What makes a great barbecue joint? That’s up for debate. For some, it’s all about the juicy, smoked meats. For others, the key to their hearts lies in the savory, special sauces. There’s no debate, however, that Arizona is home to some world-class barbecue joints. These local restaurants know a thing or two about making comfort food fit for all barbecue fans. Here are the 10 best in Arizona.
Little Miss BBQ will leave you with meat sweats, a full stomach, and cravings for more. This barbecue joint was born after the owners’ brisket was awarded first place at a barbecue contest. The rest is history. With roots in Austin, Texas, Little Miss BBQ brings an authentic southern taste to Phoenix. Their renowned meats are cooked in a custom made smoker producing some of the juiciest brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, and sausage in the Valley. A trip to this crowedrestaurant is well worth the wait.
It doesn’t get more local than Joe’s Real BBQ. A pair of locals opened this barbecue joint in 1998. It’s also set in a vintage, 1929 brick building decorated with 1940s Arizonan décor. Joe’s also uses Olyer pits cooked over Arizona grown wood to cook their tasty meats. Joe’s meats are best enjoyed in the sampler platter, which includes ribs, chicken, pork, beef, bread, and a homemade side dish. Their pulled pork sandwich is a can’t miss.
It’s no secret that Bobby-Q serves up some of the best barbecue in the state. This local favorite has been serving Phoenix since 2005 and has since expanded to Mesa. Bobby-Q is known for their tender meats, cooked in a slow cooker and topped with a special dry rub. This mouthwatering establishment has a laundry list of meats, sides, and desserts. Locals rave about the baby back ribs, sweet barbecuesauce, and the whole hog heaven. It’s a combination plate with your choice of two types of ribs, two types of meats, and three sides.
Pork on a Fork may be locally owned and operated, but it’s gotten quite a bit of national recognition. It’s been featured in everything from USA Today to the Cooking Channel. This acclaimed barbecue joint has unique menu items not found at other restaurants. You can try their tender meats in barbecue bowls, samplers, and even burritos. Pork on a Fork adds an extra level of tenderness to their meats by smoking them overnight for 15 hours. They also have a signature dry rub and three types of house barbecue sauces including smoky tangy, zippy mustard glaze, and crazy J’s hot sauce.
Rudy’s has the menu and the décor of an authentic Texas barbecue joint. Rudy’s originally opened in Leon Springs, Texas, but has expanded into the Southwest. Their success is in large part thanks to their cooking methods. Their pits are completely wood fired with oak, which is a slower burning method. The result is a mix of brisket, pork, sausage, and turkey that gets better with ever bite. Rudy’s is located in a massive, barn-like building, which gives off the feel of a real Texas hangout. Don’t forget to add sauce. Their signature barbcue sauce is the perfect complement to any of their meats.
Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ adds some healthy competition to the Valley barbecue scene. This barbecue joint is located right across the street from Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q. In this barbecue turf war, it’s tough to declare a winner. Can’t Stop Smokin’ has an array of freshly smoked meats and premium meat choices including sirloin tri-tip, sliced brisket, and turkey breast. You can purchase them by the pound, in a sandwich, or in a combination meal with homemade side dishes. Can’t Stop Smokin’ also has some delectable desserts. You can top off your meal with cobbler, fresh pies, ice cream, or cookies.
Bigfoot BBQ is a hidden gem. This small joint is located underneath the Old Town Shops in Flagstaff. Though it may be tricky to find, Bigfoot is worth the hunt. They serve a variety of comfort food items and hearty meat based dishes. You can enjoy their beef brisket or pulled pork with underrated sides like homemade mac and cheese, fried okra, or baked beans. Bigfoot’s menu also includes a number of truck stop creations, including the smokin’ bulldawg. It’s a hot dog covered in beef and onion and slathered with cheese.
BrushFire BBQ specializes in meaty madness. That’s not an exaggeration. They have a section on their menu of the same name filled with carnivorous items like messy mac and cheese, smokehouse chili, and crispy pork belly. Brushfire’s meals come in two sizes: Regular and hungry. You can’t go wrong with any of their reasonably-priced meats. However, the ribs stand above the rest. They’re dry rubbed, slow smoked and grilled with your choice of sauce. Speaking of sauce, Brushfire has a variety ranging from sweet to hot. You can douse your food in sweet molasses, smoky chipotle, sweet and bold, or hot sauce.
It’s all about the sauce at Honey Bear’s BBQ. Honey Bear’s Tennessee barbecue sauce has been attracting customers for over 30 years. This tangy, sweet sauce pairs well with all of their meats—including pulled pork, beef brisket, shredded chicken, and spicy hot links. Honey Bear’s also has classic sides including coleslaw, potato salad and collard greens. The star of the menu, however, is the pulled pork sandwich. It’s simple, tender, and delicious.
Say aloha to Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ. This barbecue joint brings tasty Hawaiian treats to Tucson. Mama’s specializes in Hawaiian staples like the Loco Moco burger, which is topped in rice, gravy, and a fried egg. They also have a wide range of family style and single plate meals. You’ll find island favorites like beef teriyaki, kalua pork, and chicken katsu on their menu. Mama’s isn’t a traditional southern style barbecue joint. But their unique menu and tender meats rival that of any barbecue restaurant.