June 6, 2008

Big Foot Bar-B-Q

By Angele Sionna
Basement of the Old Town Shops, downtown Flagstaff at Leroux & Birch
Menu at: bigfootbbq.com

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

(what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$= $10

(what you get for your money)
*** fair - you get what you pay for, not in a bad way

The first time we ate at Big Foot Bar-B-Q was when we moved to Flagstaff from Dallas, Texas two years ago. Coming from the state with arguably the best barbeque in the world, my first impressions of Big Foot were not good. I don’t know if my tastes or standards for barbeque have changed or I just started ordering better entrees, but I really like grabbing lunch there now.

Big Foot has been rated the best barbeque restaurant in Flagstaff for five years running. But truth be told, they really have no competition. (The closest competitor is a relatively new joint, Pig in a Poke BBQ, just north of town.)

Big Foot boasts on its menu that their “truck stop creations” are “influenced, inspired and outright stolen from some of the most auspicious gas stations across the south.” I’ve eaten at many of those gas stations they compare their grub too (my fav being the original Rudy’s BBQ in Austin, Texas which is really at a working gas station) and Big Foot doesn’t come close. But it’s hard to live up the flavors of fresh, slow-smoked-on-an-open-flame meats at a true Texas legend. Still, Big Foot is decent and has the best barbeque I’ve had in Arizona.

The best things at Big Foot are the sides. In fact, I don’t think I’ve tasted better onion rings or fries anywhere in town and they could definitely give some of the sides at real southern joints a run for their money. And speaking of fries they have several kinds, regular, garlic, and sweet potato, all of which are fantastic. The onion rings have the perfect salty-sweet combo of flavors and melt in your mouth. And the fried okra is good too. It’s a good thing their meat platters are served with your choice of any two sides! And you can also get a “veggie” platter of three sides for just $5, though it will definitely increase the size of your thighs.

Their brisket and ribs are a little too dry for my liking and the sauce is sweet and tangy but average yet the flavors make for a good meal if you’re in the mood for some barbequing. Make sure to order the sliced brisket platter ($10) and not the pulled meat, which is really more like a “sloppy joe” scooped out pre-mixed with too much sauce and not attractive looking at all.

My personal favorite on the menu is the Fried Chicken Salad ($8). It consists of fresh and crispy romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, croutons, toasted pecans, fried chicken breast strips, and fried okra. I order it with their creamy ranch dressing. There is something about the way those flavors all blend together that really make me crave going to Big Foot every so often. It may not be the healthiest salad in town but it is the best one hands down.

Not to be missed is their truly southern style sweet tea. It’s perfectly sweetened just like grandma used to make back home. Also on the drink menu keeping with their trailer trash inspired motif is Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

The atmosphere is really casual and relaxed, maybe a bit too much for some folks’ likings. I wouldn’t take my neat freak grandmother there for instance, but my kids love it. And so do I. You never feel rushed and you leave feeling happy and full, definitely adding to the charm!
Bigfoot is located in the basement of the Old Town Shops in the heart of historic downtown Flagstaff. Only a wire fence separates it from the Aveda salon and clothing store that share the basement. The décor is fun and laid back. It’s a total white trash motif, complete with inflatable beer racing cars hanging from the ceiling, rusted car doors lying around, and guns, hubcaps, deer heads, and cowhides attached to the walls. And feel free to dump the peanut shells on the floor. Its part of the down home decoration.
You stand in line to place your order at the counter before taking a seat and you’re given an old license plate to mark your order number so they can find your table. Seating is at long picnic-style tables with vinyl tablecloths and miss-matched chairs. They have a “Kids Korral” for the young tikes to entertain themselves while you wait for your food to be served, complete with a TV and old toys. They also have a little bar/lunch counter if you come in on your lunch break by yourself or just want to have a beer. Speaking of lunch, on weekdays this place keeps really busy, but the wait for your order to be ready isn’t ever too long.

The manager is always friendly and tries to make customers happy. But I have to say to watch your order total, as the cashier has gotten it wrong in their favor on several different occasions. Also, the menu lists tea and soft drinks as costing only a buck, but we got charged $1.50 at today’s visit. The cashier also charged us for sides separate instead of coming with the brisket platter, but corrected it after we asked about the total. If this hadn’t happened on several other visits I would have just thought it a fluke, but I mention it because it seems routine. They do make it right when you ask though, sometimes will even throw something in for free or give you an upgrade to make up for it.

All in all, I’d recommend Big Foot to both tourists and locals alike. Its in a great location, has a fun atmosphere, and is priced about the same as most other casual eateries in Flagstaff. The food is consistently good, though not great. Still, it’s a place my family regularly requests to go.


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