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BBQ in PHX? I'm from Texas

I'm about to start shooting blind trying to find something even close to what I'm used to eating. There's gotta be a back-alley smoke pit that someone worships. So far, all I've seen are places that have other stuff listed with 'q' somewhere on a big yellow sign. Help me start smart.

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  1. Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert is my favorite in the area. I can't remember how it compares to the places I went to when I lived in Dallas, but it's got some really good meat and their pit beans are amazing.

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    Joe's Real Barbecue
    301 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234

    1. I recently found Town Talk II. http://www.towntalkbbq.com/About_Us.html

      Not Texan Q, but very good Creole style barbecue.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Ipse, just our of curiosity how does Bludso's in Compton stack up against the offerings in PHX?

        Mr Taster

      2. Texas BBQ is sparse around these parts. Firenza00 is on the right track with Joe's Real BBQ. Nothing I've had around town quite compares for one reason or another. Stacy's Smokehouse on Indian School and the 51 has excellent meat, but call ahead and get it to go since both service and side dishes are spotty at best.

        If you're up for a drive or are already heading to Las Vegas anyway, the very best BBQ in the state is at Eat At Joe's BBQ (no relation to the Joe that runs Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert) in beautiful downtown Wikieup, a 2.5 hour drive from Phoenix. It's mindblowing good 'cue, and depending on how hard the craving hits just might be worth the drive.

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        Stacy's Smokehouse
        1650 E Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

        8 Replies
        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          Be aware, if you're a hardcore 'cue nerd, that Stacy's runs a Southern Pride gas oven. Offered without comment for fear of touching off an online BBQ skirmish.

          1. re: Dmnkly

            I had no idea... thanks for mentioning that.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Yeah, kinda like A & J's BBQ on 16th Stree has this plastic-or-glass device in the middle of the room that apparently is not unknown in Chicago but is unique in these parts -- so are the results. Some people like it -- but it's not Texas-style.

              1. re: misohungrychewlow

                It's called an aquarium smoker, and yeah, it's a Chicago thing. I tried A&J's tips and links combo -- also a Chicago thing and, sadly, not good at all. But that might've been due to low turnover in a city that doesn't venerate tips & links. Been meaning to get back to give them one more shot with the ribs, which is what I imagine most people order here.

                An aquarium smoker's a pure smoker, not an oven with a smoke box, and it has the commensurate learning curve. Like anything that requires a real pitmaster, the results can be awful or divine depending on who's running the show.

                1. re: Dmnkly

                  Thats too bad. I used to go to AJ weekly for tips and links and they were awwwwwwesome. I loved going there to eat and watch the Cubs game. But then again that was 12 yrs ago (holy crap! Ive been gone too long hehe). I think I read somewhere, on these forums most likely, that they have different owners now. Used to be a great guy behind the counter, I think his name was Abe..Hence the "A"

                  1. re: Mytah

                    Yup. New owners. Not sure when the switch was made, but it was fairly recent, I think... within the last couple of years. Sweet folks.

                    1. re: Dmnkly

                      Aaaaaaaand, they're out of business. Went by today to try the ribs and they were dismantling the aquarium smoker. Scratch that one off the list.

          2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            I agree about TX BBQ, and I do not know why. I have found some decent South Carolina BBQ (western SC), but not TX. BBQ is often all about the region. What works for me (more eastern North Carolina), really fails for others. Texas is different from Memphis, and different from KC. Same for the Carolinas - all different - no judgement attached. It is about what one likes.

            Have not been to Joe's Real, but have heard great things. Now, were these folk in-the-know, regarding TX BBQ? I don't know, but they DID like it.

            Good luck, and enjoy,

            Hunt

          3. stacy's barbecue at 16th and indian school is very good. they serve two excellent texas staples beef brisket and fried okra. the okra is the best i've had anywhere. hot and fresh not frozen and very lightly breaded. for the beef i ask for the sauce on the side as it is a bit sweet for my taste.

