Swadley’s Bar-B-Q–Bethany, OK

Swadley’s Bar-B-Q
4000 N. Rockwell Ave.
Bethany, OK
(405) 470-4343
Swadley's BBQ

Swadley’s in Bethany a half block south of Route 66


It seems that there are enough versions of barbecue in Oklahoma that one person can never try all of them, but a few restaurants have become particularly popular such as Swadley’s Bar-B-Q. With the original location in the west Oklahoma City suburb of Bethany, Swadley’s moved from NW 23rd & Council to NW 39th Expressway & Rockwell and has established several branches throughout the metro. It seems that the family’s 80 years of experience in the food industry is paying off (Swadley’s celebrated its 20 year anniversary as a restaurant in 2018).

I really dislike restaurants that answer “everything” when you ask “what is especially good here?” or “what is the restaurant’s specialty?”. The employees at Swadley’s told me “ribs,” and I would agree that this is usually the best item. I have found several varieties of meat that are worthy substitutes, though, and for most occasions I think I actually like them better. In this respect Swadley’s is among a handful of barbecue restaurants in the city that offer such a variety of good choices.

In need to make a couple of comments about Swadley’s at the outset. One is that I have found the quality to be inconsistent over the time I have been coming, and this is undoubtedly what has caused many reviewers and commenters to largely dismiss the barbecue here as not being representative of Oklahoma’s best. I will say that I understand this sentiment, but I have found the quality to be much more consistent in the last couple of years (as of this writing in 2019). Some of my friends and relatives from out of town have come here and found it outstanding, as have I. It still has some weak points, but I have not found inconsistent quality to be one of them on the last several visits.

Another major point is that the side dishes have always been a major factor in my desire to come here versus other choices that might be available. For a while this was inconsistent as well, although the Memorial Road restaurant seemed to keep the consistency while it was lacking at the Bethany location. Now, though, I consider this problem to be “fixed” as well, at least in my experience. No place is perfect, but it is always better to have an upward trajectory, as I believe this one has.

The Barbecue

Rib dinner

Small order of ribs

Swadley’s menu describes the Ribs as “Hand Rubbed Honey Rib Dinners,” and I thought the flavor was one of the best I had tried. Three types of sauce were available, but before applying any of them I tried the “eating the meat plain” test to see if the flavor was worthy of standing on its own, and it passed with flying colors. I thought it had just the right amount of smoke flavor, but it seems that everyone has their own preference, so this is just my opinion. The meat left a smoky aftertaste in my mouth after the meal was finished, but did not overwhelm the other flavors while I was eating the food.

The really important factor of the ribs, though, was the tenderness of the meat (and this is even more of a factor now that my teeth are no longer in the best shape). This is the one thing I most often find lacking in ribs, especially in other parts of the country (but sometimes even in Oklahoma). I would have to judge Swadley’s ribs as being just about perfect in every way, although this does not mean I could not find others (especially in Oklahoma) that are as good or better.

Ribs. sausage, and brisket

Three meat dinner with ribs, sausage, and brisket

Brisket is probably the next most popular item at Swadley’s. This meat is “24 Hour Sugar Cured” and while it is not meat that will fall apart when touched by a fork, it has the kind of barbecue flavor that would be expected in a good Oklahoma “Q” restaurant. The brisket, though, has shown the greatest variability of any item over the times I have tried it, ranging from moist to dry. This, along with the hot links, has been my biggest disappointment at Swadley’s.

One way to try different types of meat at Swadleys’s is by ordering the “2 Meat” or “3 Meat” dinners (as shown in the photo above). One surprise for me was that Swadley’s has excellent Turkey, which I tried on one of the plates. In this case I thought Swadley’s was better than most other BBQ restaurants that serve turkey. When ordering turkey I do not like too much smoky taste, and I thought Swadley’s was just right, as well as having very good meat.

Sausage was one of the choices on the 3 Meat dinner shown in the photo (and is barely visible under the ribs). This choice was not very exciting, not because there was anything wrong with it, but because I prefer the sausage at the German and other specialty restaurants.

Sampler plate

Sampler plate with turkey, sausage, brisket, hot links, ribs, and pulled pork

Take out orders are quite popular at Swadley’s, and one that offers a large variety of meats is the sampler plate with six items (shown in the photo above). The Pulled Pork, which I tried for the first time with this order, was cooked well with burnt ends, and I thought was excellent. The turkey was as good as it had been the first time I tried it. The Hot Links seemed too spicy to me, and I thought were not as enjoyable as the sausage.

Pulled pork and chicken

Two meat plate with pulled pork and chicken

For a while I had a turkey fixation that seems to have kept me from trying the Chicken, but now the chicken is an almost constant part of any two or three meat dinner because of its excellent flavor.

