I've finally reached that point where to continue this project. I'm going to have to move out of Central Oklahoma and that means road trips. Even a Q-holic like me has a hard time justifying a 1+ hour drive to just eat at one Q-raunt.
I'm pretty excited about this phase of the project but it doesn't come without it's perils.
While I can usually count on some of the tried and true Q-raunts that have been around for decades actually being there when I get there (unless they've gone on vacation). Sometimes you get there and you only find traces of a Q-raunts past like these first two pictures I snapped in Checotah, OK.
So the plan for this trip was to hit two places I was about 99% sure would be open and then hit anything we happened to spot in between.
I've been kicking around some ideas for future embellishments to this project so I invited one of the volunteer judges from the 2014 Oklahoma City Broken Rib Tout so we could discuss some of these ideas during what turned out to be a nearly 10 hour BBQ road trip.
The plan was to get to the first Q-raunt by 11:00 AM so we met up on Highway 9 in Norman and headed east to Seminole to try Bosco Joe's in Seminole, Oklahoma.
I have to say that Bosco Joe's was not at all what I was expecting it to be. The entire drive I was picturing this little rundown, smoke covered, hole in the wall, in a small, rural, Oklahoma town but when we pulled up..... Well it's more like a sports bar.
The ribs had a nice color, a light smoke flavor, and were cooked well. They appeared to have been rubbed with mostly salt and pepper and while I like a slightly sweet rib. This flavor profile worked for me.
I loved the grill marks on the Oklahoma Tenderloin (bologna). To continue sounding like a broken record for my long time readers. I say no one should be able to screw up smoked bologna and Bosco Joe's served this up right. I enjoyed every bite.
I also tried a bite of the pulled pork my Q-friend had ordered and I have to say it was a really tasty, and well cooked, piece of pork. Possibly one of the best bites of Oklahoma Q-raunt pork I've had the pleasure of eating..... I know it made me wish I had ordered pulled pork instead of sliced brisket and I had enjoyed the sliced brisket.
I'm not a big french fry eater but the couple I ate were pretty good fries. The beans were good and had chunks of brisket added to them but my one complaint is that they were a little on the cool side.
Other than the beans being cool. I really enjoyed Bosco Joe's and if not for the beans I would probably be handing it my first 1 Hour Award because I would definitely make the hour drive back to Seminole to eat their meats again but I have heard from others that have complained about being served cold food. So until I can make another trip to check the consistency I'm just going to say that if you are in, or near, Seminole. I don't think you'll walk away disappointed with a meal at Bosco Joe's.
Wild Horse Mountain BBQ was to be our next stop but I had got a hit for a place called May's Bar B Que in Wewoka, which was just a slight detour, so we headed that way to check it out.
A few short miles later confirmed what my Q-senses were telling me. May's was closed up and did not appear to have served any Q in quite some time. I regret that we didn't stop and take a quick picture because after we snapped the two above in Checotah. I think collecting pictures of old Q-raunts is going to become a part of the project.
We arrived at Wild Horse Mountain BBQ about 1:30 PM and they were doing a pretty brisk business and it looks like what I would expect a rural Oklahoma Q-raunt, that's been in business for decades, to look like. It screamed BBQ to me both inside and out.
Wild Horse Mountain also serves Big Red so I had pretty high hopes for the Q we were about to eat. So I ordered the pork and beef combo, added a hot link, and headed off to grab a seat.
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Wild Horse BBQ is one of those landmines I know I have to navigate as a two-bit, hack, wannabe, Q-blogger. I know they have a lot of fanatical fans but while I didn't think it was terrible, and I did appreciate the uniquness of it, it just did not work for me.
The pork rib is really more of a pork chop. I don't have a problem with that but mine was tough and really needed the help of the sauce, or the beans, to help me swallow it. The few bites that had some rub around the edges were better but the rest of the rib was pretty flavorless to me.
The thin sauce served with the combo, at first, was kind of strange to me but the more of it I ate, the more I started to enjoy it, and by the end of the meal I was really enjoying the sauce.
The beef was thinly sliced like Arby's but with no flavor and even sliced that thin was still tough. The combo was served with a hamburger bun. So I decided to build a sandwich to see if that helped any. The bun was just served straight out of a bag and the dryness of the bun along with the dryness of the beef made it even more difficult to eat despite drowning it in sauce. So I ditched the bun and picked out a few more bites of the beef on it's own.
The beans were excellent and had just a slight hint of heat on the back end. I'm really not a big bean eater but I would eat these again no problem.
The hotlinks are house made and are served with a cup of a thin and slightly sweet sauce which complemented the flavor of the link well.
I did enjoy the flavor of the link but the texture had a mushiness to it that I didn't enjoy.
Obviously from the non-stop stream of customers, and the high Urbanspoon rating, there are a lot of people that like Wild Horse Mountain. It is unique, the service is friendly, the prices are incredible, and it's kind of a legend in Oklahoma, and I have respect for all that but...... While I didn't think it was terrible. I just don't get the appeal it has and it didn't work for me.
The plan after leaving Sallisaw was to stay off I-40 and stick to back roads to see what we could find. So I hit Highway 64 West and headed to Checotah..... Hmmm.... Somehow I missed a turn and we ended up in Muskogee.
There are a lot of locally owned Q-raunts in Muskogee that I plan on trying to hit some time but today wasn't that time. So we topped off the tank and pointed the GPS to get us to Checotah to try and find Okie Backwoods Smokehouse.
We never found Okie Backwoods Smokehouse or any sign of it. From the pictures I posted at the beginning of this post you can see we also found other evidence of former Checotah Q-raunts.
What we did find, hidden on a side road near Atwoods, was Smoke Ring Bar-B-Que.
We were both still pretty full and the plan was to just order sandwiches at any places we found other than Bosco Joe's and Wild Horse Mountain but......
The Meat Lover plate at Smoke Ring can be purchased with or without a side. So I just went for the meat which was, a rib, chopped brisket, pulled pork, a locally made hot link and polish sausage, and Oklahoma Tenderloin.
The rib was flavored similarly to the one I had eaten at Bosco Joe's earlier in the day. Is this an Eastern Oklahoma thing flavoring ribs with salt and pepper rubs? Not complaining because I liked the flavor but it's new to me.
This ribs only drawback was that it was overcooked. Not totally fall off the bone over cooked, but close to it, and that made it just a little mushy.
The brisket looked good and had a nice flavor but was a little dry to me. The same for the pulled pork. Both were good but could be better.
The locally made sausages rocked! The hot link had just enough heat and both had a great smoke flavor and texture.
The Oklahoma Tenderloin appeared to have been given a quick sear on a flat top and then was cut up into bit size slices. It was really good and even though I could see the meat wall looming in front of me. I managed to scarf it all down before asking for a to go box for the rest.
Smoke Ring also serves their meals with some incredible two-sided toast. I know some of you probably don't get my obsession with two-sided toast, and I don't have time to try and explain it to you now, but this two sided toast made the perfect end to the day. It was like dessert for me.
Speaking of desserts. Smoke Ring also makes fried pies. I picked up an Almond Joy fried pie to take home to my wife. She let me have a bite of it and it was a really tasty fried pie.
While Smoke Ring was not the place we went looking for in Checotah. I sure am glad we found it. The service was friendly, the food was tasty and it's definitely worth the stop if you are in the area.
Had a great time on this road trip and despite it being a 10 hour day it seemed like it ended way to fast. Sure wish I could make 10 hours stuck in my office go by as quickly.