When this common snack tags along on car trips and hiking trails, it’s usually in the form of rip-out-your-teeth, cardboard-ish beef from brands that “feed the beast” or whatever. If you’re like me, you’d rather forgo the 20-plus hours of home meat preservation required to do your own jerky, even though you revel in experimenting with unconventional flavor combinations and different protein sources. Luckily, these local jerky joints know what they’re doing, plus how to quell hangry attacks.
JoJo’s Jerky Do you have a passion for ingredient labels and an industrial-sized dehydrator housing 100 pounds of jerky? JoJo’s does. Most selections are made from grass- and grain-fed top sirloin, but for a change of pace, munch on prickly pear cactus—don’t worry, needles have been trimmed and “meat” has been marinated for two days to achieve tenderness—or lean turkey breast. Opt for the curry flavor to get invaded by exotic notes of ginger, coconut milk, cardamom and turmeric. Container Park or 3310 S. Jones Blvd., 702-812-2457, jojosjerky.com.
JB’s SmokeHouse Standing for Just Bob’s, this 4-month-old charges out of the gate with 14 flavors using Angus top round that’s sliced, bathed in sauces overnight and smoked to impart intense taste. If you can tolerate a tingle lasting up to 15 minutes, brave the Ghost Chipotle jerky, with its chipotle base and dusting of powdered ghost peppers that deliver a strong finishing move. And if your dog wants in on the action, hook him up with some of JB’s treats made just for him. 2210 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-755-1254, jbssmokehouse.com.
Sun’s Thai Food & Jerky The method may come from owner Suntharee Balthazor’s Thai mother, but the meats and seasonings come from the request line. Beef, chicken, pork, salmon and buffalo remain—past creations include squid and tofu—as does the most popular flavor, Cecina (lime). Birthed from a fellow Fantastic Indoor Swapmeet vendor’s memories of his mother’s traditional Mexican version, this take features a serious punch of citrus acidity. Go for the hot upgrade and get ready to party. 4941 W. Craig Road, 702-272-1381, sunsbeefjerky.com.