Thursday, September 8, 2011

BBQ Kumbaya in OKC

Leo’s BBQ
3631 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

People, I just want to say, can we get along?” – Rodney King, May 1, 1992.

Well, sure. If you open up a BBQ pit, Rodney.

Good smoked meat is the one surefire way to get good ‘ol boys, suburban soccer moms and suits like me to venture to an old dilapidated ex-gas station a block or two from Martin Luther King Boulevard.

In this case, we’re talking Oklahoma City, but as Chris Rock once explained, it doesn’t really matter which city you’re in.
You know the kind of neighborhood we’re talking here.

Rodney no doubt would be pleased to see the diverse lunch crowd harmoniously gnawing on succulent smoky ribs slathered in lip-smackin’ barbeque sauce at Leo’s.

Kumbaya in mid-America.

The assault on the senses hits you as soon as you pry open the well-worn front door.

Dark, smoky and smelling like barbeque heaven, it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust from 100 degree blazing noon high plains sunshine to the air conditioned shadows of this bustling BBQ pit.

Between four meetings per day, hundreds of miles of rental car driving, multiple airline flights and at least a couple TSA sponsored testicle-gropings, Suit757 doesn’t have much time to eat.

So when I get 30 minutes, I’m going to make the most of my only meal of the day. That’s why I ordered the “Leo’s Special” – a heaping plate of ribs, sausage, brisket, smoked bologna, baked beans, potato salad – and dessert.

I resisted the urge to order the Jumbo version – an even bigger plate that comes with the warning “Designated Driver Not Included”.

Trust me. Leo’s Special was plenty. I needed a 300 MG caffeine Rock Star Energy Drink afterward just to get through my last two meetings and OKC Airport government body cavity search.

Like most good BBQ, Leo’s hickory smoked meat would be five star without any sauce at all. But if you insist on going that BBQ purist route you really would be missing out.

Leo’s is famous for its incendiary hot tomato-based sauce. Perfect on the big meaty ribs and fire-engine red sausage, the spice had me reaching frequently for my plastic cup of Oklahoma City tap water.

The brisket was chopped into tender morsels, some soft and tender as buttermilk pie, others crispy and charred from the fire-kissed outskirts. I squirted a bit of the zesty but sweet mild sauce on that. BBQ heaven.

Obviously, the most unusual item on my plate was the smoked bologna.

Trust me, this stuff is no relation to the nasty cold cut sandwich your mommy packed in the little zip lock bag inside your aluminum Smurfs lunchbox when you were in third grade. Not even on the same family tree.

This was thick meaty hunks of pig with a crisp dark flavor-packed skin. Like really tender, smoky ham. Good enough on its own, it was even better with a quick squirt of sweet sauce.
The baked beans were some of the best you’ll ever eat. Sweet, hearty and chock full of bits of smoked meat, these babies put Bush’s to shame.

Just when I was about to sprawl out on my booth to take a much needed nap, my cheerful waitress brought out a slice of Leo’s world famous strawberry-banana cake. Moist cake. Sweet icing. Fresh strawberries and bananas.

Need I say more?

Despite the fact that there was literally not a square inch of vacancy in my over-extended stomach, I somehow managed to polish off the whole thing. Didn’t leave a crumb.

As I stood in line with a wide assortment of satisfied customers to pay my tab, I couldn’t help but contemplate how good BBQ could be the answer to world peace.

Cowboys and hippies. Obama supporters and Ron Paul revolutionaries. Rednecks and suits. We’ll all cross the railroad tracks (literally) for quality smoked meat.

Kumbaya, indeed!

Rating: Bought the shirt!

Leo's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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