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, and dish about 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: Little Miss BBQ Location: 4301 E. University Dr. Open: About two weeks Eats: Central Texas-style BBQ Price: $10 to $15 a person
There aren't many places in this town where you have to wait in line, aside from the DMV or a food festival. But that's about to change, at least for those who want to get a taste of the 'cue down at Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix. They've been open for only about two weeks and have relied solely on word of mouth to bring in business.
So far, they've been opening their doors at 11 a.m. and selling out of everything in under two hours.
This lovely little piece of Texas 'cue comes courtesy of a competition BBQ team led by Scott and Bekke Holmes. Scott, who attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute, and the Little Miss team perfected their recipes at BBQ competitions all over the state -- and picked up a few tricks from hanging out at famous barbecue joints including Franklin BBQ and la Barbecue in Bekke's hometown of Austin -- before opening their own spot.
Everything at Little Miss is sold "meat market style," which means you pay by weight. You can order brisket, ribs, turkey, and more by the pound, or go for a plate of your favorite, which will come with two sides. There's also a short list of sandwich options, the most complicated of which is The Jefe ($9) that comes loaded with sausage, chopped brisket, sauce, cole slaw, and pickles. Sides -- including jalepeno cheddar grits, beans, and potato salad -- can be purchased by the pint ($4) or in a single serving size ($2).
For those interested in trying as much as possible, the two-meat plate ($14) is the best option. On the day we stopped in, we had a choice of the following meats: brisket, pork, pastrami, turkey, or housemade sausage.
You really should't skip the brisket, which is perfectly moist, smoky, and delicious. As Texas brisket should be, Little Miss' offers a flavorful crust and just the right amount of fat to ensure it nearly falls apart at the sight of a fork. They smoke their brisket for 11 hours -- and you'll know because you can smell it coming out of the large black smoker as soon as you step outside of your car.
The ribs are also a solid option and frankly, we were surprised by how much we liked the pastrami. The salty, smoky, and well-spiced beef was probably our second favorite meat. The sausage is also worth a try, as it's made in-house daily with scraps of other meats.
We got the very last scoop of Little Miss' beans when we went through the line at about 12:15, and we very glad we did. They feature about as much meat as they do beans, which ensures that they'll be anything but an afterthought on your plate. And as for those cheddar and jalapeño grits: Get them. Little Miss' are less creamy than they are, well, gritty but pack a flavorful punch of cheese and heat. The coleslaw is also a nice route, as it's not mayonnaise-based but rather tangy, crunchy, and slightly sweet.
Nothing here needs sauce or comes with it -- after all, that is the trademark of Texas barbecue -- but you'll find three on them on the table. There's a nice BBQ sauce that's not too sweet and an even better spicy sauce that's no so much "spicy" as it is tangy. The mustard-based sauce is another choice if you've ordered sausage.
There are just a handful of tables inside Little Miss BBQ, as most of the small space is taken up by the counter where you order your food. But that's fine because, as long as the weather allows, you'll probably want to sit outside on the corrugated-metal covered patio. Sitting at one of the wooden picnic tables with a view of the smoker as you chow down on excellent BBQ, you'll probably feel you've been transported to a completely different state.
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Scott says he has a few more plans for Little Miss, including hosting live bands and perhaps (we'll keep our fingers crossed) a liquor license. Either way, we'll be back -- and next time on a Friday or Saturday, when they add beef short ribs to the menu options.
In case you're wondering, they do plan on increasing the number of briskets they cook each day. Soon enough, Scott says they'll have to start smoking them in two shifts. Or maybe three. For now, just plan to get there as close to 11 a.m. as you can.