I thought I'd seen a writeup on here about Hap's Pit BBQ before but when I did a search, I couldn't find anything so --- I couldn't let this place go unnoticed. I've been in AZ for 10 years and had heard and read about this place all that time but had never been there until today. They have 2 locations, I went to the one on the Southeast corner of Washington & 48th St. The new Metro rail line goes right past their door! It's about half way between Downtown Phoenix and Tempe.
In its early days, Hap's offered some of the best barbecue in Phoenix from a trailer located on a used car lot at 24th Street and Jefferson. Since then, Hap's has outgrown its shabby-chic quarters and moved into two permanent locations: One on Indian School Road on the west side and the other on Washington Street at 48th Street.
The Washington Street restaurant is not upscale, but it is located in a new, small strip mall in an office district that seems more buttoned-down than down-home. Since the move to this location, Hap's has gotten some mixed reviews and has occasionally branched out from its humble beginnings with newfangled menu items such as the interestingly spelled "raps," barbecued meat wrapped in a tortilla. Still, the basic Hap's experience seems to have survived the migration intact. Meat, all of it hand-rubbed with a spice mixture, is front and center here, and the various platters, sandwiches, and sides add up to a St. Louis / Midwestern take on barbecue that goes head-to-head with the nearby original location of Honey Bear's. I've eaten at Honey Bear's and IMHO Hap's has them beat by 3 miles. They also have off-the-menu daily specials. My Bride had today's special, a Ham & Cheese Sandwich on their Bakery Baked Bun & a side of slaw. The ham was real off the bone sliced smoked ham, not deli meat. I had a Combo Sandwich, Pulled Pork & Brisket, on their Bakery Baked Bun and a side of their famous Beans - 3 or 4 different kinds of beans with some ground beef & bacon in them mixed with Hap's outstanding Smokey Flavored BBQ Sauce.
Sandwiches and dinner platters can be built around beef brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, ham, hot links, and even lamb. The last item is hard to find at most barbecue restaurants and an interesting addition to Hap's menu. There are also pork ribs and half chicken platters available. All the meats seem to have the essential balance of barbecue flavors, combining sweet, tart, and even slightly hot notes in a seamless blend from the initial spice rub to the generous application of smoke. However, the generous flavor is not used to hide inferior cuts of meat. The chicken, for example, is a nice mix of white and dark meat straight from a smoked bird.
Hap's offers a mixture of classic and original sides. Accompaniments include the great beans, mentioned above, potarto salad, garlic mashed potatoes, corn bread, garlic bread tortillas and coleslaw. One of the best ways to enjoy a sandwich is by ordering it "Tennessee style." The sweet, mild coleslaw blends well with the more strongly flavored meat inside the sandwich. Hap's also offers a more offbeat side- broccoli-and-cheese casserole.
They offer Party Packs to go that feed from 2 to 8 people or they can customize to your groups needs. Many ASU & Cardinal Football Tailgaters stop here on their way to the Games. The Cards Fans need to get theirs on Saturday because Hap's is closed on Sunday. They do catering for any size group and if you want a Whole Pig or Lamb, they do it for you. They'll also cook & Smoke a whole prime rib for you as well!
Desserts include an assortment of fruit cobblers, and an indulgent pecan pie. There are also brownies at the counter most days. There's no liquor license at Hap's, but the restaurant offers a selection of bottled root beers in addition to the usual fountain drinks. The atmosphere, although downright spiffy compared to the old trailer at 24th and Jefferson, is still quite casual. You order at the counter and listen for your name to be called. Seating is available at four-top tables and at a counter along one wall. Although Hap's location is in a business-oriented area of Washington St. doesn't mean it's not typically a family destination. Hap's is open for lunch and early dinner on weekdays and just for lunch on Saturdays. There are currently no Sunday hours.
I'm a big Joe's BBQ fan in Gilbert, AZ but I think I'll probably need to rank Hap's meats a tie with Joe's, but Hap's sides are definitely ahead of Joe's!