Ask any barbecue lover and they’ll tell you, the key to great barbecue is to keep it simple—slow-roasted meats cooked over wood, rich and flavorful sauces, and homemade sides your mom would be proud to call her own.
Phoenix’s barbecue scene offers all this and more, thanks to an array of restaurants that serve a variety of styles of barbecue, from Tennessee to Texas. Here are a few of our favorite barbecue joints in town.
Tucked away in an industrial complex between downtown Phoenix and the skirts of Tempe is some of the best central Texas-style barbecue you’ll find west of Austin. Modeled after the iconic Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Little Miss BBQ is where Phoenix barbecue fanatics go for ’cue that so perfectly smoked and tender, people are willing to stand in long lines just for a taste. Meats include brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey and sausage, served with such sides as ranch-style beans, jalapeno cheddar grits, potato salad and coleslaw.
4301 E University Dr, Phoenix 85034
Because sometimes you just want to have it your own way, Naked BBQ serves their barbecue sans sauce. Smoked with a little rub, the meats are tender and juicy, and a clean slate for you to create your own customized barbecue experience. Choose a North Carolina vinegar sauce, a South Carolina mustard-based sauce, a sweet sauce or spicy sauce. You can even have it dry with a little extra rub. Enjoy your creation in a sandwich or meat plate served, of course, with sides ranging from Carolina slaw to mac and cheese.
2340 W Bell Rd, Phoenix 85023
10240 N 90th St Suite 105, Scottsdale 85258
While a barbecue joint worth its salt is all about making the ’cue the best it can be, sometimes it’s the sides that make it stand out. Danky’s Bar-B-Q is just that place. Come for the brisket, pulled pork and ribs, but stay for the pork belly pit beans. Slow-simmered with kidney beans, smoked pork belly, onions, vinegar, mustard and a few secret ingredients, Danky’s beans have been voted one of the best in the Valley. The restaurant serves some untraditional barbecue options, as well, including Andouille sausage and deep-fried chicken drumsticks.
4727 E Bell Rd,Phoenix 85032
What happens when Nebraska-style barbecue comes to Phoenix? Pork on a Fork BBQ happens. With two Phoenix locations (plus a location at Talking Stick Resort Arena), their specialty, of course, is pork—smoked for 15 hours in pecan and mesquite woods. Get it hand-pulled or in a sandwich, burrito or bowl. Or opt for the baby back ribs, smoked with their signature mop sauce.
For a true taste of the Midwest, take a chance on the Midwest Monster, a heaping tower of smoked pulled pork and brisket topped with cheese, jalapenos and slaw. Homemade sides include cornbread muffins, waffle fries and barbecue baked beans.
1515 W Deer Valley Rd, Phoenix 85027
4724 N 20th St, Phoenix 85016
Fusing slow-smoked barbecue with urban Southern cooking is downtown’s latest foray in the land of low-and-slow cooking. Owner Phil Johnson—also known as “Phil the Grill”—has made a name for himself on the competition barbecue circuit, earning numerous prestigious awards.
At Trapp Haus, he puts it all on a plate with such classic platters as applewood smoked pulled pork, hickory smoked brisket, and applewood smoked St. Louis ribs. But before you dig in, try Phil’s Philly Crack Wings (choice of naked or sauced); Mac Roll (smoked brisket folded in mac ’n cheese and deep fried); or the Phil Em Up Fries (seasoned waffle fries with cheese sauce, pico de gallo and sour cream).
511 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix
Geared for the more sophisticated barbecue lover (think wood-fired filet mignon), Bobby Q serves food fitting for ’cue connoisseurs in the tony Biltmore area. Using a mix of almond and mesquite woods, a variety of meats—from baby back ribs and smoked pulled pork, to wood-fired steaks and smoked chicken and salmon—are cooked low and slow to perfection. For lighter fare, there are burgers and sandwiches, and made-to-order salads, including kale and quinoa.
Not in the neighborhood? No worries. Bobby Q has locations in north Phoenix and Mesa—proof that good barbecue can be had wherever you are.
3154 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix 85016
Tucked in a south Phoenix strip mall is perhaps one of the best places to get Southern barbecue in Arizona. Pitmaster James Lewis—who says the JL in the name stands for “just love”—packs on the flavor in such offerings as tender pulled pork, beef brisket and baby back ribs. Whether you have them as-is, in a sandwich or on a baked potato, get them with a side: mac ’n cheese, potato salad, barbecue beans, greens or cabbage. Then finish it off with a heaping helping of peach cobbler. If that’s not Southern comfort, we don’t know what is.
1712 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix 85040
Serving slow-cooked Tennessee-style barbecue since 1986, Honey Bear’s BBQ is a Phoenix institution. With their slogan, “You don’t need no teeth to eat our meat,” one can only assume the meats here are fall-off-the-bone tender.
The menu is simple: There are pork, beef, chicken, and hot links sandwiches, as well as meat plates of grilled chicken or pork spareribs. And for specials, there’s loaded fries with meat, or fried catfish with your choice of fixins. Whatever you do, save room for dessert. Peach cobbler and sweet potato pie—need we say more?
5012 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, 85008
2824 N Central Ave, Phoenix 85004