Pulled Pork has become another one of my “top three” choices (along with chicken and ribs), although unlike the others I think it is really only good with the sauce.

I have not cared for the Sauce as much as at some other restaurants, but there are several varieties so most people can find something to their taste. I think some of the sauces are way too sweet, but the thick and juicy sauce is really pretty good. Best of all, though, is the fact that none of the sauces seem to contain MSG (and I have had enough experience with the sauces that I should know by now if they did).

They provide several types of pickles and other condiments to make sure you have the full Oklahoma barbecue experience.

Side Dishes
Swadley’s serves an array of side dishes which makes it difficult to try them all, and I think this is another of the restaurant’s best features. Baked Beans come in two styles– sweet or hot (I was told the hot one was really hot with jalapenos included, but it was not any spicier than most Mexican food). The sweet baked beans were initially sweet for my taste, but now it has become one of my “go to” side dishes (although I really think the ones at Billy Sims are better).

The Okra was extremely non-greasy compared to most versions, and I think is one of the best choices for a side dish (but it needs to be eaten right away and would not make a good take-home dish).

The Green Beans seemed bland to me at first but now have become a consistent favorite of mine (and bland is good compared to the things some restaurants do to their green beans).

The Potato Salad looks as if it is mostly mayonnaise, but it has a good blend of flavors that makes it better than it looks.

Corn on the Cob was cooked just right, and I thought was very good.

The Cole Slaw either comes with chunky pieces of cabbage and a very good dressing (this is something that I think has become more consistently good over the past ten years or so).

Other Items
The Iced Tea is especially good, with both sweetened and unsweetened available (at one time I saw that they used Luzianne–I do not know the current brand but it is still good).

The restaurant recently switched from Texas toast to a roll on the dinner plates. I liked the Texas toast better, but the current roll is still a good feature to help round out the meal.

Turkey sandwich

Turkey sandwich

The owner pointed out on one visit that sandwiches are popular at lunch, and this may be a way for people with a light appetite to enjoy the food here (the sampler plate and some other combination plates seem clearly designed for families rather than individuals).

Ice cream machine

Free ice cream is available from the machine

A free Ice Cream Cone machine is also available. Even though this type of ice cream from a machine is not the best, I really enjoy it as part of the tradition of eating at Swadley’s. My biggest complaint is that I always have to ask the staff which side of the machine is vanilla and which is chocolate (I like the vanilla).

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

Occasionally a person may prefer one of the regular desserts, such as chocolate or strawberry cake. Out of the two I think the chocolate is a little better, although both are good choice.

A Summary
Overall I think I like the meals here better than the individual parts of it, simply because there is so much selection and all of it is good. I don’t have proof of this, but it also seems that the servings are larger here than at other places (for the same amount of money). This is good Oklahoma barbecue, about which I really have no complaints.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Barbecue
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No
Additional Locations: 8317 S. Western Ave. (OKC), 2233 W. Memorial Rd. (OKC), 308 E. Hwy. 152 (Mustang), 1629 E. OK-66 (El Reno)

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 10, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Ribs, Pulled Pork, Chicken, Okra, Green Beans, Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, Chocolate Cake

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pork Ribs
star 5 Pulled Pork
star 5 Chicken
star 5 Turkey
star 4 Brisket
star 4 Hot Links
star 4 Sausage
star 5 Potato Salad
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 5 Green Beans
star 5 Okra
star 5 Sweet Beans
star 4 Spicy Beans
star 4 Mac and Cheese
star 5 Chocolate Cake
star 5 Strawberry Cake

Ranch Steakhouse–Oklahoma City, OK

Ranch Steakhouse
3000 W. Britton Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 755-3501
Ranch Steakhouse

Ranch Steakhouse


Growing up in Oklahoma I never realized that other parts of the country did not enjoy the same abundance of good quality steaks as here, but in recent years it has been much harder even in the Southwest to find the same kind of beef I remember as a youngster. I am not sure where along the supply chain much of the beef seems to have lost its flavor, but I have learned to distrust many of the claims made by restaurants that they serve a great steak.

Ranch Steakhouse on the north side of Oklahoma City, though, goes a long way in my quest to find steaks that live up to my expectation of the way I know they can be. I do not know if Ranch Steakhouse has the best steaks in Oklahoma, but I believe it is close. I cannot afford to go to all of the steak restaurants to find out which one is actually the best, but at Ranch Steakhouse I am pretty sure people will be satisfied that this is about as good as it gets.

Even though Ranch Steakhouse is quite upscale, blue jeans are about as common here as they are at Cattlemen’s at the Stockyards. It is expensive, but I think people will consider it a bargain for the quality of meat served, especially when compared to upscale restaurants in large cities (although I say this without having much first hand experience with them).

