Bobo’s Chicken: believe the hype

by | September 4, 2010 | 40 Comments

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Bobo’s Chicken is located in a bright red food trailer. As a result, their hours and location are subject to change. However, they are most commonly located in an empty lot on the SE corner of Northeast 23rd Street and Hood (map to approximate location). They usually open Friday and Saturday nights from about 7pm to 3am or later. Cash only.

In the four years I’ve been running this website about Oklahoma City restaurants, I’ve heard a lot about Bobo’s Chicken. Mostly, when people tell me about it, it sounds like this:

“Have you heard of Bobo’s? Have you been? Seriously, you haven’t been? Man, it is the absolute best chicken in the world served in this little shack trailer and they’re only open like midnight to 5am on the weekends and you have to try to find them somewhere over there on the northeast side. Dude, you’ve got to go.”

(Please note: I have used the word “dude” (above) for dramatic effect. Most people don’t actually call me “dude”)

Usually, when I hear such things from lots of different people, I start to wonder if it’s really that good or if it’s all hype. My excitement starts to wane as I realize a place has become a bit of an Oklahoma City legend and that the excitement people feel likely stems from the buzz surrounding a place as much as from the food. Perhaps that explains why it’s taken me so long to try Bobo’s. But I did try it, and when I did, I realized that I should have believed the hype. The chicken is just that good.

First off, let’s clear up a few things, especially for those who may have never heard of Bobo’s.

Bobo’s Chicken operates out of a bright red food trailer. There’s nowhere to sit (except on the ground or in your car) so most people just get it to go. While I have heard that their location used to vary from week to week, it seems lately they have been pretty steady, setting up in an empty lot on the southeast corner of NE 23rd and Hood. They operate only on Friday and Saturday nights, but they seem to open earlier now than they used to. I found them open at 7pm. They typically stay open late into the night, until around 3am or so at least. All of this information is subject to change, but this appears to be the current scoop.

Part of the mystique of Bobo’s is its reputation for being a little “scary.” This stems from its location, its late-night hours, and the fact that it has seen a few violent incidents in the past. You may hear people joke about taking your life into your own hands when you visit Bobo’s, but I think that’s a bit unfair. Naturally, you need to be aware of your surroundings anywhere you go, but I know many people who have visited Bobo’s, myself included, and have felt perfectly safe. In fact, I found the people working at Bobo’s and all the people around me in line to be extremely friendly. Here at EatAroundOKC, we have always celebrated the places that take us out of our comfort zones in search of something unique. That’s what our shady restaurant series is all about. Bobo’s definitely deserves your attention as one of Oklahoma City’s best shady dining establishments.

So, what about that chicken?

On the menu (a piece of white poster board displayed at the back of the trailer), it’s called “wings and things” and you order it as a 4 piece ($5.99), 7 piece ($9.99), 12 piece ($14.99) or 20 piece ($24.99). The number of pieces means the number of chicken wings, but keep in mind you also get the “things.” So, order yourself a 4 piece and for six bucks even you’ll get a heap of french fries, four large chicken wings, and a few pieces of fry bread all packed into a styrofoam container and drizzled with honey (see a picture). Actually, the honey is optional (they will ask you if you want it) but highly recommended. You can get extra honey for $1 more.

The chicken isn’t just fried, it’s also smoked. That’s right. You’ll smell the smokey flavor the moment they hand you the box. And when you bite into it, you’ll get a crispy, smokey, juicy combination that will win your heart. Oh, and then you’ll get a surprise — a lingering bit of spiciness that stays on your lips. I really wasn’t expecting the heat, but I loved it. It’s not overpowering, but it’s there in the chicken and on the fries.

Now, I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of fried chicken. Fried chicken is not often my meal of choice. But I will be going back to Bobo’s. This is truly a meal that cannot be ignored.

It should be noted that Bobo’s also has fried shrimp and fried catfish, but based on what I have heard from others, I decided to focus this review on the main attraction, the chicken. If you’ve tried their other items, let us know what you thought of them in the comments.

Alright, so I’ve bought into the hype. I’m a believer. To all of you who raved to me about Bobo’s over the years, I humbly accept your “I told you so.” And to those of you who haven’t tried it yet, do yourself a favor and give it a go. A four piece is easily enough for one and likely enough for some of you to split, so it’s hard to beat that value at $6 even.

We want to hear your thoughts about Bobo’s as well, so please leave them in the comments below.

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This article was posted by Tim Wall on Saturday, September 4th, 2010. It is filed under:

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  • Tom says:
    September 5th, 2010 at 3:05 pm   

    I’d like to add that the catfish is also very good!

