New restaurant Cryin’ Coyote BBQ keeps smokehouse legacy alive in Cave Creek | Phoenix New Times

Cryin’ Coyote BBQ keeps smokehouse legacy alive in Cave Creek

The follow-up to Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue is stepping up to the plate.
Pork ribs and vinegary Dr. Pepper barbecue beans are among the standouts at Cryin' Coyote BBQ.
Pork ribs and vinegary Dr. Pepper barbecue beans are among the standouts at Cryin' Coyote BBQ. Sara Crocker
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Update: This story was updated to correct the spelling of the owners' last name.


When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, 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 — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

It’s a tough act to follow when new ownership takes over a space that has reverential status in a community. That act is even more challenging when the cuisine is barbecue, an American staple that – given its lengthy history, deeply regional points of view and the simple fact that many of us fancy we know our way around a grill – makes it ripe for critique.

Not long after Cave Creek stalwart Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbeque announced it would close in the spring, came the news that a family with roots in Cave Creek would take on the space and the torch, or at least glowing ember, of barbecue.

Couple Cody and Beth Edgin and their four children were looking to open a restaurant in the area, and the impending closure of Bryan’s seemed serendipitous. The Edgins were able to learn under chef and owner Bryan Dooley before starting the transition to Cryin’ Coyote BBQ.

Prior to opening in July, the Edgins were aware of the expectations awaiting them.

“We have to do barbecue our way,” Cody said. “Barbecue is such a passionate thing, and people are passionate about their favorite style, their favorite sauce… and we’re ready for that.”
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Cryin' Coyote BBQ is the Edgin family's first restaurant. From front left, father Cody, sons Jackson and Sawyer, mother Beth and daughters Tatem and Lily.
Sara Crocker
And, after a recent visit, it seems that wasn’t just talk.

Previous visitors to Bryan’s will note that while the dining room layout has been slightly tweaked and there’s a new mural depicting the desert landscape, the interior is largely the same. But, the Edgin’s aren’t taking on Bryan’s menu. Instead, they are drawing on family recipes and adding Southwestern ingredients to Southern staples.

Cryin’ Coyote serves several smoked meats, including brisket, pulled pork, chicken, sausages (which while not made in-house are smoked there) and ribs. In a post-Franklin Barbecue world, everyone gravitates toward brisket, but at Cryin’ Coyote, the ribs are the standout.

Available as part of a plate or by the half or full slab, the pork ribs find the right balance of tenderness, smoke and bit of char. The fat is beautifully rendered, making for a rich bite that carries a hint of sweet and saltiness. The meat is tender, however it isn’t falling off the bone. The ribs pair well with the spicy housemade barbecue sauce, but the meat is just as good naked.

The brisket, done true to Texas style with a rub of only salt and pepper, has nice char and a bit of bite from the pepper. The meat was tender but could have used more fat and bark, the surface area that absorbs the rub and smoke, to imbue that flavor in every bite.

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While the meat offerings include many classic barbecue staples, the sides are something new.
Sara Crocker
We weren't asked when ordering if we'd like lean or fatty cuts, a question that is common at barbecue joints in Texas, where the meat is usually carved in front of you. It’s an offering that’s rare among barbecue joints in the Valley, but a tradition worth importing.

The sides range from traditional potato salad and coleslaw to Southwest-inspired, such as an esquite-style street corn and a chile relleno rice casserole.

The rice casserole is a smart stand-in for mac and cheese, well-cooked and creamy, with globs of cheddar and stripes of zippy green chile dotted throughout.

A surprising and satisfying side is the Edgins’ take on barbecue baked beans. It’s a dish that can present myriad flavors, from charro-style pinto beans to sweet versions that are heavy on molasses and bacon. Cryin’ Coyote’s beans are made with Dr. Pepper which would imply that they lean toward the sweet end of the spectrum. Instead, the sweetness of the soda is balanced by tomatoes and a healthy dose of vinegar. That acidic kick is a perfect foil to the richness of the smokehouse's meat.

Do yourself a favor and leave room for dessert. The Texas sheet cake takes the classic, thin chocolate cake and adds warm spice notes of cinnamon and gingerbread. There’s a nice smack of sweetness from a thin, gooey layer of chocolate frosting. It’s a family recipe and one the Edgins have lovingly brought to the restaurant. While there aren’t any pecans on the generous slices, a hallmark of the dessert, the cake is so moist and snackable that the nuts weren’t missed.

The Edgins are doing right by Bryan's by both honoring the legacy and adding a fresh perspective to the Valley’s barbecue scene.

Cryin' Coyote BBQ

6130 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
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