6 BBQ Spots in Tucson Bringing All the Smoke and Flavor

(Photo by Shutterstock/Marie Sonmez Photography)

By Robert Gundran

September 6, 2023

Texas, Memphis, Kansas, and the Carolinas—when people think of barbecue, they think of these places. Arizona isn’t typically thought of as a foodie destination, but you should still stop in Tucson to see what kinds of barbecue offerings they have on display.

Arizona cuisine is influenced by California, Texas, Mexico, the 60% of Arizonans not born in the state, and 13% of Arizonans not born in the country, which means there are lots of flavors to explore.

Check out these six barbecue spots across Tucson to taste what locals are putting in the smokers and slow cookers:

Holy Smokin’ Butts BBQ

6940 E. Broadway Blvd.
Closed Sundays and Mondays
11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays
10 a.m.–8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Holy Smokin’ Butts BBQ has all the platters you’d expect from a barbecue spot, and then some.

Stop by for brisket, tri tip, sausage, turkey breast, pulled pork, ribs, and pork belly. They’re available by the pound, on a platter with some sides, or as a sandwich.

Holy Smokin’ Butts has the traditional barbecue sides like potato salad, mac and cheese, smoked baked beans, and coleslaw.

Plates cost between $16 and $17 and come with an entree, two sides, bread, and choice of barbecue sauce. Platters are between $27 and $37 and have multiple entrees, two 8-ounce sides, and a choice of sauce. They’re also served with jalapeno, onions, and pickles.

On Fridays and Saturdays the restaurant also offers a ribeye or New York strip dinner from 3 p.m. until close.

You can order online up to seven days in advance, or request a quote for catering.

Smokey MO

2650 N. First Ave.
11 a.m.–8 p.m. every day

Smokey MO opened in 2018 and features the traditional staples alongside chicken wings, burgers, tacos, and other daily specials throughout the week.

On Tuesday you can get the triple taco special, while Wednesday’s special is Kansas City fried chicken and Friday’s is Kansas City fried catfish.

Their combo plates are between $17 and $32 for up to four meats alongside two to four sides.

Smokey MO offers catering as well.

BBQ Rush

5151 S. Country Club Road
11:30 a.m.–8 p.m. every day

BBQ Rush in Tucson offers a unique menu with both traditional Texas barbecue and authentic Indian cuisine.

The barbecue options include brisket, pork, chicken, St. Louis-style pork ribs, smoked sausage, and meatloaf.

Options at BBQ Rush don’t stop there, as they alsochave brisket and chicken tacos, New York and ribeye steaks, fried cod, pizza, wings, and burgers.

If you’re more interested in Indian cuisine, BBQ Rush has chana masala, chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, and paneer tikka masala.

BBQ Rush has pick-up catering, delivery, buffet-style catering, and a catering option where they bring a food truck to your event.

Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ

1801 N. Stone Ave.
11 p.m.–10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays
11 a.m.–12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays
11 a.m.–9 a.m. Sundays

Brother John’s is run by John Aldecoa, a third-generation Tucsonan who went to the University of Arizona.

The beer, bourbon, and barbecue spot sells meat and sides individually, or family combos that feed four to six people.

Their barbecue options include beef short ribs, baby back ribs, St. Louis-style ribs, chicken, goat sausage, Texas-style hot links, pork belly, beef brisket, and pulled pork.

Brother John’s not only offers catering, but private dining options as well.

Brushfire BBQ

Three locations in Tucson
11 a.m.–9 p.m. every day

Brushfire BBQ started in 2007 and uses locally sourced and Arizona-grown mesquite and pecan wood in their smokers.

All their meats are smoked for between two and 13 hours. Brushfire has pulled pork, smoked brisket, roasted chicken, shredded chicken, wings, smoked turkey, meatloaf, smoked salmon, pork belly, sausage, and rib meals. The meals are between $13 and $40.

The meals offer sides like potato salad, coleslaw, green beans, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, baked potatoes, corn, corn bread, baked beans, and fries.

Brushfire has a catering menu that costs from $13 to $31 per person for your event.

Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue

5250 E. 22nd St.
Closed Sundays and Mondays
11 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue is the home of Tucson’s best barbecue for half- a decade, according to the Arizona Daily Star’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

The restaurant has won the award every year since 2019.

Ken’s has a sprawling menu featuring all the traditional barbecue favorites like brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, St. Louis-style ribs, and hot links.

The Big Smokehouse Sandwich is there for anyone who doesn’t want to decide which meat to order. It’s pulled pork, brisket, and a Texas hot link on a toasted brioche bun with Ken’s homemade barbecue sauces.

Ken’s offers catering for parties of eight people or more with pickup and delivery options. They also have a food truck to come to your event, if requested.

READ MORE: Here Are 7 BBQ Joints to Try in Metro Phoenix


  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.

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