  • Tim says:
    September 5th, 2010 at 3:19 pm   

    Tom, thanks for that! I haven’t tried the catfish or shrimp (yet) so I’m very glad to hear your thoughts.

  • Stacey says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 2:01 pm   

    Yes, the hype is there for a reason! Bobo’s is amazing. I heard about their chicken for years and years, but was a little intimidated by driving out to NE 23 and MLK (just east of MLK) at 2am. However, when I met my spouse, she insisted and she was right. It is fabulous. The smokey flavor. The crisp. The subtle heat. The sweet from the honey. It is fabulous. I highly recommend a grape soda (or strawberry or orange) to complete your meal. They used to sell grape soda but the last few times I have been, they didn’t. We have moved to Norman, but still have stopped for some Bobo’s if we happen to be in OKC on the weekends.

  • Grant says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 5:16 pm   

    My only complaint is the “honey”, it is good but not real honey. While I recognize the beauty in putting the sweet sauce on the amazing chicken Bobo’s offers, next time I am just going to slather it my own honey.

  • Kacy says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 7:31 am   

    I have always wanted to go, but the scary rumors have deterred me. Perhaps I will get over my fear now and bite the bullet.

    Question: How does it compare to Eischen’s?

  • Chris Johnson says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 8:37 am   

    Yeah, Bobo’s is a major, major win.

  • Tim says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 9:44 am   

    Kacy, I haven’t personally been to Eishen’s yet, but I’ve heard from lots of people that Bobo’s and Eischen’s are very different. The smoked meat at Bobo’s is the biggest difference. Then, there’s the spiciness, and the fact that it’s all served up in a styrofoam box and drizzled with honey. And, of course, the atmosphere. While I’ve heard from many people who like Eischen’s, I’ve never heard anyone rave about it like they rave about Bobo’s!

  • Andrew says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 1:31 pm   

    Eischens is over-rated in my opinion and doesn’t hold a candle to BoBo’s, or Nic’s fried chicken, for that matter. The thing I miss most about OKC, culinarily speaking, is BoBo’s chicken, followed by Nic’s.

  • Martha says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 5:25 pm   

    TOO SALTY, that is all I could taste. The scary part…not so much, if you have ever been in any city at all, just go at a reasonable hour, not in the middle of the night! Once was enough for me, just a styrofoam container of salt.

  • AJ says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 6:07 pm   

    BoBo’s always lives up to the hype. great great late night snack. I have taken many people to bobo’s and no one has ever come away disappointed.

  • Tulsa Food Guy says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:56 pm   

    I’m going to have to check this out next time I’m in OKC! Sounds very similar in atmosphere to the Chicken Hut up in North Tulsa: http://www.tulsafoodguy.com/blog/2010/03/north-tulsa-fried-chicken-to-die-for/

    Has Bobo’s ever had customers step over bodies to get their fried chicken? :)

  • Dacia says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:37 pm   

    has anyone inquired as to the oil they use? lard? crisco? peanut?
    I’m a fried chicken freak and prefer peanut oil

  • Tim says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:46 pm   

    Tulsa Food Guy, nice article, and it does sound pretty similar. I wonder which came first and if either was influenced by the other. From what I’ve heard, I believe Bobo’s has been around in one place or another since the early 90s. Someone else might be able to fill in more history.

  • Tulsa Food Guy says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:57 pm   

    Tim, I honestly couldn’t tell ya. I had the little one locked in the truck while I grabbed the food, so I didn’t take the time to ask questions. The building it’s in looks like it’s been around for quite awhile, but it’s hard telling if there were other businesses there before Chicken Hut.

  • BJ says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:48 pm   

    Do not be afraid! If you are not looking for trouble, you won’t find it here. The food is unique and I think everyone should try it at least once. I personally think it’s great. I also appreciate the owners, now that BoBo has passed away not moving it somewhere that people not familar with the east side frequent. Way to make it a destination!!!!

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 3:06 pm   

    @Tim – I remember driving by their original, at least I think it was the original, location back when I mowed yards as a teenager in the 80′s. So they have been around for awhile.

    I think it was an old converted McDonald’s or Hardee’s and I don’t think that building is even still there.

    @Andrew – I’m not really a fan of Nic’s chicken but maybe I was mislead by Guy Fieri’s take on it since he makes everything sound better than it sometimes is. It was good just not good enough to get me to choose it over one of his burgers. I am however fast becoming a fan of Mama E’s chicken.

