Barbecue is one of the food categories that generates strong feelings from fans. They’ll argue about Texas vs. Carolina, Kansas City vs. Memphis, and even whether or not it’s OK to inject brisket or pork with saline or butter (among other things). Competitions try to sort out who’s the best at brisket, pulled pork, beans, cornbread – really everything that counts as a main or side at a barbecue joint. Most people just want good food though, and so in the spirit of giving the people what they want, here’s some of Oklahoma City’s best barbecue destinations, including what they do best.
Back Door Barbecue. Chef Kathryn Mathis is a local treasure, and she can cook anything, from tacos to pizza to barbecue. Back Door is her Uptown 23rd joint, and yes, meat is the star here, but there is a great supporting cast, too, including fantastic potato salad. If you’re lucky enough to be around on a Friday, you’ll want the pastrami. The fatty brisket is excellent, and her range of sauces allows for a different experience of every cut of meat.
Clark Crew BBQ. Travis Clark has won more world championships in the past 12 years than any other pitmaster, and not just for his brisket. He’s a wizard with burnt ends, ribs, wings and cornbread. His beans are world champions, as is at least one of his sauces. It’s a huge space, but you’ll still want to show up early, because the burnt ends sell out fast.
Cornish Smokehouse. This southside eatery smokes the baked potatoes, too, and you need one. Pair it with the house specialty: jerk pulled pork for a loaded potato. Along with Clark Crew, they produce the best turkey in OKC. To get things started, the hot wingz are a must.
Earl’s Rib Palace. Have we mentioned deviled eggs yet? This is where you get them. There are several locations around the city, so Earl’s is very convenient. The hot links and jalapeño sausages are perfect for a spicy kick, and the smoked bologna is legit.
Edge Craft BBQ. Zach Edge proudly serves Central Texas barbecue, including some of the city’s best house-made sausages. The variations are creative and delicious: Oaxacan cheese and Hatch green chiles, Italian beef, jalapeño and white cheddar, etc. They have a house sausage, too, and you’ll want some pork belly burnt ends while you’re there.
George’s Happy Hog. If you can do chicken well, everything else should be good too, and this northeast side institution is great with chicken. If you leave without getting the greens, it’s a wasted trip. The hot links and bologna are excellent, too, as is the cake for dessert.
Iron Star Urban Barbecue. They do St. Louis-style ribs here, but start with the charred jalapeño pimento cheese and deviled eggs. The sausage trio is the sleeper hit, and you get a crack at an Oklahoma classic: chow chow. In this case, it’s jalapeño chow chow, and you’ll want it on everything.
Jamil’s Steakhouse. No, it’s not a traditional barbecue joint. In fact, it’s one of the state’s last Lebanese steakhouses, but it’s the best bologna sandwich in Oklahoma. Get it with pimento cheese and bacon, and you’ll be taking half home. Owner Greg Gawey has been making ribs for almost fifty years, too, so don’t leave without getting the sampler.
Jo-Bawb’s Championship BBQ. You’re here for the ribs. Jo-Bawb’s goes with St. Louis-style spare ribs, and they’re not joking about the championship part. The best way to experience this west side joint, though, is the sampler platter, with brisket, ribs, pulled pork, beans, and their delicious potato salad.
King’s Custom Smoked Meats. The Grub King sandwich is the house specialty, and it’s all you’ll need. Sliced brisket, pulled pork, bacon, cheese, lettuce, onions and pickles. You might consult your doctor to see if you’re healthy enough for this deep dive into indulgent deliciousness. The jalapeño-cheddar sausage is excellent, and you need loaded fries.