“Hand-rubbed meat can’t be beat” is one of Hap’s mottoes. The other is “Smoked slow… served fast.” There you have a formula for success. Hap’s lacks the validating cachet of a tumbledown smoke shack in an iffy neighborhood (it’s located in a food-court building between Cousin’s Subs and Samurai Sam’s) and its food prep and service are more efficient than artisan, but where else in Phoenix are you going to find barbecued lamb?
It’s not for everyone, this lamb. It is fatty and funky with booming ewe flavor, so powerful that Hap’s spicy sauce sings minimal harmony (but is very welcome for balance). It comes on a plate or sandwich, torn into chunks, shreds, and slices, the lean and fat parts nearly indistinguishable. The flavor is so big that I wavered after a taste or two … but found myself coming back to it for more between bouts with Hap’s ribs, chicken, and pulled pork.
The ribs are just-right chewy if only 85% flavorful, the rub and smoke not saturating the meat as much as one might hope for. Hap’s smoked chicken is a polar opposite of the lamb. It is hand pulled into the tenderest imaginable shreds and pieces, elegantly smoky, gently flavored, fully satisfying.
Several fruit cobblers are available for dessert. They are heavyweights, more about dough than fruit.