3631 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
“People, I just want to say, can we get along?” – Rodney King, May 1, 1992.
Well, sure. If you open up a BBQ pit, Rodney.
Good smoked meat is the one surefire way to get good ‘ol boys, suburban soccer moms, and guys like me to venture to an old, dilapidated former-gas station a block or two away from Martin Luther King Boulevard.
In this case, we’re talking about in Oklahoma City. But as Chris Rock once explained, it doesn’t really matter what city you’re in.
You know the kind of neighborhood we’re talking here.
Rodney no doubt would be pleased to see the diverse lunch crowd harmoniously gnawing on succulent ribs slathered in lip-smackin’ barbeque sauce at Leo’s.
Kumbaya in mid-America.
The assault on the senses hits you as soon as you pry open the well-worn front door.
Dark, smoky, and smelling like barbeque heaven, it takes a moment for your eyes and body to adjust from the 100 degree high-noon sunshine to the air conditioned shadows of this bustling BBQ pit.
Between four meetings a day, hundreds of miles of rental car driving, multiple airline flights, and at least a couple of TSA sponsored gropings, I don’t have much time to eat.
So when I get 30 minutes, I’m going to make the most of my only meal of the day. So I ordered the “Leo’s Special” – a heaping plate of ribs, sausage, brisket, smoked bologna, baked beans, potato salad—and a dessert.
I resisted the urge to order the Jumbo version – an even bigger plate that comes with the warning, “Designated Driver Not Included”.
Trust me. Leo’s Special was plenty. I needed a Rock Star energy drink afterwards just to get through my last two meetings and the OKC airport’s complementary body cavity search.
Like most good BBQ, Leo’s hickory smoked meat would be five stars without any sauce at all. But if you insist on going that purist route, you’d be missing out.
Leo’s is famous for its incendiary hot, tomato-based BBQ sauce. Perfect on their meaty ribs and deep red sausage, the spiciness had me reaching for my plastic cup of Oklahoma City tap water frequently.
The brisket was chopped into chunks, some moist and tender, others crispy and charred. I squirted on some of their zesty, yet sweet sauce. BBQ heaven.
Obviously, the most unusual item on my plate was the smoked bologna.
Trust me, this stuff has no resemblance to the nasty cold cut bologna your mommy used to make sandwiches with. This isn’t even on the same family tree.
This was thick, meaty hunks of pig with a crispy, rich, flavor-packed skin. Like really tender smoked ham. Good enough on its own, but even better with a squirt of sweet sauce.
The baked beans were some of the best you’ll ever eat. Sweet, hearty, and full of bits of smoked meat, these babies put Bush’s to shame.
Just when I was about to sprawl out in my booth to take a much needed nap, my cheerful waitress brought out a slice of Leo’s world famous strawberry-banana cake. Moist cake. Sweet icing. Fresh strawberries and bananas.
Need I say more?
Despite the fact that I seriously had no room left in my belly, I somehow managed to polish off the whole thing. Didn’t leave a crumb.
As I stood in line with a wide assortment of satisfied customers to pay my tab, I couldn’t help but contemplate how good BBQ could be the answer to world peace.
Cowboys and hippies. Rednecks and academia. Trump supporters and Hillary worshippers. We’ll all cross the railroad tracks (literally) for some quality smoked meats.
Rating: Bought the shirt!