Finding great restaurants in Phoenix isn’t hard. The hard part is choosing which to highlight.
“Still,” I thought to myself, “if we go for broke and put together a massive list of 100 Phoenix restaurants you should try, there will be plenty of room for all of my favorites.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Compiling this list was as agonizing as it was exhilarating. I could have easily filled a list twice this size with places I love to eat, and deciding where and how to draw the line was torture.
In the end, though, I settled on one single criterion for deciding which restaurants to include: How excited I am for you to try them.
Naked BBQ / NakedQ
At Naked BBQ, the meats are served unadorned (hence “Naked”) and Oren Hartman provides a full complement of sauces that are thoughtfully designed to match his meats.
(Photo: Jennifer McClellan/The Republic)
Playing second fiddle to Little Miss BBQ probably gets old, but not so old that I’d be willing to bet against Oren Hartman enjoying the attention. Hartman slings what might be the best brisket in town not made by a guy named Holmes. He does it with a Southern Pride smoker, which usually raises the floor and lowers the ceiling. I say “usually” because Hartman plays an instrument designed for volume like a virtuoso, coaxing a surprising level of subtlety out of meat that’s more gently seasoned than some of the widely popular styles — everyday rather than occasion barbecue, if you will. Of course, brisket isn’t the be-all and end-all. His ribs, pulled pork and hot links join some solid sides to make for one of the most consistently excellent barbecue options in town. Sauces are numerous and thoughtfully concocted, but they’re best used sparingly. The place is called “Naked” for a reason.