Worth the wait: The Butcher BBQ Stand remains an Oklahoma staple
First in line at The Butcher BBQ Stand in Wellston means a guaranteed order of the best burnt ends in the state.
Friday’s road trip destination was Wellston for an Oklahoma barbeque classic. So who better to join me than my friend and editor of the Curbside Chronicle, Nathan Poppe, who is a bit of an Oklahoma classic himself.
For many Oklahomans, The Butcher BBQ Stand is the state’s best and it’s hard to argue that take. I could give you a list of worthy competitors, but pound-for-pound The Butcher might be Oklahoma’s top barbeque restaurant when it comes to consistency across the board.
But in order to ensure you get your pick of everything, it’s best to get there early. So Poppe and I hit the road Friday morning for the 30-minute drive outside of Oklahoma City.
9:00 a.m - We arrived at The Butcher BBQ Stand, which has transformed over the years from a shipping container into a full-fledged restaurant with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. With two hours to go before they begin serving food, the doors are usually opened to allow the front of a line a chance to escape the heat.
9:30 a.m. - The bar opens early and I had my eyes on Stonecloud’s “Trust Your Butcher” brew. Stonecloud gave the crew at The Butcher BBQ Stand a bag of malts that they cold smoked with pecan pellets. The result is a more complex lager than you might traditionally find.
10:00 a.m. - The conversation turned to the top Simpsons quotes of all times. I’m partial to, “The goggles do nothing,” while Poppe had too many to choose from in the episode where Milhouse’s parents get divorced.
10:30 a.m. - (Two beers later) The guys behind the counter weren’t ready to open quite yet, but they did offer up some samples of bologna, which had a deep smokiness that is not always an easy feat with this piece of meat. Smoked bologna is easy to find in Oklahoma but I usually only order it as part of a sandwich with a bunch of other smoked meats piled on top. But what I ate at The Butcher was strong enough to stand on its own.
11:00 a.m. - Being first in line is worth it just to ensure you get an order of burnt ends, of which we ordered 1 pound. We also got 1 pound of sliced brisket, a slab of ribs, a chicken quarter leg, smoked sausage, and the “side lot,” which is a pint of every side on the menu.
The Butcher leans more KC style than Texas primarily because the rubs are a bit more complex, they aren’t afraid to finish the pork ribs with some sauce and the burnt ends are close to perfection.
The burnt ends lack the kind of crispy bark you might be used to. But they more than make up for it with incredible tender cubes that have just the right balance of meat and fat.
Because the burnt ends sell out quickly you know any order you're lucky enough to get will be stellar and not some scraps leftover from the point of the brisket. (I swung by The Butcher BBQ Stand last week on the way home from a camping trip and just missed out on the burnt ends, which sold out at around 12:15 p.m. on a Sunday)
The ribs are perfectly cut, tender but not fall apart, and finished with a light sweet sauce.
The brisket easily falls apart, which can be a sign of being overcooked. But that’s not the case here as I think it’s more of a product of the slices being cut thicker than normal.
I don’t order poultry much at a barbeque joint unless the pitmaster suggests it. On this day a honey-rubbed quarter leg was a special on the menu and it was almost too tender to be actual chicken. The crispy skin was a treat, but I found myself peeling it away because the meat stood on its own. While chicken isn’t my top choice, a good smoked bird can really let the flavors of the smoke sing, which in this case is hickory and pecan.
Too few Oklahoma joints are known beyond the state lines but The Butcher is one that has a wide appeal and if it’s the place that represents Oklahoma barbeque to outsiders then our ambassadorship is in good hands.
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pro tip: Get there early and enjoy some beers in line.