USA Today: Oklahoma Joe’s Makes America’s Best Ribs


King Pig has been crowned again, this time by USA Today.

Oklahoma Joe’s ribs were named the best in the nation recently by USA Today. Their criteria? The ribs must be bone-in and best eaten with hands and a pile of napkins.

Their panel? Food Writer and Director of Southern Foodways Alliance John T. Edge, The Washington Post’s Tim Carman, GQ’s Alan Richman, Los Angeles Times’ Jonathan Gold and Esquire’s John Mariani.

What makes the perfect rib to this group of distinguished eaters? Tenderness, sauce-to-meat ratio, smokiness and good charring.

Oklahoma Joe’s found itself sitting comfortably in the number one spot. About the ribs it was said, “Boasting a deeply burnished shade of red thanks to a rub heavy with paprika, cumin, brown sugar and chili powder, these ribs also happen to be picture-postcard-perfect to look at, and you’ll most likely find yourself snapping a photo of them before you even take that first bite.”

Oklahoma Joe’s unassuming original location-inside a gas station-has produced award-winning barbecue for years, but in recent years, its ‘cue has garnered national attention in a big way. Anthony Bourdain listed it among his “13 Places to Eat Before You Die” in Men’s Health and gave it airtime on his Kansas City episode of “No Reservations,” which, not surprisingly, was barbecue-centric. Oklahoma Joe’s has also received distinctions by Zagat, The Daily Beast, Vanity Fair and numerous other publications and organizations.

Oklahoma Joe’s began in the world of competition barbecue and the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Owner Jeff Stehney purchased the first smoker, an Oklahoma Joe’s 24” smoker, and christened it in April 1991. The first restaurant opened in January 1996 in Stilwater, Okla. under the ownership of Joe Jon Davidson. When Davidson moved to Texas, Stehney bought his share in the Kansas City location and the rest is history.

Oklahoma Joe’s is a source of local pride and national pilgrimages. All three Kansas City metro locations-in Kansas City, Kan., Olathe and Leawood-typically involve some sort of long line of locals and out-of-towners, but the wait is worth the delicious ribs, Z-Man Sandwich and sides.

Oklahoma Joe’s has three metro locations in Westwood, Olathe and Lenexa, Kansas.