If you've explored the must-see destinations across Southern and Southwest Oklahoma, odds are you've heard about Smokin' Joe's Rib Ranch. It's a funky looking BBQ joint out in the middle of nowhere. If you've ever talked BBQ with anyone, they've probably told you how good it was. Let me tell you, it's pretty awesome.

Just across I-35 from Turner Falls, you'll see a building with a red roof on it, and probably a few dozen travel trailers parked on the Southwest side. It looks like an RV park. I was on a fishing vacation over to Arbuckle Lake when we managed to stumble across this place randomly three or four years ago. It wasn't until we drove past it that we saw the BBQ sign further up the road. Always down for some good BBQ, we decided to try our luck.

Now, across Oklahoma, a lot of the amazing mom & pop BBQ joints are closing. My favorite BBQ spot in Ponca City closed about ten years ago when the kids decided they had no interest in running a restaurant, and instead of selling it to someone that would ruin the reputation, they just closed one day and moved to Tulsa. It's a really common tale in the smoked meats industry. Look around Lawton, the BBQ landscape is so bleak, a chain restaurant is the most popular place to order ribs and brisket. That's sad. The only reason I mention that is this... When you eat at a chain restaurant, you can order a three or four meat plate and still not get full on those allowed portions. Smokin' Joe's doesn't operate like that.

Most places I go for the good smokey stuff, I'll usually order a three meat dinner and skip the sides. I want smoked meat, couldn't care less about the mac and cheese or fried okra. Since there wasn't a sampler available, it had to be brisket, chicken, and hot links. We paid a price that we all thought was pretty high, but we figured being along the interstate was probably the reason... A place in a food desert can pretty much name their price. We were wrong about that.

When they called out number, my dad and I walked over to pick up our plates.... only there weren't any plates.... Smokin' Joe's served up our three-meats on a cafeteria tray. The entire tray was covered in BBQ. There was a third tray that our sides came on. The price was high, but the portions were ridiculous. I can't believe a place like that makes money giving away so much food. In fact, we ended up boxing most of it up to eat on for the next two meals. It was a ton of food. I wasn't a fan of their BBQ sauces. I don't like sweet BBQ, and their hot wasn't hot enough. Luckily, I've always got a bottle of Head Country Hickory in my truck for just an occasion, no lie. Full and satisfied, we went along our way. We ate on that BBQ throughout the day waiting on the wind to die down enough to get on the lake.

It wasn't until about two years ago that I started hearing people talk about Smokin' Joe's Rib Ranch. Honestly, the stories you've heard about the place are probably true. It's quickly becoming the #1 recommended BBQ restaurant in the state, replacing the countless few that have reigned in that title over the last fifty years. If you get the chance, you should pop out there and give it a try, but do yourself a favor... Take a bottle of Head Country Hickory with you.