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Bussey's Barbeque in Miami, Oklahoma

Jack | Dec 19, 200410:28 PM

Miami (my-am-uh), Oklahoma is situated on I-44, about 20 miles from Joplin, MO to the East and 80 from Tulsa, OK to the west. Micky Mantle's childhood home, or so the signs say. I've been there twice in the last two months on business, and chose Bussey's based upon the recommendation of two locals, the pick-up truck titre in the parking lot at lunch-time, the moths-to-flame lure of the red neon sign, and the neatly stacked cords of hardwood out back.

Its a freestanding brick building, the restaurant on the left and an insurance office on the right. Spotlessly clean, non-smoking, and a little threadbare, about a half dozen 4-tops and as many long picnic-type tables, each covered with plastic checked tablecloths, rolls of paper towels instead of napkins, and a coke-six-pack carton holding the plastic squeeze bottles of barbeque sauce (hot and mild), hot sauce, ketchup, and salt and pepper, the latter in green coke bottles with shaker caps.

Order at the counter up front, pay, and get a number. They'll call you, or bring it to you if they're slow. Meats are served directly on cafeteria trays covered in brown butcher paper. The selection is pure Texas with a little KC: perfectly smoke-ringed sliced beef brisket, finely chopped brisket, pulled pork, thick-cut turkey breast, polish sausage, hot links, and bologna. There are baby-back ribs, but I haven't seen anyone order them.

Meats are served with a slather of mild sauce, which is surprisingly Memphis-style sweet, with a peppery finish. The brisket, pulled pork, and bias-sliced kielbasa are first rate.

Sides are about what you would expect, pepper-hash type cole slaw, half-length corn-on-cob, charro-type pinto beans, and green beans, the latter peppery and slow cooked with salt-pork, rural Kentucky cafeteria style, and I mean this is the best possible way. French fries are also a side, and are cooked up fresh, delaying some orders, somewhere between matchstick and crinkle-cut in thickness, peanut-oil crisp, and quite clean tasting.

Three meat with two side combos run about $7.50, and come with Texas-type thick cut, grilled toast. Sandwiches are about $4.00, maybe less. Folks are initially polite but reserved, but it took exactly three days to be greeted like a regular, with the associated perks.

There's a pie case to the left of the register, with home baked coconut cream, peanut-butter, chocolate cream, and lemon pies. Real cream, not too sweet, rather than meringue on top. $1.50 per slice.

This is a small town, single location, thriving family business, worth the stop if you're traveling from Tulsa to Joplin or Springfield, and, in my humble but hard won opinion, worth the trip if you're staying in either.

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