Bobby-Q (www.bobbyq.net) was founded in 2005 by Bob Sikora, a barbecue aficionado who spent more than 10 years traveling the nation’s backroads to learn cooking techniques and secret recipes from smoke masters across the country. Led by Executive Chef Mark Hittle, Bobby-Q dishes out meat that’s hand-rubbed with a proprietary spice blend, then smoked slowly over Tennessee hickory wood.
Don’t-miss dish: Smoked sliced prime beef brisket, $19.50
Housed in an original 1940s ranch house, Hole-in-the-Wall at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort (www.squawpeakhilton.com) offers one of the most authentic Southwestern barbecue experiences in Arizona. The cast iron smoker, which also dates back to the 1940s, uses only local mesquite wood – much of it sourced right on the property and in the surrounding area. The in-house team not only develops their own signature dry rubs for every piece of slow-smoked meat, but also crafts original barbecue sauces with sweet, savory and even spirited (yes, as in boozy) ingredients.
Don’t-miss dish: Smoked pork ribs, $25.95
Joe’s Real BBQ
With famously slow-smoked barbecue for nearly 30 years, Joe’s Real BBQ (www.joesrealbbq.com) dry rubs each of its meats by hand and uses Oyler pits, known for using wood only, to get that perfectly smoked effect. Joe’s took it a step further than that, using Arizona-grown pecan wood in the pits, which not only gives a rich flavor to the meat, but is a renewable alternative to other barbecue methods.
Don’t-miss dish: BBQ sampler, $12.99
Boasting one of only two custom-made Camelback Smokers in the entire state, which sits prominently on the patio so guests can enjoy the show, Liberty Station (www.libertystationtavern.com) offers a variety of smoked premium cuts from Creekstone Farms. Best bets for barbecue include tender and mouth-watering Texas brisket, Carolina pork shoulder, St. Louis spare ribs, jidori chicken, hot links and beef ribs.
Don’t-miss dish: The tavern BBQ platter, $42
Naked BBQ (www.thenakedbbq.com) prides itself on the art of the rub, smoking meats to tender perfection without drowning them in sauces. By rubbing and smoking the meats and serving them “naked” (without sauce), the barbecue destination allows for guests to dress their food the way they want. Of course, Naked offers everything from a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce to a South Carolina mustard sauce and a dozen other sweet and savory options they’ve dreamt up to ensure you can suit up your meat just the way you like it.
Don’t-miss dish: Pulled pork sandwich, $8
A reputation for its in-house smoked meats and unique line of signature barbecue sauces, Porkopolis (www.porkopolisbbqaz.com) serves contemporary comfort food using simple, fresh ingredients in a sleek setting. All smoked meat selections are prepared daily, offering beef brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, turkey and chicken. Hefty appetites are welcome as the restaurant was recently featured on Food Network’s Ginormous for its large and in charge Brady bacon burger.
Don’t-miss dish: Red neck tacos, $12
Every Friday at Proof (www.proofcanteen.com) at the Four Seasons Scottsdale, Chef Dell Morris and his team fire up the smoker, which sits right next to the front door of the venue, to dream up a rotating weekly “Smokehouse Barbeque Series” menu. On it, you’ll find indulgences like homemade black walnut bacon BLTs with Noble bread and brisket with hearty traditional sides. Insider tip: While there for the smokehouse series menu, stay for shuffle board and live music every Friday plus gorgeous nightly sunsets.
Don’t-miss dish: Jerk-smoked chicken, $28
At Southern Rail (www.southernrailaz.com), Chef Justin Beckett celebrates modern Southern cooking and always has a crave-worthy rotating menu of barbecue favorites, including fish specialties, each with his own twist. In fact, barbecue is so popular at Southern Rail, the restaurant offers a BBQ + Bourbon special both Monday and Tuesday nights starting at 5 p.m., featuring a platter of barbecue (items change weekly) and sides, plus two glasses of bourbon (or a bottle of wine).
Don’t-miss dish: BBQ + Bourbon, $25
Part smokehouse, part specialty grocer and gift shop, part high-end car wash, The Thumb (www.thethumb.com) offers full-flavor barbecue for breakfast, lunch and dinner including a sunrise brisket hash, pulled pork, barbecue tacos and full barbecue platters. In recent years, the popular North Scottsdale haunt has earned national attention from the Food Network’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives, when host Guy Fieri profiled the venue and dubbed it a one-of-a-kind “funky gas station, serving up da bomb BBQ.”
Don’t-miss dish: The Three-Meat Platter, $17.50