Bryan Dooley as one the of Valley’s top pitmasters, but the former Scottsdale resort chef pushes the culinary envelope with unusual smoked offerings like frog legs, alligator ribs and even spaghetti squash (vegetarian ‘‘pulled pork’’) at his northeast Valley outpost (map).

Danky’s Bar-B-Q in Phoenix

DankysBBQ051617The pulled pork sandwich is billed as the house favorite at this family-run, strip-mall eatery (map), but the brisket at Danky’s BBQ also is among the best in the Valley. The pork belly pit beans are almost addictive. If you’re adventurous, be sure to sample Danky’s unusual green Javelina Sauce or relish-based Danky Dank sauce.

Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert

JoesRealBB051617Joe Johnston and Tim Peelan converted a 70-year-old brick grocery store in historic downtown (map) into a family-friendly homage to the town’s agricultural past. The sliced brisket and turkey breast at Joe’s Real BBQ are standouts, as are the BBQ pit beans. Save room for one of the numerous desserts like Dr Pepper cake or apple crisp ala mode.

Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix

LittleMissBBQ051617Simply put, Scott Holmes’ small, no-frills eatery on the Phoenix-Tempe border (map) serves the best barbecue in Arizona. Expect a long line from when doors open at 11 a.m. until the Texas-inspired brisket, pork, and ribs sell out (usually by 3 p.m.) Tuesday through Saturday. Even on a 115-degree summer day, Little Miss BBQ is totally worth it.

Naked BBQ in Phoenix & Scottsdale

NakedBBQ051617If anyone is going to challenge Holmes for best in the Valley, it might be Oren Hartman, who opened Naked BBQ amongst the Bell Road auto dealerships (map) in 2015 and another in north Scottsdale (map) in early 2017. Meats are served ‘‘naked,’’ allowing diners to customize them with up to five different sauces.

Pork on a Fork in Phoenix

PorkOnFork051617Nebraskans Justin Erickson and Wes Hanson began selling preservative-free pork from Erickson’s family pig farm at Valley farmers markets, opened Pork on a Fork as a storefront takeout spot next to the Deer Valley airport (map), expanded it with a dining room, and then added a second location near the Biltmore (map).

Porkopolis in Chandler & Scottsdale

Porkopolis051617You’d almost never guess this stylish, modern restaurant and lounge (map), which added a Scottsdale location (map) in 2016, is a BBQ joint – until the scent of the smoker gives it away. Radio personality Brady Bogen, co-owner with Matt Hamilton, marketed his own line of sauces even before opening Porkopolis.

Rhema Soul Cuisine in Queen Creek

RhemaSoul051617New York City isn’t exactly known for BBQ, but Ron and Via Childs moved from the Big Apple and used their life savings to open Rhema Soul Cuisine (map). They offer a variety of soul food – chicken and red velvet waffles is the bestseller – but Ron’s pecan-smoked meats make up about half of the menu.

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