Barbecue is a quintessential summertime food. Sinking your teeth into smoked meats slathered in barbecue sauce is as much of a summer tradition as watching fireworks on the Fourth of July and vacationing at the beach.
As much as the meat is the star of the show, most barbecue spots also have stellar sides to accompany the smoked meats. If you’re looking to get your ‘cue fix in metro Phoenix, here are seven barbecue spots where you can satisfy your cravings.
Three locations in metro Phoenix
Bobby-Q started out back in 2005 with an original location that took over the space formerly occupied by Bobby McGee’s. It is largely considered to be a go-to spot for barbecue in the Valley. Everything here is made from scratch, including the rubs and seasonings. All of Bobby-Q’s meats are smoked in house over almond and mesquite wood for up to 22 hours. Next, they are finished on the restaurant’s wood-fired grill. Guests can sink their teeth into brisket, pulled BBQ chicken, smoked pulled pork, smoked St. Louis style ribs, brisket, sausage, rib tips, smoked jumbo Texas beef ribs, and pulled BBQ chicken. Sides include mac and cheese, pecan coleslaw, roasted corn, broccoli in garlic butter, and mashed potatoes.
Two locations in metro Phoenix
A trip out to Austin forever altered the course of Little Miss BBQ owner Scott Holmes’ life. He was in town with his then-girlfriend and now-wife Bekke when they were both blown away by the barbecue at legendary Texas spot The Salt Lick. Scott and Bekke got to work trying to craft amazing barbecue, participating in different competitions. Today, Little Miss BBQ touts itself as a place that slings central-Texas-style barbecue at its two locations. Customers can order meat by weight, plates or sandwiches. Guests can dig into brisket, pulled pork, turkey, sausage, and pork ribs. Sides include ranch-style beans, jalapeno cheddar grits, potato salad, and coleslaw. The only item on the restaurant’s dessert menu? Bekke’s smoked pecan pie.
Fun fact: Scott is also half of Camelback Smokers, a local company that makes smokers designed specifically for barbecue.
6738 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek
Established in 1976, The Horny Toad is one of the oldest restaurants in Cave Creek. In true Arizona fashion, all the barbecue here is cooked over mesquite charcoal and topped with the restaurant’s house-made sauce. Customers can order BBQ half-chicken, BBQ baby back pork ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, or a half-chicken-and-pork-ribs combo. All of the barbecue options are served with coleslaw and fries.
Don’t forget about the strawberry shortcake. Topped with a heaping dollop of whipped cream, it’s the restaurant’s signature dessert.
6823 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek
The storied Buffalo Chip Saloon, established in 1951, is well known for its lively atmosphere that includes mechanical bull riding, a mini-rodeo, and dance hall. Buffalo Chip even hosts live bull riding on Wednesday and Friday nights. But the Buffalo Chip is also noteworthy for its Texas-style barbecue. Customers can order a half or full pound of pit-smoked beef brisket, barbecue-glazed burnt ends, smoked bone-in pork butt, Texas all-beef sausage, and St. Louis pork spare ribs. Guests also can order a BBQ Platter if they’d like to sample beef brisket, pulled pork, beef smoked sausage, and cowboy beans.
Please note that anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and can’t be in the venue after 10 p.m.
30845 N. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek
For Kansas City barbecue (characterized by crisp, charred ends of pork or smoked brisket and spicy and sweet tomato-based sauce that’s cooked low and slow), head to Phat Turtle in Cave Creek, owned by Kansas City natives Michael and Kelly Sloan. Dig into pulled pork, brisket, chopped chicken, baby back ribs, smoked sausage, and burnt ends. Guests can order plates that come with two sides or a choice of a half or full pound of smoked meats. Sides include fried okra, onion rings, potato salad, and brisket baked beans, among other options.
301 N. Gilbert Road in downtown Gilbert
Since 1998, Gilbert residents have flocked to family-owned Joe’s Real BBQ for its smoked meats. Joe’s smokes its meats for hours using Arizona pecan wood. This joint doesn’t use any gas or electricity to get a rich flavor and tender cuts. Meats are accompanied by 12 sides, all made from scratch. Diners can dig into brisket, pit ham, pulled pork, hot link sausage, turkey jalapeno sausage, turkey breast, and a spicy jackfruit option for vegetarians. Sides include cornbread, mac and cheese, cheesy potatoes, potato salad, and applesauce.
Fun fact: Joe’s Real BBQ is housed in a former Safeway Pay’n Takit grocery store constructed way back in 1929.
Two locations in metro Scottsdale
Liberty Station smokes many of its meats from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas, on a custom Camelback Smoker. Guests can order Texas brisket seasoned with salt, pepper, and coffee, St. Louis spare ribs with a Kansas City-style glaze, Carolina pork shoulder in a Carolina BBQ sauce, and The Tavern BBQ platter that features all three. Sides include green chili mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, French fries, a house salad, and honey butter cornbread. BBQ-dusted house chips or Tavern Tots cost $4 more. Customers can also order BBQ pulled pork tacos, Arizona pulled pork sandwich, a brisket grilled cheese, a brisket sandwich, and smoked prime rib dip.