16: Brisket Sandwich from Chelsea's Kitchen
Chelsea's Kitchen makes a brisket sandwich with a level of flavor that must flutter in the dreams of every burger cook who buns patties. Sadly, the burger cooks will never get there, in part because the burger won't, either. An ultimate beefy sandwich will remain abstract for them, a beefy chimera.
That is, unless they learn how to smoke.
Dom Ruggiero of Chelsea's Kitchen knows how to smoke beef. He uses a pair of smokers, one from Camelback Smokers (local), the other from Fat Stack Smokers (Southern California). Crucially, he uses them to smoke the brisket that he slices thin and drapes onto a soft bun.
His brisket sandwich is better than a burger. Even if we're using brisket sandwiches as our yardstick, this is one of the top versions in the Valley.
Ruggiero starts his sandwich with long-smoked brisket. Sliced like you would see in a barbecue joint, the brisket piles folded-over-on-itself on the bottom bun.
Buns are freshly baked down the street, at La Grande Orange Grocery. They have softness to closely match the dissolve of the soft brisket, which, eaten by itself, melts like pudding. A pickle and slaw tossed in Sriracha mayo top the brisket. Pretty simple.
Fries elevate the brisket, and brisket elevated the fries. They are linked by virtue of sharing a plate, but also because Ruggiero tosses his fries in rub, creating a potato experience cousin to barbecue chips.
It all comes together in a huge soft way, the way you want a brisket sandwich or burger.
Nope. But the extra through and effort pays in flavor. It's what plucks the idea of a Platonic beef sandwich from dream and sets it down, hot and heaping, into sunny patio-table reality.
Chelsea's Kitchen. 5040 North 40th Street; 602-957-2555.
Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Essentials So Far
50: Soul food platter at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
49: The Bear at Short Leash Hot Dogs + Rollover Doughnuts
48: Grilled squid and other specialties at Andreoli Italian Grocer
47: I-10 Nachos at Cocina 10
46: Coffee made from ROC2 beans
45: The Haturo Sub Sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff
44: Zookz at Zookz
43: Jade Red Chicken at Chino Bandido
42: Tasting menu at Quiessence at The Farm
41: Single-origin Papua New Guinea Bar at Zak's Chocolate
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso
39: Brûlée burger from Paradise Valley Burger Company
38: Hand-pulled noodles from China Magic Noodle House
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
36: Crispy Pig Ear and Amaro cocktails from Crudo
35: Chile-laced specialties from Cafe Ga Hyang
34: Martinis at AZ88
33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter
32: Eggs Maximilian at Harlow's Cafe
31: Beef Tacos from Asadero Norte De Sonora
30: Orange Blossom from Huss Brewing Company
29: Rye bread from Yasha From Russia
28: Scotch Beef and Mashed Potatoes from Tarbell's
27: Griddled Corn Cakes and Ramona Farms Super Food Salad at Phoenix City Grille
26: Soup from Reathrey Sekong
25: Lamb tongue sandwich at Haji Baba
24: The Special at Grand Avenue Pizza Company
23: Red chile at Elmer's Tacos
22: Marranitos at La Purisima Bakery
21: Kronuts from Karl's Bakery
20: Beef pies at Chou's Kitchen
19: Bavarian pretzels & schnitzel at Haus Murphy's
18: Red chili burro and sopapillas from Los Dos Molinos
17: Camelback Soda at The Sugar Bowl
16: Brisket Sandwich at Chelsea's Kitchen