Is it really worth your while to stand in line out in the elements for food? When it’s Burn Co BBQ in Tulsa, OK the answer is yes!
A few weeks ago my friend Dick was in town, and while we were at dinner at Bodean, he and Mike raved about Burn Co BBQ. Yes, my friends and I are those people who discuss the next meal while we’re still eating the current meal. Dick sent me a picture of his food the next day, and it sealed the deal that I had to eat there as soon as possible. Fast-forward to Thanksgiving week. Our last home football game of the year was Thanksgiving Saturday, our rivalry game against Oklahoma. A few of my students came in Monday and Tuesday and knocked out a bunch of game prep; and since I would be at work all day Friday, I took Wednesday off to run errands in Tulsa. I made plans to meet my friend Shawn at Burn Co.
There are three unique aspects to Burn Co. First, it’s only open from 10:30-2:30, and only Tuesday – Saturday. I thought that since it was right before Thanksgiving, it might not be that crowded. I was wrong. We arrived at 10:45 and there was already a line 40 deep outside the door. I’ve seen pictures where the line is a lot longer at the same time
Second, when they run out of food, they run out. In the online reviews everyone raved about the restaurant except for one guy who showed up at 1:30 and they were out of most of the smoked meats. He bashed Burn Co. up and down, left and right. Well, the restaurant doesn’t have freezers, and is only open for 4 hours; they’re not going to have an unlimited supply of food. It’s like a party…don’t show up at the end and gripe because there’s not much left.
Third, you have to listen to hear your name called when your food is ready. The problem with that? There is no microphone…the servers just yell. That might work when the restaurant isn’t crowded; but once the place is full, the yelling just mixes in with most of the other crowd noise, and a lot of names sound alike at that noise level. We were listening carefully, and I could barely hear when they called my name. The servers also get an attitude when you don’t respond quickly. I believe it’s supposed to be a funny attitude, but it doesn’t always come across like that.
Burn Co is located near downtown Tulsa in an old building. The space was home to several other restaurants before Burn Co took over. You wait in line, order at the counter, and they bring the food to you. As I mentioned before, the line can and does get very long. Our whole experience took about 90 minutes from start to finish, so this is not a restaurant you can visit on a lunch break from work unless you are there when the doors open. The weather that day was chilly but not too bad, so we didn’t mind the 25-minute wait before we reached the door. There is a covered outdoor patio in the front of the building, but the weather was not good enough to sit out there.
The inside of the building is very rustic looking, and has a couple of very cool wall murals
As you enter the building, to the right there is a small space displaying t shirts and sauces for sale. A large, long bar takes up almost the entire right wall, all the way to the back. The order line passes right by the bar, so you have time to have a drink or 2 while waiting in line. That’s quite genius, really. At the front of the line is a meat counter, just before you get to the counter to place your order.
After you order, there is a self-service drink and utensil station in the left corner. The remaining space in the building is seating, all family style picnic tables. We sat at one table, but when I saw a space open up at another table that had more natural light, we moved. Yes, I am that person as well…I need good light for pictures! Burn Co. also do a very robust carryout business. We saw at least 20 people coming out with large trays of food as we waited.
The menu is pretty simple: smoked meats, smoked sausage, grilled meats, sides and drinks. The smoked meats is what Burn Co is known for, so it’s what runs out first. They use a Hasty Bake to cook all of their meats, and everything is fresh. No freezers or microwaves in this place. I had never heard of a Hasty Bake, but I guess it’s the real deal. They have 2 large TVs above the order counter, and that’s where they display the menu items. And as you wait, you may see items taken off that menu. When the items are removed, that means they are out for the rest of the day We arrived early enough that we could choose from everything, but while we were waiting for our food items started slowly coming off. And by the time we left, they only had one smoked meat left.
Burn Co only does mac & cheese Thursday – Saturday. I was hoping they would have it on Wednesday since it was Thanksgiving weekend and they would be closed. Sadly, I was wrong.
For each meat, you can get the “little girly man” or the “big boy” sizes. They also have the Frankenstein, the chef’s choice of 3 meats. I asked what the choices were, and they won’t tell you. I decided not to be that adventurous, but Shawn jumped in with both feet.
This day the Frankenstein was jalapeno cheddar sausage, bologna, and pulled pork. I took a bite of the sausage, and of course it had a huge chunk of jalapeno. But it was also delicious, so tender and juicy. I’ve never been a big fan of bologna, but this one was outstanding. It was thick cut and perfectly smoked.
I went with all “girly man” portions, and got ribs, pulled pork and brisket
The ribs were fantastic. Fall off the bone tender, and the sauces on the table added a really nice kick. The brisket and pulled pork were wonderful as well. I didn’t eat the bread, because it would just get in the way.
We also got a couple of sides
These were some of the best baked beans I’ve ever had. They use 2 different kinds of beans. We couldn’t figure out what they were, but they just melted in your mouth. The sauce was deep and rich and full of flavor.
This grilled potato salad was delicious. I’ve never seen a potato salad with such huge chunks of other stuff, but they added great flavor, and the peppers and onions still had some crunch. And you can never go wrong with big pieces of bacon in anything.
Will I go back to Burn Co? Well of course. And I’m going on the weekend when they have the mac & cheese. I have to find out if it’s good enough to only be served 3 days of the week.
For reviews of more restaurants in Tulsa, click on the photos below!