Arizona BBQ Tour

11 September 2013 / By trippr27


OK it is hotter than hell here in Phoenix! Why would anyone ever want to subject themselves to such a sweltering dessert? I need a cold beverage and a reality check. So I start looking for some good old BBQ.

Hap’s BBQ

4801 E Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034

(602) 267-0181 ,

After stuffing myself 3 hours earlier at Honey Bears I seek out more Q. I need to be sated and find something that will hit the spot. Ole Honey Bear’s didn’t quite cut it. A local fella tells me about Hap’s. I am hesitant when he describes it as being in a strip mall. I am in a strange land and when you look around Phoenix everything is a strip mall or a crap hole. So hey maybe they just didn’t know better. I roll in and it is sparkling clean. I like that; it says a lot that someone can use a mop for more than sopping on sauce. I am four folks deep in line and soaking up the menu. All standard fair but here is the difference, the owners daughter is working the counter and also working the crowd. She sells this pork with passion! So we start chatting when it is my turn and she explains this is a new location. They recently moved from what sounded like the other option for a location here, a crap hole. OK I can be harsh when I am hungry, but I am feeling the love this dessert flower is throwing down and I start ordering it all. Ribs, pulled pork, brisket,  rib tips, cole slaw, beans , corn bread and a sweet tea chaser. I plant myself in a booth and tear in. It is nice, fresh and doesn’t last five minutes. I really enjoyed the original houses sauce. The hotter sauce version was worth a go but hell when its 107 degrees outside I was fine with just extra tea! I look forward to going back and taking my buddy Steve a fellow grilling amigo and Phoenix local and see if it was as good as I thought or if it was just the heat talking.

Honey Bear’s Bar-B-Q

5012 East Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ ; (602) 273-9148

I pull up to what is a long time local Bar-B-Q haunt. This place is a trip because of how comical it appears from the street. There are these cartoons on the sign of two bears dancing with a pig. Beside the mural of the bear is my new favorite slogan from the road, “Don’t need no teeth to eat our meat” , instant classic. So I roll in and this place looks like a Southside Chicago fish house. The stark white counters and walls are well worn from their beginning in 1986. No glamour just a girl waiting to take my order while I soak up the menu. She tells me how the owners came out west and brought their secret Tennessee recipes. I am getting excited about this and start firing of this and that from the menu. I want to get a taste of it all. So I go with the pulled pork and ribs. The sides I usually order and use as a gauge for how serious a place is starts with  cole slaw , collard greens and the house “cowbro beans”!  All in all it was fair. Nothing crazy and nothing terrible. I catch myself using more sauce than usual, not generally a good sign unless it is a unique sauce which it was not. I don’t need to go back but every time I meet someone from Phoenix they mention Honey Bears, I think more out of nostalgia for a BBQ pioneer in the area and not as a source for real quality Q.