POSTED ON MARCH 6, 2013:
A Cut Above
Friendly setting for well-seasoned meats
You can never get enough barbeque. When you think you've had some of the best, there's yet another place to try. In this case it's Capp's BBQ. While relatively new to the Tulsa BBQ scene, Capp's only opened this past August at the E. 11th Street location, although owner Capp Crowder has been operating a successful BBQ business in Okmulgee since 2008.
"I was in the mortgage business up until 2008 when things were not going so well," he said. "I wanted to follow my passion, so I left that industry to buy a BBQ business from a friend in Okmulgee," he said.
After successfully managing the Okmulgee place, this '94 University of Tulsa graduate, a wide receiver for the Golden Hurricane, wanted to have a place close to his alma mater, so he purchased a space just west of the TU campus, an old service station for cars. He spent months building out the place from scratch with his own design.
It's a cozy, clean and friendly place. The knotty pine wall paneling has plenty of Crowder's TU football memorabilia, along with posters of other concert and sporting events. A few TVs are within sight of most tables; country music plays softly in the background. Four-top tables with BBQ sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper and a roll of white paper towels all add to the décor. Orders are placed at the front counter and brought to the table when ready. Capp's has the usual BBQ menu of ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey and chicken, smoked bologna and hot links. "What sets us apart from others," said Crowder, "is how we prepare our meat."
As a Kansas City native, Crowder said his BBQ reflects some Kansas City BBQ characteristics, yet he has tailored it to Oklahoma taste buds. He explained there are many ways to prepare BBQ, and "what we do is begin with a dry rub." He began to reveal a few of the secret ingredients in his rub -- cayenne pepper, turmeric, sugar, garlic salt -- but stopped short of giving me any more. "It's a mixture of a lot of different spices," he laughed. "I can't give them all to you."
He did mention two other ways that set his BBQ apart from others in the city -- the BBQ sauce and the wood he uses for smoking, a combination of both hickory and pecan. "I smoke the brisket from 14-16 hours, the pork from 9-10 hours and the ribs from 6-8 hours. It takes time to get the 'flavor of love' that I want," he said.
This "flavor of love" was well received by my friend and me. I ordered a Capp's dinner of smoked turkey and pulled pork with sides of onion rings and coleslaw; my friend ordered the hot links and ribs with baked beans and fried okra for sides. A dinner for one with two meats and two sides is $10.49; for one meat and two sides it's $8.99, and dinner with three meats is $11.99.
The meals arrived, served on red trays with the food on black and white checkered deli paper. Two slices of buttered Texas toast, sliced bread and butter pickles, and a small pepperoncini pepper were served alongside the meats. The turkey was very good. It was extremely tender, moist and had a delicate smoky taste. The pulled pork was a little dry, but tender and filled with a rich yet mild, smoky flavor. The onion rings were hot and fresh, with a crispy coating. The coleslaw was very fresh tasting, with red and green cabbage and carrots, and a light creamy sauce.
My friend thoroughly enjoyed the hot link; it was very flavorful and lean -- no greasiness with these links. The ribs were charred well, very tender, and they fell off the bone easily when eating. The smoked flavor was rich, yet not overpowering. The okra was hot and crisp; the baked beans were smoky and sweet.
We both enjoyed the hot and mild sauces. The hot sauce has a good spicy-hot kick to it with a lingering taste of cumin. The sweet sauce is mild and delicately sweet. "I came up with my own sauces when I opened the Okmulgee location," Crowder said. He's especially proud of the sweet sauce. "I designed it to fit the Oklahoma BBQ palate which likes a sweet BBQ sauce." As for the sides, Crowder said the baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad are made fresh each day.
Traditional with most local BBQ places are the homemade pies for dessert. Capp's serves pies from his mom's and grandmother's homemade pie recipes: sweet potato pie, buttermilk pie and apple pie. I sampled the sweet potato and apple pie, served in small individual sizes. The sweet potato was very good -- creamy, rich, smooth and with a slight taste of pumpkin pie spices. The crust was firm enough to hold up the pie, but not tough or too thick. The apple pie was, likewise, very good. Fresh apple taste with the apples slightly firm. The buttermilk, as Crowder said, is a crowd pleaser. They go fast, he said, and were out the evening I dined there. Crowder said they sell from 30-40 buttermilk pies each day.
Besides the dinners, BBQ sandwiches are available. Other offerings include southern fried catfish, a shrimp basket, baked potato and Capp's Real Deals: smoked turkey leg and whole smoked chicken (by special order only).
Capp's has $6.99 lunch specials mainly comprised of sandwiches with one side and one drink. There is also a $3.99 Kid's Meal for those 12 and under, any regular sandwich or chicken strips with one side and a kid-sized drink. And, just like most BBQ joints, Capp's sells his meats by the pound and even does catering for all occasions. And, he's proud of the fact that he is TU's exclusive food service provider for on-campus functions (apart from TU's corporate provider). "Football season was huge, tailgating at games," he said. He also provides food for the sports teams at various times throughout their seasons.
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