Cafe Reviews


Porking Out: Over the past couple of years, I've sampled enough smokehouse barbecue to be declared the country's first ambulatory toxic waste site. After a week like this one, my friends can smell me coming before they actually see me. Here are my choices if you're looking to eat high on the hog. Honey Bear's BBQ, 5012 East Van Buren--Fantastic, Memphis-style ribs, slathered with a heart-stopping, sweet-and-tangy orange barbecue sauce. Lovejoy's K.C. Pit Bar-B-Que, 15414 North 19th Avenue--Thick, smoky barbecue sauce goes good on anything, from the beef brisket to the burnt rib ends. Mr. T's Bar-B-Que, 1539 East Buckeye--Great pork ribs, meaty with a crispy edge. It takes about two minutes for the pepper-packed hot barbecue sauce to get your body tingly. T-Que Original Bar-B-Que, 7050 South Central--Look out for the sharp sauce, which gives a hearty tongue-lashing. The beef ribs and brisket are particularly worthy vehicles for it. A & J Chicago-Style Bar-B-Q, 6102 North 16th Street--The smoky mesquite scent and mildly tangy bite of the barbecue sauce perk up wonderful beef brisket and juicy barbecued chicken. Don't miss the French fries, sizzlingly crisp and just out of the fryer. Weezer's, 14620 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix--First-rate baby backs and a glorious, bubblingly moist barbecued chicken with real smokehouse flavor. I'm always on the lookout for good barbecue. If you've got an undiscovered gem you'd like to share, drop me a line. Bug Off: A reader has asked me for advice on handling about the most unpleasant restaurant situation a diner can face. I'll let her tell it: "What does a person do when they are about to finish the meal and a cockroach appears around a plate of food? "The staff kept saying the creature didn't come from the food. They were insolent and acted as if we had brought the cockroach as a way of not paying the bill. "The restaurant refused to give a discount, but worse didn't seem concerned that there were cockroaches around. We paid our bill but we will never go back." I'm not a particularly squeamish guy--you'd better not be in this job. In my Africa days, I ate in places that even the flies wouldn't go into. But I do draw the line at cockroaches cavorting around my entree. I'd say the reader did just about all she could. Once the proprietors blew her off, she really only had two options: Make a fuss at the top of her lungs, or quietly pay the bill, write letters, tell her friends and never go back. Of course, in a well-run place, screaming and yelling would not be necessary. What's astonishing here is how stupidly the restaurant behaved. It's the proprietors, not the victimized reader, who could use some advice.

Mexican Expansion: One of my favorite East Valley Mexican spots is ready to flex its muscles. Rosa's Taco Shop has signed a five-year lease extension and is expanding into two more storefronts in its Mesa shopping strip, at 328 East University. The original fast-food taqueria has now turned into a full-serve Mexican grill. The taco-shop concept will reappear next door in about a month.--Howard Seftel Suggestions? Write me at New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

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Howard Seftel