            2 Replies
            1. re: biga290

              Haven't had the brisket, but I second the okra. Crunchy, coarse cornmeal crust, fried up fresh.

              1. re: biga290

                I've loved Stacy's in the past, but a recent experience left me almost depressed. The pork ribs were tough and fatty, greens were salty and musty, and the beans were bland. I'm hoping it was an off day.

              2. Better start saving up for placne tix back to Texas...there isn't anything like good Texas bbq here. The best I've found is Dillon's (in Glendale or Peoria?) and there is a really good place in Flagstaff called Satchmo's. Most of the bbq places here drown it with sauce, and don't seem to get the whole 18 hour smoking thing....

                1. Try Waldo's http://www.waldosbbq.com/ in Mesa or Gilbert.
                  If you are out in the far west valley, there's a great place in Buckeye on Main St run by a retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt - Memphis Best BBQ (and it is really GREAT Memphis style BBQ).

                  1. I've had the opportunity to try most of the great barbeque places in Texas. Unfortunately there is nothing in Phoenix that compares to Louis Mueller's, Smitty's, Etc. The places mentioned in this string are ok but just not in that league.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Phoenix99

                      this is az not texas. no one expects to find brisket here that stacks up to the texas shrines of barbecue. i think the poster was just looking to find decent texas stuff. i have been to smitty's too and agree its the best. kreutz and black's are not bad either.

                    2. I grew up in Austin, lived in the DFW area for about 10 years and have been in PHX for eight. I can absolutely say that there is nothing that even closely resembles decent Texas style BBQ in the Valley. I have tried on numerous occasions to find decent (I'm not expecting Kreuz or Cooper's or City Market) BBQ and it just doesn't exist. Fortunately, I get back to Austin on a regular basis so I get my fix then.

                      1. Everyone is right... there is really no good BBQ here in AZ. Joe's in Gilbert will do in a pinch, but go when it is busy so the meat is fresh off the pit and has not been in the Alto-Sham wrapped in Saran Wrap for 4 hours. There is no alto-sham at the Luling City Market! I am also from Texas (DFW) and gave up looking for good BBQ years ago. The best thing you can do is buy a smoker and learn to cook a brisket yourself.

                        There are many Texas specialties that cannot be found here:
                        CFS (TexAZ is OK but not even Top-50 in TX)
                        Kolaches
                        Migas
                        Spudnuts
                        German/Czech food (like in Hill Country and in Montague county)

                        Here is the thing... You are in PHX now, not in Texas. It is going to be frustrating to get your Texas Favorites here in AZ. Try to seek out what is great here! There ARE great local things. Make some new favorites.

                        If I were to go back to Texas now I would miss things from here.... like a soft tender hot buttered Carolinas tortilla. (I promise there is none in Texas like it). I would miss a great shredded beef crispy taco like I get at the Burrito Shack on Power Rd, or at any number of places across the valley. Although you can get great Fajitas in TX, I would miss the table side prepared salsa, sizzling Fajitas, and strolling Mariachis at the Guadalajara Grill in Tucson. The best fried chicken I ever had was at Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke TX.... but they do not have waffles, kool-aid, or red velvet cake like I get at LoLo's in Phoenix. Forget finding a Navajo taco in Texas like they serve at Fry Bread House in Phx.

                        The secret to culinary happiness is to seek out what is great wherever you are, and NOT expect to find what is great wherever you came from.

                        Look me up if you need a brisket fix and find yourself out in Queen Creek!
                        ***Warning***
                        A brisket takes 9-12 hours so bring plenty of beer! Shiner Bock or Lone Star of course!

                        -----
                        Fry Bread House
                        802 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                        The Burrito Shack
                        15001 S Power Rd, Mesa, AZ 85212

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jiarby

                          Again, as has been mentioned, a good reason to buy a SW Airlines ticket to TX.

                          This is AZ, and is not TX. It is not North Carolina, nor is it South Carolina. It's not Kansas City, or Memphis.

