In my household, barbecue is a BIG deal. My husband is a meat and potatoes man all the way and if that meat happens to be smothered in an incredible sauce and sided with baked beans, even better. So, I was super excited to try the eats at Cave Creek’s year-old Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbeque. First off, the atmosphere is very welcoming and cozy, yet fun. The outdoor bar, with surrounds a giant twinkle light-laden cactus, is the place to spend a cool evening (there’s even live music on some nights to tap your toes along to). Inside, the picnic bench-style tables and fun decor prove that Bryan’s is a family-friendly atmosphere. The food, though, proves the Cave Creek outpost is a not-to-be-missed stop for barbecue lovers. (PS Bryan is Bryan Dooley, former chef at Fairmont Scottsdale.)
For meat lovers, you can’t go wrong with the pulled pork, pulled chicken or beef brisket. All are super flavorful and tender. The ribs are wonderfully meaty (probably among the most meaty ribs we’ve ever had), meat which falls right off the bone. There’s nothing ladylike when it comes to eating these beauties–and we like it that way. As for sides, the baked potato salad is a wonderful alternative to the mustard-heavy, bright yellow salad your grandma makes. The baked potato salad is almost light–if that can be said about a potato salad. The olive coleslaw is another winner as, you guessed it, the coleslaw adds a nice unique element to a ubiquitous side. Our favorite, however, is the Six Pack Cowboy Beans. A six-pack of beer goes into making these beans, which are beyond flavorful. It is actually difficult to call them “baked beans”–a menu item that most people don’t think twice about.
Even vegetarians have top-notch menu items to choose from. The tangy and tasty pulled squash sandwich was our favorite dish of the day. And the summer special, the tomato sandwich, which was piled mile-high with different varieties of tomatoes, was unexpectedly delish. Another summer special, the watermelon dessert with cardamom honey and jalapenos. The watermelon dish was so refreshing and unique–and undeniably addiciting. Another dessert option is the homemade ice cream sandwiches–home-y and comforting. Just what the end of a barbecue repast should be. 6130 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek. 480.575.7155, www.bryansbarbecue.com.