Often touted as the national dish of Texas, various iterations of brisket also abound at barbecue joints throughout the Grand Canyon State. Whether you want the smoky protein in a sandwich, taco or piled high on a plate with a side of slaw, these Valley BBQ institutions boast some of the best beef around.
Texas BBQ House
Served “fatty” or “lean,” the popular chest cut presents a dilemma: aficionados prefer the more flavorful fatty, but lean is a better test of pitmaster skill. Owner Mike Pitt’s brisket gets a liberal coating of his ancestral, 19-ingredient dry rub before spending 13-14 hours in the oak-fueled smoker.
5037 S. 24th St., Phoenix, 602-343-6447, texasbbqhouseaz.com
The Thumb BBQ
This bistro far exceeds what you’d expect from an eatery located in a gas station/car wash/gourmet market. Try Tom’s Brisket Stack featuring crispy handmade cheesy hash brown cakes topped with sliced brisket and finished with two over easy eggs and green onions. Bonus points if you can scarf it all down while your car gets cleaned.
9393 E. Bell Rd., Scottsdale, 480-513-8186
Walter Sterling of Ocotillo created this small, friendly neighborhood joint, devoted to barbecue and sophisticated American dishes. The 12-hour smoked brisket and chopped brisket sandwich are standouts, elevated by your choice of macaroni and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, braised greens, baked beans, jalapeño cheese grits, roasted heirloom carrots or shoestring fries.
7620 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale, 480-553-9330, starlitebbq.com
Little Miss BBQ
Scott and Bekke Holmes’ tiny one-room restaurant regularly draws long lines of locals, their fingers figuratively crossed in hopes of deterring the “sold out” sign. Their secret is mouthwatering meats smoked over white oak for 12-14 hours and served by the pound, on a bun or plated with two sides. Don’t miss the popular fatty brisket, meat so buttery that it practically dissolves on contact with the tongue.
Two Valley locations, littlemissbbq.com
Joe’s Real BBQ
Housed in an old brick building dating back to 1929, Joe’s features pecan-smoked barbecue and a plethora of other delectable dishes, including spicy jackfruit for the meat-averse. Get your brisket chopped or sliced and choose from classic sides such as cornbread, sweet cut corn or coleslaw.
301 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-503-3805, joesrealbbq.com
Brisket gets a south-of-the-border treatment at Bobby-Q, a good-looking and comfortable steak and barbecue restaurant that’s comfortably priced, too. Order the smoked brisket tacos, two warm corn tortillas filled to the brim with sliced brisket, salsa verde, cotija cheese, cabbage, cilantro and diced tomatoes.
Three Valley locations, bobbyqbbq.com
Owner and self-taught pitmaster Duaine Burden declares that his barbecue is not Texas-style or Carolina-style or any other damned style but “Arizona-style,” smoked over pecan and oak, applying rub to the pork butt and ribs (also laved with butter) and nothing but salt and pepper to the brisket. His much-ballyhooed brisket is outrageous, whether sliced and sold by the pound, tucked inside a lightly browned and melty quesadilla or generously piled on a sturdy toasted bun with sweet, crispy coleslaw on top (an extra $1).
3434 N. Val Vista Dr., Mesa, 480-459-3050, jalapenobucks.com
Eric’s Family Barbecue
Attention, brisket bros: The West Valley has a new barbecue king. In Central Texas fashion, meats are given a simple salt and pepper rub and cooked with mesquite in an offset smoker, in which indirect heat and smoke emulate the pit barbecue of the region. The fatty brisket, loose-textured and cut in great slabs, is first-rate, sporting a crunchy epidermis of thick, black bark over pink, smoke-ringed flesh, with a whiff of earthy mesquite throughout.
12345 W. Indian School Rd., Avondale, 623-535-0993, ericsfamilybbq.com
From a user-experience standpoint, we love Bootleggers’ brisket, which has all the sweet, fatty char any barbecue fan needs. Plus, Bootlegger’s also comes with ample seating and upscale cocktail options, which you won’t find at many ramshackle “classic” barbecue joints.
Two Valley locations, bootleggerssmokehouse.com