Over a mesquite fire is where the pit masters at Chandler BBQ Company do most of their work, slow cooking meats until they're tender enough to fall off the bone. They choose not to favor any regional style of barbecue, loading their grill with whole pork shoulders for pulled pork sandwiches, brisket for barbecue burritos, and louisiana hot sausages that come paired with two homestyle sides. No matter what entree they serve, they always pair it with a slice of cornbread to mop up the flavorful juices. Though they specialize in meats, the chefs have a soft spot for desserts, fashioning Southern favorites such as banana pudding and their signature slices of sweet potato pie. For meals at home, they package meats by the pound and sides by the quart to create meals that are both tasty and fast, much like that hamburger somebody put on a skateboard.
By morning, Brady Bogen is "the voice of morality" on KUPD's Holmberg's Morning Sickness, but come lunchtime, the quirky radio personality dons another cap: barbecue aficionado. After finishing his radio shift, Brady heads over to his barbecue restaurant—Porkopolis—which he co-owns with seasoned restaurateur Matt Hamilton. You can spot Brady in the joint's dining room, captaining the bar, greeting customers, or digging into a juicy barbecue sandwich himself. Otherwise, he might be in the kitchen, directing chefs as they pile platters high with slices of tender brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. The skilled chefs smother platters with Brady's own brand of tangy sauces and pair dishes with classic sides such as mac 'n cheese, beans, and cornbread. For dessert, the chefs dish out apple crisp and handmade popsicles from Paletas Betty.
Customers hungrily inhale barbecue aromas as they await meals in the dining area—a space described by a Mouth By Southwest blogger as "sleek" and "modern." They bide the time by sipping draft beer and artisanal cocktails, including bacon bloody marys and drinks made with whiskey from Ole Smoky Distillery.
When Joe Johnston realized that he wanted to open a barbecue joint, he performed what might be the most delectable research of all time: he visited numerous barbecues to get an idea of what he wanted his to be like. He got a sense of the locations he preferred—older brick buildings full of character—as well as the cooking methods and service systems that yielded the tenderest meats. His investigation finished, he opened Joe's Real BBQ in his hometown of Gilbert, Arizona with the help of his business partners, Tim and Tad Peelen. Not much has changed about the eatery's cooking process since then. Oyler pits still burn Arizona-grown pecan wood to seal flavor into ribs, chicken, pork, and beef, and the barbecue sauce comes from the same recipe devised by Joe and Tim all those years ago. Although meat certainly headlines here, as it does in the Broadway hit Pork on a Hot Tin Roof, the side dishes are equally as special—many of the recipes come from the Peelen family. Tim’s mother came up with their applesauce recipe, and Tim himself devised the gooey mac 'n' cheese. Joe’s Real BBQ inhabits a downtown building dating back to 1929, which was once home to the grocery store that served the tiny farming community of the day. To honor this founding population, the restaurant's lofty walls depict an agricultural mural, and the rest of the space features such farming memorabilia as a John Deere tractor and vintage advertisements. Outside, a spacious outdoor dining area lined with picnic tables celebrates the Arizona sunshine.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ brings the island to the mainland with tender meats soaked in made-from-scratch marinades. Chefs hand roll chicken katsu in panko bread crumbs to give it a fresh, crispy texture, and assemble generous portions of crispy shrimp, island whitefish, and barbecue chicken in the seafood mix.
Inside Allison’s Texas BBQ, a symphony of tantalizing smells dances in the air, rising from plates of tender meat that’s generously slathered in housemade sauces. Diners can tear into chopped brisket or pulled-pork sandwiches, demolish slabs of ribs with sides of beans or potatoes, and finish their meals with a slice of pecan pie. Allison’s Texas BBQ also sells brisket, chicken, and pulled pork by the pound, so you can build the meaty wedding cake of your dreams.
Each slab, slice, and link of Notorious’s meat spends three days tenderizing, flavorizing, and smokifying itself for you. Rubbed down in a secret mixture of spices, this barbecue mellows before diving into a pecan and mesquite-fired smoker for hour after hour of soaking in a veritable taste sauna. Cooked slowly overnight, it then falls apart tenderly on your plate in the form of delicious dishes such the eponymous Notorious P.I.G. sandwich, a massive pile of pulled pork topped Carolina style with blue-cheese coleslaw ($10), and the more traditional Texan, chopped brisket layered between thick slices of Texas toast ($10). Meaty platters of barbecued jalapeño sausage, pulled chicken, and hot links ($15 for all three meats) and wise-cracking full racks of loin back ribs redolent of paprika and brown sugar ($19) fulfill your belly's wildest dreams without having to fund its get-rich-quick schemes. If you're not in the mood for barbecue, reach no further than a catfish po’ boy ($9). Vegetarians can breathe a sigh of relief, since assorted grilled vegetables (with red-pepper dip, $6) get equal quantities of care from the meat makers.