                          I do not recall anyone touting "Phoenix BBQ." It is AZ, after all.

                          I often wonder what some people are even thinking, when the complain that some dish for 500, or 5000 miles away, is not available in Phoenix. Who would have expected it to be here?

                          It's like going to New Orleans, and lamenting that the wonderful Transylvanian sausage, that they grew up with, is just not seen anywhere.

                          If one wants the food of "home," they either need to fly "home," or have it shipped in.

                          Maybe I should complain to all restauranteurs in London, that they do not have any Benton Farms Country Ham, any cob-smoked bacon, any collared greens with smoked bacon bits, no good, southern chicken-fried steak.

                          Heck, not THAT long ago, someone, on another board, was complaining that they could not find an Algerian dish, with camels' livers, in Honolulu. Wonder why? Maybe Honolulu is not in Algeria. Who knew?

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Oddly enough, you can find Transylvanian sausage (ok, ok, it's popular all over Romania) here. ;)

                        2. Thee Pitts Again had really good sliced smoked beef. Sliced very thin with a good sauce. I wasn't crazy about much else that they had but would definitely stop there again for a sliced beef dish!

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                          Thee Pitts Again
                          5558 W Bell Rd, Glendale, AZ 85308

                          1. We've become fans of the Notorious P.I.G., although they recently stopped serving cornbread with the meal... boo! Thunderbird and the Squaw Peak (51).

                            1. Scottsdale BBQ Company @ granite reef and mcdonald...it is way back set in a strip mall in the south west corner...cannot see it from the street...but very good and great prices.

                              1. I'm a big fan of Honey Bear's BBQ, they serve excellent Tennessee style food at a good price.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: striker

                                  While I find it akin to western South Carolina (not that far from the SC/TN border), I have had good BBQ there too. I might lean more towards NC BBQ, but it certainly does well, without a plane ticket. We do them about once per quarter, and have only been disappointed once. Definitely not TX BBQ, but quite tasty one most visits. The pulled-pork could be a tad more moist, but I am not quibbling.

                                  Hunt

                                2. Check out the brisket at Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue in Cave Creek. Its just like Kreutz's Market in Lockhart, TX.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: biga290

                                    Yum, I love Bryan's too. The brisket is also a favorite of my husband's, who is a Texas boy.

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                                    Bryans Barbecue
                                    6130 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

                                    1. re: biga290

                                      I'll admit that I haven't been to Kreuz (it's not Kreutz's... no T, no S) in about six months, so unless it has gone downhill, Bryan's isn't even in the same league. The best brisket in Central Texas right now is being turned out by Aaron Franklin at Franklin BBQ in East Austin. Just be in line by 10a or you risk not getting any.

                                      1. re: biga290

                                        Very good recommendation. Went to Bryan's and tried the brisket, fabulous. I lived in Texas and BBQ is my favorite food. I have to say that the brisket was as good as any I have ever had. I wasn't as impressed with their beans, but they were still good.

                                        The next day we tried Joe's BBQ in Gilbert. Joe's was definitely more "Texas Style", but was not as good as Bryan's. Had I not gone to Bryan's first I would have given it better marks. So after 5 months in Phoenix Bryan's is at the top of my list and Joe's second. The search continues...

                                      2. Speaking of BBQ, how about sausage? I like it a lot more than brisket, and it's very much in the central Texas BBQ tradition.

                                        1. Pork on a Fork was great and there is also a bbq place in Anthem that is pretty good. Not sure if it's TX style, check out their websites. The bbq was really good, though.'

                                          1. There's a place called Texas BBQ House on S 24th St in Phoenix.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: aynrandgirl

                                              Have you been to Texas BBQ House? Do you have an opinion about the quality?

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                                              Texas BBQ House
                                              5037 S 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85040

                                                1. re: hohokam

                                                  I went there a week or two ago after reading about it in the New Times. I got a little bit of everything and took it home. The brisket didn't have much of a smoke ring and that was apparent in the taste, which didn't have much of a smokey taste. It was also on the dry side, but I did order a lean cut. The ribs were decent, but I thought the rub could have used some more pepper to give them a little bit of a kick. Turkey was pretty decent, but I'm not one to get super excited about smoked turkey. Sausage was average at best. Tasted like smoked Eckrich Farms. I would be shocked if they were making this sausage themselves. Would really like to see a coarser grind and some spice. I was not a fan of their beans and the potato salad didn't have anything great about it, but it also wasn't bad.

                                                  Overall rating: meh.

                                                2. re: aynrandgirl

                                                  I went. Can't recommend it. No bark on the meat (a friend of mine was there and saw them cutting it off!), and you can't smell any wood inside or out.

                                                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                    That's disappointing.

                                                    I wonder why in the world they would trim the bark off. Were they selling it as burnt ends? Did the meat somehow get scorched? Hmm...

                                                    I'm still interested in checking them out, but I'll go in with lowered expectations. If I see barkless meat, I'll ask them what the story is.

                                                    1. re: hohokam

                                                      That was me. First thing they did was pull off all the bark. Oy.

                                                      1. re: Dmnkly

                                                        That's beyond bizarre.

                                                        Now I *really* want to go there--not to eat the food, but to see if I can solve the mystery.

                                                        1. re: Dmnkly

                                                          Well, after seeing the proprietor respond to your comment over on the Chow Bella blog with "that's the way brisket is served", I guess the mystery is solved.

                                                          Given that brisket has never been served to me that way at any BBQ joint I've been to, I choose to interpret his response as, "That's the way brisket is served in my store." I was heartened by the implication that one could request that the brisket not be trimmed before it was weighed and served--kind of bassackwards IMO, but at least they seem willing to offer it as an option.

                                                          1. re: hohokam

                                                            Well, as I mentioned in my response over there, I actually started off by asking if they did burnt ends, or if I could get an outside cut, and the woman at the counter looked at me like I was speaking Latin. But I certainly intend to get back and will try again :-)

                                                  2. Try Pork on a Fork. Great ribs. Also, there is a pretty good place in Anthem. I think it's called Q to You.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: jnineaz

                                                      The ribs and the pulled pork are about the only thing worth trying at Pork on a Fork. The side dishes were right out of the corporate freezer bags or the corporate gallon plastic containers. That's if they have the sides. At 12:30 PM on a Saturday, just 90 minutes into their lunch service, they ran out of cole slaw and beans. Seriously.

                                                      And the service? Good Lord, I haven't seen that kind of meltdown in a restaurant in quite some time. No delineation between the Front of House and the Back of House. Forgotten items, missing tickets, botched orders, and a trash can that hadn't been emptied from the prior day's service.

                                                      I got the sense that the owner of Pork on a Fork, while in the BBQ competition circuit, was told by endless people "You should open a restaurant." So, he did. Obviously without a business plan.

                                                      We won't be returning, even though the ribs were very good.

                                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                        Seth - I completely agree about the sides. The ribs were really good, though. The brisket was very good. We got takeout and didn't have an issue, but I agree with you on the owner not having a business plan...their days/hours are horrible and not well-thought out at all. But their ribs are still great :)

                                                        1. re: jnineaz

                                                          Agreed. The ribs we had were the highlight of the meal.

                                                          1. re: jnineaz

                                                            Pork on a Fork has a terrible location. What hours/days would you have them be open?

                                                            1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                              I can't comment on the desires of jnineaz, but I know that it was odd that they closed at 3 PM on Saturday and were closed both Sunday and Monday of the Labor Day weekend, a summer holiday weekend when BBQ would be a good bet for business.

                                                              You are correct about the location, though. It is terrible.

                                                              Again, great meats, and a non-existent business plan.

                                                              1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                Well I just looked at their site. It says they are open Mon-Fri 10-7, but on a blog post on their site they announce their Sat. hours starting Aug 6. So first of all they need to update their site so people actually know they are open on Sat from 11-3. I'd extend the hours on Sat. and I'd add Sunday hours. And, like Seth commented...it was odd that they were closed on Labor Day weekend. Perfect weekend for people to order from and/or have parties catered by them.

                                                            2. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                              I first met the "Pork on a Fork boys" back in 2009 at the Glendale farmers market when I became hooked on their pepper bacon, bratwurst, and spicy Polish sausage with cheese and jalapenos. I actually haven't even had their BBQ yet. They source their pork directly from their family farm in Nebraska, which is how they started in the business. The plan to open their own place was their own, before they started entering BBQ competitions. They wanted to expand to a sit-down restaurant featuring their quality pork instead of the barbecue stations they set up at the farmers market.

                                                              They're the nicest guys - I really must check out the restaurant soon. I'll have to try the ribs and pulled pork.

                                                              http://www.azcentral.com/business/art...

                                                          2. scottsdale bbq company in the corner of granite reef and mcdonald back in the corner of the shopping center (to the east of ace's hardware) is great and make just about everything from scratch

                                                            ribs and pulled pork are great, i dont really care for their cornbread but others may - their best sides are the green beans and the baked beans IMO

                                                            give them a try, not sure they are texas style think they are more carolina style but they have a great spicy bbq sauce

                                                            they also have cheap draft beers and great prices on their family combos

                                                            1. I think it would be very helpful for those with only a casual knowledge of BBQ (like me) to have all the professed BBQ nerds to stand up and be counted, so I know whose posts to follow more closely :)

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. We have now done Dillon's at the "top of Central" four times. So far, everything was excellent.

                                                                In general terms, I'd give the nod to more Carolina, than Memphis, KC or Texas, but still good.

                                                                The pulled-pork was as good, as I have had in PHX, and the brisket was up there too.

                                                                We will be going back,

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. We just got back from trying Pork on a Fork's baby back ribs and here's my thoughts:

                                                                  The good:
                                                                  1) The ribs were EXCELLENT! Exactly the way I like them! The pulled pork was also good and served WITHOUT any sauce, so you can pick which sauce you prefer.
                                                                  2) Four different home made BBQ sauces - Sweet and Mild, Smoky and Tangy, Hot and zippy mustard glaze and they have just made them available to purchase by the bottle, as well.
                                                                  3) Very friendly and helpful staff.
                                                                  4) Reasonable prices, quick service, clean restrooms,
                                                                  5) You can order the food already smoked and cooked, but served cold in a foil baking tray to heat up at your own home at a later time or day. They recommend consuming it within 7 to 10 days which is more than reasonable and the ribs may be even better as they sit and soak up the sauce and become more tender.
                                                                  6) Mac and cheese side dish is delicious!

                                                                  The bad:
                                                                  1) Hard to find the restaurant - its located in an industrial park.
                                                                  2) Waffle fries don't taste as good as they look. I'm guessing these are not home made, but frozen from a mass manufacturer like Oreida or some such...
                                                                  3) Different prices on some of the same dishes on Friday's only as well as other sides available on Fridays only from 4pm to 7pm. Its a bit confusing to have a Friday Menu that has many of the same items as the regular menu at a slightly higher price. I understand items like Smoked Salmon are only available on the Friday menu, but why is the regular menu disregarded on Fridays and the prices different?
                                                                  4) Closes early (7pm Mon - Fri) and 3pm on Saturday.

                                                                  Summary - This is our new favorite place for baby backs and pulled pork. Will try the beef brisket in the near future. Highly recommended!! And,they accept debit and credit cards where many other small BBQ restaurants are cash only, which I find inconvenient. So that's a plus, as well.

                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                  1. re: carey934

                                                                    Hm-m, they are not THAT far from us, up in the Tapatio Cliffs, but I have never heard of them. Gotta' go check them out.

                                                                    Now, I embrace Carolina BBQ (their several, different versions), rather than Memphis, TX, or KC BBQ, so this might be another great place.

