BBQ, smoked meats and a pitmasters journey at Naked BBQ

There’s a lot of BBQ joints in and around Phoenix with more on the way. It’s one of my favorite foods so it’s always good to see what’s what and who’s who in the BBQ world. More times than not the people are just as good as the food they serve, this is one pit masters journey into the world of BBQ and smoked meats.

I visited Naked BBQ to taste the meats and get the lowdown from Oren Hartman  at his Scottsdale location. His affordable smoked meats and friendly service & atmosphere have Oren thinking about expanding his “Eat Naked” philosophy. Not one for the competition circuit he prefers to spend his time at the restaurants or any number of catering events he does with his staff and customers.

He has many friends in the BBQ community in Arizona and from his travels and many come through for a taste.

Naked BBQ

Growing up in New York there wasn’t much BBQ but college in Madison WI. and living in Chicago helped open his eyes to smoked meats.

Corporate America had Oren travel the country most weeks and not a fan of steakhouse dinners he would visit BBQ pits in the south and mid-west. When a buyout of the company allowed Oren to retire early he knew BBQ was his next career.

After much research and development Oren opened Naked BBQ 4 years ago at Bell Rd. & 23rd  Ave. in north Phoenix and a Scottsdale location last year.

Brisket, ribs and pork shoulder in the smoker

Naked BBQ is named as one of the 100 restaurants by Arizona Republic food editor Dominic Armato in his recent article “The Ultimate Guide to Phoenix Restaurants”.

The meats at Naked BBQ

The aromas of the oak and pecan wood capture you right when you walk in the door as you make your way up to the counter and menu board. No surprises here brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, smoked chicken and few sides are all you need. Smoked in a meat carousel for up to 16 hours meats are usually pulled sooner if they tasted the way they should.

Naked is the way your meats arrive with 4 sauces available if you choose to. My first tray arrives with strips of brisket that are moist and have a thin layer of fat and are well smoked. My St. Louis style pork ribs tender and cling to the bone just my bite to help fall off. A side of warm mixed beans have chunks of meat scraps and a tinge of heat. Not a big fan of potato salad only a bite or two and I’ll save the calories for the meats.

Tray two brought 2 kinds of smoked sausage, pulled pork, mac n cheese and creamy & Carolina style cole slaws. The pile of pulled pork was juicy and flavorful.

Naked BBQ
Tray 2

Sausage is low on my BBQ priority list so it was good to taste the sausage situation. A lingering spiced sausage and a herbed savory link set the bar for me as I’ll have to start to save room for the links. All three sides were emptied as who can’t resist mac & cheese and I’m always craving a good home cole slaw(s).

Friday and Saturday night specials Oren smokes up Prime Rib then Brontosaurus (beef) ribs respectively.

Sauce it up

If you prefer to dress you meats with sauce there are 4 styles to choose from. Sweet, spicy, a North Carolina vinegar and a rarely seen South Carolina mustard sauce will give you a look at regionally diverse sauces.

If you want more heat ask for the hot pepper paste to stir into your sauces. If you dare taste the paste naked with the meat. A few local beers are on tap to help tamper down the heat.

Scouting for other locations to open Naked BBQ, collaborations with other pitmasters & friends and playing around with a retail line of sauces and rubs Oren’s second career tastes better than his first.

The 2 locations of Naked BBQ are..

2340 W. Bell Rd Phoenix 85023 Lunch only Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or til the meats gone. Fri. & Sat.  11a.m. 8 a.m.

10240 N. 90th St. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85258. Sun – Thurs 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. til 9 p.m.

 

 

Keeler Hospitality Group lets Liberty Station take over sister restaurant

Paul Keeler, President & Chief Operating Officer of Keeler Hospitality Group announced that Liberty Station will take the space of Market Street Kitchen. Both restaurants are owned by Keeler Hospitality Group and this will be the 2nd location of the popular smokehouse and tavern. The original Liberty Station is in north Scottsdale in Terravita Marketplace just south of Carefree. The new location is at Market Street at DC Ranch and will open on October 1st.

