The celebration will be held for 10 days, Friday 9 September – Sunday 18 September
You might say I have a little smoke in my soul.
I recently returned from Sparks, Nevada, where I served as a judge at the largest barbecue festival in the country. 20 riders from across the country provided more than 250,000 pounds of smoked ribs to a starving 500,000 under the hot summer sun.
I’m a grill man. I take smoked meats very seriously. As I scored entrances and made my judgment in the cozy, climate-controlled boardroom at the Nugget Casino Resort, I thought of all the great barbecue joints we return to in southern Arizona.
That’s good news for my fellow ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and other smoked protein lovers, especially this week with two local barbecue spots among the over 100 restaurants participating in Sonoran Restaurant Week, which runs from Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 18.
One participant is Ken’s Hardwood BBQ, located at 5250 E. 22nd St. A Kentucky-inspired salute to smoke by a native Louisville son Ken Alexander.
“We all talk about community involvement, engagement, and support, which is why participating in Sonoran Restaurant Week and other local charitable events is so important to us,” Alexander said. “Whether it’s for kids and the arts, homeless programs, or the military, veterans, and first responders, we see our food as a way to connect, and we all win when these connections help the community, like how Sonoran Restaurant Week helps support the San Xavier Co-operative Farm.”
It can be hard to define Louisville’s barbecue style. It’s kind of a melting pot, Alexander says, as his menu is drawn from North Carolina, Texas, St. Louis, and other regional traditions. But he points out that it’s his family’s recipes, going back generations, that really represent his Louisville roots.
Ken’s Hardwood BBQ Sonoran Restaurant Week Menu
$25 per person plus taxes and gratuities
- Combo of two meats St. Louis Ribs And the Smoked beef brisketwith various homemade sauces for pressing and dripping as desired
- Choice of sides, including cabbage salad, potato salad, barbecue beans, collard greens, green beans, macaroni and cheese
- Your choice of cornbread or Hawaiian rolls
When asked about his personal pick for Sonoran Restaurant Week, he didn’t pause for even a moment. “With my ribs and brisket, I’ll go for the beans, cabbage salad, and cornbread,” he confirmed. “The beans are from an old family recipe, and as with all of our sides, we call them Grandma Wilma’s green beans.”
Alexander shared some fun stories about his side dishes that made me beg to see his family tree. I almost felt like the honorary Alexander when I heard about Grandma Wilma, Grandpa Robert, Aunt Roxy and KG.
To satisfy Sonoran Restaurant Week’s thirst, Alexander offers a range of fountain drinks, beer, and wine, but his personal preference for barbecue is a creamy soda-style drink called Big Red. “I don’t drink soda often, but when I drink soda, when I eat barbecue, I drink Big RedIntent said.
“Celebrating the family with food has been a way of life for me, and that’s what we do here at Ken’s Hardwood BBQ, we bring people together for fellowship, we allow them to be themselves, and we support community values by helping where we can.”
For more information on the special menu, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com. Ken’s Hardwood Grill is located at 5250 E. 22nd Street For more information and opening hours, visit kenshardwoodbbq.com.
John DecoAnother notable element of the local barbecue scene, is also participating in Sonoran Restaurant Week through its restaurant Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQlocated at 1801 N. Stone Ave.
Beer, bourbon, grill. Three basic groups on my personal hierarchy. But I digress.
“We are locally owned, my brother and I are fifth-generation Tucson residents and alumni of Chula High School and the University of Arizona, and for us, as brothers and business partners, Sonoran Restaurant Week is a local and family celebration,” Deco said. That’s regularly.”
In the world of barbecue, there are many regions with their own distinct styles, and you could say that the Aldecoa menu is a passport to your taste buds.
“Stylistically, the Southwest has yet to establish itself as a regional hub for barbecue, so we have a few things to offer our guests looking for Texas, Memphis, St. Louis, and other classic barbecue destinations,” Eldecoy said.
Sonoran Restaurant Week Menu from Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ
$35 per person plus taxes and gratuities
- Choice of ‘fatty’ beef brisket, pulled pork, or pork belly, with many homemade sauces.
- Three-rib biopsy device, either St. Louis or the ribs of the child’s back
- Choice of two sides, including potato salad, vinaigrette coleslaw, burnt beans, buttered green beans, mashed potatoes, butter-roasted corn, collard greens, chili, crackers, mac and cheese, french fries, tater tites, and “biggy” potatoes fried
- Personal Piglet sundaeTopped with butter pecan ice cream, chicharrons, homemade salted bacon, and bourbon-infused cherries.
So what dish would I choose if I wanted to be John Deco for a night? “That’s easy,” he shouted. “All-day greasy breast meat, baby back ribs, buttered green beans, mashed potatoes.”
Dicowa said these two teams work well together and that’s what he loves the most. “We make fresh mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, sometimes twice daily, and fresh green beans are cooked to order in a buttered fondue which results in a great texture.” As far as the breast meat goes, it’s all about the fat for Brother John. “Don’t give me a light brisket,” he joked, “it’s like asking for dry water.”
For libations with the perfect barbecue dish, Aldecoa usually reaches a juicy jack IPA From Santan Brewing Company or old fashioned. This comes as no surprise with the words “beer” and “bourbon” in the name of his restaurant.
“The values of Sonoran Restaurant Week are our values at Brother John’s as well, and as a fellow Sonoran and local restaurant owner, it’s a great community program for us to support,” he concluded.
If you thought I went on a barbecue pause after returning from a rib contest in Nevada, think again. With Ken Alexander and John Aldko celebrating Sonoran Restaurant Week the way they are, I’ll roll up my sleeves, drop part of my belt, grab a roll of paper towels, and follow smoke to these local restaurants that make teams in a community they love.
For more information on the special menu, visit sonorantrestaurantweek.com. Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ is located at 1801 N. Stone Ave. For more information and opening hours, visit brotherjohnsbbq.com.
Sonoran Restaurant Week 2022
Sonoran Restaurant Week is back this year for 10 days from Friday 9 September – Sunday 18 September. Tucson Foodie is happy to produce a culinary celebration this time, which they are also sponsoring Visit TucsonIt features many unique restaurants and menus that locals and visitors alike can savor.
Read our article “Where to Eat During Sonoran Restaurant Week 2022.”
For more information, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com.