Ranch Steakhouse’s web site includes the following information about the steaks:

Every evening you’ll find an extraordinary menu featuring 100% USDA Certified Prime tenderloins, strips, and ribeyes being skillfully prepared and cut by hand for each guest who dines with us. Our exceptional chef-driven cuisine consists entirely of custom aged hand cut Prime Beef from Nature Source that is never exposed to antibiotics or hormones and fed on grass up until just before being processed. We also offer a selection of Grade 12 Japanese Wagu Filets, 100% Grass Fed Filets and Dry Aged Ribeyes.

In ordering a filet the waiter informed me that there were three levels that could be ordered: the filet I ordered from the regular menu was about $50, the 100% grass fed filet was about $80 (this one is more tender), and the Japanese Wagyu was $30 per ounce (and is the most tender). The latter two are not listed on the menu, and the difference with the 100% grass fed meat is just the amount of time they are fed grass (the regular beef is grass until the time of processing).

The bottom line is that even the “regular” steaks are what I consider to be a special treat, and these are the ones I am saying are among the best in Oklahoma. I ordered the grass fed filet in 2010 when it was not as expensive as it is today, and I would say my enjoyment level of both types of steak was about the same.

Also in 2010 they were saying that their most expensive steak was “Kobe beef,” and I think they had to change this to “Wagu” because of the the term “Kobe” being a trademark for only certain beef which comes from Japan (and there were about a dozen restaurants in the entire United States that served genuine Kobe beef). I did not ask them on the last visit what they mean by “Japanese Wagu,” but I think this is the same steak they were selling earlier as “Kobe.”

For my taste Ranch Steakhouse is top quality, but there may be other levels of top quality available at a few restaurants in the country that are at a higher level then here.

Salads and Appetizers

Chop House

Chop House Salad

Even though I thought the steaks were top notch, I did not feel the same way about the Chop House Salad. This was a good salad, but it did not seem to me to reach the same level as the salads at Boulevard Steakhouse, Cheever’s, or a number of other good restaurants. The fact that it was topped with cheddar cheese was not a good sign to me, and I was underwhelmed enough by the other ingredients to think that maybe putting cheese on top was actually an improvement. Still, it was not bad, just a little below the level I would expect in a very good steak restaurant.

There are quite a few other choices for salads and appetizers, so I do not know if I would have a better opinion overall if I tried some of the other items.

Steak
Of course steak is the main reason to come to Ranch Steakhouse. All of the steaks are “Prime,” are grass fed until just before the time they are processed, and are hormone and antibiotic free. I believe being grass fed is the most important factor in the good flavor I find in the steaks here.

Strip

Strip

The menu has changed somewhat since an earlier visit I made in 2010. At this time the regular menu was not being advertised as being grass fed, but you could get grass fed beef at a higher cost. At this time I ordered a grass fed Strip at the higher cost. This cut, though, had extra fat and slightly different flavor that has since made me stick with the filet.

Tenderloin filet

Tenderloin filet on a recent visit

My most recent order of a Filet was quite good, but was cut into bite-sized pieces which was quite surprising to me (but I think in a good way). I had eaten a filet on a previous visit, and this continues to be my first choice when coming here.

They now offer the filet at three different sizes (7 oz., 10 oz, or 16 oz.). The one pictured is ten ounces (which I shared, and both of us found it to be the right size).

Steaks are available with a choice of toppings for an extra charge, but with beef this good I am not sure it could be improved upon.

Side Dishes

Side sampler

Side sampler

A Side Sampler of vegetables is available for $20 as of the time of this writing, consisting of two vegetables plus a baked potato. The choices of vegetables can be made from their list of about eleven items (I am not including the various types of potatoes). My plate had two baked potatoes because the waiter said the potatoes were small that evening, but normally you get one (also I think the waiter did us a favor because there were two of us). In any case, I cannot complain about what you get for your money.

I have not found all of the side dishes to be equally enjoyable, though. The two in the photo (asparagus and carrots) are among the best I have tried. Probably my first choice on any visit, though, would be the baked potato. It came with all the toppings I like, and the potato is always cooked the right way.

Au gratin potatoes

Au gratin potatoes

The Au Gratin Potatoes surprised me, though, by not matching what I consider to be the overall quality of the restaurant (although I felt the same way about the chop house salad). I thought the potatoes had too much garlic, too much cheese in relation to the other ingredients, and potatoes that were not crispy enough with a texture I did not enjoy (other than that it was good, of course).

My choice of broccoli and carrots was on the suggestion of the waiter, and I might advise this tactic when coming here for the first time or when not knowing what you would like from the vegetable menu.

