JT’s Bar-B-Que: Oklahoma City’s pork rib specialists
Well, mark it down on the calendar — I have broken the lunchtime gender barrier at work and actually got invited out with the “boys club” to eat barbeque! It was a genuine high point in my career. They told Beth and I that if we went, we were going to a guys’ place and not some frilly, horrible tea room (which was fine by me since I hate tea rooms more than they do). They announced the place — JT’s Bar-B-Que — and on the way out the door, they added “Oh yeah, and there’s no ladies restroom either!”
“I think they’re taunting us,” I said to Beth. “They must die.”
Then I yelled back at them as we all loaded up in the Suburban, “Hey, it doesn’t bother me one bit to use the men’s room. And don’t think I’ve never done that before!” I did decide to spare them my rant on standing in mile-long lines to use the ladies’ room.
Anyway, we finally set off from Bethany to Del City for what these men claimed were “the best pork ribs in town!” Must be so, I thought, to drive that far with gas prices a mile high. I told them that since I was going to review the place for this site, they each needed to order a different entree so I could report on it. My suggestion was met with stone-cold silence and Chuck Norris stares from behind mean-looking sunglasses. “Or maybe I’ll just have something else and you guys can stick with the ribs,” I said. The mood instantly lightened. I was relieved, as I wanted to keep my options open for future lunch invites with the boys club (hi Kyle, Clint, Rex, Todd and Jerry).
We arrived to find a standing-room-only dining room and instantly went into surveillance mode, searching for someone who might be almost finished so that we could steal their table. We sent two spies ahead of the line and it worked, though we did have to split up our group of seven to sit at two tables. Lesson learned — get there early for lunch.
The line moves quickly with soup-Nazi-like efficiency. Another lesson — grab your napkins, silverware, lemons, sugar, Tabasco, and whatever else you think you might need before sitting down. The place is extremely crowded and it can be difficult to move around. However, if you do forget something, fast and friendly waiters are continually circulating to meet your every need. Nice!
As we sat down, I took an eyeball survey of the room and found that there were no other women. “Gosh,” I thought, “were they kidding or not about no ladies’ room? Would the health department allow that?” A couple of minutes later, I was greatly relieved to see about five other ladies walk in the front door. Nevertheless, I noted that we were definitely in “guy territory,” though the decor of the place belied this fact. I felt like I had been transported back to 1983 in the small town where I grew up. I was surrounded by the cutesie-country look of wooden, painted, cut-out pigs and little country-kitchen curtains. The feminine touch was nice, though about 25 years behind. It all added to the charm of the place, as did the temporary dimming of the lights every time the air conditioner compressor kicked on.
A few minutes later, our food arrived. And wouldn’t you know? Everyone except me, including Beth, had ordered the pork ribs. I had the basket of a smoked half chicken, Texas toast, and potato salad, all for $6.25. The half rib basket also runs $6.25 and the whole rib basket costs $7.95. The smoked chicken fully met my approval because it was actually cooked. Every other time I’ve eaten smoked chicken, it has looked half raw and bleeding. I know the smoking process turns it pink, which makes it look uncooked, but for those us (like Tim’s wife and me) who run screaming down the street at the sight of raw meat, this was pure heaven. I could eat and not worry about getting salmonella poisoning.
Everyone else in my party offered me a rib, but I only took one, thinking I didn’t need to eat much fatty meat. To my pleasant surprise, this was just about the leanest rib I’ve ever had. In fact, it was all meat, no fat, and extremely tasty with a dollop of the hot or mild sauce sitting on the table.
So, as the men suggested, the ribs are fabulous. I’ll give them that. On the other hand, the sides aren’t really anything to write home about. The potato salad was your average BBQ place potato salad. Too bad we can’t couple those amazing ribs up with some fantastic sides as well. That would be killer. But alas, for me at least, it seems that each barbeque place has that “one thing” they do really well, with everything else being kind of average. JTs can’t be beat for the pork ribs. Earl’s has my favorite potato salad, and I like the smoked turkey and garlic vinegar cole slaw at Oklahoma Station. Now, I know I’m opening a can of worms here by taking sides on barbeque in Oklahoma City, but hey, these are my opinions. Y’all are welcome to comment below about your favorites.
Anyway, back to JT’s, it is definitely worth a try and even a drive sometime if, like me, you’re on the opposite side of town. In addition to the baskets mentioned above which include one side, they have dinner plates which include one meat, two sides and toast, and run anywhere from $7.75 to $10.50. They also offer sandwiches, other sides, chili (in season), family paks and a carry-out menu. One of my guys also said the blackberry cobbler is delicious.
JT’s isn’t open on the weekends because they are so busy catering. If you’re interested in catering or anything else about JT’s, you can email the owners, JT and Susan Moon. They have been in business for 27 years.
What do you think about JT’s? Let us know in the comments.