SMOTHER LOVE

Bev's potato salad is different from any I've had. Reddish in color (from paprika?), it is laced with sweet pickle relish. The potatoes are tender, intact and not mushy. I like it very much.

As we gorge on this feast, we hear the young men behind us debate the merits of one mobile phone carrier versus another with two similarly dressed youths at the table next to theirs. Company X, one insists, is better. "When they have a sale," he says knowledgeably, "their prices are smokin'." And so is Bev's. This soul kitchen is a great Phoenix find. Today, we're so stuffed we order a piece of sweet potato pie to go. My only regret is that I don't have room for peach cobbler, too.

Home cookin'.
There's nothing like it. Especially if it's from a kitchen as talented as Bev's.

Location Info

Map

Bev's Kitchen

5815 S. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85040-3512

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Phoenix

The venerated Hodge's Famous Barbecue, which has operated for some time on East Southern Avenue in Phoenix, recently opened a second location on East Washington Street. An accomplice and I decide to check it out on a recent Sunday.

Hodge's opens at one o'clock on Sundays. We arrive sometime after two. Even so, things seem to be operating behind schedule in the tiny restaurant.

For instance, when we ask to have lemonade, our young, unpolished waitress says, "How about pop? We don't have any ice yet for the lemonade." Realizing we have little choice in the matter, we agree.

When we order the rest of our meal, more red flags surface. Hodge's specializes in five kinds of mesquite-smoked meats: ribs, hot links, chicken, pork and beef. Funny, when I try to order a combination plate ($7.99) of chicken, hot links and ribs, our waitress tells me they're out of the first two items--can I order something else? I settle for beef and ribs. My accomplice orders a pork sandwich ($3.75). Between us we order four different go-withs.

Besides a small lunch counter, there are only four or five tables in the restaurant. A small-screen TV embedded in a large "boom box" fills the air with chatter as we await our orders. People come and go for take-out, but only one other table is occupied besides ours. Soon, our young waitress appears, poorly managing a tray with our side dishes on it. The plates have slid against her chest, and we watch, dismayed, as she removes the dishes from the tray by sticking her thumbs in some of them. She seems oblivious to her faux pas.

An attractive woman still dressed in her Sunday church clothes brings us our barbecue. She is obviously the person in charge of the kitchen--today, anyway. After the other couple leaves, she sits at one of the tables and gazes at the small-screen TV. In contrast to Bev's solicitous service, we are pretty much ignored by her. Neither she nor the waitress asks us how we like our food. Which maybe is a wise thing. Though the meats are tender, neither of us is wild about Hodge's barbecue sauce, which is thin, vinegary and somewhat gritty. But 'cue is such a personal thing, I'm sure some people will find it exactly to their liking. I don't.

We receive a plate of soft, white Wonder-type bread with our meals. It is the same bread that provides the foundation for my accomplice's pork sandwich. One thing in its favor, it really does soak up that sauce.

Of the side dishes we order, the macaroni salad and cole slaw stand out. The former--at least on the day we visit--is made of large pasta, not tiny elbows and is nice and thick with mayonnaise. The cole slaw is refreshing and lightly dressed with vinegar.

Less successful are the potato salad and pinto beans. Eggy and sweet with pickle relish, the potato salad is nearly mashed. The pinto beans are barbecue flavored but not as spectacular as Honey Bear's spicy ranch beans.

A couple comes in to order take-out as we work away at our plates. The man tries to order chicken and corn on the cob and is informed Hodge's is out of both. Apparently, the absence of items is routine at this restaurant. A subsequent phone call to Hodge's discloses that it has only beef and hot links that day--no chicken, ribs or pork.

Personally, I don't think this is any way to run a business.

Bev's Kitchen, 4220 South 16th Street, Phoenix, 268-8569. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday.

Hodge's Famous Barbecue, 1202 East Washington, Phoenix, 254-5176. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 1 to 8 p.m., Sunday.

Production: first pullquote
goes with first restaurant

Saturday is as long as I can wait. Visions of smothered chicken and peach cobbler have danced like sugarplums in my head all week.

Second pullquote goes
with second restaurant

An attractive woman still dressed in her Sunday church clothes sits at one of the tables and gazes at the small-screen TV. We are pretty much ignored.

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