Circle H Barbecue Brings Good 'Cue to Camelback and Seventh Avenue

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When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Circle H Barbecue Location: 730 West Camelback Road Open for: Just over a week. Eats: Barbecue Price point: $11-$30

The northwest corner of Camelback and Seventh Avenue received a 'cue-worthy kick in the ass when Arizona native Bill Sandweg, owner and master barista of Copper Star Coffee in Phoenix, leased the free-standing building in its shopping plaza and opened Circle H Barbecue (named after his grandfather) last Monday.

Although still working out a few kinks and awaiting its liquor license, Circle H is ready to go and features several styles of barbecue -- as sandwiches and as meals -- in addition to meatloaf, filet medallions, burgers, starters, sides, salads, and desserts.

Let's take a barbecued bite, shall we?

"First let me tell you what we don't have," my friendly server said after explaining the unexpected rush of patrons over the weekend caused the restaurant to run out of various dishes.

No matter -- I still scored some solid bites. The brisket sandwich was so tender, with a nice bark and a heavy beefy flavor, I regretted not forgoing the buns and ordering up a plateful of it as a meal. A ramekin of sauce accompanied the sandwich, but it was not used. And after my side of tasty grilled veggies, I'm not sure I'll ever want fries again.

The pulled pork sandwich was just as spectacular. The shredded pork was juicy and tender, the flavor of the meat allowed to shine through thanks to a light application of tangy and sweet barbecue sauce. And the side of cabbage coleslaw was simple, light, and made for a nice complement to the sandwich.

The barbecue baby back ribs were certainly meaty and a nice value at just $14 for a half slab. Unfortunately, they were a bit on the dry side and not as successful as their meaty sandwich brethren.

The room was chilly and the décor isn't yet completed, but Sandweg's just-opened restaurant has a lot of good things going for it already: a nice patio area (once the weather gets warm again), solid food, friendly service, nice portion sizes, and prices that that make it easy to order up an extra side or a dessert.

And with its location in a strip mall desperate for new life, I'm hoping Circle H Barbecue will be a catalyst for the community.. I'm planning to return to check on its progress -- and to eat more barbecue, of course.

What say you, barbecue biters? Have you been to Circle H Barbecue yet? What did you think?

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