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TLO Restaurant Review: King’s Custom Smoked Meats

9:35 AM EDT on July 18, 2023

In the days of old, when I first began reviewing restaurants, I traveled to the old BBQ spot where King’s stands currently. I don’t remember the business’s name, the people that worked there, and even the circumstances that led me to it, but I do remember this: they had some good-ass smoked meat.

And now, at King’s Custom Smoked Meats, 2410 North Portland Ave., not only am I reminded of the former restaurant’s great glory, but how King’s manages to make their own traditions of flavor and spin it into some great BBQ.

(Really though, to be fair, Oklahoma BBQ in general is really hard to beat…)

After much debate, I decided on trying King’s one recent afternoon. The Portland traffic was breezy, and the dining room was a real representation of city’s urban BBQ, down the street and up the corner is a thrift store, a dojo, and a Mexican meat market. Representation!

Looking over the menu, I was thinking brisket, but the cashier told me their ribs were pretty phenomenal…well, you didn’t have to tell me twice!

With some cold water from the soda machine, I scoped out my inner surroundings.

With a new paint job, everything looked and felt brand new, but my senses were calling me to that place I visit over a decade ago. Holding the water in my hand, I tried to recall its name – something I couldn't do even if I didn’t have a stroke.

After the commercial reminiscing, I was quickly served the Family Meal #2 ($40.00) which, when it comes to BBQ, is a good price for what you get: one slab of ribs (about ten thick cuts of meat), as well as two large sides, and four slices of Texas toast. Yee-haw!

For my two sides, I went with my favorite BBQ uber-side – the fried okra – and a slash from my grade school past – corn nuggets.

Crispy and sweet, the fried okra is very good, making a well-cast side dish, but it was the fritter-inspired corn nuggets I really craved. They were a staple in my public-school lunches from the early 80s, and a dish that I figured was lost to time. It was nice to see them resurface on N. Portland of all places.

They were, of course, fabulous. Crispy yet soft, and capturing the sweetness of the corn, I'm marking them as the best side dish at any Oklahoma BBQ restaurant.

But now for the heart-palpation-inducing big reveal: the heaving slab of covetous ribs, brazenly sliced and surgical cut-up, magically presented with the beautiful Texas toast buttered on the bottom...

As I went into this wondrous land of carne-saurs, I was absolutely floored with the meat.

With the slightly-singed outside, the inside was so tender and so moist—I don’t want to say the “meat was falling off the bone”, but it was pretty close! With my right hand clutching my bread and a rib secured in my left, it was a great time to be alive! This was perfection.

With my partner being slightly annoyed by daydreams of my mandibles ripping the flesh off the bone, I gave her a taste, winning her over as well. With BBQ this good, how could it not? Cómpralo ya!


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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