BBQ restaurants in Tulsa are like Quik Trips – there is literally one around every corner. From chains like Rib Crib, to the smaller mom and pop joint like Elmer’s, a great reputation is tough to achieve with so much competition around. So, along comes Back Alley Blues & BBQ with their own brand of “Memphis style slow-smoked BBQ and seriously good music”. Memphis style BBQ focuses on dry rubs as opposed to sauces. We missed out on any live music this time around, but we tasted a whole lot of food and it goes a lil’ something like this.
This was a special Tasty Tulsa outing as we met up with our fellow food and wine loving friends Emma and Paul. We had the pleasure of sharing our newbie impressions of Back Alley Blues & BBQ, as this was a first time visit for all of us. The waitress, Nicole, seated us and casually sat down beside us to enthusiastically offer her recommendations for our dinner. We knew right away that we wanted to try the Candied Bacon and the Jalapeno Poppers as our appetizers. The Candied Bacon was a hit at our table – how could it not be? Crispy pork sweetened with brown sugar – yum! The Jalapeno Poppers were also blissfully executed as they were stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in a perfectly crisped pieces of bacon.
We serendipitously each ordered a different entree from “The Classics” section of the menu which come accompanied by two sides. Christine went with the Pulled Pork with sides of Fried Okra and Deviled Egg Potato Salad. It was a roller coaster of ups and downs. She thought the Pulled Pork was a bit too dry and salty for her liking. The okra was everything she’d hoped for and quite plentiful, but the promising sounding potato salad was somehow flavorless and a flop.
Emma ordered the BBQ Bologna with sides of Fried Pickles and Mac ‘N’ Cheese. The BBQ Bologna was smokey, tasty and tender. The Fried Pickles were excellent and she thought perhaps some of the best in town! However, Emma felt the Mac ‘N’ Cheese was a bit on the bland side. Pretty much shells topped with a lack-luster cheese sauce.
Paul decided upon a Two Meat Combo of Hot Links and 1/2 Slab Dry Rub Ribs with sides of Baked Beans and Smoked Corn on the Cob. Paul wasn’t all that impressed with the dryness of the ribs; however, he enjoyed the subtle heat of the hot links that lingered on the palate. Paul felt the baked beans “had too much stuff in them” such as red peppers, but Emma enjoyed them. The “smoked” corn on the cob was lacking any real smokiness and pretty much…plain old corn on the cob.
I ordered the Back Alley Brisket after being steered away from the Beer Can Chicken by the waitress. The Brisket was much saltier than the brisket I am used to, but it worked well with the smokiness of the meat. The brisket was probably the overall favorite meat of the night by everyone at the table. My first side, Fried Green Tomatoes, were excellent with a nice, crisp breading. I also choose Onion Rings and found them delicious as they were thin cut and easy to eat. This thinness did away with any of the dreaded taking-one-bite-and-pulling-out-the-whole-damn-onion-ring-thing that sadly sometimes happens.
The general consensus was mixed emotions of highs and lows. Meats and sides were a toss up. The fried sides and appetizers were a hit across the table and Christine pretty much nailed it by saying “well, at least they know how to fry things”. We came for the slow-smoked barbecue and left thinking more about fried fare. Maybe we’re just a bit more Tulsa than Memphis.