Back Alley Blues and BBQ

The rib dinner actually comes with six ribs, but we'd already eaten two of them by the time I remembered to get out the camera. Oops.

Back Alley Blues and BBQ, 116 S. Elgin Ave., does not have the best ribs in Oklahoma. That honor goes to either The Boundary on Route 66 in Luther (my vote) or Van’s Pig Stand in Shawnee (Ron’s vote). But Back Alley definitely has the best ribs in Tulsa, and the ambience is about as good as it gets outside of Memphis.

This shouldn’t be surprising, considering the restaurant is clearly taking its cues from Memphis’ famous Rendezvous, from its entrance in a downtown alley to its Memphis-style ribs, seasoned with a spicy dry rub and served without sauce, two varieties of which — a tangy Tennessee type and a sweet Oklahoma variety — are available on the table if you want them.

In addition to ribs, Back Alley offers pulled pork, beer-can chicken, and several other smoked meats, accompanied by a range of Southern-style sides. We’ve tried several of the sides, and the deviled-egg potato salad is easily my favorite. Ron found the baked beans a little too sweet for his tastes, although they had a spicy kick that I thought balanced the sweetness nicely.

Peach cobbler is one of three dessert options.

Portion sizes are large enough to share, especially if you’re planning to save room for dessert, which I highly recommend; we’ve tried the peach cobbler and the buttermilk pie and enjoyed both.

Of note: Back Alley’s beverage menu includes sweet tea, the way God intended. Also, dinners are garnished with crispy kosher dill pickle spears. Awesome.

Service is a little iffy; we’ve eaten at Back Alley several times since it opened earlier this year, and the quality of the service has ranged from mediocre to excellent, although I got the feeling the less impressive servers were also less experienced and hadn’t quite gotten their feet under them yet.

This tribute to Ray Charles hangs on the north wall.

Atmosphere isn’t a primary concern when I go out for barbecue — in my travels, I’ve learned that gifted pitmasters can often be found tending giant oil-drum smokers behind run-down shacks with bars on the windows — but I would be remiss if I failed to mention Back Alley’s unique, gritty-hip decor, which includes open rafters, exposed bricks, bare lightbulbs, piano keys along the edge of the bar, and walls covered with elaborate murals by Tulsa artist Anthony “Eratikone” Carrera(Caution: Carrera’s site includes music that starts automatically, so turn down your speakers if your boss thinks you’re doing something productive.)

The work of muralist EratikOne covers the south wall of the restaurant.

Back Alley is open 11 a.m. to “late” (whatever that means) Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit or call (918) 728-8300.

Product: A
Service: B+
Atmosphere: A+
Value: A
Overall: A

~ by redforkhippie on December 8, 2011.

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