Joe knows BBQ.
So much so, he’s already poised to open a second location in Lincoln.
Joe is Oklahoma Joe’s founder Joe Davidson, who opened a barbecue restaurant at 800 Q St., next to Yowie’s, on July 24.
Since the city wouldn’t grant Oklahoma Joe’s a permit for a smoker in the historic Haymarket, the restaurant was forced to cook its tasty ribs, pulled pork, brisket and more off site.
That’s where the second location will come into play.
Oklahoma Joe’s smokes its meats at Phat Jack’s old site at 10th and Belmont streets. Phat Jack’s vacated the location for a new home at 101 S.W. 14th St. Oklahoma Joe’s general manager Shad Sanford said Joe’s plans to open the Belmont location as a restaurant by the end of the year, probably beginning with lunch only.
“We like the potential to have retail there, too,” Sanford said.
Oklahoma Joe’s is part of a small chain, which dates back to mid-'90s when Davidson and good friend and cook-off rival Jeff Stehney opened a restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Soon after came a restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas.
When Davidson moved to Texas in 1997, Steney bought him out and focused Oklahoma Joe’s operations just in the Kansas City area.
Davidson returned to Oklahoma and opened his version of Oklahoma Joe’s in 2011 in Broken Arrow. In 2014, Steney changed the name of his K.C. restaurants to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Davidson has opened Oklahoma Joe's in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Merrifield, Virginia and now Lincoln.
The Lincoln restaurant operates in what used to be a part of Yowie’s and does so in collaboration with the sports bar. Patrons order their food at Oklahoma Joe’s, but can dine in either Joe’s or Yowie’s, which discontinued its full menu service and offers appetizers only.
Oklahoma Joe’s absolutely knows a thing or two about smoking meats. I enjoyed some burnt ends and a rib sampler, with both meats flavorful from the rub. My wife and I were not as enthusiastic about the brisket, which didn’t have the flavor pop of the ribs and ends.
Although we didn't try it, Sanford touted the pulled pork, saying he would put it up against any found elsewhere in town. Guess I know what I'll be ordering on my next visit.
You’ll find three kinds of homemade sauces at tables: sweet, spicy and mustard.
The sides are many. I recommend the macaroni and cheese made with smoked gouda, the baked beans featuring four kinds of beans, and the fried okra — whole and lightly breaded.
Entrees and rib meals cost between $9.99 and $21.99 and come with two sides. Sandwiches begin at $6.59, but do not include a side. Most of the sides are $2.79 each. Grade: B+
Oklahoma Joe’s has retained the outdoorsy, log cabin feel from what originally was Twin Peaks before it closed and became Yowie’s. It’s added some signage to the room and a giant menu board at the back of the restaurant. Joe’s is sports friendly with multiple TVs on the walls and a few more small ones in booths. There’s even a fireplace, which, given this weekend’s chilly forecast, might be going strong. Grade: A
Oklahoma Joe’s prides itself on service, especially on Husker football gamedays when the goal is to get food in customers’ hands in five minutes or less after ordering from a special gameday menu.
On non-gamedays, the service is exceptional, too. Oklahoma Joe’s is fast casual, meaning there’s no table service. Patrons order at the counter, receive a number, gather utensils and drinks and find a seat. Food usually arrives about five minutes later.
Beverage service is a tad confusing. Patrons can order canned or bottled beer or two kinds of tapped beer from Oklahoma Joe’s. Several other tap beers and well drinks also are available, but at Yowie’s next door and must be paid for separately. Grade: B+
The meats are gluten free as well as some of the sides: potato salad, spicy slaw, sweet potato fries, etc. The menu features no vegetarian entrees. The mandarin and bbq salads could be prepared without meat. There are several vegetarian-friendly sides, including the must-try mac ‘n’ cheese, fried whole okra and onion rings. Grade: C