Chicken Run: The Long-Awaited Return of Bobo’s Chicken
9:14 AM EDT on April 8, 2021
The sun was slowly going down on Oklahoma City as I made my way to the Northeast part of town, in front of an old, abandoned barbecue joint. As shadows were growing longer, a line had already formed near the dull red food truck, all hungry people willing to stand for a while just to reacquaint themselves with that vaunted flavor that has turned Bobo’s Chicken into a local food truck legend.
For a while now, I’ve heard that Bobo’s—the best chicken in Oklahoma City—was back but I never seemed to catch it, eagerly hunting for it on lonely Friday nights and typically going to the same old spot, only to find a barren parking lot, my dejected stomach heading back home. But not tonight.
I found out that it’s not only open currently on Saturday nights, but they’re in a new home a few blocks down the road in the NE 23rd and Lottie vicinity. With the car parked and a spot in the growing line secured, you could collectively hear the stomach rumblings of a starving community that had made it more than a year without this God-blessed meal.
Sure, some may call it just another fried chicken joint, but there has always been something special about Bobo’s. From the way they proudly cook it—fried, then smoked (or is it the other way around?)—to the way they humbly serve it up in a food truck with barely any signage, it’s an honest part of this city that’s been sorely missed during this pandemic.
And now, finally, I was going to have it once again.
The chicken wings, with its mélange of scents and sense, could be smelled all the way in the back of the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be smelled all over the city, as more and more people showed up. As I came closer to the truck’s screened window to order, I saw the cooks ferociously moving back and forth, dumping fries into Styrofoam containers and pouring liberal amounts of honey on the golden chicken.
My turn, I ordered a seven-piece serving of wings ($15.00) and, because I never knew if I was going to see them again—you can’t be too careful these days—an order of shrimp ($10.00). I stood off to the side, waiting for my order to be called as a few police cars pulled over someone into the parking lot. There was a momentary silence, but after a few minutes the cops let them go.
“You want honey?” the man behind the screen asked me. Yes, on everything, to which he turned the jug of that sticky goodness over and poured it out like a fucking artist. It’s the only way I can really eat chicken anymore and, really, it’s the only way anybody should. I don’t know if Bobo’s invented it, but they sure as Hell perfected it.
As I carried the containers back to my friend’s car, I sat them down on the hood and had a few eager bites, unable to wait even a few minutes, the honey drizzling down my hand and onto the light blue paint job. The perfectly smoked and beautifully fried chicken wings were just as good as I remembered—if not better, having been without them so long—and the fat hunks of shrimp were almost as good.
I stood by the car with a dripping wing in my hand and, for a moment, believed that maybe life might soon return to some sort of normalcy. Bobo’s always gave me that sort of flavorful hope, I guess.