This weekend downtown Chandler will be piled high with more than 20,000 pounds of BBQ at the Great American Barbeque and Beer Festival. The roster of restaurants dishing up ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken includes old favorites Famous Dave’s, Honey Bear’s BBQ, Joe’s Real BBQ and Tom’s BBQ, along with some newcomers including Porkopolis.
The Chandler restaurant, located at Arizona Avenue just south of Loop 202, is the brain child of restaurateur Matt Hamilton, Midwestern Meats owner Rod McConnell and KUPD deejay Brady Bogan. The trio opened the restaurant in April hoping to bring a unique twist to the Valley barbecue scene with menu items like red neck tacos — corn pancakes with pulled pork and jalapeño coleslaw — barbecue jambalaya, grilled salmon, dinner salads and barbecued shrimp.
Porkopolis also offers a full bar, so if you prefer red wine with a plate of pulled pork and creamed corn, they’ve got it. A glass of chardonnay with a brisket quesadilla? Yep — they’ve got that, too, along with plenty of beer and apple pie moonshine.
“One of the things I think we have the ‘wow factor’ on is unique dishes,” said Bogan, the self-described “marketing mouth” for Porkopolis and the source of the restaurant’s name. According to Bogan, “Porkopolis” is the moniker his family gave to Cincinnati in the 1840s and was the obvious front-runner when it came time to christen the restaurant last year.
Porkopolis will be serving the VIP area at the festival as well as dishing up pork, beef and chicken for the general admission masses. Bogan, who emceed the festival two years ago, will be focusing on serving barbecue this year and is excited for the event, which he says is like “Taste of Chicago,” but more family oriented and laid back.
“Last year was a huge success,” said Landon Evans, creative director at HDE Agency in a statement. “I’m looking forward to building on that momentum with the addition of more family activities including an expanded kids zone, national entertainment and the chance to enjoy the best BBQ Arizona has to offer.”
Platinum recording artists Smash Mouth and Hoobastank headline this year’s entertainment roster and high profile barbecue don Dave Anderson of Famous Dave’s will also be at the festival, reportedly serving up his ubiquitous barbecue.
“I’m lookin’ forward to having a chance to meet all the rib hugging fans in Chandler,” Anderson said via phone while shooting a commercial in Minneapolis. The cameramen had to take time out to clean the barbecue smoke off the lens, giving Anderson a few moments to discuss his life’s passion.
“Even the worst day in barbecue is a great day,” he said. “Barbecue is really a celebration of good folks, great beer and some great tasting barbecue.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Great American Barbeque and Beer Festival
When: Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 23.
Where: Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, at Arizona Avenue and East Chandler Boulevard.
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults, and free for kids 12 and younger.
Contact writer: (480) 898-5629 or email@example.com