At least twice a week, I get emails asking me to check out particular restaurants in the Valley. Most are just places that people tried and thought I might be interested, which I usually am. Some turn our great, some not so great and some end up closed before I even get a chance to try them.
However, in the past two weeks, I have had more input on a tiny little restaurant on East Indian School Road than any other restaurant in recent memory. Even a member of our governing board at work asked me if I had been to this new place. With that much interest, I decided to give the place a try.
When I mentioned the place was called Stacyâ€™s Smokehouse and featured BBQ, Dad did the puppy dog face thing so I invited him along. We got into the car and headed out to try Stacyâ€™s.
Pulling into the back of the building where the parking was, we found a lot that was almost completely full. We got the last spot and walked into the little building that used to house Memphx and, before that, Turkâ€™s Fish and Chips. There were no tables available, and some people were standing around waiting for their to-go orders.
Dad and I waited our turn, but before we ordered, I spotted a couple of Valley chowhounds dining on an assortment of goodies from the kitchen. I asked them how the food was and they told me the sandwiches were terrific. Dad spotted a basket of sweet potato fries on the table and inquired about them. â€œTheyâ€™re pretty limp,â€ they said while picking up one that immediately drooped.
It was time for us to order, so we headed back to the counter to order our food and then wait for a table to open up. We scanned the menu and ended up with two BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches ($5.25 each) and I ordered a piece of the fried chicken ($1.99). For our sides, I got the Green Beans ($1.50) and the Mac & Cheese ($1.50). Dad got the Cole Slaw ($1.50) and the Onion Rings ($1.99). We got two bottles of Diet Coke ($1.50 each) to wash it all down.
The total for our bill was $26.50 including tax and we were given our drinks and cups of ice. Dad and I took a seat on some chairs against the wall and waited for a table. The interior of the place was exceptionally small holding only five tables. The place was bright and cheery and the big windows let the sunlight stream in.
We were offered the two-top table the other Chowhounds were at and we settled in waiting for our food. Our table, however, along with another one near to us were clearly in need of some maintenance. Dad and I struggled with our table as the top was loose and would be at a 15% incline depending on who had their arms on the table weighting it down.
After about a 20 minute wait, our food arrived. The first thing we did was attack the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches. The soft, hot, sesame seed buns were filled with plenty of pulled pork that had been slathered in BBQ sauce. Thankfully, they didn’t drown the meat in the sauce, but gave it a good treatment. We put the top of the bun on the sandwich and dove in. Dad was the first to say, “This is outstanding.” And it certainly was. The pork was incredibly moist and very tender. The sauce was thick, rich, and had a slight sweetness to it that really set the flavors apart and made the whole thing shine. Dad and I agreed that this was really an excellent sandwich and the taste was exceptional. It was some of the best BBQ pork in the Valley.
Our attention turned to the basket that contained the Onion Rings and the Fried Chicken. A small mound of the rings were somewhat covering the fried chicken thigh I had requests. Dad and I each tried an onion ring and we were quite pleased. They were hot, crispy and the onions were not mushy. Whoever was operating the fryer was doing a very good job. I also liked the fact that they allowed the rings to cook a little bit longer than normal, giving the cooked batter a deep caramel color. We didn’t even bother with the ketchup as the rings were flavorful enough to support themselves.
I then tried my fried chicken thigh. One bite and I was hooked. The batter was crunchy and the chicken was falling off the bone. This was stellar. The batter was not oily or greasy, but had a delicious fried flavor and the chicken was scrumptious. Dad had a small bite and said he had a tough time deciding if he liked the BBQ pork or the fried chicken better.
Dad’s Cole Slaw looked pretty good and I liked the fact that course black pepper had been added to the dressing or slaw itself. Seasoning for the win! I asked Dad what he thought and his first comment was, “Pretty decent.” I said that didn’t sound like a ringing endorsement and he said that while the flavor was good and the cabbage fresh, he really hated the fact that there was far too much dressing on the slaw almost killing any taste of the cabbage.
The Mac & Cheese looked promising. In the white Styrofoam cup, the orange color of the Mac & Cheese really popped out. I picked up a forkful of the side and liked the gooey nature of the dish. However, my first bite was … vacant. Without conveying any opinion, I asked Dad to try a bite and tell me his thoughts. After tasting a big bite, Dad just said it like it was: “It doesn’t taste like anything.” He was absolutely correct. While the gooey texture was great and the look very appealing, I simply couldn’t taste anything in this side dish. It wasn’t good or bad. It just wasn’t. I also wasn’t thrilled with the fact that in the bottom of the cup, a good quarter inch of oil was marinading the rest of the pasta. This was very disappointing.
But as disappointing as the Mac & Cheese was, nothing could salvage the green beans. I was somewhat taken aback that they would serve these things because all they did was open a can and heat them up. There was no seasoning, no butter, no bacon or salt pork or anything else. I was completely perplexed as to why they would even bother. Would it have been so terrible to say, “Well, since we can’t really get good green beans right now, we are serving canned” or something to warn patrons that this dish was really just being called in? After one bite, I simply pushed them aside and I am sure my grimace was visible from across the room.
After we finished our meals, I asked Dad what he thought. He said the BBQ and fried chicken were top of the line. The onion rings were excellent and the cole slaw good. “I think their weak point are their side dishes.” Then it occurred to me that my Chowhound acquaintances had mentioned the limp sweet potato fries. I also noticed that several to go orders were simply for the meats with no side orders. It could be just coincidence, but who doesn’t like good BBQ with a couple of sides?
I was somewhat torn by Stacy’s. I will go back, simply because that BBQ Pork sandwich was killer. That combined with a side of onion rings and a drink would be an excellent lunch. I also thought the prices were insanely inexpensive and I want to try their ribs. And, certainly, everyone of the staff we encountered were very friendly and helpful. However, they need to do a little due diligence in fixing the tables and reviewing the side dishes.
Stacy’s is a great addition to that neighborhood and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will fix a few of the things that I found lackluster.
If they did, they would certainly be looking for a new home to expand because they would have lines out the door.
1650 East Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Hours: Monday through Saturday – 11 AM to 9 PM; Closed Sundays.
Notes: Cash only. Parking is in back of the building.
Another take on Stacy’s Smokehouse can be found over at The Expatriate Mainer.