The Spot: Smokehaus
3636 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
The Hours: Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Perfect for: A big space with big portions fit for a hungry crowd — or aspiring Food Network stars doing their best Man v. Food impressions.
The Interior: Happy hour on a Thursday afternoon was pretty empty, but it gave us plenty space to spread out in one of Smokehaus' booths. The space has high ceilings and kitschy decor, with plenty of space between the tables. The Santa Maria-style BBQ joint also offers a front-porch style patio, where diners can look out onto the meat smoker and sit next to big bags of charcoal.
The Food: Smokehaus' happy hour fare feels indulgent, though there aren't many options. You can go for $5 sausage-and-cheese stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon, a tri-tip sandwich ($9), a pulled pork sandwich ($5), or a smothered waffle fry concoction dubbed "wachos" ($5).
The pulled pork sandwich has a lot of good elements to it: tangy coleslaw, moist pulled pork, and sweet, crunchy pickles on the side. Unfortunately, the bottom bun couldn't take all the pork and its juices, and fell apart as soon as we picked up the sandwich. Since the bun added no real flavor to an otherwise strong sandwich, we ditched it and ate the meat and coleslaw with a fork.
If you order the wachos at Smokehaus, remember to bring a friend or two ... or three. These crispy waffle fries come absolutely smothered with liquid orange cheese, pinto beans, green chili, ranch, and barbecue sauce. This dish obviously belongs in the pantheon of guilty pleasures, and after just a few gooey bites, we were ready for a food coma-induced nap. Though there was a lot going on, we could imagine starting a love affair with these after a few drinks out in Old Town.
The Drink: Smokehaus has a lot to offer on its happy-hour drink menu, from $2 domestic drafts (ranging from Huss Scottsdale Blonde to Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale), $5 glasses of wine, $2 off any cocktail, and $10 buckets of Session beer. The wine list is relatively simple, including an Ecco Domani pinot grigio and Catena malbec, but we wouldn't expect anything exhaustive for a barbecue spot. The cocktail list is one of the most interesting parts of Smokehaus' drink menu, with classics like the Moscow mule ($8) and Dark and Stormy ($6), plus more original cocktails like the Watermelon Rose ($8) made with gin, watermelon, simple syrup, and lime, and the Whiskey Palmer ($8) made with bourbon, sweet tea, and house-made lemonade.
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We're always excited to see a bloody mary ($6) listed on a drink menu that's not for brunch, so we went with Smokehaus' rendition of the classic drink. The glass came with a smoked salt rim and was topped off with a splash of beer (our bartender said he used Corona). We liked the fresh tang of the bloody mary mix, but wanted more heat from the drink, which was just a little too tame. The salt added a smoky flavor to the cocktail.
Conclusion: Smokehaus offers some great deals on its happy hour drinks and food, and everything we tried was worth the value. Though we weren't all that impressed with the pulled pork sandwich or the cocktail, the wachos were a perfect guilty pleasure and there are plenty of other fairly-priced drink options besides the bloody mary.
Don't Miss: The perfectly crispy, gooey wachos.
Skip This: The pulled pork sandwich, if you're truly married to the concept that a sandwich needs bread.