  • Cindy says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 6:20 pm   

    I’m hoping to get a chance to try it tonight.

  • Michael says:
    September 13th, 2010 at 1:42 pm   

    It’s been ages since I’ve been to Bobo’s, but it is definitely a winner in my book. Now I am craving a four-piece with honey! I’ll have to swing by this weekend!

  • Jenn Marshall says:
    September 16th, 2010 at 9:12 pm   

    Gonna have to go! Have read 2 reviews lately so it must be a sign!

  • Cristela says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 1:52 pm   

    I agree with Grant about the “honey sauce” – much better with just real honey. I wasn’t scared and it was a ton of food. I would do it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it again.

    I disagree with Andrew though about BoBos being better than Eischens. I’m generally leery of anything touted as amazing in tv shows (been burned by those recommendations), but I really like Eischens better.

  • Paula says:
    September 25th, 2010 at 7:45 pm   

    Did I hear it wasn’t at its usual corner this weekend? I actually had folks lined up to go with me, but bailed when I heard that. I really wanna take my boy out there, but I supposed we need a “pack” to make it a trip.

  • Lori says:
    September 25th, 2010 at 8:52 pm   

    We have been driving around down there for the past hour, but no truck! Any clue where they might be tonight?

  • Tim says:
    September 25th, 2010 at 9:23 pm   

    @Lori, I tried to pick up some Bobo’s last night and couldn’t find them either. Perhaps they took the weekend off. I’m certainly hoping they’ll be back to normal next week. I’m sorry you didn’t get to try them :(

  • Tim says:
    September 25th, 2010 at 9:32 pm   

    @Paula, yeah, as mentioned above, it looks like they may have been off this weekend. Hopefully they’ll be back next week. It can be a little hit or miss.

  • Kevin says:
    October 2nd, 2010 at 8:50 am   

    I’m thinking that tonight, after OU wins today, a trip to BOBO’s makes a great cap to a great day.
    Of course, if the near unbearable should happen, a trip to BOBO’s might make a whale of a consolation prize.

    Hmmm, I win either way. Gotta love it.

  • Penn says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 10:34 pm   

    Tried it last weekend. The uneven limited room to park is a minor inconvenience, but this food is special. The honey and smokiness are a real treat. Fry bread is like what you’ll get in a Chinese restaurant. While I won’t be making regular return trips — the smoky sweet taste is not something I look for in everyday fried chicken — it’s damn good food.

  • Stephanie says:
    October 23rd, 2010 at 12:08 pm   

    I’ve been eating at Bobo’s for at least 8 years and I completely disagree with pouring real honey on it. The smokey chicken with cajun seasoning and imitation honey is the combination of flavors that makes Bobo’s what it is. I’m a culinary school graduate who never uses imitation anything and I still wouldn’t dream of using real honey on Bobo’s chicken. It’s just not right!

  • Suzy says:
    November 27th, 2010 at 4:54 pm   

    That is some great food- maybe it was even better because I had been drinking ha ha

  • Mary Ann says:
    January 6th, 2011 at 2:11 pm   

    As Grant noted, adding your own honey is also great! When my boyfriend does (as most guys will do when they want Bobo’s) “Hey… Bobo’s?” My first response is always… “Do we have honey?” Bobo’s is one of my favorite things to tell people about Oklahoma City, it’s just that great. Also, the fry bread is even better cold the morning after…

  • KC says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 3:10 pm   

    As it was explained to me, the chicken wings are smoked, dredged and fried, then drizzled with honey – genius! Hands down, the best fried-chicken I’ve had in Oklahoma (quite possibly the entire Midwest) and definitely worth the trip. However, fried biscuits and french fries were underwhelming, to say the least.

  • Ashley says:
    June 21st, 2011 at 2:23 pm   

    Tried Bobo’s for the first time a week ago. I’m not typically a lover of honey on my chicken but that was good. The problem I had was with the smoke. It overpowered the chicken. I also agree with KC that the biscuits and fries were underwhelming. Have had the catfish as well and it was excellent, but as for chicken I will still be bound for Eischen’s. I’m sorry, Bobo’s does NOT compare to Eishcen’s.

  • Steven says:
    August 25th, 2011 at 10:01 pm   

    I like Bobo’s. Part of the adventure is never knowing which Bobo you are going to get. Some nights, he reminds me of a cranky counterman at a NY deli. Others, he’s a polite gentleman. Either way, soup Nazi or gent, it’s all good. Take correct change. Bobo does not like to give change. This is pure comfort food. They do it up pretty good here. The point of going to Bobo’s is the adventure coupled with some pretty damn good chicken.

