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Best Barbecue

Best Barbecue

From the whole-hog tradition of North Carolina to the trendy Texas brisket, many Green Country joints have their signature sauce or custom cut that puts them in the ‘cue crown discussion.

Article
Michele Chiappetta and Rob Harmon
Published
July 28, 2018 3:18 AM

Whether you were born in Oklahoma, recently moved here or are just passing through, one truth about our food is clearly obvious if you take a little drive around the area; we love our barbecue. In fact, there may be more barbecue spots in Green Country than churches, which is saying a lot in the Bible Belt.

What we’re saying is — if you’ve got a craving for smoked bologna, chopped brisket, pulled pork or wood-flavored ribs, you are in the right place. Tulsa and the surrounding towns are filled with barbecue restaurants, many of them the family-run, hole-in-the-wall joints that boast amazingly good food for a great price. A few are locally born chains that still retain that down-home feel you know and love about Okie food.

Of course, you can argue best barbecue all day in Green Country, asking questions like: Is it better to smoke with hickory or pecan wood? Is the best sauce sweet or spicy? Does great barbecue even need sauce, or should it be eaten straight up? Where’s the best spot in the area to enjoy a meal? The debate can go on and on endlessly.

Or you can just try ‘em all, and enjoy each of our homespun barbecue spots for what makes them unique, whether it’s interesting combos, classic dishes, large portions, great desserts or something else. There’s something to love at every one of the places we’ve included on our list. Go forth and taste them all. Just bring some wet wipes to clean up your sauce-covered fingers after you chow down.

Always tender and juicy, River Spirit Casino Resort's barbecue beef is definitely the kind that keeps you coming back for more.

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Albert G's Bar-B-Q
421 E. 1st St. | Tulsa
2748 S. Harvard Ave. | Tulsa
Since the early 1990s, Tulsa has been blessed to enjoy some of the finest made-from-scratch slow smoked barbecue Green Country’s got to offer. Albert G’s food is so flavorful, you’ll mark time from the first time you try it. Their Angus brisket, smoked every night for 12 hours, makes the mouth feel the way it feels to see a good friend for the first time in years. Order a sandwich or a meat combo meal with their excellent sides and believe us, you’re in heaven.

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Billy Ray's Catfish & BBQ
3524 Southwest Blvd. | Tulsa
1904 S. Elm Place | Broken Arrow
Tulsa lost a favorite son when founder Billy Ray Cooper died last year, but the restaurant is still going strong. Ribs so juicy and moist, these are truly an experience you’ll wish you could have every day of your life. When they say their ribs fall off the bone, they’re not lying. Another good thing about Billy Ray’s, maybe the best, is that you can always take home a bottle of the sauce. Billy Ray’s grandmother, Minnie, left her sauce recipe behind for the world to try and we’ve been loving it ever since.

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Billy Sims Barbecue
Multiple locations | Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Jenks and more
Oklahoma is not only known for its many college football national championships (seven and counting), but also its barbecue, especially when the two are combined, like in the case of Billy Sims Barbecue. Let’s face it, when Billy Sims had the ball in college and in the pros, he was so much better than his opponents, it just wasn’t fair. It’s pretty much that way with his restaurants, too. Any item you choose off the menu stiff-arms any appetite you can throw at it.

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Buffet at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
777 W. Cherokee St. |
Ready for a seconds or thirds kind of barbecue meal? Look no further than the Buffet at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. A plate of delicious ribs or perfectly smoked brisket is waiting, and they’ll keep it coming as long as you can last. Don’t forget the other choices, too. Where else can you have top notch Mexican, Italian, Asian, American and outstanding barbecue all at the same time? It’s all part of your barbecue fantasy.

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Burn Co. Barbeque
1738 S. Boston Ave. | Tulsa
500 Riverwalk Terrace #135 | Jenks
Burn Co. has the reputation and the meat to back it up. Every time. The fantastic customer service and friendly atmosphere is among the best and of course, it’s the barbecue that keeps people coming back. Just a word of caution — don’t think of Burn Co. as a fast food joint where you can pop in and out. Tulsans love this place so much that an average lunchtime visit to Burn Co. begins with a line that forms in the parking lot. But don’t let that discourage you. It’s always worth the wait.

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Elmer's BBQ
4130 S. Peoria Ave. | Tulsa
Fantastic service and a cool atmosphere, on top of sensational food, make Elmer’s the right choice every time. There’s not many badder barbecue sandwiches out there than at Elmer’s BBQ on Peoria Avenue. In fact, as they say, it’s so bad it’s good. Pour some of their world famous sauce over it and you’ll be in barbecue heaven. Also check out their jazz and blues memorabilia while you’re at it. It’s nearly its own museum.

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Knotty Pig
6835 E. 15th St. | Tulsa
When the whole family is in the mood for a mix of barbecue, burgers and chili, a trip to the Knotty Pig is in order. A favorite of many locals, Knotty Pig serves a lot of classics, like Frito pie and St. Louis ribs, as well as a few intriguing, unexpected food combinations like the pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich, or the Knotty Bowl — which piles your choice of smoked meat atop handcut french fries, mac-n-cheese, a cheeseburger patty, chili, pepper jack cheese, fried onions and jalapenos.

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Leon's Smoke Shack BBQ
601 S. Sheridan Road | Tulsa
Owner Leon Thompson started smoking meat as a hobby before launching into the restaurant business. And his philosophy is that barbecue is simple and family-focused. Consequently, the Smoke Shack is a no-nonsense, reliable, affordable barbecue spot that delivers all the meats you’d expect — beef brisket, bologna, hot links, sausage, pulled pork, spareribs, baby back ribs — smoked with pecan wood and served in traditional combos or atop a baked potato if you prefer.

