OK, it be bad and good!
As well as: smoky, tasty, moist, sassy, tender and flavorful, and any other word you can come up with. Whatever you want to call it, it is definitely some good chop.
Elmer and Georgella Thompson started this traditional barbeque house on South Peoria in 1983. It quickly outgrew the original location and moved to its current spot on Peoria just south of 41st Street.
Elmer learned his craft from an old pro, Tulsa pitman Ezell Reese, proprietor of Reese's, who alongside Latimer's, Al's and a few others make up the nucleus of Tulsa's "Q" heritage.
Holding with the philosophy of the old-time pit men, Elmer believed that the meat should be tasted sans sauce to get the true flavor of the green hickory he advocated using as his primary wood. Then if you want sauce, slather it on.
Often, pit meat is over-smoked, which imparts a bitter flavor that overpowers everything and sauce is a requirement to cover it up. Not here. It's perfectly smoked.
Sadly, Elmer passed away in the spring of 2003, Georgella soon after, and his lip smackin', finger lickin', run down your arm, 20-napkin good BBQ almost fell by the way side.
Fortunately for all of us, Keith Jimmerson purchased and re-opened Elmer's shortly after with a seamless transition, and the same quality is carried on today with great enthusiasm.
Jimmerson is a great front-man, working the pass and assembling orders, while greeting and visiting with customers. He has defied the odds since he had absolutely no previous restaurant experience, and in a moment of pure insanity, he left his 25-year career as an industrial engineer to re-open Elmer's.
After six years and a great product, I think he's here to stay. And we're glad for it. This is a hard-working guy, and he deserves to succeed.
Both my wife and I went for the self proclaimed "Famous Badwich." And man was it bad ... actually, I mean good.
A big toasted bun was hidden under a slab of smoked bologna, piled high with chopped beef and rimmed with ribs and a smoked hot link. "Macaroni mouth" (my wife) ordered the smoked sausage instead since she can't take the heat, and both were great.
Add the two sides, and you have a meal to fill anybody up for under $10. Well, except the four people sitting next to us who were served their food on plates that looked like pizza pans! (I think that's what they were.)
At any rate, they all joked about how they would have enough for lunch the next day, too, but when we left they were still at it, and I suspect there might have been enough for maybe one lunch by the time they were done with those great smoky piles of meat.
When your order comes to the table, you are able to see the meat and it's beautiful layer of "bark" (that dark smoke ring on the outside of the product), smell that great hickory aroma and taste that great flavor in all its naked, unfettered glory. That's not to say the house made sauce isn't good, but it's a supporting actor rather than the star. Big bottles of mild, spicy and a combo of the two sit on each table so you can use as little or as much as you want. The sauce is so popular in fact, that it is commercially bottled and sold by the quart right in the store.
The supporting cast doesn't end there. A creamy, crisp and slightly sweet Cole slaw, great baked beans dotted with lots of meat (presumably right off the chopping block), good old style meat beans, a mixture of green beans and rib pieces like my grandmother used to do it, corn on the cob and potato salad are just a few of the ones available.
Jimmerson has added a few items to the original menu, including a piece of smoked salmon, baby back ribs (more on them in a minute), and you can choose from a huge list of items as well, which includes chopped beef, chopped pork, bologna, sausage, hot links, spare ribs and chicken in every configuration imaginable (well, except maybe alive). Brother if you can't find it in all that, it's your fault, not theirs.
A hog has four slabs of ribs, not two like a cow, and a lot of people seem confounded by that fact. Think pork chops for a minute. The slab of bones that is attached to the loin -- where the chops come from -- can be left on while the loin is cut into chops, roasted whole or sliced off and cooked as a slab. These are called the loin back ribs. Of the two types of ribs in the hog, they are the smaller in size, and they are on the back of the loin.
Spare ribs, which are the second set of ribs, (hence spare) are longer and wider. Loin backs tend to be meatier, a bit sweeter and, to some tastes, more flavorful. But they're smaller and don't give the same classic rib-eating experience that some people really want from a traditional spare rib. Either way, they do it well at Elmer's.
Our server was great. She was really bubbly and friendly and knew her way around the menu extremely well. We were surprised to find she had only worked there a couple of weeks. Most employees mirror the boss' attitudes -- good or bad -- and Keith's comes through in her. Good, cheerful customer service all the way around.
The walls are covered with old music memorabilia, autographed photos of famous visitors to Elmer's (many music and sports-related, and one or two politicians and Hollywood stars, including former President Clinton).
I have always wondered if Elmer had some direct ties to the music industry because of all the personal memorabilia, but it was actually Keith that came up with the "BBQ and Blues" theme in the restaurant. It's fun to look at the old posters and playbills on the walls.
All the food on the menu converts well into quantity orders-to-go for parties, Sunday afternoon ball games, tailgaters and catered events, including whole smoked chickens and slabs of ribs. The tasty sauce is professionally bottled for gifts or just to have in the refrigerator for anytime use. Elmer's and Lambrosco'z have recently made an agreement to begin a symbiotic relationship of sorts, with Nancy Bruce selling some of Keith's great smoked meats, and Keith utilizing some of Lambrusco'z awesome salads and side dishes. Great idea! And yes Jimmerson, it be bad.
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