Growing up in Arizona with a grandpa that was a semi-self proclaimed cowboy, I grew up eating a lot of BBQ, and good BBQ. We may not be St Louis, Memphis, or even the Lone Star State, but I feel that Arizona has great BBQ and it is uniquely AZ.
Being a mom of four Arizonans, I feel it is my duty to refine their palates with only the best BBQ our state has to offer and thankfully BBQ establishments tend to be pretty kid friendly. Here are some of my favorite BBQ joints in AZ.
- Bobby Qs: A small, local chain with three locations in Phoenix, Mesa, and Biltmore, is uniquely AZ. The owner is a Phoenix native and has scoured the world picking up BBQ recipes and secrets throughout his travels, bringing the best flavors to his dishes. This tends to be our go to restaurant for birthdays with my parents. The Mesa location has a great patio with a relaxed atmosphere. My favorites are the pulled pork and the brisket. My husband and brother both really like the smokehouse burger. Plus they give you free mini donuts at the end that the kids LOVE.
- Joe’s Real BBQ: If you live in the East Valley and haven’t heard of Joe’s, you might be living under a rock. Joe is also a homegrown Arizonan. About 20 years he opened Joe’s Real BBQ in Downtown Gilbert in what has been a grocery store and a church. He serves pecan wood smoked meats and “cafeteria” style sides. Everything is extremely well made, and has a touch of nostalgia. All of the meats are great, you cannot go wrong. Make sure to grab some cobbler or stop next door at Topo for prickly pear soft serve ( also a Joe’s establishment). Also, they offer a free meal for your birthday.
- Bigfoot BBQ: My favorite BBQ joint, and I haven’t been in years because it’s located in Flagstaff. I wouldn’t have ever even known about it if I hadn’t attended the greatest university in the state (NAU) and hadn’t befriended so many locals. Located in an unassuming downtown shopping “mall” on Leroux St, you would never know the basement houses a BBQ restaurant. As the name implies, portions are large and pack monstrous flavor. I really like the pulled chicken and the macaroni and cheese is to die for. It’s a great place for kids as it’s definitely not fancy, but make sure to keep an eye on them near the fountain. Next time you travel up north to escape the heat, definitely search for Bigfoot!
- The Chuckbox: Technically, not BBQ, but their burgers are mesquite grilled and delicious. When I think of The Chuckbox, I think of my cowboy grandpa. Good food and no frills. They only accept cash and their busy during football season, but definitely worth it in my opinion. Get the Big Juan.
- Joe’s Farm Grill: Another Joe’s establishment, located on what used to be the family farm and they do offer pecan smoked ribs that are delicious. We enjoy taking the kids here to roam and eat outside while the weather is nice. They recently added a soda fountain with what appear to be homemade sodas. The kids loved the homemade root beer and I liked the cherry soda. Also, they have the best sweet potato fries that I have ever had.
- Dickey’s: Yes, it’s a national chain, but they deliver great BBQ and some have a drive through. You can’t really beat that for busy mamas. I also love a place that offers a kids eat free night on Sundays.