Budget Beat

Budget Beat: Stacy's Smokehouse

Rib tips and mac and cheese: A lunch you can't beat.

By Jay Bennett

Do you know what a "lazy pescatarian" is? It's how my wife describes herself in regard to her eating habits. She aspires to be a vegetarian but knows she loves fish and other seafood too much to abstain from eating our underwater friends. That's the "pescatarian" part. The "lazy" part rears its head when we happen to pass a place like Stacy's Smokehouse, a welcome purple beacon for the carnivorous among us. The lure of good barbecue becomes too much, and she falters.

But who can blame her? Stacy's is smokin' good.

Stacy's Smokehouse: Somehow, the purple works.

You can't miss the tiny, standalone building on Indian School Road near 16th Street. It's painted a brilliant purple and is adorned with the word's "Stacy's" and "BBQ" and "Open" in big, faux-graffiti painted letters. Inside is nothing to behold, with a cold, tile floor, some mismatched artwork on the walls, and a handful of tables. But ambiance isn't the name of the game here; good BBQ is what's it all about.

I liked the giant, blackboard menu, with all the menu items written in chalk (for some reason, the desserts are scrawled in huge letters, while the meat is written in small letters). Whatever. It exudes an organic quality, as if the menu is constantly changing.

You'll find pretty much everything you'd expect from a BBQ joint up there on that chalkboard: ribs (beef or pork, half-slab or full slab); rib tips, brisket, and pulled pork (in half-pound and pound servings); fried chicken and fried catfish (purchased by the piece); a few sandwiches, and all manner of side dishes and desserts, including (you guessed it) red velvet cake.

The missus and I opted for half-pound orders of the rib tips and pulled pork, along with sides of mac and cheese and red beans and rice. Is it making your mouth water? Ours sure were as we sat there and waited for food, savoring the heavenly aroma wafting from the kitchen.

The pulled pork was among the most succulent I've ever had. Served in a little, cardboard tray, the juicy and flavorful pork was cooked to perfection and topped with a thick and sweet BBQ sauce that had a slight tang. It was hard not to inhale the food sitting in front of me. And I was happy because I prefer the sweeter BBQ sauces to the spicier ones, and this stuff was definitely sweet. It's going to be tough resisting ordering the pulled pork the next time I go back to Stacy's.

Pulled pork and red beans and rice: You'd be forgiven for pigging out on this pork. (Photos by Laura Hahnefeld)

The rib tips were good, if not the meatiest I've ever had (that distinction belongs to Hillery's in Waukegan, Illinois. Oh, how I miss you, Hillery's). Still, the tips at Stacy's tasted great. Like the pulled pork, they were cooked to perfection, with the meat coming off the bone with the greatest of ease. Ordered "Stacy Style," the tips were topped with a deep brown BBQ sauce that was spicier than that of the pulled pork. It was plentiful and excellent. Almost as if it were a special treat, the tips were served atop a small bed of French fries that became soaked in that spicy sauce. Good times.

The mac and cheese was unique. Sure, it was piping hot and super-cheesy, but it was also sweeter-tasting than any mac and cheese I'd had before. It was delicious. The peppery red beans and rice were a letdown. I like a milder RB&R and a thicker one, too. Stacy's errs on the soupy side. Of course, I still ate every last bite.

I should warn you about a couple of things before you go: 1) Don't expect a quick pop-in for lunch. The food is made to order. Even though there was only other occupied table when we were there, it still took about 20-25 minutes for us to get our food. 2) Cash only.

I can almost guarantee we'll be back at Stacy's soon. We got out of there for about $20 (two half-pound servings of meat, two sides at $1.99, and two Diet Cokes) — it's a Budget Beat-approved meal if ever there was one.

I'd love to hear your opinion on Stacy's or your suggestion for your fave BBQ spots around the Valley. Please write to [email protected].

Stacy's Smokehouse 1650 East Indian School Road 602-230-6724 Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett