We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Smokey's BBQ and Diner
2410 N. Portland Ave.
What works: slow-cooked meat and made-to-order sides
What needs work: The parking. Definitely the parking.
Tips: Try the tangy Carolina barbecue sauce.
Everybody has one joint they swear is the best barbecue place ever. Sometimes it’s the meat, sometimes it’s the service and sometimes it’s the price.
Smokey’s BBQ is all three. Despite a slender, difficult-to-maneuver parking area that should be used as a defensive driving course, Smokey’s is worth the possible damage to your automobile. It’s hidden in a shopping strip along Portland Avenue, so keep your eyes open and follow the smell of hickory and pecan wood smoke. It wafts into your car about a block away.
The inside is unassuming, with a modest diner setting. And really, it’s the food, not the décor, that matters when it comes to food like this.
Some of the best barbecue places I’ve ever been to have been a couple of rickety picnic tables in an open lot next to barrel trash cans.
The laminated menu is small, concise and filled with barbecue variations. From slabs of ribs slow-cooked over hickory to catfish caught fresh at Fort Gibson, Smokey’s caters to everyone.
It features specialty burgers and sandwiches and plenty of make-your-own-dinner options, as well as salads and potatoes made in every unhealthy way. Plus, it’s all so affordable that I asked if it was a typo.
I wanted to try something that I felt captured the spirit of Smokey’s, so I decided on its emboldened signature sandwich, The Outlaw, aka “Smokey’s Triple Decker Sandwich,” with pulled pork, brisket and hot links served on a hoagie roll. This way, I would taste everything in a compact sandwich.
The Outlaw is served with two sides — I picked homemade potato chips and seasoned green beans — for $7.50. Even if the food was terrible, I’d still walk away with a smile based on the price.
But the food wasn’t terrible. Far from it. The sandwich was everything great about barbecue. It was packed with juicy, flavorful meats, each one different from the next but complementing each other. The tang of the pulled pork counteracting with the heat of the hot links, mingling delicately with the smokiness of the brisket… Let’s say there was a juke-joint hoedown in my mouth. I might have had the best sandwich of my life. I’ll go back two or three more times this week to make sure.
As for the sides, the homemade potato chips were crispy, crunchy and not at all greasy, these were what chips should taste like — not to mention they’re made-to-order.
But even that couldn’t prepare me for the seasoned green beans, which were nothing short of an absolute revelation. Sautéed with onions and spices — also made-to-order — I’ve never had green beans like this. I don’t think I’ll ever want them any other way. If you offer me green beans at your next dinner party, and I throw them on the floor in disgust, now you’ll know why.
In a city filled with countless barbecue eateries, all proclaiming to have the best, Smokey’s quietly is.