For the location of the first Dillon's, Rich Dillon and George Valverde chose a 1940s Thunderbird Road structure that a writer for the Phoenix New Times described as "a cute, converted old house that looks like grandma's parlor." Since then, they've opened four more eateries in locations that are as appealing as the signature flame-kissed and slow-smoked meats served inside. Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium's shark tank flanks the dining room of Dillon's at the Zoo, and the boat-accessible Scorpion Bay location opens onto the waters of Lake Pleasant so that diners can chortle as fish attempt to develop democracy. Live music and karaoke lend additional social vibes to the smokehouses.
As the restaurant's name might suggest, the chefs at Shane's Rib Shack take their dedication to rib-sticking food seriously. It's what drove them to craft a menu loaded with sauce-slathered ribs, pulled pork, and chicken along with salads and homestyle sides such as mac ‘n’ cheese, Brunswick stew, and fried okra. In addition to heaping plates with hearty food, chefs also take dietary needs into account via a menu of gluten-free options.
The owners of Pork on a Fork BBQ Grill, Wes Hansen and Justin Erickson, share a love of barbecue, but their mutual dedication to quality runs further than that. Both were born around Nebraska hog farms—Wes to a restaurateur father, Justin an award-winning competitive barbecuer. In fact, the Erickson family still owns a farm in Central City. That's why the duo gets all their meat from Midwestern farms before they smoke it competition-style, each cut sizzled over pecan wood and charcoal—never a gas grill.
This pared-down approach results in a simple selection of quality midwestern barbecue, including pulled pork, smoked chicken, and the “menu showstopper,” according to 10Best: the “perfectly cooked” brisket. To accompany each succulent entree, cooks whip up traditional sides such as macaroni salad, slaw, and cornbread hand-plucked from Nebraska’s plentiful fields of cornbread.