Saturday, 26 July 2014

Oklahoma Joe’s

Queue outside Oklahoma Joe’s, Kansas City
Oklahoma Joe’s, Kansas City 
You never really know what to expect when you arrive at any restaurant for the first time. Despite the reviews, recommendations and common sense, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Jack’s BBQ in Nashville was an example where glowing reviews and a line out the door resulted in pure and utter revulsion. Oklahoma Joe’s could have gone either way. Highly rated and tons of accolades, a one-hour queue for entry into a chain that an acquantence indicated as "just ok".

Chomping on the rib and brisket platter
Chomping on the rib and brisket platter
It was much better than OK. Having braved the line for an hour (wifey was happy across the street at an exceptional taco stand) I arrived inside and saw the plates of food on the tables. An explosion of ribs, brisket sandwiches, gorgeously smoked chicken. Ok, this is going to be a tough decision. I could not bear the thought of another half rack of ribs. The chicken looks incredible. A brisket sandwich sounded like heaven after 10 days of pork. But, damn, just look at those ribs!  I compromised with a rib and brisket platter – easily a 20 minutes decision process.

I don’t know where Oklahoma Joe’s get their ribs from but the racks were huge and very meaty. These are American pigs on steroids for sure as I have never seen ribs this large in the UK. And because they are so large, they can survive an additional hour or two in the smoker than the smaller ribs I have seen along the trail. The result: smoky, moist, clearly defined smoke ring, chewy bark, amazing flavour. Though they are served with a quick squeeze and brush of sauce, I believe they are sauced earlier in the process as there was a glaze under that sauce that can only come from some sort of mopping or saucing in the pit.

The brisket was very thinly sliced, perhaps too thin unless you are having a sandwich. Which is what I did with the Texas toast and adorning pickle slices – a few mini quarter sandwiches, two bites each. This brisket was moist, well seasoned and very nicely smoked. A spectacular specimen that has only been bettered by our friend Mark Glosserman’s team at Hill Country back in New York City.

Queue inside Oklahoma Joe’s
Queue inside Oklahoma Joe’s
Oklahoma Joe’s only offers one side with the meat plates as opposed to two at almost every other place we visited. And actually that makes sense – if you stand behind your meat, something pickled and crunchy on the side is all you need. And the spicy slaw was quite nice.

Oklahoma Joe’s has this thing down solid. Given that 90% of the people were eating ribs and/or brisket, I am not sure why they need the other 30 menu items. And the line out the door was clearly not a seating capacity issue but a massive bottleneck at the ordering and paying end. The ex-consultant in me could increase capacity by 25% by streamlining the menu and the kitchen. Note to self.

Original (Gas Station) Location
3002 West 47th Avenue
Kansas City, Kansas 66103
Phone: (913) 722 3366

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