                                                                    Thank you,

                                                                    Hunt

                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      If you go, let me know what you think. I hear their sweet potato fries are excellent, but I haven't tried them yet. Of course, everyone has a different opinion on what makes good BBQ, so when you get a chance to try them out, report back. I'm curious if you agree with me about the baby backs. I'm from Detroit, originally, so I have thing for 'soul' food and these are the kind of baby backs I enjoy and have had a difficult time finding in the Phoenix area.

                                                                      1. re: carey934

                                                                        Oh my gosh! BBQ is one of the most divided genres of food, that I have ever encountered.

                                                                        I like Carolina (all sorts, and they ARE regional), but can enjoy TX, KC, Memphis, and on, and on.

                                                                        Yet some, demand only their one, very specific form of BBQ, and will decline anything else.

                                                                        That is not me.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          I think you like what you grew up with. That said, I just learned that the guys who run Pork on a Fork have a pig farm in Nebraska that their family has owned for 4 generations. Their brother hand-raises these pigs and they have no anti-biotics or hornones and the pigs aren't as stressed out as the pigs from big commercial farms. That may be why it tastes so much better. You know, no matter what type of BBQ you prefer, I think we can agree you need to start with a quality piece of meat first and foremost.

                                                                          1. re: carey934

                                                                            The source can make a major difference. Though not "Carolina," some of our favorite BBQ is from central TN, and most of the pork comes from Benton, and then is finished in the smokers. Not exactly the same, but danged good. At the end of the meal, that is what it's all about for me. I do not need some form of "authentic to ____," but good. That might explain how I can enjoy TX, KC, Carolina, TN, or where ever. It is about my enjoyment, and not some minor quibbles on authenticity, per someone's idea of what it is supposed to be. Good is good.

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              I couldn't agree more. The only one's opinion about what's good that matters, is yours. I was just trying to figure out why I liked their baby backs so much and did some more research about them and learned about the source of meat, which I honestly never considered before. I have never gone to a BBQ restaurant and asked about the source of their pork. I just try it and if I like it, I like it. It makes sense to me that I probably liked these baby backs better partially because of their source. So I felt it was worth bringing up. :)

                                                                              1. re: carey934

                                                                                Most often, the sources are somewhat near-by, though not always.

                                                                                We have tried several butchers' pork, both here (PHX),and also in Denver. In general terms, we have been less than wow'ed. OTOH, we've had some great pork BBQ, and from several areas of the US, where we WERE wow'ed, and often the source was near-by, like the Benton in TN, at Blackberry Farm.

                                                                                BBQ, though it seems so very simple, is rather complex. First, I think that it's about the meat. Then, there are rubs, and maybe sauces, though more often, than not, none. There is the fire, and the method, that really can take things to a whole new level. Last, there is the sauce, or perhaps just an au jus, with no sauce. While many turn their backs on BBQ, it can be highly complex, and with some great regional differences.

                                                                                Once, in North Carolina, I ordered BBQ, at a lovely little local restaurant. When the dish was delivered, I asked our server, "Do I get any sauce." She was silent, but gave me a look, that I could only typify as a Catholic School Sister, who was miffed, and I am Jewish, but my wife IS Catholic, and has told me stories. "OK, why do we not get sauce?" I asked. She composed herself and answered, "We are in North Carolina, and our BBQ does not need sauce." Dang, she was correct. Any sauce would have spoiled things, but at that time, I just did not know.

                                                                                Were I wealthy, or should the Food Network call, and offer me a show, I would tour the US, and sample BBQ from each region, and sub-region. It would not feature trying to eat 50#'s of ribs, in one sitting, but would compare and contrast BBQ here, there, and beyond. To me, BBQ is sort of like the concept of "terroire" with great French wines (and others too), where the location dictates what you get. Most similar shows tend to get into some sort of competition,but that is not fair, and does not usually involve the diner, or the audience in the wonderful differences. No, it is not a State Fair, and there are no "blue ribbons," just great, albeit different forms of BBQ.