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Mac's BBQ
1030 W. Rogers Blvd. | Skiatook
Wondering what’s happening in Skiatook? Mac’s BBQ, for one thing. Since 1985, this homespun place has been making its barbecue old-school — just premium cut meats smoked over hickory and pecan woods, using Mac’s homemade rub for maximum flavor. They also offer an award-winning homemade house sauce, and have made it into the Oklahoma BBQ Hall of Fame (did you know we had one of those?). Try the Okie while you’re there — chopped beef, sautéed peppers, onions and cheese sauce on a Philly bun — and save room for the freshly baked cobbler for dessert.

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Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Cue
333 W. Albany St. | Broken Arrow
19361 NE Robson Road | Catoosa
25 W. 5th St. | Tulsa
6175 E. 61st St. | Tulsa
With famous chefs like Wolfgang Punk praising Oklahoma Joe’s, it’s a given this spot is meal-worthy. Owner Joe Davidson is known for making and selling smokers at the State Fair and winning barbecue cook-offs; Davidson has even won the Grand Champion Overall Title at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship. Eventually, he and fellow cook-off pal Jeff Stehney opened this local restaurant chain. In addition to Oklahoma style brisket and other barbecue meats, you’ll also find a Carolina style barbecue sandwich with the distinctive sauce made of mustard, vinegar, sugar and spices that Carolina barbecue is known for.

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Oklahoma Style Bar-B-Que
2225 N. Harvard Ave. | Tulsa
Established in 1993, this little family business is a favorite among locals. Unassuming on the outside, you might be tempted to drive by, but don’t. Instead, stop in and sample some great Southern classics as well as limited specials. Keep an eye out for the turnip greens and turkey legs because you won’t be disappointed. And of course, this spot serves savory ribs, pork, brisket, hot links, sliced beef, boneless chicken and more. They make their own sauces, which you can buy by the pint, quart or gallon. And don’t forget to try their sweet potatoes pies which regulars swear by.

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RibCrib
Multiple locations | Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Owasso and more
Barbecue ribs that simply melt in your mouth, savory pulled pork grilled just right, perfectly sliced smoked brisket, moist, tender chicken that slides off the bone — it all awaits you at RibCrib. For over two decades these guys have been fine tuning the art of barbecue and we’ve had the pleasure of tasting the end results. If you’ve never been blessed with a hot, steaming plate of good, old-fashioned barbecue from RibCrib, seriously, what are you waiting for?

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Runts Bar-B-Q
3003 W. Okmulgee Ave.  | Muskogee
Next time you’re hunting for a place to eat in Muskogee, remember to swing by Runts Bar-B-Q. Launched in 2001, Runts makes everything from scratch, including its fan-favorite banana pudding. Before you eat dessert, though, get some of their smoked meat first. You’ll find ribs, brisket, hot and mild links, grilled chicken, fried catfish, shrimp, sirloin, rib-eye and more to choose from. If you dare, try their all-you-can eat options. Or swing by for one of their lunch specials, which range between $6–8.

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Stone Mill BBQ and Steakhouse
2000 W. Reno St. | Broken Arrow
When you want a bit of traditional restaurant atmosphere along with your barbecue, visit Stone Mill. This spot features charming, woodsy decor, and is spacious enough to seat a big group if you’re out with the whole family or a bunch of friends. Their sizable menu includes plenty that’s not strictly barbecue — catfish, shrimp, filet mignon, pork chops and more. And of course, they offer traditional barbecue options from brisket and ribs to hot links and bologna. Locals love their friendly service too.

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Trails End BBQ
8888 N. Garnett Road | Owasso
John Cash in Owasso makes some of the best barbecue you’ll ever have. His tender ribs and smoked brisket are so flavorful that you won’t soon forget you tried them. Those who’ve already had their lip-smacking barbecue will tell you that the texture and taste of Trail’s End BBQ is so uniquely delicious, it’s hard to stop eating it. Thankfully, with an all-you-can-eat Tuesday and Wednesday special, you don’t have to.

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Visions Buffet | River Spirit Casino Resort
8330 Riverside Parkway | Tulsa
Among everything that River Spirit provides to those in thirst of adventure and pleasure, one of the best kept secrets is its outstanding buffet. Always tender and juicy, their barbecue beef is definitely the kind that keeps you coming back for more. Anytime you can put barbecue and all-you-can-eat in the same sentence it’s magical, which is pretty much the best word to describe the whole experience at River Spirit. One of the staples is the casino’s pork and beans that features pecan and apple wood smoked pork belly with baked cannellini beans with collard greens and pork belly chicharron finished with a guajillo chile BBQ sauce and blue corn fried onion tumbleweed.

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Also Check Out

Bob’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
1100 N. 11th St. | Muskogee

Buffalo’s BBQ
201 N. Highway 11 | Sperry

Cacy’s BBQ
399 E. Main St. | Jenks

Cowboy’s Bar-B-Q & Grill
401 N. York St. | Muskogee

Dink’s Pit Bar-B-Que
2929 E. Frank Phillips Blvd. | Bartlesville

Freddie’s BBQ
1425 New Sapulpa Road | Sapulpa

House of Smoke BBQ
419 N. Wood Dr. | Okmulgee

My Place Bar-B-Q
2021 Gibson St. | Muskogee

Smokies Hickory House BBQ
5251 E. Kenosha St. | Broken Arrow

Stutts House of Barbeque
2021 E. Apache | Tulsa

Wildhorse Mountain BBQ
110895 S. 4612 Road | Sallisaw

December 2018 Cover