  • Chris says:
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:37 pm   

    My first experience with “The Best Fried Chcken in OK” was with BoBo’s. I had the chicken, fries, and biscuits all covered in honey. It was heaven in my mouth.
    Not more than a few months later, I had some friends tell me to try that other chicken place (Eischen’s). So we went there and I had the fried chicken with fried okra. The atmosphere and history of the place was interesting but that was about all they had. The chicken tasted bland and I spent the whole meal trying to talk my friends into visiting BoBo’s so they could try some real GOOD fried chicken.

  • Chef Prince says:
    December 23rd, 2011 at 3:08 am   

    Before I was a loyal and dedicated worker of Bobo’s Chicken, I was a long time loyal and dedicated customer.. It was a weekend ritual for me, heck I even had Bobo’s on my prom night!! Bobo’s has actually been around since the 80′s, he served ribs back then.. And yes, the chicken is 1st deep fried and then smoked, with the option of getting syrup flavored honey.. I’ll be the 1st to admit that since Bobo died back in 09, the chicken has not been the same.. Still good, but has dropped a few notches, he wouldn’t allow to let chicken go out that wasn’t top quality.. During that time, you couldn’t even speak Eischen’s and Bobo’s in the same sentence, and thats in no way a knock on Eischen’s because I LOVE Eischen’s!!
    The later into the night you get the chicken the better it will be because it’s been marinating longer,, and if you really want a treat ask him to smoke your catfish or shrimp(they don’t like to because it slows down production but you may catch them in a good mood)

  • Diane says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 9:03 pm   

    I love BOBO’s! It’s the best chicken I’ve ever had (sorry Grandma). The catfish and shrimp are delicious too. But that chicken is amazing. They start cooking around 7. My 16 y.o. son and I usually go around 9, wait in line for 20 minutes or so, inhale a couple wings in the car, then come home and finish it off.

  • Nannette says:
    July 22nd, 2012 at 7:20 pm   

    I drove from Lenoir, NC just to have BOBO’s Chicken, sounds abit insane I know but what the heck, right?
    (it’s true, I did).
    I wholely suggest that you know the hours of operation before you drive over 950 miles for something! That too was rather nuts on my part but, onward to BoBo’s I went! As it turns out they’re not open on Thurs. So now what? I know, drive to Arizona to see my Great Uncle! And catch them on the return trip. It worked! We ( my niece and I) came back a week and a day later, they were preparing to open, glory hallelujah! So, we waited, and the cars started to come. We were first in line but, having no idea what we wanted, we let a few people go before us. We finally ordered the 20 piece chicken wings and very shortly waved bye bye to BOBO’s. Now we had to find somewhere to eat. That stuff was smelling up my car and driving us both batty. Find a motel and kill two birds with one stone, eat and rest. So now all the stars are in line for me to eat my chicken wings some of which were bigger than my chihuahua Mia. And now we’ve come to the end of my story….Those were the best darn chicken wings I’ve ever had- bar none. The Best! And that honey stuff they put on them oh my gosh! Fabulous! Thanks Ron, and the other guys that were working on 7-13- 2012.(Friday the 13th) Those wings were just short of heavenly! I hope to come back one day

  • Mitzi says:
    October 5th, 2012 at 5:51 pm   

    I’m not from Oklahoma but I’ve lived here 4 years and I had never heard of Bobo’s chicken until last weekend. We were driving past, and at least 30 or more people were standing out in the rain lined up around the corner waiting for Bobo’s Chicken!! So, my family and I pulled in and we are so happy that we did, this is the best food that we’ve had since moving to Oklahoma City and the best chicken that I’ve had ever! If you haven’t been to Bobo’s chicken you have to go tonight!

  • alicia says:
    January 13th, 2014 at 10:30 pm   

    I would like to know what kind of oil is used. I am allergic to peanut oil and I would love to try but have to find out which oil is used first.

  • Denise Davis says:
    March 27th, 2014 at 1:50 pm   

    Bobo’s is the best chicken in OKC. That smokey fried flavor is awesome. I have never had any chicken flavor like this anywhere. It makes me want to know if they barbecue, smoke it, then fry it. Whatever they do, they know how to do it. The fried bread is so delicious. The fries are average. I have also tried their shrimp and it is better than Pearl’s or Red Lobster. They give you alot of shrimp in your order and you will not be able to eat it all. If you have never tried Bobo’s you are missing out on a delicious experience. My household are having it this Friday for dinner and I can smell the smokiness in my nose already.

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