Recently, Neighbor Roy and I went to two Tucson BBQ restaurant establishments. Smokey Mo BBQ on North 1st Ave. & Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ on North Stone. Brother John’s says they fuse traditional Southern-style BBQ with Southwestern and Latin flavors. Smokey Mo is Kansas City BBQ, mesquite smoked and slow-cooked for up to 16 hours.
Now, there are all kinds of barbecue in Tucson. Hawaiian, Southwestern, Texas, Cajun, and Mesquite Steakhouses. Tucson does barbecue. Outdoors is our happy place. Grilling is a passion in Tucson for good reason.
But here, we are talking BBQ; slow-cooked, with sauce or not, comfort food. And apparently, in Tucson, Macaroni and Cheese must be on the menu.
Smokey Mo offers half-slab of pork ribs, pulled pork sandwich with spicy house bbq sauce, jicama citrus slaw on a sesame bun; Pastrami sandwich from 12-day house brined pastrami, sauerkraut, mustard on a marble rye bread; an AZ OG Burger with pepper jack cheese, Serrano aioli, tomato and crispy onions; a Taco with choice of pork, chicken or calabacitas on corn tortilla with cabbage, cotija, and avocado crema.
Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ is a full service restaurant, offering a mix of traditional barbecue favorites;Texas-style salt and pepper dry-rubbed brisket, whole “Bam Bam” style short-ribs, dry rubbed and locally sourced pulled pork shoulder, baby back and St. Louis ribs. They also serve in-house smoked pork belly, brisket, chicken, and prime rib with your bourbon and beer.
At Smokey Mo, Neighbor Roy had a BBQ turkey sandwich that was so big he had to take half home with him. He told me it was excellent. I had a BBQ brisket sandwich which was also very good. The dining room is small, seats maybe 20 people, but only three tables, the rest are relegated to a bar and stool. The patio is more spacious. You order at the counter and your meal is brought to you.
At Brother John’s, Roy ordered a beef brisket with side of BBQ beans. I noticed that he had cut off large chunks of gristle but said the remaining meat was tender and tasty. You can ask for the lean cut, but be prepared for it to be a bit tougher. I had the BBQ brisket with potato salad. Very good. The service was good too. I used my Dining Club card courtesy of Arizona Daily Star and saved $9.50.
Both places were exceedingly noisy. Were I to do it again, I would prefer Smokey Mo when the weather permits outdoor seating. Otherwise, I prefer the table service and atmosphere at Brother John’s.
BBQ food-wise, the two are comparable. Smokey Mo is mostly traditional barbecue comfort food, no greens. Also, try the pastrami, hamburger or taco.
Brother John’s adds salad, beer and table service for those that prefer lighter fare. Order for order, the prices are comparable.
If you have a favorite barbecue restaurant, please contact us and let us know.
2650 N 1st Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719
Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ
1801 N Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705