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Leo's

3631 N. Kelley Ave., Oklahoma City, OK - (405) 424-5367
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/7/2013 7:36:00 AM
On the outskirts of the city in a forlorn-looking building that was once a gas station, Leo's is easy to drive right past. If you enjoy southwestern style barbecue, that would be a mistake. Here you will find some of the best: hunky spare ribs with massive amounts of flavor-packed meat; very hot hot links, brisket that is moist and velvety, spicy smoke-pit bologna, and, to gild them all, hot barbecue sauce that makes taste buds shout hallelujah.

On the side of the fine meats come beans that are thick, hot, sweet, and loaded with fatty pork, and potato salad that is cool and starchy. Both provide welcome tongue relief from the pyrotechnical spectacle of the meats. And of course, all platters come with super-soft white bread, which serves two worthy purposes: to absorb sauce and juice, and as an edible cloth on which you can tamp your fingers after you've handled a sauce-plastered rib.

Meals include Leo's signature dessert, a completely uncomplicated and thoroughly happy slice of yellow layer cake topped with slices of banana and strawberries with plenty of sweet syrup.

Leo's is an atmospheric place, quite literally because of aromatic clouds that waft from the indoor pit, and also in the sense that it exudes smokehouse charm. Room tone is a duet of "Legends of Soul" playing on the sound system and the whack-whack-whack of the pitmaster's cleaver separating ribs from the rack. It is dark inside, where the walls and furniture and everything else are perfumed by smoke – as you will be when you walk out.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Ribs
Potato Salad
Hot Link
Baked Beans
Strawberry Banana Cake
Bologna
Leo's Special (Small)
Ice Tea
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A small sampler platter includes everything from the smoke pit -- a rib, hacked-up brisket, slices of bologna, and a hot link -- plus beans, potato salad, and white bread.
"A small sampler platter includes everything from the smoke pit -- a rib, hacked-up brisket, slices of bologna, and a hot link -- plus beans, potato salad, and white bread."
Michael Stern





No meal at Leo's is complete without a slice of yellow layer cake, topped with slices of fresh banana and strawberry, blanketed with sweet syrup. It is an ingenuous, uncomplicated dessert that is just right in this happy place.
"No meal at Leo's is complete without a slice of yellow layer cake, topped with slices of fresh banana and strawberry, blanketed with sweet syrup. It is an ingenuous, uncomplicated dessert that is just right in this happy place."
Michael Stern


Already shredded-up hot links are exhilaratingly pepper-hot. They are relatively lean, so a squirt of either mild or hot barbecue sauce helps lubricate them.
"Already shredded-up hot links are exhilaratingly pepper-hot. They are relatively lean, so a squirt of either mild or hot barbecue sauce helps lubricate them."
Michael Stern


Of all the meats that come out of this smokehouse, none is more wonderful than  spare ribs. Each one is weighted with nearly as much meat as a good-sized sandwich; and while there are some veins of fat, it is astonishing how many ribbons of lean but luscious pork pull easily off the bone.
"Of all the meats that come out of this smokehouse, none is more wonderful than spare ribs. Each one is weighted with nearly as much meat as a good-sized sandwich; and while there are some veins of fat, it is astonishing how many ribbons of lean but luscious pork pull easily off the bone."
Michael Stern


Pit-cooked bologna is radiant with spice and very juicy, so Leo's barbecue sauce, however excellent it may be, is optional.
"Pit-cooked bologna is radiant with spice and very juicy, so Leo's barbecue sauce, however excellent it may be, is optional."
Michael Stern


Potato salad is a wonderful side dish for spicy meats. Leo's fiery pork, beef, sausage, and bologna would be too much without something cool and starchy to have alongside.
"Potato salad is a wonderful side dish for spicy meats. Leo's fiery pork, beef, sausage, and bologna would be too much without something cool and starchy to have alongside."
Michael Stern


Leo's beans are thick and crowded with pieces of sweet pork, not at all spicy themselves, but an ideal balance for the more thrilling items on the menu.
"Leo's beans are thick and crowded with pieces of sweet pork, not at all spicy themselves, but an ideal balance for the more thrilling items on the menu."
Michael Stern


While it does not appear to be the most inviting restaurant, barbecue aficionados will suspect paydirt as soon as they sniff the air that surrounds it.
"While it does not appear to be the most inviting restaurant, barbecue aficionados will suspect paydirt as soon as they sniff the air that surrounds it."
Michael Stern


After taking a seat at one of Leo's picnic tables, I was approached by a waitress who said, 'Hello, again.' I didn't recognize her, but she remembered me, exactly where I sat and what I ate, from a visit nearly 10 years ago!
"After taking a seat at one of Leo's picnic tables, I was approached by a waitress who said, 'Hello, again.' I didn't recognize her, but she remembered me, exactly where I sat and what I ate, from a visit nearly 10 years ago!"
Michael Stern


Heed this sign. The floor inside is slick with residue from humid air emanating out of the smoke pit.
"Heed this sign. The floor inside is slick with residue from humid air emanating out of the smoke pit."
Michael Stern


Leo's tumbler of ice tea is sweet enough and huge enough to be banned in New York City; but to accompany hot and spicy Southwestern barbecue, it's the right stuff, providing dramatic refreshment for flagging taste buds.
"Leo's tumbler of ice tea is sweet enough and huge enough to be banned in New York City; but to accompany hot and spicy Southwestern barbecue, it's the right stuff, providing dramatic refreshment for flagging taste buds."
Michael Stern



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