Knotty Pine BBQ is Back in West Tulsa and Better Than Ever

By on June 28, 2013

“That brisket! Man, it was incredible! I’ve never had its like in Oklahoma.” Yes, Knotty Pine is back in west Tulsa, better than ever, and I was talking to owner David Woodard, grandson of the couple who built the original Knotty Pine back 60 years or so along what was then the Sand Springs train line. “Just today our new chef invented a new way of cooking brisket!” David replied. New chef? “Yes, Travis Jackson. He used to be chef de cuisine at Polo Grill.” But David, I said, why change things? Whatever you do your place will be packed with your loyal fans. “We want the old Knotty Pine regulars back,” replied David, “but we also want their children… and their grandchildren.”

Knotty Pine Ribs

The regulars have come back. You walk in, past a lady in blue rinse hair at the cash register. She started working at Knotty Pine, according to David, sometime before 1980. And there it is, a dining room that’s just been built — it’s in a modern strip mall in the middle of nowhere — but whose decor definitely recalls the old pine panels of the original. There’s a long row of pine panels here. “I selected every one,” said David. It’s 5 PM on a Monday and already the room is beginning to fill up with regulars and fans of the old Knotty Pine.

Knotty Pine Interior

“Knotty Pine was a grand old barbecue far far west of downtown, churning out great ribs and brisket for sixty years, the only old-line place to rival Pete’s and Wilson’s and the other fabled Northside joints. You’d step inside and be surrounded by warm, time-mellowed pine paneling and the smoky smell of good ‘cue. Two years ago the place burned down. Now it’s risen again.” That’s what I wrote last November when a new Knotty Pine opened in Broken Arrow. It’s operated by Jim Rice, who has been a friend of the Woodards since before that cashier started work, under a franchise agreement. It followed the old Knotty Pine recipes and, as I wrote in that review it did the job just fine. But Knotty Pine was always a west Tulsa institution, and now it’s back in the neighborhood, owned by the original family. And as I said it’s better than ever.

Knotty Pine Everything Plate

“We’re out of a few things,” said the waitress. It was only 5 PM and a few hours later the crowds came in and they ran out of everything and closed early. “We’re out of catfish, pulled pork and all the new sides.” Catfish is a new menu item. So are the new sides. They are created by the new chef, I guess, but I didn’t read that part of the menu since I couldn’t get ’em. I opted for… basically, everything that was left. The Everything Plate! I think the official name is Assorted Plate or something, but I prefer my name. It’s $13.50. It had everything. And everything was good. The ribs, thick and meaty. They go well with sauce (and they put the sauce on top unless you tell them not to). Strangely, I think the ribs, most BBQ joints’ strongest suit, are Knotty Pine’s weak point. Oh they are just fine, great flavor, and I’d eat them again anytime, but arguably you’ll find better. (This is also true of the Broken Arrow location but was not true of the original.) But all the other meats shone. Stuff I’d never eat anyplace else, like chopped beef, hot links, were so good I finished the lot. The ham, bologna and sausage were especially flavorful and fine. But the surprise star was the brisket. Delicious! Reviewing the Broken Arrow branch, I wrote “It was dry and relatively tasteless. But that’s the way it is all over Tulsa.” But here, it’s bursting with flavor. And as I said, it’s because the new chef used his Polo Grill training to come up with a new way of making it.

Cathe had ribs. The photo looked so good that I used it to brighten up the first paragraph of this review. And Betty had chopped beef.

Knotty Pine Chopped

As for the sides, I had the potato salad and baked beans. They were good, and traditional. I’ll have to go back and try Travis Jackson’s new creations. I love tradition but I keep my eye on the future.

Knotty Pine
6161 S 33 W Av (take I-75 to 61st street and head west, or take I-44 and head east)
918-289-0825
https://www.facebook.com/knottypinebbq
Open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM
Brian Schwartz: Author

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

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