2019 was mostly a decent year for me. I didn’t have a stroke again, so that’s something, right?
Last year, I continued to explore much of Oklahoma and its cantankerous festivals, find some semblance of local romance and, best of all, left the destructive cult that I had become entangled with for the past few years. And sure, I received threats of maiming and mutilation from the various residents of Rush Springs for publicly opposing their racist mascot, but, you know, who hasn’t?
Most impressive of all though, I reviewed well over fifty or so clean restaurants, dirty diners, down-home joints and, to the chagrin of Patrick, gas station delicacies, from all over this beloved city and even more beloved state, mostly to an enthusiastic readership of both lovers of my work and haters of my person. After much quiet time and absolute reflection, I managed to pick five of my favorite 2019 reviews.
Mileage may vary.
Maples Barbecue (February 19, 2019)
What I said: “Somehow, Maples Barbecue, 1800 NW 16th St., has managed to reverse this process, by cooking up what seems to be only the best cuts of meat and, someway, making a perversity of what this town considers good barbecue by smoking them into attractive shards of dry boot-leather. Of course, if you read the local paper you probably wouldn’t know that, especially with the usual suspects hyperbolically calling it the best barbecue they’ve ever had in their got-danged lives.
Not even close, hoss.”
What I learned: The Plaza District collectively, with their forward-thinking views on meat and meat-related meals, came out in full force to defend this mostly mediocre BBQ joint, with numerous people personally contacting me to remind me that I’m an overweight hack with a left-wing agenda against the area. And, you know, they are kind of right.
Bob’s Pig Shop (July 30, 2019)
What I said: “I was on metaphorical fire, however, when I took that first bite of the remarkable Pig Sandwich; filled with far more than a handful of marinated shredded pork, what made it click for me was the impeccable mélange of spicy pickle relish mixed deep into the meat. Plenty of heat and meat served on a toasted bun, it’s easy to see why this sandwich is loved down here.”
What I learned: This Pauls Valley pig staple—sadly not a place for artisan hog-sportswear and other porcine clothing necessities—features a top-shelf, class-act, beautifully edible pork sandwich that more than helped to reaffirm my love of the sweet and smoky science known as Oklahoma barbeque.
Mid-Del Taco (September 17, 2019)
What I said: “As Del City’s urban cowboys and other assorted shit-kickers filled the small spot for lunch, I stepped aside and let them order first; they knew exactly what they wanted, not even bothering to look at the menu. The young woman in the kitchen was getting the orders out as expediently as possible, her official Mid-Del Taco t-shirt getting covered with melted cheese splatters and ground beef spurts, the true dangers of this job.”
What I learned: It might be a Tex-Mex fast food joint in the heart of Del City, but sweet merciful Jesus is it a good Tex-Mex fast food joint in the heart of Del City—forget the Bell, the Bueno and the Mayo and make a run for Mid-Del.
Stables Café (October 22, 2019)
What I said: “But, the true Tex-Mex travesty of the night was the suspect Queso Chili Pie. While its melted cheese and dark chili looked quite attractive bubbling over on the plate, to munch on this meal was a job in itself, mostly due to the requisite layer of stale Fritos, an aged chip with a slight chewiness to it. It seemed more like a bad middle school lunch than a moderately-priced meal at an obviously booming restaurant.”
What I learned: Apparently their Queso Chili Pie is so not good even among their fans; numerous Stable-ites—and even the very owner of this Guthrie eatery—popped up on Facebook to chew my girlfriend and me out for ordering this gastrically unlikable offering of simple-enough chips, chili and cheese.
The Jones Assembly (December 10, 2019)
What I said: “When we were seated and had time to look over the slim menus, I knew that I had to try the excruciatingly popular appetizer—with the kids, at least—Avocado Toast ($9.00); served on a thick slice of sourdough blanketed with fresno chilis, lime, and creamy avocado, it’s a hipster-borne creation that proves millennials deserve more credit for things other than just internet memes and innovative sexual acts.”
What I learned: The avocado toast is on me, ese! Cómpralo ya!