.“We are delighted to bring this level of traditional BBQ favorites combined with American comfort style dishes to DC Ranch diners,” says Keeler.

The new location will keep popular dishes from Market Street Kitchen and the beverage program. Liberty Station will offer smoked meats and regional dishes from Keller’s travels in the hospitality industry. Guest will enjoy Pan Seared Crab Cakes, Shrimp Po’ Boy, house made meatloaf and more.

The specialty of Liberty Station is smoked meats from the 500 custom-made Camelback Smoker. BBQ fans will enjoy Texas style brisket, St. Louis spare ribs and Carolina pork shoulder. Customers can order  traditional side dishes of Boston baked beans, cole slaw and green chile mac n cheese to accompany entree’s.

Guest won’t notice much difference inside as the interior will stay the same.

Guests can celebrate the transition the new location will offer Buy 1 Get 1 Free lunch entree’s from October 1st-7th. During opening week guests can also get penny draft beers or house wine with a purchase of a BBQ entrée.

October 11th brings a Hawaiian BBQ and Tiki night starting at 5 p.m. Members of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce will be on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 15th at 11:30 a.m.

Liberty Station in DC Ranch is be at 20825 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale 85255. http://libertystationtavern.com/

 

Wrigley Mansion fire’s up Sunday BBQ Brunch in September

People are closing down their smokers as summer comes to an end but Wrigley Mansion executive chef Christopher Gross is firing his up. Beginning September 9th chef Gross will be pit master as he offers a weekly Sunday BBQ Brunch through mid-October.

Smoked pulled pork and Sorghum glazed beef brisket will be served from chef manned stations along with cole slaw, fresh baked rolls and tortillas. Guests will invited to build their own salads from a variety of fresh vegetables, greens, grains, fruits and cheeses.

Wrigley Mansion
View of downtown Phoenix

Made to order omelettes, eggs and waffles will be available with sides of bacon, sausage and fresh fruit.

Enjoy beautiful views of downtown Phoenix and Camelback Mountain from the hilltop mansion as you sip Mimosas and sparkling wine included in the $45 price.

The limited time Sunday BBQ Brunch replaces their Signature Brunch for the next month.

Reservations can be made by calling 602-955-4079 or by visiting http://www.wrigleymansion.com/

The famed Wrigley Mansion is at 2501 E. Telewa Trail Phoenix 85016.

Bobby Q’s brings tasty BBQ to the Camelback Corridor

Restaurateur Bob Sikora knows a thing or two about opening successful restaurants having opened Bobby Mcgee’s nightclubs growing it to 24 locations around the country and founding Mr. Lucky’s country bar with Willie Nelson. After traveling the country for years searching out and learning about BBQ he opened his first Bobby Q’s Great Steaks & Real BBQ in north Phoenix in 2005 before the BBQ trend started here in Phoenix.

On Monday October 2nd he opens his third Bobby Q’s at Camelback Rd. & 32nd St. I had the opportunity to visit the restaurant to preview it.

The dark & brick walled the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere with the exhibition kitchen just inside the front door. Two almond/mesquite wood smoker and rotisserie are situated inside the kitchen smoking BBQ favorites brisket, pork & beef ribs, sausage links and more. The aroma will sure get people’s attention as people wander the its strip mall location.

Tastes of BBQ

My guest and I sampled a few dishes on our visit courtesy of Bob and his team. Executive chef  Mark Hittle and his kitchen team hand run all the meats with their signature rub before they are slow cooked.

We started with the Cajun Shrimp appetizer that are sautéed with Cajun spices and served with garlic bread to mop up the juices. The 6 shrimp were a  good size, had nice seasoning and disappeared pretty quickly.

