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TLO Restaurant Review: Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Q

Many, many years ago, I lived at the corner of Eubanks and N. Shartel, a scant half block away from the old Oklahoma Gazette building, a paint shop, and the venerable Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Q, at 36th and N. Shartel Ave. in the spot that Leslie's old Painted Desert once occupied.

With nary a car to my name, a small-time job, and, even worse, a massive and girthy frame, I usually had Iron Starr grub around two or three times a week back then, mostly because the local pizza places and their delivery fees were too expensive for my cheap blood.

Ribs, French fries, and tasty desserts for everybody, I guess!

Since moving to a new place after my first stroke five or so years ago, I completely forgot about the eatery and its quality but movable food, so I was a bit tickled to see flavorful smoke billowing from the rooftop when I stopped by my old stomps last week to marvel at the remodeled and resold old house I once called home.

With my tastebuds reigniting, I realized I had to go dine at Iron Starr one more time.

With the remaining lunch casualties returning to their offices and other places of business, I went in with an open mind and an open mouth. While a waitress was filling the napkin dispenser, the acting bartender brought me water and a menu.

As I looked the menu over, I was greeted by some sticker shock. I know restaurants have to raise prices to keep up with their own rising food costs, but everything felt double the price of what I used to pay. Take a drink to inflation and per diems, I guess.

With my mind easily made up for dinner, I started with an old favorite – Mama’s Deviled Eggs ($9.00). Featuring hard-boiled eggs, sheered with hearty pepper ceviche and fresh scallions, the hearty aroma made this too hard to pass up.

The dish was just how I remembered it, with the spicy ceviche and the flat eggs giving me a real soft spot for Iron Starr. I had a whole plate and, I tell you, it was glorious! 

With enough eggs for the whole week, I had to try a new-to-me sandwich – the BBQ Club ($17.00) with a side of Fancy Mac and Cheese. With smoked sliced turkey breast and chopped brisket serving as the centerpieces, it also had crispy bacon, Monterey jack and cheddar cheese, all on rich Texas-grilled toast with BBQ aioli.

Man, this was a great sandwich.

The fancy mac and cheese was exquisite as always, but the sandwich was a powerhouse. The sheer amount of turkey and brisket was more than enough to shine, but the extraneous grilled toast and rich cheeses helped warrant a true standing ovation. Bravo!

Taking a "You only live to visit your old neighborhood once" approach to this meal, I went with a luscious dessert, the fanciful Queenie’s Banana Pudding ($8.00).

Featuring fresh bananas with ‘nilla wafers, whipped cream, and loads of caramel, it should be required eating for any finishing a great BBQ meal.

As my spoon grazed the sticky top, I thought about how Iron Starr was such an important part of my pre-gentrified NW 36th and Shartel living experience, always giving me a real meal instead of the greasy pizza. Even though the prices might have gone up, the absolute quality – along with the memories – are still there and worth it.

Cómpralo ya!


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

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