By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
Oddly, the items Stacy is famous for are my least favorite: his catfish and his peach cobbler. These may be the two most popular items on his menu, but I fear I'm spoiled rotten by my mama on both counts. I'm used to eating the whole catfish, head and all, not just the fillets, which Stacy serves. Stacy says he does this for practical reasons, so that folks won't choke on the bones. But as my grandpappy used to say, "Anyone who chokes on a fish bone is a durn idiot!" Of course, the old geezer didn't have to worry about getting sued by customers. I suspect cooking the whole fish, and not just the fillet, adds flavor you can't replace. I should mention, however, that Stacy promises to get and cook the whole catfish for those who call a few days ahead.
As for the cobbler, it's really heavy on the cinnamon, which is fine for apples but with peaches hides their true character. Once again, my mother's family hails from Candor, North Carolina -- a town not unlike the mythical Mayberry, which once prided itself on being "Peach Capital" of the South. The cobbler I'm used to is sweeter, without any cinnamon. Tips for Stacy: The best cobbler is made from fresh peaches, and you're supposed to put a few peach pits down into the cobbler for a more robust finish (always remembering to pick them out before serving).
Better than his cobbler is Stacy's sweet potato pie, which handily tops those I've had back home. Stacy says he's been trying to perfect the recipe from what his late grandmother left him, and I dare say he must be near the mark.
602-254-1736. Hours: Lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. (winter only).
Stacy creates all of his comestibles in comfortable, laid-back environs that are a cross between Ice Cube's Barbershop and Tim Reid's short-lived TV series Frank's Place. Soft lighting with smooth jazz station KYOT-FM 95.5 on the box helps create a mellow mood, as do the thin reed blinds and faux New Orleans-style lampposts. Across the hall is George Greathouse's Esquire Barber and Beauty Salon, a hub of Phoenix's African-American community, and it's common to see parent and child go from the barber to Stacy's for some post-haircut barbecue.
It may seem a bit ironic that my pick for the Valley's best Southern-style chef has himself never visited the South, though his family has its roots in Tupelo, Mississippi. But this is not so strange. Most African-Americans trace their family trees through the South and back to Africa. Just before the writing of this article, Stacy was planning a Christmas trip to the Deep South because he wanted to see "how my cooking compares with theirs." I think he's found that it compares very well. One more suggestion for your menu, Stacy (especially when you prepare those catfish whole): hushpuppies, hushpuppies, hushpuppies.