If you know me you then you know I’m a rib man and went with the Baby Back Ribs that were fall off the bone tender and made me a happy man. The brisket we sampled had the right amount of fat and bark to put up against any brisket around town.

On the side we had the Pecan Cole Slaw which was shredded thin, not to creamy as many can be and topped with crushed pecan adding a nice twist and texture. The side of Mac & Cheese won’t disappoint fans of the cheesy favorite.

We were given a bag of warm mini donuts from the donut machine and are free to all guests who dine at restaurant.

The full menu includes steak, fish, burgers, salads and rotisserie chicken that can be seen on Bobby Q’s website. I can see why Bobby Q’s has garnered many accolades from Yelp!, Open Table and Trip Advisor.

Hand crafted cocktails

In-house mixologist Chris Ortega has created a cocktail menu with his take on classic cocktails that include an Old Fashioned that I enjoyed prepared with rye whiskey and barrel smoked maple syrup. Other cocktails include the refreshing Watermelon Cooler and Bobby Q’s version of the classic Mule cocktail. All cocktails are prepared with premium spirits, fresh fruits and house made syrups.

Old Fashioned. All photos courtesy of Bobby Q’s

The Camelback location will serve lunch and dinner 7 days a week at 11 a.m. and will stay open until 2 a.m. Tues. – Sat. serving a late night menu. Sun. & Mon. they will be open until 10 p.m.

Bobby Q’s Great Steaks and Real BBQ is at 3154 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85016

 

 

 

Liberty Station opening in February by owners of Market Street Kitchen

Options are good and the residents of north Scottsdale will have another dining option when Liberty Station opens in February. The new restaurant will be where Scottsdale Rd. meets Carefree Highway and is from Keeler Hospitality Group, owners of Market Street Kitchen in DC Ranch.

The menu will be focused on American comfort food with a regional twist including specialties from Boston where the Keeler family is from. Lunch and dinner will be served with Executive Chef Michael Hunn and Chef de Cuisine Dan Watts running the kitchen where they will source local ingredients for much of the menu.

Creekstone Farms will be supplying the meats with much of it being smoked in-house in a custom smoker and will include Texas brisket, Carolina pork shoulder and my favorite, St. Louis spare ribs.

The bar will include classic cocktails, local craft beers and a variety of wines.

“Liberty Station is truly the definition of ‘neighborfood.’ You will enjoy a scratch-made meal that is relatable and incredibly tasty, while greeting friends and neighbors in our very comfortable dining room. We’ll have community tables, a very large bar and two patios. We want our neighbors to become friends at Liberty Station,” said Paul Keeler, President of Keeler Hospitality Group.

Liberty Station will be a place for all to enjoy as their will be vegan and vegetarian options including Vegan gnocchi and a Portobello sandwich on Udi’s bread and over a dozen Gluten-free options. A few of the menu highlights will be….

  • Tavern Mac & Cheese with cheddar cream, bacon breadcrumbs and Pasilla chiles, $10 (shared appetizer).
  • Piggy Wings, grilled pork shank with sticky BBQ sauce, $9 (shared appetizer).
  • Liberty Chopped Salad, with white balsamic dressing, roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds and pepitas, $8
  • Boston Lobster Roll with lemon aioli and celery on a brioche roll, $18 (lunch menu).
  • All American Chicago Hot Dog with mustard, tomato, onion, house relish and sport peppers, $8 (lunch menu).
  • Chopped Brisket Grilled Cheese with smoky cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese and a grilled tomato, $12 (lunch menu).
  • New England Clam Boil with Littleneck clams, rock shrimp, new potatoes, corn and hot link sausage, $24 (dinner menu).
  • Kobe Meatloaf with shoestring onions, ketchup vinegar glaze and mashed potatoes, $17 (dinner menu).

Once opened Liberty Station will be serving lunch daily at 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Dinner service begins at 5:00 p.m. nightly. Happy Hour is offered at the bar Monday – Sunday from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Brunch will be served Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.