bryan’s black mountain bbq
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Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ
Gwen Ashley Walters
July, 2009, Page 131
Photography by David Moore
Pulled pork sandwich, baked potato salad and cowboy beans (top); rib and brisket combo with olive coleslaw, (bottom).
If you’ve been hankerin’ for some tasty ’cue but can’t stand the drive to find it, Bryan’s BBQ gives north Valley residents a reason to holler.
Up until now, north Valley barbecue lovers have had to trek to Gilbert or central Phoenix to get a plate of serious, lip-smacking ’cue. With the April opening of Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ in Cave Creek, however, they can finally stay put – assuming they can find it. It’s easy to zip past the place, tucked away in an obscure, four-storefront strip mall called Las Tiendas.
The barbecue itself – slow-smoked pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken – doesn’t fit neatly into any one regional style. Instead, flavors from several regional cuisines are recognizable, especially Austin (pecan wood smoke and spicy sauce that’s more tangy than sweet) and Memphis (dry-rubbed spices adorn all the meats).
The décor is Western-chic – a pipe railing corrals the 50-something-seat, retro-modern dining room. Black-and-white Westerns flicker on the projection screen on the back wall, and grainy, Mississippi Delta blues belts from the sound system. But the real reason to saddle up and head to cowboy town is this: The man behind the smoker is a bona fide chef, not some backyard bubba. Owner Bryan Dooley spent 13 years at the Scottsdale Fairmont resort before striking out on his own.
Dive into toothy, dry-spiced pork spare ribs ($17.95/full slab, $13.95/half slab) or succulent, meltingly tender beef brisket ($11.95), capped with a juicy layer of fat. For a taste of both, order the rib and meat combo ($12.95) and get a healthy portion of each. The pulled pork is completely respectable but not in the same league as the ribs and brisket, and neither is the somewhat dry, but plenty spiced, chicken. Dooley’s creative, lone vegetarian option, a tasty “pulled” spaghetti squash sandwich ($6.50), is even better topped with a fried egg ($.50). Sandwiches ($6.50-$7.50) – with buttered and griddled buns – come with one or two side dishes with plates ($9.95-$17.95).
Some sides are tricked out, like the deliciously creamy, salty-sweet coleslaw studded with chopped green and black olives. Even the potato salad is gussied up, with hunks of baked potato, minced scallions, dill and copious amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise.
The beer- and barbecue sauce-doused cowboy beans are sweet and oniony but could have used a little more cooking on a couple of visits. Solidly seasoned fries and potato chips round out the side dishes. Instead of a boring dill pickle, every meal comes with a kicky, sweet-hot “bread & butter” jalapeño.
Place your order at the counter and grab a soda or a bottle of craft brew, like Dogfish or Anchor Steam ($4). But skip the made-from-concentrate iced tea; barbecue this good deserves freshly brewed.
The two desserts ($3.50) are simple: a Sioux City sarsaparilla float or a monster chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwich stuffed with vanilla or mint chocolate-chip ice cream. All the barbecue is available for takeout by the pound, and bottles of sauce and tins of spice rub also are for sale.
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