The short but bustling College Avenue is fast becoming ASU’s best place for a midday meal. On either side of the construction zone that marks the street’s midsection between University Drive and Veterans Way, hungry students can find three coffee shops, two bars and an ever-expanding selection of casual restaurants to suit every taste.
One of the newest of these is Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which opened its Tempe location in the fall. This humble eatery is pressed underneath the very flat, glass University House apartment complex, so you don’t even notice it’s there until you’re at the door.
Inside, the unassuming theme continues. The décor is wood and metal. It’s one of those intentionally barebones establishments, but this one feels more authentically stark than others.
The kitchen and counter seem to take up most of the room in the restaurant, and the person from whom you order stands at the end nearest to the door. This makes you feel like you have to order right away, but everyone who works there is pretty laid back, so that impression quickly fades.
The food is reasonably priced. You can get a satisfying meal for around $10, and the drink comes in a free reusable cup. The menu includes most of what one would expect from a barbecue restaurant. Brisket, ribs, chicken and pork are offered on their own, mixed together and in sandwiches.
Of course, sides abound. Beans, coleslaw, mac & cheese and even fried okra are just some of the options that shout the home-style intentions of Dickey’s.
The drink station has the typical assortment of sodas, but it also features southern style sweet tea, as well as an unsweet version. This was probably the best part of the meal. Many places that offer sweet tea tend to do it pretty well, so this wasn’t a surprise, but good is good no matter how common it is.
The pulled pork sandwich was very plain. With just a bun, meat, pickles and onions, it was begging for something extra. Luckily Dickey’s stocks three different kinds of sauce, so feel free to slather on as much as you want. After this much needed addition, it was pleasant and filling, but not as good as pulled pork sandwiches can be. The restaurant’s selections are basically exactly what one would expect from a barbecue joint west of Texas.
The fried okra was crunchy and had an attention-getting spice, but the flavor within the occasionally over-salted batter exterior was nothing to write home about.
Overall, Dicky’s Barbecue Pit was decent, quick food perfect for a meal between classes. This makes it a good representation of the kinds of restaurants you’ll encounter on College Avenue, at least for now. It seems like a new one pops up out of nowhere every couple of weeks, making Tempe’s new restaurant row one of the liveliest places in town.
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