                                                                                I would never worry about who has the "best," but introduce the world to the wonderful, and sometimes subtle differences from the East Coast to the West, or Southwest.

                                                                                That, which might be MY #1, might be totally off your list, or that of another CH. Does that mean that I am wrong? No way - just different tastes, and choices.

                                                                                On many food boards, I see posts, where someone claims that the BBQ from there territory is the ONLY "true BBQ," and all others pale in comparison. That is not my take on BBQ. It is localized, different, and each taster might like a different version - sort of like Gumbo... it just depends, and there is no "one true Gumbo."

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Well, the only problem with that is there are so many variables that can change between your visit and someone else's which can result in a completely different experience. For example, who was the cook that day? Did the meat sit out for the exact same amount of time? Was it smoked for the exact same amount of time? Were the sauces mixed exactly the same, from the batch you had to the batch I had? Was the server polite? Having a bad day? Were they out of a popular item due to demand or delivery issues? And the weather can also have an effect... So a food review is really just a review of that point and time that you ate there. IMO, you have to eat somewhere over and over and over again to determine what is consistent and, by then, they might be out of business! :)

                                                                                  1. re: carey934

                                                                                    But much of that could be said for about any restaurant, couldn't it?

                                                                                    I try to be as objective, as I possibly can, when doing restaurant reviews, and hopefully give a reader enough info to decide for themselves.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      Yes, I thought it was implied I was referring to any restaurant. Basically, any restaurant review is like a photograph - a snapshot in time of a specific moment. That's why a single visit to a restaurant does not, IMO, make for a useful review. No differently then reading numerous reviews of the same restaurant, you will undoubtly see folks who didn't like it and folks who did. Many ordered different things, certainly on different days and even months or possibly years, and walked away with a unique experience based on those variables. Of course, seeing significant number of reviews, good or bad, can help a perspective customer decide. Perhaps a large number of the reviews are positive, but reflect a certain menu item that the perspective customer has no appeal for. For example, I don't eat Sushi, but if I was looking at reviews of a sea food restaurant and they had a bunch of positive reviews, and in the majority of those positive reviews were compliments about the sushi, those positive reviews would be useless to me. Still, its fun to try new places and share your experience with others.

                                                                                      Speaking of which, my friend just emailed me and said: "During the summer I attended a class at South Mountain Community College along with a friend of mine. Every Thursday we would go out for BBQ. Our favorite was.

                                                                                      http://www.texasbbqhouseaz.com/Texas_...

                                                                                      1. re: carey934

                                                                                        OK, though in this thread, you are talking about all restaurants.

                                                                                        So, if I read you, then all CH reviews are useless, until each person has dined there, what, 3 - 5 times. They observations of their 1 or 2 visits, should be totally discounted?

                                                                                        That then means that no one can gather any useful info from CH, and they should, instead, only rely on a professional reviewer, say with a local newspaper?

                                                                                        Now, I often dine multiple times at certain restaurants, but often do not post later views, and many will just reflect on the changes of the menus. Should all CH readers discount all of my reviews, unless I have posted 3, or more, reviews of any restaurant?

                                                                                        Is there a food forum, where posters must adhere to a certain number of visits, prior to posting their observations?

                                                                                        Since I derive US $ 0 from my participation on CH, and only have so much time and $, I do not feel that I must visit each restaurant multiple times - should those be over different seasons, within a week, or something else?

                                                                                        Yes, were I able to visit each restaurant 10 times, over a year, there might be a bit of a "lowest common denominator" factor at play, but then I do not have that sort of time, nor the $ to allow for it, and especially if I have a bad meal.

                                                                                        What should one do?

                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          I think a single review about a restaurant is about useless - yes. Because you don't know the motivations of that individual. Professional reviews or not. A pro may have better prose, but their review is not any more or less helpful as a single source of biased information.

                                                                                          In my review of Pork on a Fork, I did not mention the beef brisket, smoked salmon or many of the other sides. If you were interested in how good those items are at Pork on a Fork, then yes, my review is useless to you.

