Joe’s Real BBQ – Gilbert, Arizona

No ordinary Joe is this, critics would have you believe. Instead, they insist, this is one of the best 59 restaurants in the Phoenix area (Phoenix magazine, 2002). Located in a 1929 brick building that saw its “hay day” in the golden age of agricultural Arizona, it retains the charm that helps make downtown Gilbert a popular destination. A 1948 John Deere tractor holds a position of honor in the restaurant’s dining room and might remind you of the opening sequence of Green Acres (a popular 1960s television comedy) in which Oliver Wendell Douglas bounced up and down on his chugging tractor as he surveyed his worse for wear farm.

Joe’s menu features large selections of meat, each cooked “low and slow” over pecan logs. The closer you draw to the restaurant, the more the enticing aromas enrapt your taste buds and olfactory senses. By the time you’ve parked your car and queued up to order, you’re likely going to be drooling (which presents an interesting ordering challenge). That’s how alluring the fragrant bouquets emanating from the restaurant’s smokers are.

A wonderful introduction to Joe’s meats is the BBQ sampler plate with two sides. The sampler includes over 3/4 pounds of ribs, chicken, pork and a slice of Texas toast. The pork ribs are moist and tender–not quite fall off the bone quality, but as good as you’ll find anywhere. The shredded pork and beef brisket are even better choices, each imbued with a tenderness made possible only through slow preparation at low temperatures. The sauce is slightly sweet and vinegary and has a tangy spiciness that sneaks up on you like a wonderful birthday surprise.

Among the sides, the baked beans are extraordinary. Comprised of kidney, lima and Navy beans and amalgamated with sausage, chicken and beef, they are worth a visit to Joe’s on their own merit. Joe’s homemade “real” root beer is available on tap and is quite good, albeit not nearly as hearty as the adult root beer served at Albuquerque’s Route 66 Malt Shop.

Joe’s Real BBQ
301 North Gilbert Road
Gilbert, Arizona
(480) 503-3805
LATEST VISIT: 28 March 2005
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pecan Smoked Ribs; Baked Beans

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