Summertime is on full blast, which means that we're definitely in the midst of barbecue season.
To tell the truth, though, while there's nothing more satisfying than serving up juicy burgers, plump franks, and roasted veggies to pals, grilling under a hateful Phoenix sun can be less than ideal. (Not that we're complaining - true Phoenician rule #1: Don't bitch about the heat.) Then, there's the cleanup. If the numbers at your shindig dwindle, the mess created by many becomes the burden of a few.
Our little secret: letting the pros like Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert take care of our barbecue yen. We could go on and on about how their pecan wood-smoked fare and amazing sides have compelled us to don our eatin' pants for over 10 years, but one of the other reasons we love to slide over to the East Valley meat shack is its homeyness. Housed inside a vintage brick-laden building (originally erected in 1929 as a Safeway Pay 'n Takit), the interior is comfortingly open and airy.
We're suckers for homemade and lovingly hand painted signs. Before you get to order your grub school cafeteria-style (with Joe's friendly staff replacing grumpy lunch ladies), you're reminded to swing by on your birthday to redeem a meal on the barbecue haven.
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When you've finally made your dining choices and ponied up your payment, you have Joe's take on the food pyramid awaiting you. While you'd be hard pressed to find a physician who would sign off on such a decadent dietary plan, the schematics, as is, definitely reflect our heart's (and stomach's) desire.
There is a gorgeous mural inside Joe's Real BBQ that honors Gilbert's agricultural roots, but our favorite historical touchstone is the restored 1948 John Deere tractor that sits smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. The iconic green-and-yellow machine reminds us of the time when the east valley was more open fields than open source, what with the tech community that has sprung up in the area.
Enjoy the surroundings, then get home with your take out. If you don't tell your guests where it came from, we won't tell, either.