Grove, Okla., is about three hours south of Chow Town in Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees country.
Grand Lake, a massive hydroelectric power and recreation project of the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was finished in 1940. Grand Lake country attracts boating, fishing, shopping, golf and good eats enthusiasts.
Our family went to Monkey Island recently to stay at a lakeside residence of family friends. Having been there a couple of other times, I looked forward to a barbecue bologna sandwich at Ozzie’s Monkey Island lakeside dive.
To my regret, Joe Bob and Ronda Osborne closed Ozzie’s last year. The inventory was auctioned off, and the new owner doesn’t plan to continue the Ozzie’s tradition.
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My backup plan was to check out Okie Smokie’s BBQ in nearby Grove. To our delight, the barbecue there is a winner. The smiling pig logo and friendly ambiance put you in the mood for a barbecue feast.
Wood, corrugated tin panels and rustic tan walls, pig art, steer art, redneck art, framed old family photos with a sprinkling of Bible verses and other artifacts set the scene. Order and pay at the counter, find a place to sit. Staff will deliver your order when ready.
Sean Worley, Okie Smokie’s co-owner, heard over and over from friends and catered events customers, “You should open a barbecue restaurant!” He appreciated the flattery but was content to stick with his trade as an electrician, doing catering gigs on the side.
Almost three years ago, however, during prayer one morning, he got a command he couldn’t ignore.
“God told me to open a barbecue restaurant,” he said. “My wife, Alisha, said I was crazy for wanting to open the restaurant, but if God said to, she would back me up. She has been very supportive of everything I’ve done.”
Thus, Okie Smokie’s BBQ has been serving top-notch hickory-smoked barbecue from a Southern Pride pit for the past 21/2 years and counting.
We feasted on Okie Smokie’s pork spareribs, pulled pork, brisket, fried okra, fried pickles, pit beans, loaded baked potato and sweet potato fries. Raw onion, dill pickle chips and pickled jalapeno slices are available free, just like in Texas.
True to contest judging standards, the barbecue looks delicious and is perfectly tender and flavorful, with a kiss of smoke. It’s a pleaser with or without the house sauces. The sides are perfect complements.
I ordered Okie Smokie’s barbecue bologna sandwich to go for enjoyment later on Monkey Island in remembrance of good times at Ozzie’s. It rivals Ozzie’s and my other favorites, Chow Town’s Quick’s on Wheels and Mac's in Skiatook Okla.
Alisha’s pies were sold out. Sean promised to save some Muddy Bottom Pie the next day for us. It was worth the return trip.
Okie Smokie’s BBQ belongs on your barbecue radar. Take the six hour round trip from Chow Town to Grove and decide for yourself. Better yet, if you’re passionate about boating, fishing, shopping, good eats and golf, spend a few days and nights in Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees country and make Okie Smokie’s your barbecue go-to place.
Okie Smokie’s BBQ is at 2230 S. Main St., just north of Honey Creek Bridge in Grove, Okla. Its telephone number is 918-786-8700 and can be found on the Web at okiesmokiesbbq.com.
Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk.