Caldwell County Mexi-Q
Opened: November 2021
Not long after modern American barbecue culture swept into the Valley – we’re talking early- to mid-2013 – people have been wondering: “When will Arizona have its own barbecue style?” Well, this terrific hybrid smokehouse in Gilbert from longtime Valley barbecue kingpin Clay Caldwell (Waldo’s, Caldwell County) and his talented pitmaster, Jimmy Perez, might have solved the riddle. Consider their signature birria taco ($6), made with Best of the Valley award-winning brisket and served with a cup of luscious, lime-tinted consommé that’s worlds better than the oily pan drippings you usually get. And try not to be bedazzled by the supple smoked half chicken ($16), easily enough for two with tortillas, pico and a fistful of pickled onions. Same goes for the obscenely good roasted creamed elote ($3), jack-cheese-dribbled calabacitas ($3) and bean-slathered brisket tostada ($9). But the apotheosis of Arizona barbecue could be the green chile pork burrito ($10), a plump, cheese-filled number made with Perez’s smoked pork shoulder, seasoned with pasilla peppers and other Southwestern spices.
Wild Card: And for dessert: the Mexi-Q Twinkie, a bacon-wrapped jalapeño filled with brisket and cream cheese, then roasted ($4).
546 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-813-3727, ccmexiq.com