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Big John's Texas Barbeque
John Crim slices up some beef brisket at his portable eatery "Big John's Texas Barbeque." Crim and his wife, Angie, have sold barbecued meats in Flagstaff for four years. (Rick Wacha/Arizona Daily Sun) Rick Wacha

For breakfast, will it be pancakes or barbecued beef brisket?

The choice is easy for loyal customers of Big John's Texas Barbeque. On a recent Friday morning, people were lined up before 10:30 a.m., patiently waiting to pick up their barbecue fix.

Yes, for fans, it's never too early for some barbecue.

"You can eat it whenever you please," said Angie Crim, who owns Big John's with her husband, John. They've been selling their barbecue for four years, first from a tent at various festivals and events.

"We sold out everywhere we went," Angie said. "Fortunately, we were blessed enough to have a lot of people who love what we do."

So they branched out, buying a mobile trailer. On Fridays and Saturdays from May to October, the Crims' big, black trailer can be found parked just off Route 66, a half mile east of Albertson's and near China Star. (In winter, they move up to Page and Lake Powell.)

"This is where folks know us. We don't park anywhere else in Flag," she said.

Yet. Starting Memorial Day weekend, Big John's will expand to a second, smaller trailer downtown, across from Wheeler Park. There, grilled tri-tip will join beef brisket and pulled pork on the menu. They also do catering for events around town.

Their goal, Angie said, has always been to give people "a little taste of Texas in Arizona." They want to make people feel like they're stopping at some little joint in Texas. In that, they've succeeded, because Texans stop in to say it's just like home. They also get lots of compliments.

"We love to hear it as much today as we did four years ago," she said. "We love what we do."

John, who grew up in Texas, calls barbecue his passion and hobby. He started learning to cook it while he was in high school in Taylor, Texas. His dad had a furniture store across the street from the world-famous Louie Mueller Barbecue, which has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and Men's Health and Texas Monthly magazines, as well as the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." John used to hang out at Louie Mueller's, observing how they cooked their award-winning barbecue.

The secret?

"You've got to cook with love," he said, adding that he takes pride in always bringing his "A game." "If my meat's not right, I won't let it out of the window."

Big John's meats are treated with a simple salt-and-pepper rub and slow-smoked over mesquite wood.

"You can't fake good barbecue," Angie said.

You also shouldn't drown it in sauce. The barbecue sauce is a condiment that should enhance the flavor of the meat, not cover it up.

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"Ours is always on the side," John said. "We want people to know what our meat tastes like."

The beef brisket is the top seller at Big John's. The menu also includes a host of traditional side dishes, such as homemade cole slaw and cowboy beans, along with smoked baby back ribs and barbecue nachos.

"We always tell people they're not Taco Bell nachos," Angie said. "They're a meal."

To drink, there's traditional sweet tea (also homemade), a selection of sodas and -- for a real indulgence -- root beer floats made with Blue Bell ice cream, another Texas tradition.

Big John's has a lot of loyal customers, Angie said. Some honk their horns as they drive by.

"It's fun," she said. "They want to say, 'hi.'"

Some of them will even go so far as to choose pancakes over brisket first thing in the morning.


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