1. Little Miss BBQ 4301 E. University Dr., Phoenix, 602-437-1177, littlemissbbq.com
Scott and Bekke Holmes’ small, no-frills eatery opened in 2014 and already has established a well-deserved reputation for the best barbecue in the state. The line forms well before doors open at 11 a.m., and when the Texas-inspired fare is sold out (usually around 3 p.m.), the doors close.
MUST TRY: Everything on the menu. Seriously. Start with the fatty brisket (far more decadent than the lean) and house-made sausage links with the house mustard sauce.
2. Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue 6130 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek,480-575-7155, bryansbarbecue.com
Former Scottsdale resort chef Bryan Dooley not only is a master of barbecue standards like beef brisket and pork ribs, but also a proponent of adventurous offerings such as frog legs, alligator ribs and pig ears. And his ‘‘pulled’’ squash will wow vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
MUST TRY: The meaty pork spare ribs and any of the creative sides. For the adventurous, the Friday-only frog legs or whatever the monthly special is.
3. Danky’s Bar-B-Q 4727 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 602-996-2016, dankysbbq.com
When Pat Frederick opened his small strip-mall joint in 2015, he started with the basics, including some of the best brisket in town, and slowly expanded Danky’s repertoire. It’s one of the few Valley joints that primarily relies on mesquite wood, and also is home to a unique, green Javelina Sauce made with a blend of peppers.
MUST TRY: The second-best brisket in the Valley and the second-to-none barbecue beans. For something different, the smoked and deep-fried chicken drumsticks.
4. Naked BBQ 2340 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 602-439-4227, thenakedbbq.com
Inspired by the barbecue he enjoyed in North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, Oren Hartman decided to open his own cafeteria-style eatery, practically hidden amongst the numerous Bell Road auto dealerships, in 2015. Meats are served ‘‘naked,’’ allowing diners to customize their meals with up to five different sauces.
MUST TRY: The pulled pork, the spicy sausage links and, if you like Carolina-style ’cue, the vinegar sauce.