Dessert

Dulce de leche cake

Dulce de leche cake

One feature that does seem to be as good as the steaks, though, is the desserts. The Dulce de Leche Cake I tried was one of the best after dinner treats I have had in Oklahoma City. I also understood from the waiter that this is the only dessert Ranch Steakhouse makes in house, so this may be the only one about which I would have such a high opinion. This particular dessert, though, was well worth the money.

Other Comments
After several visits I have concluded that Ranch Steakhouse probably has the best steaks I have tried in Oklahoma City (or in the case of Red Prime, which also has excellent steaks, Ranch Steakhouse seems to be less expensive). The problem, though, is that many of the side dishes at Ranch Steakhouse do not match up to the steaks. Ranch Steakhouse is my personal choice for “best steak,” but for a whole meal experience, including salad and side dishes, other restaurants such as Boulevard Steakhouse or Red Prime might be a better choice.

Ranch Steakhouse is located in north Oklahoma City away from the popular tourist areas (but just down the street from the popular “restaurant strip” on Lake Hefner), so it does not seem to be on the tourist radar for out of town visitors. I think, though, that it offers an excellent taste of Oklahoma steak. It is certainly popular with locals, and it usually seems that even when I go on weekdays, I end up getting one of the few tables available. I think there is good reason the locals make regular visits when they want a fine dining experience.

I think reservations would be a good idea on weekends, but so far I have done fine by going and taking my chances (all of these visits were on weekdays).

They have valet parking here, but for me this would not be something I would want to consider since the entire parking lot seems like a short walk to me.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Steaks
Cost: $$$$
Hours: Dinner Only (Open Daily)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full Bar

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 4
Best Items: Filet, Baked Potato, Broccoli, Carrots, Dulce de Leche Cake

Special Ratings
star 5 Filet
star 5 Strip
star 5 Baked Potato
star 5 Carrots
star 5 Asparagus
star 4 Chop House Salad

Someplace Else–Oklahoma City, OK

Someplace Else A Deli & Bakery
2310 N. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 524-0887
Someplace Else Deli

Someplace Else Deli


Someplace Else Deli is too well known, has reviews that are too good, and has been around for so long that it should not have taken me until 2019 to try it, but it did. The problem is that it is located in one of the foremost Asian Districts in the United States, and when I am in the area I am usually on the hunt for some excellent Asian food. My first visit to Someplace Else happened as part of a “crawl” with a friend where we split an Asian meal and then went to Someplace Else to do the same thing. I am glad I did it this way, and I found out that all the good reviews about Someplace Else are true.

Someplace Else actually predates the Asian District, and it was in operation before the first Vietnamese refugees settled in Oklahoma City, sparking the early development of what later became the Asian District. The age of Someplace Else is also the reason I like it. This is not one of fancy new sandwich shops where you make your own sandwich and choose from their exotic ingredients. Someplace Else has a menu, and they make each sandwich one way. You have the option of omitting any topping or ingredient, or adding them, but my experience is that the way Someplace Else makes a sandwich seems to be hard to improve upon.

They also have a very large bakery with mostly pastries and sweet goods (brownies, chocolate cookies, etc.). There are several good bakeries in town with similar items, but what distinguishes the ones here is that they are more affordable than others, yet I think just as good (based on my sample).

Reuben

Reuben

Reuben

It is hard to see from the photo what is inside the Reuben but it was quite good, and was a combination that I would never have compiled on a “make your own” sandwich. This was because the key ingredient to it was the thousand island dressing which the person taking my order recommended, and for some reason I had enough trust in him to follow his suggestion. It was their house made dressing, so of course I should have known that it would be far better than the thousand island you would find in the average restaurant. The meat was corned beef, as would be expected, and it came with Swiss and sauerkraut. This combination works very well, and I think the reason is largely because of the thousand island.

I am now in a dilemma about whether to recommend Someplace Else or Ingrid’s for a Reuben sandwich. All I can say is that they are different, and they are both good. I like Ingrid’s for the sauerkraut. Someplace Else has sauerkraut on the sandwich, but not as much of it. Both sandwiches are good, and I would not argue with anyone who says it is better at one place than the other.

The Bakery
There is a large selection of pastries and goodies from the bakery. The brownies and chocolate cookies I tried were enough to convince me that this bakery can compete with anyone in town. It did seem to be less expensive than other bakeries, though, so this is a definite plus.

Other Information
Most of the meats for sale in the deli were the Dietz & Watson brand.

Someplace Else is open for breakfast, and has items such as sausage biscuits.

Parking in front of the store is very limited and is on the street.

According to Google the hours are Mon-Fri 7:00 am to 6:30 pm, Sat 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Sandwiches
Cost: $
Hours: Breakfast & Lunch Only (Closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Reuben, Brownies

Special Ratings
star 5 Reuben