Oklahoma City is not a hotspot for great barbecue.
Okay, now take a deep breath.
It’s not that we don’t have some finely smoked meats in these here parts. We do. But outside of a few big names, I rarely hear people boasting about OKC’s barbecue prowess.
It’s a constant battle in places like Austin, Dallas and Kansas City. Friends who moved here from Tulsa often talk about the eternal debate among that city’s residents about which restaurant’s ‘que reigns supreme.
But in OKC, they said, it’s been pretty quiet.
So I showed them a picture of the rib I ate at Texlahoma BBQ.
“We need to go there,” they said to one another.
You need to, too.
Owner Brian Jones doesn’t mince words about his location, which is in the far reaches of north Edmond. “Isolated” would be kind. “Out in the ass-end of nowhere” is equally accurate. Despite that, a visit to the restaurant mid-week for lunch turned out pretty crowded. Same for weekends.
Turns out people will travel for good barbecue.
Stuck in the middle of a strip mall shopping center, Texlahoma doesn’t make a big impression from the outside. That is until you notice that most of the cars in the massive lot are parked in front of the restaurant.
The decor is pretty straightforward, too. Jones wants folks to be comfortable, but his main focus is making great barbecue. Taste the food and you’ll see the focus is well warranted.
A word, before we go much further, on the sauce: You don’t really need sauce.
A second word, if I may: If you’re going to use sauce, skip the regular and the hot and grab the OMG hot sauce they keep near the delivery window. The other sauces are too sweet. The OMG hot has some real kick and a better balance of flavor. But, again, you really don’t need sauce.
This isn’t dry barbecue. This meat is juicy and moist and full of that succulent fat all barbecue lovers crave.
Brisket ($19.25 per pound) is best served sliced, in my opinion, and with big, thick slices, too. You want to see that smoke ring and watch how easily the meat breaks apart against your fork.
This is good brisket, but I was even more taken with the pulled pork ($14 per pound).
Maybe I’m spoiled with good brisket, but it seems like pulled pork is much harder to perfect. Texlahoma’s simple seasoning creates a flavorful crust that helps boost the taste of the rest of the meat. Pork can be bland if it’s not cooked correctly, and Texlahoma holds the key. This meat was supple, savory and juicy.
The pork ribs ($22.50 for a full rack, $11.25 for a half) are wonderful. The long cook time solidifies the crispy, chewy bark on top while the inner fat and collagen has time to melt into the meat.
Do yourself a favor and take your Prilosec beforehand, though, because it might repeat on you.
Barbecued chicken? Meh. I’ve been hurt so many times before, I couldn’t imagine giving this a chance. And yet Texlahoma’s chicken ($17.75 per pound) restored my faith in a higher power. Well, okay, not that. But it did make me want more of this incredibly juicy chicken. The kitchen really nailed the time and temp on this, because I kept going back for slice after slice.
The restaurant also makes its own jalapeno beef sausage ($3 per link) and it might be my favorite thing on the menu. The sausage is bursting with flavor and the char it gets in the kitchen helps caramelize those fats for an irresistible bite.
All of this can be yours to try with a platter known as “The Turn In” ($20), which I mistakenly thought was what you had to do after eating it. Instead it’s what they call it when you present all your meats in a BBQ competition. Take a friend. Share it. Get an Uber to drive you home while you deal with the meat sweats.
On the side, I highly recommend the potato salad ($5 large, $2.50 small), which was light and refreshing. The potatoes are finely diced, almost mashed, but retain a lovely fluffiness. The pickle and seasoning give the side a lift and help balance against the heavier, fatty barbecue fare.
But if you want to lean into the fattiness, check out The Butler ($15). It’s an enormous baked potato covered in brisket, pulled pork and sausage, with a “garnish” of pork rib. Add on cheese, sour cream, butter and onions and you’ve got a delicious health emergency.
If you’re lucky enough to hit up Texlahoma on a Saturday and you get there early enough, you can try the restaurant’s beef ribs. A large beef rib is $20. A half-length rib is $10. It’s an absolutely gargantuan amount of meat and it’s so good I can barely stand it. It’s like someone serves you smoked pot roast on the bone. Eat it with your hands and you’ll feel like a caveman. It’s just glorious all around.
That pretty much sums up my feelings on Texlahoma: glorious all around. Brian Jones and his crew are turning out top-quality barbecue on the regular and the word is out. Get up to the hinterlands of north Edmond soon and try it for yourself.
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Chicken - $17.75 per pound
Sausage - $3 per link
Pulled pork - $14 per pound
Brisket - $19.25 per pound
Beef rib (only on Saturdays, sells out fast) - $20
The Butler - $15
Potato salad - $2.50/5