Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stevenson Bar-B-Que

PAULS VALLEY: Stevenson Bar-B-Que
2602 W. Grant Ave.
Pauls Valley, OK 73075
Open Daily 11-?

On my way back from a recent trip to OKC, our one month old decided for us that a stop was necessary. Knowing that the book America's Best BBQ had recently listed Stevenson Bar-B-Que as one of the top 100 joints in the country, I conveniently suggested that we exit in Pauls Valley. Even given the accolades, my expectations were tempered by my experience at Van's Pig Stand earlier in the day. The heavy smell of smoke in the parking lot quickly eased my worries.

Leaving my wife to feed the baby in the back seat, I walked through the glass doors about an hour shy of closing time. The spacious interior of the former Braums building felt less than quaint, but the owner behind the counter oozed with small town hospitality. We discussed the joint's write-up in the previously mentioned publication, and his pride was evident. I got the feeling he was hoping for more customers after the book's release over a month ago, but he was happy that I knew about the book. I inquired about the menu on the wall that was missing the smoked catfish featured in the book and he laughed at he recalled how his brother happened to be smoking some catfish for strictly home consumption, but the authors had tried some during their back of house tour and decided to write about it. He then became one of my favorite proprietors when he offered a rib to munch on while I waited for my to-go order.

I arrived back at the car with a bag full of brisket, ribs, okra, pinto beans and banana pudding. Hickory smoke was liberally applied to the huge spare ribs which were nearly 3" thick at the fat end. The rub created a sweetness on the well formed smoky crust while the moist meat below the crust was intensely smoky if a bit tough. Slices of roast beefy brisket were far less smoky with little crust. The brisket had been wrapped during the cooking process creating moist, tender meat, but hindering all important smoke penetration.

A dish of well seasoned, peppery pinto beans swam in a thick, smoky gravy while okra was lightly breaded and flash fried to perfect crispness. If the ribs were the star, the banana pudding wasn't far behind. A layer of lemony crust creating an acidic counterpoint to the sweetness of the chunky pudding flecked with Nilla wafers that was layered on top. A truly great finish to an excellent dashboard meal.

Rating ***
Stevenson BBQ on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I ate ribs there last weekend. Not as smoky as I had hoped. Good but not worthy of 3 stars.

Brisket was dry and unappealing.

Had much better ribs at Billy Boys BBQ in Shawnee the next day. Very good smokey favor.

Anonymous said...

Best BBQ I have ever had. They guys are the real deal making their own rubs and sauces and sides. You don't get food like this just anywhere. I time our trips to Texas so we can catch this place for lunch. Old Man Stevenson is always a treat to chat with while waiting on your order. Last stop through they said Walmart was going to be selling their bread pudding. It is soooooo good!

OK BBQ Eaters Anonymous said...

You missed out on the best meat on their menu. You gotta go back and try the steak.

Yeah, I know it's confusing that they call it steak when it's actually slices of smoked pork butt but it is some of the best pork you will eat in Oklahoma.

Anonymous said...

The worst BBQ I have ever eaten. Don't go there. Overpriced. No flavor. Filthy, Filthy premises. If they aren't cleaning the area where you eat, what do you think the kitchen looks like. I give them a negative 10, (-10) BAD BAD BAD.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.