What I love about many Tucson restaurants these days is that they started out as a food truck. Doing so, you can see what works, and what doesn't, along with how you get by in a cramped and busy space. Once you have achieved nominal success selling your tasty wares, then it might be advised to find a permanent situation so your loyal fans, along with the new ones, will always know where you are.
What I also love about Tucson is how we are starting to make a name for ourselves in the barbecue game. It's taken us a while and if you have read my food reports here, you know I have made a valiant effort to spotlight a few good food Samaritans who stay up all night making sure the wood is keeping its temperature and the meat is getting properly rotated.
Because of my obsession to attempt in being the strong hand you need holding when people say that Tucson is not a barbecue town, I am here to say we really lucked out with BBQ Rush. Their food truck has been operating for a few years but in mid-2017 they opened their doors in a rather sizable space out on South Country Club. If you are GPSing their location, you might get spun around a few times because where the map matrix is telling you to go is in a KOA campsite. That happened a few times before relenting and just turning into the grounds following the robotic sultry voice to a spot that is nakedly advertised as "Restaurant." Once you step inside and inhale deep and see the piled plates of meat-strewn madness enjoyed by those that have long forgone using a napkin—because what's the point anyway?—you know that you have found what you have long been seeking.
Going from a truck to a spread that can easily fit close to a hundred hungry heads must have been quite the shock, but operations manager Jason Scott takes it all in stride and is just happy to be in business.
"We moved into this location in August of 2016 but we didn't open till April of this year," says Jason. "It took us that long to get everything up where we needed to be."
Originally in the fishing lure business, Jason and his family set up a taco stand next to their factory in Mexico, basically just for fun. Business was good but when they started selling a line of distinct barbecue sauces that quickly flew off the shelves, the family knew they were on to something good. The space they are in now was originally used by them as a commissary (and still is, along with other food trucks) but when the restaurant portion of the business opened, Jason knew they had to snatch it up before anyone else did. At first, only dedicated BBQ Rush fans and campers were their sole customers. As word slowly spread about how good the food is, business has been steadily picking up, enough where Jason had to install a sign stating that when the food is gone ... the food is gone.
"I have people coming up to me asking how can we be out," Jason says. "On a busy day that can happen. But I actually like running out of food, it lets us know that we are doing something right."
Doing something right just might be the understatement of the year.
For a mere $12, you get a choice of brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs or locally made sausage paired with homemade potato salad, coleslaw and thick southern style baked beans. And they do not skimp on the portions. Come to BBQ Rush hungry because this is mountain-man magnitudes of chow. Officially, Jason likes to call his way of doing barbecue "Texas style" while putting a bit of Tucson stank on it. The ribs are dry rubbed and slow smoked over mesquite wood all night, then finished in a warming cabinet at the last minute with a sauce that gives the ribs a glorious caramelization. Succulent, fall-off-the-bone incredible is what it is. They also include house-made pickles on each plate, a stunning cross between dill and butter. The brisket is a torrent of juiciness with a luscious outer bark, making it a local champion of meaty virtuosity. Everything I got to sample was better than the last bite I had.
BBQ Rush also serves pizza. The off-menu, pulled-pork pie drizzled in a tangy ranch will change the way you view barbecue and pizzas all together. You see, Tucson, I'm just trying to help you out here.