Caldwell County BBQ
After over 20 years Clay Caldwell was OUT. The former pig farmer and founder of Waldo’s BBQ had sold his restaurants to his partner in 2014 and sauntered off into semi-retirement. But he wasn’t the first to be inspired by a trip to Central Texas, and he likely won’t be the last.
One taste of Texas brisket convinced Clay he needed to get back into the game. The fateful brisket was consumed at Franklin BBQ in Austin. “I kind of had a come-to-Jesus moment the first time I ate Texas brisket, even though I’ve been cooking brisket for 20 years,” he says. “It’s just that what they’re doing in Texas is exceptional.” It not only galvanized Clay out of retirement, but it also set a narrow, course for his barbecue future and Franklin was his compass.
Clay and Susan returned to Arizona and began conceptualizing Caldwell County BBQ, a play on their last name and the BBQ capital of Texas. Clay returned to Texas to tour iconic BBQ restaurants seven times and had conversations with many of the well-known owners. Clay and Susan finally found an ideal location in a part of Gilbert that was more green fields than human development. Clay partnered up with his son, Spencer, whose real-estate background helped secure the property and begin the renovation. The Caldwells bought, gutted, and remade the residential home into a charming spot done in farmhouse style with a large dining room and a backyard full of picnic tables. Clay, Susan, Spencer, and his wife, Alisa all have an active role in running the restaurant. We want our customers to feel like they came over to our house for a backyard BBQ.
If Texas and Arizona had a baby, it would be Caldwell County BBQ. We offer Texas meat-market style barbecue with nods to Arizona, like citrus and a little bit of green chile zip. You’re going to love our beef brisket, slow-cooked for 20 hours until it is tender and moist. Our tender, fall-off-the-bone St. Louis ribs spare nothing on flavor. Caldwell County BBQ’s pulled pork has a simple rub of salt, pepper, and garlic that lets the natural flavor of the meat come through. And the sauce! Three different sauces are made in-house and are very memorable. The House sauce has a “tantalizing undercurrent, unspooling into the territories of molasses and cane sugar, but without a shock of sweetness (Phoenix New Times)”. An amber mustard sauce and a Hot n Sweet sauce finish out the trio.