by Nanc Osborn
Editor’s Note: We are happy to welcome Nancy Osborn, a lifetime okie and owner of Cordero Farms, to the RDC. She’ll be contributing a series she’s entitled the “Red Dirt Dives” approximately once a month. Glad to have you on board, Nancy!~ RDK
Sometimes you try a restaurant because a friend has recommended it. Other times it’s because it’s close to where you live or where you are the moment you get hungry. Still other times something pulls you there, like the billboards every five miles on I-90 in the middle of South Dakota praising the virtues of Wall Drug. In the case of a little barbecue joint on Douglas north of Waterloo, it was the sign: a big yellow sign on Waterloo proclaiming “Railhead BBQ.” I loved the name and am a sucker for barbecue, so it was a no-brainer—Railhead BBQ immediately became our lunch destination.
What we found when we went 2 miles east and a half-mile north of the Waterloo exit was a low slung, rust colored concrete building that contrasted with the McMansions across the road. The parking lot in the back was empty, so Max had plenty of room to pull a 180 and park the truck and stock trailer. Inside, there was a room with two TVs blasting sports, each on different channels, and fifteen clean simple tables laid out in a grid. We grabbed a seat and started to dig into the menu. In addition to the standard barbecue fare, they featured a whole rotisserie chicken, a whole fried chicken (eight pieces, “a la Eischen’s”), and a selection of burgers and sandwiches. I really wanted the fried chicken but the menu indicated it would be a minimum of 20 minutes to prepare. I chose barbeque instead, thinking it would be faster and knowing Max needed to get home by 2. I ordered sliced beef, Sue ordered a two-meat combo with ribs and pulled pork, and Max also got the ribs. We all ordered sweet tea, a primary barometer of how I’m going to judge any restaurant.
As we waited for our baskets, I looked around. The décor tended towards the railroad theme with a 35 year-old railroad map of Oklahoma on the wall below a chalkboard train bulletin from the old Marlow station. But there were also pictures of sports and rodeo figures, some autographed, some not. Combined, it created some interest in what was otherwise a pretty basic room. I had lots and lots of time to look around, because it took almost 20 minutes for our dinners to arrive at our table, and by then, I was wishing I’d gone ahead and ordered the fried chicken! Even though it took awhile, it was sure worth the wait…
The sliced beef had a beautiful pink smoke ring around the edge and was almost succulent. Sue’s pulled pork was fall-off-the-bone perfect and unlike many other Oklahoma barbecue establishments, they didn’t dunk it in sauce before serving it. I tried one of Sue’s ribs and found it just decent, while she thought they were dandy. To me, it needed more umph in the rub; the meat was of nice quality, but lacked seasoning. Now the sauce was an entirely different deal. We all thought it was the bomb. Made with honey, it was sweet, sharp and complemented the meats well. The sides were pretty standard: yellow potato salad, a vinegary cole slaw, and beans that were a cross between sweet baked beans and spicy BBQ beans. That leaves just one side, and man, oh man it was the cherry on top of the whole meal—the absolute best dadgum fried okra I’d ever had. The kind of okra I only dreamed about being able to fix at home, it was obviously hand breaded and fried to perfection.
There was a ton of food (ok, maybe not a whole ton, but there was a bunch), so we asked for to go containers. I should have gone ahead and finished off my okra, because it got soggy pretty quickly in the refrigerator at home. Two meals for the price of one was a good value, and most of the barbeque entrees were less than $10. I remembered the menu also featured homemade cobbler but had no room to try any. As we wrapped up our lunches, I saw the waitress bring out a tray of fried chicken. Next trip to Railhead BBQ? I’m ordering fried chicken and okra and saving room for a cobbler dessert.
My rating system is simple and is based on just a few criteria:
1. How good is the tea? Do they offer sweet tea, or do you have to sweeten it yourself? Does it come with Sonic-style ice? (1 boot max)
2. Is the food made from scratch? Is it tasty? (3 boots max)
3. How good is the service? (1 boot max)
Out of a total possible 5 boots, I give the Railhead BBQ 4 boots. I will definitely come back—maybe even make a special trip. Next time you’re north of Edmond or south of Guthrie, check it out.
Railhead BBQ, 13978 S Douglas Blvd Guthrie, OK 73044-8416 – (405) 330-1112
Open 11 – 9, Tues – Sat, 11 -8 Sun. Closed Monday.