The Tasty Twelve: Top Barbecue Restaurants in Oklahoma
Find out where the locals go for heavenly barbecue as we reveal some of the top barbecue joints in Oklahoma.
Barbecue, barbeque, BBQ or bar-b-q: no matter how you spell it, the end result is nothing short of delicious. Smoked, braised, grilled, rubbed or smothered with sauce, Oklahoma’s top barbecue restaurants are waiting to serve up some tasty ‘que just how you like it.
Oklahoma barbecue is known best for what it isn’t: not exclusive to one kind of meat, not as vinegary as some or as saucy as others. Instead, Oklahoma barbecue hits the mark, striking a perfect balance between other famous styles. Take a tour of Oklahoma’s barbecue standouts by visiting one of the BBQ hotspots listed below; and don’t forget to bring your appetite – you’ll need it!
Van’s Pig Stand—Shawnee, Norman & Moore
Van’s Pig Stand, or simply Van’s as it’s known to locals, began in Shawnee and has since spread to neighboring Norman and Moore. The original Van’s is located in an old service station and has a vintage feel to it, while the newer restaurants each have a personality of their own. Despite the decorating differences, Van’s Pig Stand makes the list because of their perfectly smoky and spicy barbecue sauce that is mouthwatering on its own. Add a drop of it to Van’s perfectly smoked ribs, which have just the right amount of char outside and pink, tender meat inside, and you’ll be hooked. Make your meal “a Van” and they’ll throw in a side of their famous curly fries, many of which stretch over a foot long.
Smokin Joe’s Rib Ranch—Davis
Anyone driving along Highway 77 in Davis can smell Smokin Joe’s Rib Ranch a mile away. This no-frills barbecue joint features a small dining-in area that is almost always full, so don’t be surprised to see folks enjoying some good old-fashioned ‘que right off the hoods of their cars. While the ribs are what the restaurant is named for, don’t be shy about trying brisket so tender you can cut through it with a plastic fork. Smokin Joe’s helpings are big enough to share, but so good you won’t want to.
Back Alley Blues & BBQ—Tulsa
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “good barbecue doesn’t need sauce,” you’ll be able to appreciate the deliciousness that awaits you at Back Alley Blues & BBQ. This hidden gem is tucked away in the heart of downtown Tulsa, but you’ll need to follow your nose through a back alley to find it. Once you get inside, your senses will be assaulted with smells of smoking meat, a vivid full-sized mural painting on one wall and, if you’re lucky, live music. Of course the real star of the show is the food, and Back Alley Blues & BBQ stands out for their flavorful rub and out-of-this-world side dishes. Candied bacon, fried green tomatoes, super thin onion rings, smoked corn on the cob and slow-simmered beans mixed with sausage, red peppers and molasses make choosing just two sides a hard decision.
Smoked, braised, grilled, rubbed or smothered with sauce, Oklahoma’s top barbecue restaurants are waiting to serve up some tasty ‘que.
Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Que—Oklahoma City
Don’t let the trendy side of Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Que scare you away from experiencing first-rate barbecue in the state’s capital. Small touches, from the atmosphere to the food, help place this Oklahoma City restaurant on the list of top barbecue joints in the state. The décor is upscale cowboy with a copper-hammered bar, dark wood floors and studded leather booths. The ribs are juicy with very little fat, and come served with hot, damp towels and a lemon wedge. The natural smoked turkey is always a crowd pleaser and comes with a choice of two sides including whole fried okra, fancy mac and cheese, seared green beans and Dutch oven sweet potatoes, which are good enough to write home about. Iron Starr also offers a wide selection of Made-in-Oklahoma beer.
Bob’s Pig Shop—Pauls Valley
Housed in a quirky cobblestone cottage, Bob's Pig Shop in Pauls Valley offers up lunch and dinner in a rustic atmosphere complete with wood paneling and a mix match of booths and chairs. What they lack in ambiance, they make up tenfold with food. Open since 1933, Bob's Pig Shop has withstood the test of time including the Great Depression and World War II. Stop by today to taste the pig sandwich, a local favorite that comes with thin sliced pork and barbecue sauce served on a fluffy bun with a side of beans and crispy pickle. With nearly 80 years in the making, you’re sure to leave satisfied after a stop at Bob’s.
