Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oklahoma Joes - Unique BBQ Places that Sizzle

Yesterday USA Today named Oklahoma Joe’s the best Barbecue restaurant in the nation.  Before they earned this moniker a year ago they were featured also by USA Today as one of the 10 great places for BBQ with a unique sizzle.  Here is that article from July 2010.

10 great places for BBQ with a unique sizzle

Summer may be the perfect season for barbecue, but grilling isn't just for backyard cookouts. Stephen Raichlen, chef and author of Planet Barbecue! 309 Recipes, 60 Countries (Workman, $22.95), says all cultures cook over open flames. "It's the oldest cooking method, yet everyone does it differently and that's what makes it so fascinating." He shares favorite places to sample the world of 'cue with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Aburiya Kinnosuke
New York
Raichlen calls this restaurant a "hyper-authentic Japanese robatayaki bar" where fresh fish, meats and vegetables roast on vertical stakes in front of charcoal. The restaurant uses a super-premium Japanese charcoal that burns hot and slowly. He suggests trying tsukune, a chicken dumpling grilled on the back of a wooden spoon. 212-867-5454;

Allen & Son Barbecue
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Barbecue doesn't get more traditional than the wood-smoked pork sandwiches served at this green cinderblock restaurant. In an era in which gas or electric cookers have sullied the world of barbecue, owner Keith Allen is a standout, Raichlen says. "He's one of the last guys who splits wood, fires it up, lets it burn down to embers and smoke roasts." Sandwiches are served with just the right amount of vinegar sauce in the Carolina tradition. 919-942-7576

Oklahoma Joe's
Kansas City, Kan.
In a city renowned for barbecue, Oklahoma Joe's stands out. The restaurant is in a former gas station and run by multi-KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) Grand Championship winner Jeff Stehney. "He really knows his smoke, backward and forward," Raichlen says. Order anything from pork to brisket to chicken. "Kansas City is the most ecumenical of all barbecue areas." 913-722-3366;

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
Llano, Texas
This classic roadside barbecue joint serves meat smoky and tender. It's cooked outside over giant pits of oak wood embers, sending flavorful smoke all over the small Hill Country town. Choose from beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulders or even goat, which Raichlen says tastes like "lamb with a hangover." 325-247-5713;

Soot Bool Jeep
Los Angeles
Barbecue is hardly an American creation. At this Koreatown restaurant, specialties such as bool kogi (thinly shaved rib-eye steaks) and kalbi kui (butterflied, sweet soy- and sesame-glazed short ribs) are grilled on charcoal-burning braziers in the center of your table. It's real charcoal, not gas burners, Raichlen notes: "If you're not careful, you can get little spark holes in your sweater." 213-387-3865

This farm-to-table-style restaurant takes pristine California ingredients, such as heirloom vegetables and small-farm pork, and roasts them over a wood-burning hearth oven. "Think 18th-century kitchen in a 21st-century East Bay storefront," Raichlen says. The menu is constantly changing, but try to visit for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, when Camino serves bread cooked over a wood fire. 510-547-5035;

East Coast Grill
Cambridge, Mass.
In 1985, this became the first modern restaurant in the country to focus on a wood-burning grill. Twenty-five years later, it's still going strong from its storefront location on Inman Square. Co-founder "Chris Schlesinger was the guy who launched the modern grilling movement in the United States," Raichlen says. His suggestion: a grilled, blood-rare tuna steak. 617-491-6568;

Pok Pok
Portland, Ore.
Come for what Raichlen calls "the best Thai street food this side of Bangkok." You'll find charcoal-grilled sates, Thai-spiced ribs cooked in a Texas-style smoker and chicken roasted on a vertical charcoal rotisserie. "The flavors are so insanely robust, they'll weld your tongue to the roof of your mouth," Raichlen says. 503-232-1387;

Dressing Room
Westport, Conn.
For some diners, grilling reaches its high point with the hamburger. And Raichlen says this restaurant, founded by Paul Newman and chef Michel Nischan, serves the best wood-grilled burger in North America. Raichlen has 20 requirements for making a burger, and he says this kitchen follows all of them, from using grass-fed, organic beef to serving it on a homemade brioche bun. 203-226-1114;

Al Forno
Raichlen calls this the birthplace of grilled pizza, but he also loves it for its Dirty Steak — a New York strip laid directly on the embers. "You get this amazing interesting crust," he says. 401-273-9760;

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