                                                                                          If, on the other hand, you are looking for good place for baby back ribs, and my review discusses my opinion on baby back ribs at Pork on a Fork, then thats interesting - but not necessarily helpful.

                                                                                          However, if several others before or after me, also comment on the baby back ribs at Pork on a Fork, undoubtly a pattern will emerge. Some will love it, some will think its just okay and others will vow to never go back. That information would be much more helpful in setting your expectations more accurately should you decide to dine there and order that item.

                                                                                          There are some unethical places that create their own fake reviews, and there are spiteful people who might post a bad review because of a personal issue with someone who works at or with the restaurant. Individually, these reviews can't be trusted because you don't know the motivation of the author. However, with more reviews, trends start to become apparant and, as a direct result, more useful.

                                                                                          Its a form of voting, if you like. Your vote counts - but I wouldn't elect anyone or predict the outcome of the election based solely on your individual vote. Does that mean you shouldn't vote? Of course not.

                                                                                          I only write reviews for places that are either way above or way below average. I write them because I enjoy it. I don't expect anything from it and I certainly hope no one takes my review alone as a testament of a single truth. I do hope they find it interesting and I hope the reader considers it among other reviews to more accurately set their expectations. If there are no other reviews, well, someone has to be the first and I would hope others will follow. The more information you have, the better decision you can make - as with everything in life.

                                                                                          As a business owner myself, I can tell you without a doubt that if you set and then you meet or exceed the customers expectations, you will have a happy customer every time.

                                                                                          Cheers! :)

                                                                                          1. re: carey934

                                                                                            Well, if one-off reviews are meaningless, then about 85% of CH is meaningless, at least in your eyes.

                                                                                            As I both rely heavily on, and contribute to CH, I have a totally different view of things. When dining in locations, where I have no experience, I have relied on CH, and so far, they have never done badly, though some of the recs. came from a one-time experience.

                                                                                            As far as "motivation of a reviewer," one can sometimes research that reviewer, and often can discover the issue. I have done that several times, and usually find that the reviewer has an affiliation with another restaurant.

                                                                                            As for the level of the restaurant, I do not hesitate to write reviews for the "middle of the road." I have seen those help many others, when they travel to those location. If things were mediocre, then the reader has the option of passing, or trying the restaurant anyway. At least they had material to work from.

                                                                                            Now, sorry that we are getting so far-afield of BBQ. Though restaurant review practices is certainly fodder for another thread, and on CH. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                              It's interesting discussion, none-the-less. In the meantime, if you get a chance to check out Pork on a Fork, I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it..

                                                                                              1. re: carey934

                                                                                                Considering that they are in my "neighborhood," though not on our "beaten path," we are likely to try it. We love BBQ, and many genres, so having this one close, is a plus.

                                                                                                So far, we have been impressed by Dillon's on N. Central, and they are on the "way home," but we're always open.

                                                                                                Thanks for the rec.,

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                    2. re: carey934

                                                                      As I noted above, I agree that the ribs are great.

                                                                      For my visit to Pork on a Fork, unfortunately, that was about the only thing worth visiting for and since I live in Arcadia, there has to be a much bigger draw than that to get be to travel that far.

                                                                      Your observation about the fries is right on target. They come from a commercial freezer bag which I saw being pulled out when I was there. The cole slaw? From a Sysco-style gallon jug.

                                                                      Maybe - again maybe - if I am in the neighborhood and starving, I might give them another chance, but from what you describe, it still strikes me as the kind of place where the owner wins BBQ contests and someone encouraged him that winning said contests makes him a budding restauranteur.

                                                                      Um... no.

                                                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                        Hey Seth, how cool is it to see you here?! Glad to see you are still participating in food reviews!

                                                                        Carey Holzman

                                                                    3. Allison's Texas BBQ in east Mesa might be worth a visit for central Texas (hill country) style pit bbq.

                                                                      http://www.allisonstexasbbqrestaurant...
                                                                      6750 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ 85213