There are two especially appetizing aromas that work wonders at luring customers: spice and smoke. In a high-traffic area like a mall or plaza, barbecue restaurants don't have to do as much outside of the kitchen to lure customers. BBQ Rush chose a location among the least likely for a local to accidentally stumble upon, however.
In April 2017, the former food truck opened their first brick and mortar in the Tucson/Lazydays KOA campgrounds, essentially a luxury RV park. The campgrounds are surrounded by a fence and security checkpoints, but don't let that scare you away. Drive in past the huge white tent and look for the registration building, then drive around it until you see the "cantina" sign and BBQ Rush A-frame.
The new digs feature a spacious dining room with high ceilings and broad industrial wood and metal tables. Television screens mounted on every wall and seven beer drafts make it a worthy place to grab a beer and catch a game.
While the style of barbecue is based on central Texas barbecue northwest of Austin, BBQ Rush pitmaster Jason Scott adjusted recipes for the local palate.
“I’m excited to start incorporating soups, breakfast, and some Tex-Mex in the next few months, and we hope to be open seven days a week pretty soon,” Scott said.
Scott’s personable nature also enhances the atmosphere of comfort.
“I make a point of coming out and saying hello to every guest who enters my restaurant,” Scott said.
In addition, Scott also opens his kitchen as a commissary to others in the food truck and catering businesses. When he’s not preparing his own food, he is out supporting his friends in the industry at their eating establishments.
The Scott family originally lived in Texas — they were some of the first 300 landowners back when Texas was an independent country, Scott said. BBQ Rush's dishes reflect what Scott considers classic Texas barbecue.
Additionally, many of the recipes on the menu have been passed down for generations.
“The potato salad and coleslaw were my grandfather’s recipes, and the sauce was developed by my family over the years,” Scott said.
BBQ Rush's current menu features several new additions including pizzas, burgers, salads, and wings along with the barbecue. The two-meat combo ($16) is popular among diners, offering a choice between brisket, ribs, chicken, pork, and sausage with three sides.
The ribs are an obvious choice for the barbecue fanatic. Thick and tender with a crust from the grill, the fall-off-the-bone meat is doused in a thick layer of barbecue sauce. The sauce is dynamic and complex, providing sweet notes of raisin and a subtle spicy black pepper kick. Jason’s grandfather’s coleslaw makes for an excellent contrast. The cabbage is cut into thick, crunchy pieces and tossed in a creamy vinegar mixture. The acid cuts into the barbecue sauce, breaking up the rich savory flavors.
The wings are coated with Jason’s “AZ Rub” — a seasoning blend of cayenne, paprika, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper — and cooked in a smoker out back. Wings are then fried to order for crispy skin — dunk them in some blue cheese dressing to cool the spices with a layer of salted cheesy richness.
For the low-carb diner, the house salad ($9) is packed full of cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and onion, topped with your choice of barbecue for one dollar more. The vegetables provide a fresh, crunchy foundation and contrast the warm, tender barbecued meat.
To drink alongside your peppery sweet entree, BBQ Rush has a full bar and offers several local beers from Barrio and Dragoon. For dessert, Jason sprung for Blue Bell Ice Cream like they do back home in Texas. Diners have a choice between all of the classic flavors as a pint or in whimsical miniature servings, wooden spoon and all.
BBQ Rush is located at 5151 S. Country Club Rd. Operating hours are 11:30 a.m. - 8 pm. Tuesday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Friday - Saturday 11:30 am – 9 pm. For more information, call (520) 841-4527 or visit bbq-rush.com.
[Editor's note August 9, 2017: the article has been updated to reflect that Jason Scott is the pitmaster. Bob and Sally Scott are the owners.]