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These Are the 10 Best Barbecue Joints in Greater Phoenix

A loaded tray from Caldwell County BBQ in Gilbert doesn't disappoint.
A loaded tray from Caldwell County BBQ in Gilbert doesn't disappoint. Tirion Morris
No matter the region or style, when it comes to great barbecue, you can see and smell it from the parking lot. An aroma of burning mesquite or hickory hits you as soon as you get out of the car. Plumes of smoke let you know you’re in the right place and your stomach growls in anticipation of the savory meats and selection of sauces inside.

In metro Phoenix, there are a number of spots where you’ll find outstanding ’cue. A heavy influence from Texas, a splash of Carolina-style sauce, a mix of Tennessee and Louisiana flavors, and a few twists from Mexican cuisine meld to create something uniquely Arizonan.

From Southeast Gilbert to Avondale, North Scottsdale to South Phoenix, here are the 10 best barbecue restaurants in the Valley.

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A platter of meat, of course with a beer, from Little Miss BBQ.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Little Miss BBQ

8901 North Seventh Street and 4301 East University Drive
602-314-6922 and 602-437-1177
No Phoenix barbecue list would be complete without the restaurant that reigns supreme in this Valley. Little Miss BBQ, with locations near Tempe and in Phoenix’s Sunnyslope neighborhood, stands at the top, and for good reason. Customers line up around the block, waiting for their turn to try the brisket that former New Times food critic Chris Malloy called “a portal to another dimension.” Add a dose of Arizona to your barbecue adventure with a green chile burrito smothered in bright enchilada sauce.

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Stacy's Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food is a perfect option for takeout.
Tirion Morris

Stacy’s Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food

1804 West Glendale Avenue
602-242-1922
The best description of Stacy’s Off Da Hook is found in the name. This uptown Phoenix joint packs in the flavor, all in a tiny five-booth spot on Glendale Avenue. Squeeze in or, better yet, order takeout for a dinner fit for a backyard bash. Sauced ribs are the perfect amount of messy and satisfying, while the Southern sides shine. Sweet candied yams and collard greens pair well with the pulled pork, rib tips, and cornbread at this Southern-style staple. Wash it all down with Kool-Aid, served on tap.

Honey Bear's BBQ

5012 East Van Buren Street
602-702-3060
The Honey Bear's BBQ recognizable midtown A-frame restaurant closed this year due to the pandemic. But thankfully, the original location on Van Buren and 52nd streets remains open. This restaurant and catering company has been serving Tenessee-style barbecue since 1986. Standouts on the menu include Honey Bear's specialty pulled pork shoulder and ultra-creamy mac and cheese.

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A hefty portion of banana pudding is a great way to end a meal at Eric's Family BBQ.
Tirion Morris

Eric’s Family BBQ

12345 West Indian School Road, Avondale
623-248-0148
Eric's Family BBQ, a white-painted adobe-style building in Avondale, churns out some of the best barbecue in the Valley. This joint is known for its Texas-style brisket, which takes 16 hours to create, but don’t sleep on the turkey, infused with sweet tea to keep it juicy. Eric’s serves both pork and beef ribs, as well as pulled pork measured by weight at the counter. Find the daily menu scribbled on brown paper taped to the walls. The ’cue is excellent, and sides of cheesy elote, craveable beans, and spirals of mac and cheese complete the meal. For dessert, the classic banana pudding brims with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Chow down at a picnic table inside, or sprawl out on the patio as music bumps over the space.

