Famous Dave’s Mesa Sets the Standard in Barbecue by Lynette Carrington Famous Dave’s Mesa Sets the Standard in Barbecue There are many choices of barbecue restaurants in the Valley. But, the Southern staple food fare is represented in an exceptional manner at Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que in Mesa. The restaurant with the legendary pit style barbecue has garnered more than 700 awards for their mouthwatering expertise in the ‘cue and Mesa.com took part in a recent media event where the staff showed us what the fun restaurant does best!Gearing up for the ‘CueAt its very core, Famous Dave’s is committed to quality and creating from-scratch dishes that will delight the entire family. Quality was evident in everything we sampled on this evening.Famous Dave’s Mesa, in particular, is known for its two, 1,000 pound customized Scottsdale smokers that smoke brisket with oak wood. For chicken and other meats, the Southern Pride rotisserie smoker does the work. There is a real science and trial-and-error that goes in to barbeque. Founder Dave Anderson toiled for 20 years to perfect Famous Dave’s recipes before opening the first restaurant opened in Wisconsin. We were living high in the hog during our visit and our sizable group was treated to some of Famous Dave’s cocktails when we arrived. One of the featured cocktails was the Shiner’s Punch with Firefly Cherry Moonshine, Jim Beam Bourbon, pineapple juice and maple brown sugar molasses. Talk about a taste sensation! This delicious libation quickly won me over, and I’ll be certain to order it again on my next visit. The Famous Margarita was also wonderful with a blend of Cointreau and lime with a splash of a brandy float. Dave’s Fresh Lemonade is also available and is the perfect cocktail complement to a for a traditional barbecue meal. Appetizers did not disappoint. In the past few years, fried pickles have really come into their own as a great side dish, and the Famous Dave’s version is among the best. The lightly breaded and fried dill pickles remained crisp and tart, and were served with a mild horseradish dip. The restaurant also makes its own signature kettle chips fresh several times each day. The chips are wonderful by themselves, with the horseradish dip, or even with one of the many Famous Dave’s barbecue sauces. The Main EventThere is something special at Famous Dave’s Mesa and you won’t necessarily see it when you walk in, but you’ll taste it when you dig into the sumptuous barbecue. The restaurant has three smokers, one of which is designated to pork and chicken and then there are two special smokers designated for the Creekstone Farms Premium Brisket. Make no bones about it; Famous Dave’s has this barbecue thing down to a science. The meat quality speaks for itself at Famous Dave’s. The Texas brisket is simply the most tender and flavorful. The meat is smoked in one of the two Scottsdale smokers for nearly a full day and is wrapped in an unlined and unwaxed paper which seals in the smoke and the juices, so that the meat stays completely moist and tender. In most traditional smokers, the meat’s natural juices are lost to the bottom of the smoker. A quality cut of meat needs nothing more than some salt and pepper in the smoker and this brisket truly needed nothing more than that. Brisket perfection! Our group also was treated to St. Louis style ribs. After being caressed with hickory and flame in the smoker, the ribs are kissed with Dave’s award-winning Rich and Sassy barbecue sauce. The ribs were both firm, yet fall-off-the-bone tender and were simply tantalizing. Next, we enjoyed the cedar-planked salmon that was grilled, glazed and caramelized atop a smoldering cedar plank. The fillet was tender and imparted a marvelous flavor. Finally, we noshed on the hand-breaded fried chicken sandwiches that were created from fresh chicken marinated in Dave’s special seasoning and dunked in a buttermilk bath and lightly fried. The light and fluffy bun was a perfect complement to the sandwich. Famous Dave’s was my hero because they include a dill pickle slice on the chicken sandwiches – a definite plus in my book! After you’ve had a chance to dine at Famous Dave’s, pick up a bottle of your fave barbecue sauce. Flavors include Rich and Sassy, Sweet and Zesty, Devil’s Spit, Texas Pit, Georgia Mustard, Pineapple, Natural Sweet and Wilbur’s Revenge.The Sides What would barbecue be without some delicious side dishes? Our group was treated to Dave’s Mac-n-Cheese, a scrumptious recipe that includes just a hint of jalpeno and bit of corn. The dish puts a devilishly delicious twist on an American favorite. Next, we had the Drunk’n Apples. The traditionally spiced al dente apples featured an amaretto glaze that gave it a perfect little punch of flavor. We also had Famous Dave’s Wilbur beans that are made fresh in-house every day. The restaurant’s answer to traditional barbecue beans also features Dave’s premium smoked meats. Sadly, our meal came to an end, but not before we were treated to a devilishly delicious bread pudding. The Famous Dave’s version is served slightly warm, with a sinful praline sauce incorporated throughout, and then topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Famous Dave’s Mesa is located at 1011 N. Dobson Road, Mesa, adjacent to Bass Pro. Call (480) 615-1444 or visit www.famousdaves.com for additional information.