You might think it unlikely to find great barbecue in a citrus grove. But that's just what Jalapeño Bucks is — one of the best and most underrated haunts for smoked meat in our metro area. It's a gathering place for pork that collapses with the faintest touch and for peanut-butter brisket in a treed expanse just south of the 101 in Mesa. Using rotisserie Oyler smokers from Texas and wood from Arizona (including the non-culinary, post-wildfire-salvaged wood that forms the long roadside shack), Jalapeño Bucks buns, platters, and tortilla-wraps its own spin on Arizona barbecue. Pork butt gets a rub and 24 hours in the smoker. Brisket gets just salt and pepper in the minimal Texas style. Ribs draw a line that forms hours before lunch. Though the Burden family's smoked meats are in the top echelon of what you can find in Arizona, they might do best when served not naked, but as the centerpiece of other preparations. Quesadillas. Burritos with hot or sweet barbecue sauce, and a few of the many scratch-made salsas. A minimal sandwich of smoked brisket, meat griddled for color and laid onto a sweet bun goosed with mayo-based spread. Though Jalapeño Bucks makes its own rules, there is something of Arizona afoot in the thoughtful, quality meats baptized by slow smoke in this 32-acre grove, a citrus farm just three years younger than our state. New Normal: Jalapeño Bucks has a huge patio with picnic tables for those uncomfortable dining indoors.
- Price: $$
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Outdoor seating: Open-air patio