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Meats are served sauce-free at NakedQ.
Tirion Morris

NakedQ

Multiple Locations
480-912-2102
Lucky for Valley residents, NakedQ has restaurants in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale, meaning this modern counter-service joint and its aroma of smoking meat are never too far away. The "naked" in the name refers to barbecue served without sauce and only minimal spices. The sauces can be added later, and they are nothing to miss. Order a butcher paper-lined tray of chopped or sliced brisket, moist, smoky pulled pork, or tender St. Louis-style ribs, and douse it all in the house, spicy, or mustard-based sauces. Peppery mac and cheese and a block of cornbread round out the meal.
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Ribs are the star of the show at Danky's Bar-B-Q.
Tirion Morris

Danky’s Bar-B-Q

4727 East Bell Road, #31
602-996-2016
If you only get one thing at Danky’s Bar-B-Q in north Phoenix, let it be the ribs. When cut into, an almost-candied bark crackles before tender meat gives way, falling off the bone. But trust us, you won’t want to get just one dish. This little spot, wedged into a narrow strip mall space, serves major flavor. Local beer flows on tap, chunks of pork stud the barbecue beans, and sandwiches rock names such as the pulled pork Danky Dank, the beef brisket Curly Wolf, and the combo Hot Southern Mess.
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These smokers are where the magic happens at Caldwell County BBQ.
Tirion Morris

Caldwell County BBQ

18324 East Nunneley Road, Gilbert
480-892-0512
Caldwell County BBQ is to the far East Valley what Eric’s is to the West. Line up at the counter and order links, turkey, and thick slices of brisket by the pound before picking your sides and finding a spot inside or on the patio to sit and chow down. Three sauce options grace each table and add a sweet, spicy tang to the meat. The aromatic flavor of black pepper permeates the brisket and turkey, both of which sport thick crusts of the stuff. Outside the restaurant, giant black smokers with names such as Mr. Big and Little Boy keep the aromas coming and the kitchen stocked.
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The pulled lamb and mashed potatoes are a couple of unexpected menu items at Hap's Pit Barbecue.
Tirion Morris

Hap’s Pit Barbecue

4801 East Washington Street
602-267-0181
Hap’s Pit Barbecue is the perfect spot for a midweek lunch. The little counter-service restaurant is located on Washington Street not too far from downtown Phoenix. As you wait in line, take a look at the murals of pigs going about their business that decorate the walls and a large collage of all the times Hap’s has made the news. A few faded copies of Phoenix New Times display Best of Phoenix awards from the mid-1990s, giving customers a hint about the history of the place. While the sides, such as a cheddar quesadilla and mashed potatoes, stray from a typical barbecue menu, the meats hit all the classics. Moist chopped brisket is a highlight, along with the more unusual pulled lamb.
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A mixed meat platter and armada of sides from JL Smokehouse.
Chris Malloy

JL Smokehouse

2010 East Broadway Road
602-620-5132
JL Smokehouse fits the definition of a classic no-frills barbecue joint. Park on the street in South Phoenix and make your way to a bright red painted building. Inside, there’s no counter but rather a pass-through window into the kitchen. With the catchphrase “Put some South in your mouth,” this spot draws inspiration from Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Carolina-style barbecue to create a blend all its own. Blackened chicken drumsticks and spiced, red-hued baked beans, all served in Styrofoam lunch trays, are must-try dishes on the menu. Homemade lemonade washes it all down.

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Pay your check with a side of mini donuts at BobbyQ.
Tirion Morris

BobbyQ

Multiple Locations
602-995-5982
The reason BobbyQ makes it onto this list is because the place is just so fun. The barbecue is solid. But the original location of the restaurant on 27th Avenue is like a Wild West theme park, complete with saguaro ribs, rodeo paintings, and a truck adorned with a massive set of bull horns. The meal starts with a few disks of golden cornbread bathed in butter. Mammoth baby back or St. Louis-style ribs and piles of pulled pork arrive next, and finally, when the check comes, so does a paper bag filled with fresh mini doughnuts hot out of the fryer. The lively atmosphere, where families gather to celebrate birthdays and couples cheers with impossibly large frozen cocktails served in pineapples, bolsters the food at this essential Phoenix experience.
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Tirion Morris is the Food Editor at Phoenix New Times. Find her digging into all of the best restaurants and dishes in the Valley, from new spots to hidden gems. Food tip? Get in touch at [email protected]
Contact: Tirion Morris