“At last, Phoenix has great barbecue,” proclaimed a lady across from me at one of the communal picnic tables in back of Little Miss. As she spoke, she waved a flap of brisket in the air to make her point, but it was so fragile that it fell apart in her fingers and most of the meat sailed through the air back over her head. I could see that she gave a momentary thought to turning around and picking it up off the parking lot where it fell. It is that good. I can’t say for sure if this is the first great barbecue in town, but I can say with certainty that it is great.
The brisket is prime stuff, as succulent as beef can be, slow-smoke-cooked in a coat of coarse pepper that partners perfectly with the protein wallop of the beef. When you order it on a plate, by the pound, or in a sandwich, you’ll be asked if you want lean or fatty. The lean slices virtually melt in your mouth. The fat ones literally do.
Sausages are sold either whole or sliced. They are taut tubes of beef and pork and enough hot pepper to give every bite a buzz. Pulled pork is as soft as butter, subtly smoky, wanting only a dash of house-made sauce to bring it to perfection.
Swell sides. Beans are so freighted with meat (cutting board scraps of beef and pork) that the beans themselves really are a secondary note. Thick, creamy grits are enriched with cheddar cheese and spiked with bits of jalapeno pepper. For dessert: individual smoked pecan pies with wicked-crisp crust and powerhouse filling, topped with a handsome formation of luxurious toasty nuts. Thursday, pastrami is added to the menu; Friday and Saturday: beef short ribs.
Service is Texas meat-market style. Stand in line (there always is a line!), tell the counterman what you want, and salivate as he slices the brisket and piles the pork on a bun or disposable plate or – if you buy by the pound – stacks meats of choice on a butcher-paper-covered tray. Select your side dishes and beverage, then carry the meal to one of the indoor tables or to a patio out back.
Little Miss opens at 11am and stops serving food when the day’s meats run out mid-afternoon. To avoid a long wait in line, many people arrive 15-20 minutes before opening.