I'm from Tulsa, born and raised, but I've lived in Texas over a decade so in that time I've eaten more BBQ than I can remember. I never understood why people were so emotional about BBQ restaurants until I ate at Oklahoma Joe's. It truly makes me embarrassed to call myself an Okie. I see all the pictures of the guys that founded the restaurant, I read about the awards and I even think the pictures of their award winning meats look wonderful but if anyone needs to be embarrassed about this restaurant it's the very guys that lent their name to this mediocre at best restaurant. Stay with me for a moment and hear me out then decide if you agree.
The first thing that jumped out at me is the kid that took my order didn't know the difference from "lean" and "moist" brisket. Steph and I looked at each other with that confused puppy look on our face but then we quickly understood, they don't cut the meat to order. The brisket is just sitting in a steam tray already sliced and they just dip it out and throw it on the plate. On top of that is has no bark on it and has a rather unappetizing sheen to it rather than the freshly sliced meat I'm used to seeing. If I had to guess it came from a brisket that at best had been smoked for two to four hours. It barely had a smoke ring and certainly didn't have any smoke flavor. In the end I felt like I could have just grabbed a pack of Buddig roast beef and thrown some of their sauce on it. I'll admit I liked the sauce, it was a standard KC style sweet sauce, made from a base of tomato sauce, maybe a little brown sugar and a few spices. Certainly a nice change from the vinegar based Texas style sauce I've grown used to when sauce was even offered.
Next let's talk about the sausage. Imagine a roll of breakfast sausage that's about 50/50 fat to meat and then don't add any spices at all. They didn't even smoke it. Terrible. That's really all I need to say about the sausage, terrible.
Steph had the ribs and brisket. If there's anything good on the menu it's the ribs. They had a nice bit of bark on them and were fall of the bone tender. Steph certainly made a better choice than I on this trip. Her brisket was the same as mine. She also ordered french fries instead of the standard sides and they were actually pretty good. Just standard size fries with plenty of spiced salt on them. When I ordered at the counter I asked for potato salad and coleslaw not realizing you only get one side with the two meat plate. Instead of letting me know the kid just ignored the coleslaw so I only had potato salad on my plate. It was a little bowl of boiled and sliced small potatoes in an ocean of mayo with chives and what looked like a little ham. I suppose it was good enough just not my favorite style and if I had been informed I would have picked the coleslaw. They even mixed up the sides on two of the plates which isn't a big deal but really with only four plates to manage down a steam tray line you don't expect a mistake.
When they rang us up the bill it came up to over $60 for four adults. That's way too much for the amount of care they put into this cafeteria food and for the portion size but at least it's counter service so you don't have to tip?
In the end we were all disappointed but in different ways. I've heard this location isn't like the Kansas City location so perhaps it's just this single restaurant giving them a bad name but it's certainly not a place I'll be trying again. Life is too short to settle for mediocre and uninspired. Don't you agree? I did enjoy the old time country music so they did get that right.