Smok Shak BBQ in Ingersoll, OK is a bit of a trip to reach because it is between Alva, OK and Cherokee, OK in the “Ghost Town” of Ingersoll, OK.
According to TravelOklahoma.com, “Ingersoll began when Native American reservation land was opened to public settlement. The town gained momentum after the Choctaw Railroad opened a line in 1901. Within one month, Ingersoll’s population boomed to more than 1,500 people, and it was officially incorporated the next year. The flourishing city quickly became known as a sinful town because it was home to seven licensed saloons and two pool halls. In 1909, Ingersoll was considered for the location of the county seat, but lost out to Cherokee. Following its defeat, Ingersoll’s population gradually declined.” The post office was finally discontinued in December of 1942.
The Ingersoll tiled grain elevator, made of hollow red clay tiles, is on the National Register of Historic places (bonus!). By the way, I think the “Washout” on the elevator is an ad for a livestock wash or a truck wash and has nothing to do with the structure.
Amid the historic, but abandoned backdrop, an old pizza hut building was dragged out to Ingersoll in 1985. The oil bust of the 1980′s had left Debra Engle with the former restaurant building and a vacant lot off of Highway 64 in unpopulated Ingersoll, OK. Like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials, it turns out she had two great bit that went great together. She relocated the building to Ingersoll and opened the Smok Shak BBQ joint.
When I arrived on Memorial Day Weekend (7 PM on Friday), Ingersoll was a ghost town, except for the parking lot full of cars at the Smok Shak. Exiting the Smartkitchen-mobile, there was a great smell wafting over town. The clean earthy smell of the high prairie was on the wind, punctuated by the hickory smoke of BBQ from the Smok Shak.
When I went in the joint was half full with locals and oil field workers (the colorful Boot&Coots, or Schlumberger coveralls gave it away). By the time I was finishing up the Smok Shak’s small dining room was full. A party of 18 had walked in and took over the place. They were not closing until 10, so presumably more of the living would stop by. Perhaps the ghost service starts at midnight? To make sure I beat that rush, I ordered a sampler plate (4 items for $14.99) and an iced tea.
For my sampler, I wanted to taste ribs, the sausage, the pulled pork and the smoked ham. I got two “wows” on this plate, one yawn and a thumbs up for decent work. I have not had a lot of smoked ham, or spent much time with it but I have an opinion. Thinner cuts of smoked ham seem to display more flavor characteristics. This thick cut of ham was pleasant enough but a snooze in the overall scheme of things because the flavor did not carry over through the whole thick bite.
Sampling, my way down the plate, nibbling and taking photos, the ribs came next. They elicited a “Wow” or was it a “WOW?”
The crust was flavorful and a good bite. The fat was perfectly rendered and flavored the meat wonderfully. I did go back and work on those rib bones once the photos were finished. Next shot was of the pulled pork and the sausage.
The sausage was another “WOW,” like a smoky, cheddar, jalapeno jaeger brat. The pulled pork may have suffered by comparison with the sausage or the ribs. In reality it was competent and pleasant. In fact, it was a great platform for enjoying the Smok Shak’s very good mild BBQ sauce.
Overall opinion? I would put some hundreds of miles on the odometer to return. The location, the history and most importantly the food is very compelling. I guess you have to excel to survive in the restaurant business in a ghost town for 30 years.
If you want to Facebook Smok Shak they are up there. Also if you plan to visit and have trouble with your GPS, try it on coordinates. The lat/long I got from mine is N 36° 47′ 840″ W 098° 23′ 527″