As a Texas native, barbeque is an essential meal in my rotation. Going without those slow cooked, tender meats smoked for hours with love would just be a shame. So it’s no surprise then that for me nothing says summer more than great barbeque eaten outdoors on a picnic table. While Flagstaff’s barbeque restaurants don’t actually have outdoor seating, you can still find that down home feeling in their food.
Big John’s Texas BBQ
1740 E Rte 66 (just east of Enterprise)
Call ahead for hours at 928-699-2707
I was so excited when I found Big John’s Texas BBQ. He’s not an official restaurant by any means. Big John runs his joint from a movable trailer with a giant smoker attached. He parks his rig-slash-movable restaurant on Route 66 just east of Enterprise three days a week (usually). Most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when the weather is good, you can smell that sweet, sweet smoke in the air as you drive near. And the taste of Big John’s brisket is even better. He takes is B-B-Q-ing seriously and you can taste that careful slow cookin’ in every bite. Big John’s also serves up ribs, pork, great potato salad, barbequed baked beans, and Texas sweet tea. Mmmm Mmmm good! You can buy the meat by the pound (which is how I like to do it for a great family meal) or you can get a sandwich.
Flagstaff BBQ & Catering Co. (Formerly known as Pig in a Poke BBQ)
9001 North Highway 89 at Silver Saddle Rd
About eight miles from downtown sits the modest Flagstaff BBQ (formerly known as Pig in a Poke BBQ). Next to a gas station/ convenience store – this place has that southern barbeque feel as you drive up. Flagstaff BBQ cooks up Kansas City style que. It’s the place to come for a great deal and great tasting barbequed chicken dinner. For just $5.99 you get a half chicken and two sides. Their onion rings and curly fries may add to your thighs but they taste great and compliment the chicken nicely. The brisket sandwich is too try for my liking so I’d opt for Big Johns or The Smokehouse if that’s what you’re craving. Flagstaff BBQ is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Big Foot Bar-B-Q
Basement of the Old Town Shops, downtown Flagstaff at Leroux & Birch
Menu at: bigfootbbq.com
Big Foot has been rated the best barbeque restaurant in Flagstaff for several years running. But truth be told, they really haven’t had much competition until recently. 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 to and Big Foot doesn’t come close. Still, Big Foot does have a lot to offer. The best things here are the sides. I don’t think I’ve tasted better onion rings or fried okra anywhere in town and they could definitely give some of the sides at real southern joints a run for their money. Their brisket and ribs are in need of moisture but the sauce is sweet and tangy and definitely spices up the meat enough to make a good meal. The atmosphere at Big Foot is really casual and relaxed. You never feel rushed and you leave feeling happy and full, definitely adding to the charm.
129 E Arrowhead, just of Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ
Menu online at: satchmosaz.comSatchmo's is a KC barbeque meets Louisiana style of joint and has lots of loyal eaters. They're claim to fame here: the pulled pork bbq sandwich. Ribs are also a fan fav and can sell out. (They're only made one day a week). In my experience the portions are smaller than advertised and not as tasty as the hype machine would have you believe. The barbecued turkey tastes more like Thanksgiving turkey than the traditional smoky barbecued turkey but its nice and moist. The meat has a nice flavor. Sauces are okay. Read my full review of Satchmo's HERE.
The Smokehouse (Updated 1/11/10)
3510 E. Route 66
website (but no current menu) at: simplythebestbbq.com
The Smokehouse is a far cry from its successful, moist, flavorful tasty roots. They were among my fav Flag bbq joints, but no longer. The meats we've gotten on our last few trips here (ever since opening in the new location) are really dried out tasting. The meats are served cold - like they've been reheated but not well and they're dried out, again like they've been reheated over and over. The sauces are the best thing about The Smokehouse. They're homemade and lean towards sweet more than spicy. You can see how good they used to be at the bottom of this review. It's sad to see how far down the rung they've gone.
UPDATED AGAIN 09/2009: We ate at the Smokehouse at its new location and were disappointed. The food wasn't as good (and a little cold, not fresh out of the smoker), portions were smaller and it costs a few bucks more per entree. The service was poor as well and the location isn't as charming as the old trailer. I hope these were just some kinks and not the future of The Smokehouse.
UPDATE 08/2009: The Smokehouse has temporarily closed down its trailer at the Museum Club and will be opening a brand new real restaurant along Route 66 in September. Watch for an updated review of The Smokehouse at that time, because it's worth waiting for!)
The Smokehouse has been around for about two years but only recently came into my world – and I’m so glad. Their meats melt in your mouth and are slow cooked in the back of this trailer-turned-smokehouse restaurant. Like Big John’s there’s nowhere to eat at The Smokehouse itself. It’s drive up and go – which makes for a great picnic. The owner/ chef – who hails from Austin, Texas - makes both the tasty and tangy mild and spicy sauces himself in the back of the place, along with his cole slaw and spicy pinto beans, and, of course, all the meats which are smoked up there too. The choices here are plentiful – and like all the best Texas barbeque spots – makes sliced turkey brisket, along with other classics like beef brisket, sausage, pork, ribs and more, if you can believe it. For the back of a trailer this place serves up lots of great stuff!
The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great
The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
x= if the food’s good enough, still worth going, otherwise forget it
Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
Value (what you get for your money)
* = overpriced period, food isn’t good enough to make up for the cost