I've been a lurker on this wonderful site for a while, but it was a visit to this place that made me decide to finally start contributing.
I had read some conflicting things about the place on here - that it was good, that it was mediocre, that it was recommended, that it was on Food, etc. - and so i decided to give it a try for my one BBQ night on my trip to Phoenix. Everyone I was with was reasonably happy with the place, but I was incredibly disappointed. I think that I can clear a couple things up about the place, and why there are so many contradictory things on here and other sites.
Basically, if your idea of BBQ is a pile-o-meat with a bunch of BBQ sauce slopped all over it, then you'll be perfectly happy with this place. I noticed a lot of people around us had the pulled pork sandwiches - they looked pretty good, with nice eggy buns and decent fries. It's pretty hard to go wrong with pulled pork, and it was definitely the best of the things that I tried. So people who enjoyed themselves here probably had pulled *something.* Big mess of BBQ sauce and shredded meat, with a vaguely smoky taste.
The problem was that this was the only thing that tasted even vaguely smoky to me. My mom had the mesquite smoked salmon, and it was also a little bit smoky...
But see, what I came for was a fix of brisket!! I ordered the three meat selection, with pulled pork, pork ribs, and brisket. For sides I got the corn on the cob and a baked potato. As I said, the pulled pork was decent, but I can make much better at home, and I've had better at any number of places. But their BBQ sauce is OK, so it was fine. The pork ribs were tender - falling off the bone - but still fatty, and not properly prepared in my opinion. I'll take no pockets of fat over falling-off-the-bone any day. I think these ribs were probably boiled, and hardly any smoke flavour at all. And just to touch on all the other things on the plate, before I get to the real disappointment: the corn was mushy, the baked potato just OK, and the corn bread too crumbly. But still tasty with their honey butter.
But it was the brisket that really made me sad. Ever since I was in Austin last fall and ate at Stubb's, I've been craving some real BBQ brisket. Those of you who know TX BBQ know what I'm talking about.... lean, sliced beef that you add your own sauce to, with a 1/4 inch of pinkish red smoke ring around the edges, that tastes SMOKY, SMOKY, SMOKY!!!! The kind where your mouth tastes like smoke for several hours afterward. I knew that it wouldn't be anything too exciting at Thee Pitts as soon as we pulled in the parking lot. Stubb's smells like a campfire from a block away; here, I didn't smell anything even vaguely smoky until we got in the building.
So to clarify why you might have heard hugely disparate things about this place: anyone who knows and loves the kind of TX barbecue that I described above, will absolutely loathe this place. I read one review here on Chow that said the brisket and pork were indistinguishable. Not true: the pork actually tasted like BBQ. The brisket, on the other hand, tasted like the kind of crappy, fatty shaved roast beef you get in a low-end au jus. Smothered in BBQ sauce, I could choke it down, but THIS WAS NOT BBQ BRISKET!!! There was a suggestion of pink around the edges, but NO smoke flavour at all.
In short, if you want nice smoky BBQ brisket, DO NOT go here. THEIR BRISKET IS SIMPLY NOT BBQ. I don't even believe that it was smoked for more than 15-20 minutes at most. From what I've read, Stacy's is the place for proper BBQ in PHX... Really wishing that I had gone there. And in fact, I think I might go pick up a pound of his brisket tomorrow, just to redeem this awful experience.
Also, they didn't have Tecate, and just to top it all off, everything on my plate was lukewarm.
*sigh*. I'll leave it at that.
Thee Pitts Again
5558 W Bell Rd, Glendale, AZ 85308