Dink's World Famous Pit Bar-B-Q—Bartlesville
Dink's World Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, known to local Bartlesville residents simply as Dink's, offers heaping helpings of brisket, ribs, pork loin, bologna, turkey, sausage and chicken seven days a week. With decades of culinary experience, the staff at Dink’s expertly prepares the meat in an outdoor pit filled with hickory wood, which produces a juicy, smoky concoction of irresistible flavor. Balance out the savory with a splash of Dink's homemade light, sweet barbecue sauce.
Head Country BBQ Restaurant—Ponca City
In 1945, Donovan 'Uncle Bud' Head had just returned to his Oklahoma home from serving as a cook on a naval destroyer in WWII. He brought with him recipes he whipped up aboard the ship using simple, wholesome ingredients. One of the recipes was a barbecue sauce that was an instant hit with everyone who tried it, thus Head Country Bar-B-Q sauce was born. The folks at Head Country BBQ Restaurant in Ponca City put just as much thought into how the meat is prepared, so go expecting slow cooked meats served by themselves or as a sandwich with a side of pickles and onions. Afterward, take home a bottle of Head Country, which comes in original, hickory smoke or hot.
Jigg's Smokehouse in Clinton has been an Oklahoma favorite for over three decades, made famous by the sheer amount of food that precariously teeters on five-inch buns. The king of the castle is the wooly burger, an insane spread of nearly two pounds of hickory smoked ham, seven slices of beef summer sausage, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and chow-chow relish. Even the heartiest carnivore will have a hard time devouring this monster. While the vast amount of meat ups the wow factor, Jigg's barbecue sauce is the perfect complement to the meal for its smooth, sweet and smoky flavor.
Sooner Legends Restaurant & Bar—Norman
Sooner Legends in Norman is a one-stop shop for out-of-towners for its mix of lodging, entertainment and food. Famous for its OU theme that pays tribute to the nearby University of Oklahoma and its winning college football team, Sooner Legends serves generous portions, USDA 21-day aged beef and scrumptious barbecue. Though Sooner Legends has expanded its menu, its roots are firmly set in barbecue, as the restaurant originally began as Bob’s BBQ in 1999. Some delicious options remain from the early days like pulled pork sandwiches, fried corn on the cob and the popular macaroni and cheese. Finish your meal off with a hefty slice of red velvet cake, which pays tribute to OU’s classic crimson and cream colors.
Wild Horse Mountain Bar-B-Q—Sallisaw
Wild Horse Mountain Bar-B-Q is a family owned and operated barbecue joint that has been serving up heaping helpings of barbecue beef, pork ribs and hot links for over 20 years. Pair your meal with a side of their famous barbecue beans, which come slightly peppery with bits of onion and tender meat mixed in. Afterward, check out the newspaper articles, funny signs and autographed pictures of famous people who have also discovered this hidden gem of a restaurant tucked away on Highway 59 just south of Sallisaw.
Budro's Rib Joint—Ardmore
A fun atmosphere, large bar and tasty food have made Budro's Rib Joint a popular hangout for Ardmore locals and out-of-towners alike. A mix-match of quirky decor, including a full scoreboard and life size cutout of John Wayne, welcomes guests in to enjoy mouthwatering pulled pork, brisket and ribs. No meal is complete without trying the homemade coleslaw and potato salad, which will have you coming back for more.
Leo's Barbecue—Oklahoma City
Since being featured on the Food Network's popular TV show 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' with Guy Fieri, Leo's Barbecue in Oklahoma City has been discovered by the masses, but that hasn't changed the top-notch quality and generous quantity of food that hungry diners have come to expect. Satisfy your appetite with Leo's Special, which comes with a sampling of ribs, thick-cut bologna, chopped beef and hot links paired with two sides. Save room for dessert because each meal at Leo's comes with a complimentary slice of their famous strawberry-banana cake.