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Billy Sims Barbecue

6401 Northwest Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 470-8488

Billy Sims Barbecue on Northwest Expressway

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Barbecue may be one of the top two or three "must try" cuisines in Oklahoma, but with so many choices it is not an easy matter to recommend one specific restaurant. In the case of Billy Sims restaurant I have no hesitation recommending it (although not to the exclusion of some other very good choices). I would hate for visitors to come to Oklahoma and be disappointed by the "Q" (which, along with Texas, Kansas City, and the South, has become the standard of excellence). So far I have not been disappointed by the "Q" at Billy Sims.

Several of the meats at Billy Sims rate five stars on my rating scale, and this is pretty unusual for barbecue restaurants. Most Oklahoma restaurants do ribs the best, and I would say Billy Sims is about as good as anybody when it comes to flavor, quality, and smokiness of the ribs. Where Billy Sims is better than most is on the sauce-- I don't care much for the spicy sauce, but in my opinion the regular sauce is better than just about anyone's.

The pulled pork and chicken at Billy Sims are better than most places, and for my taste they are equal to the ribs as "Billy Sims' best." In fact, I think they are better than the ribs in terms of the amount of meat you get for the money (unless you go on Tuesday night when they have an all-you-can-eat rib special).

Billy Sims has over two dozen locations in several states, and while it is not quite a chain, it could easily suffer from the problems I see in many chains which have low quality food that is prepared off-site. I do not see any signs of this in the branch where I usually go on Northwest Expressway, though, and to me it tastes like locally prepared barbecue.

While going to Billy Sims over about a four year period I have seen some inconsistencies in the quality of the food, but recently this has become a rare occurrence. I can usually count on my favorite meats (pulled pork, chicken, and ribs) as being good, but I am not sure about some of the others which I do not order very much.

Billy Sims football photos
Billy Sims football photos

Each of the Billy Sims Barbecue locations throughout Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri is adorned with football paraphernalia in tribute to the restaurant's namesake. Even if some of us do not feel a fervor about the University of Oklahoma football program, where Billy Sims was a standout player, we can nevertheless be impressed by Billy Sims Barbecue, as we were when our teams had to face Billy Sims and the Sooners on the gridiron.

The combo plates at Billy Sims have names such as "Sooner Magic" (Two-Meat Combo), "The Option" (three meats), and "The Wishbone" (four meats). I am not sure they serve more than four meats on a plate, although more than these are available including Polish sausage, hot links, and bologna. The usual side dishes are available, and all dinners come with "Okie" toast, and your choice of pickles, onions, and peppers (all at no extra charge).

The iced tea is good, and the tea here is one of my favorites. Like all good barbecue places, Billy Sims offers a choice of regular or sweet tea.

Three-Meat Combo Plate
The "Option" combo plate with ribs, chicken, brisket, beans, and potato salad

This photo shows three very good choices for meats. The Ribs are probably the restaurant's most popular item, with not only the characteristic smoky flavor at Billy Sims, but also one of the moistest and best flavored meats. This is truly an item that I enjoy eating without the sauce, although I usually add a little sauce at the end for some extra flavor (the sauce here is one of the best, including the fact that I have not had any allergic reactions from it). While this photo is pretty representative of the ribs served at Billy Sims, I have found that sometimes I get either more or less meat than is shown here.

The Chicken is probably notable mostly because of the fact that I usually find it disappointing elsewhere. This was moist with a good, smoky flavor, although I found it to be better with the sauce. The chicken has also been more variable than some of the other meats, ranging from almost as good as the ribs (as it was the time I took this photo) to possibly the best meat served at the restaurant. On average I would say it is one of my favorite items at Billy Sims.

The Brisket was a little dry, but the smoky flavor was hard to beat. I still consider Van's and Oklahoma Station to have the best brisket I have tried in the metro area.

Turkey and ribs
Turkey and ribs

The Turkey was surprisingly good, and I say this because turkey is not normally one of the better items at barbecue restaurants. This one, though, was moist, and had a good flavored meat (with enough smoke to taste like real BBQ). So far the chicken has been slightly better on average.

Chicken and pulled pork
Chicken and pulled pork

Pulled Pork is the other meat item that I think is outstanding at Billy Sims. This has a good smoked flavor and a good flavor to the meat. When dry (without sauce) I probably like it less than the ribs, but with the sauce I think both meats are equally good.

Turkey sandwich
Turkey sandwich

On one occasion I tried ordering the meat on a sandwich instead of the dinner plate, and I was a little disappointed with this. Of course the meat is the same on both, but there was something about the bread that did not give it as much flavor as I think it has when I eat it with the Texas toast (or the "Okie" toast, as it is called here).

The Potato Salad made with mustard seems to be the best side item at Billy Sims. The Green Beans, cooked with bacon, were also excellent.

The Beans have been of variable quality but normally I think it is one of the best side dishes. The Cole Slaw has been about average in flavor until I ordered it recently (and found it to be quite good).

The free pickles and other appetizers served with every plate are much more enjoyable to me than garnishes I have received at some other barbecue restaurants. The vegetable and side dish selection is not not Billy Sims' biggest strength, but I am usually satisfied with the beans and potato salad.

This restaurant is set up like a fast food place where you order at the counter and pick up the food at the register. It is not my favorite place in terms of ambiance (not because of the OU decor, but because it is often times cold-- especially in summer when the fans and A/C are turned on high). They usually have interesting games on TV, although sometimes the volume is too loud. I come here for the food, though, and the food is some of the best you can get for the money.

My Comments in a Nutshell
What I like most:
  • Very solid barbecue
  • The best sauce I have found in the city for traditional barbecue restaurants
  • Sharing a 2-meat meal is an economical way for two persons to get full (I would get additional side dishes with this)
  • Beans, green beans, and potato salad are about as good as anywhere
  • The iced tea is one of my favorites (I think they use Luzianne)
  • It does not happen often, but sometimes there is a serious problem with the consistency of the food--I would say this happens most often with the ribs which sometimes do not have much meat
  • There is not much choice when it comes to side dishes (I think they should have more items) *** Update Oct. 2014 They now have mac & cheese and other new side dishes
Things to know:
  • The restaurant is almost totally self-service (you take the tray to the table and bus your own table when you're finished)
  • The special "all you can eat ribs" day on Tuesday looks like a good deal (and I think ribs are probably their best item)
  • There are a number of branches around Oklahoma, and I would say any one of them would be a good, solid barbecue experience for visitors to the state
  • I haven't found much in the way of tempting desserts, but to me this is not necessary for a good barbecue experience
  • The food is very good and deserving of a high rating, but the ambiance is very downscale and sometimes affects my enjoyment of the meal (especially when the TV is too loud or the air conditioner is too cold)



Cuisine: Barbecue
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Additional Locations: 29 Other Locations in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Michigan
Smoking: No Smoking

Most Recent Visit
Jul. 27, 2014

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Ribs, Pulled Pork, Chicken

Special Ratings
Pulled Pork:
Potato Salad:
Green Beans:
Cole Slaw:
BBQ Sauce:

Restaurant Menu
Billy Sims menu

Restaurant Web Site
Billy Sims