Saturday night special

Boston Deli offers everything from smokin’ ribs to sandwiches.



Boston Deli’s ribs, available only on  Saturday nights, usually sell out by 7 p.m.Quite often, especially during the summer months, I get a bad case of grill envy. I specifically covet those lucky to own an Oklahoma-made Hasty-Bake grill, but more often I envy the talented few able to transform a rack of ribs into a tender, juicy delicacy.

For both reasons, Ken Schafer, owner of the Boston Deli Grill & Market, has been the target of my envy for quite some time. Every Saturday, his talented crew (led by Chef Doug Zimpel) throws rack upon rack of baby-back ribs on his Hasty-Bake grills*, and smokes them to perfection.

I have to backtrack a bit, however, before going into detail about those ribs. Schafer took over the Boston Deli (then located on downtown’s South Boston Avenue) back in 1991, after leaving a career as the corporate food and beverage director for DoubleTree Hotels in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In that position (in addition to regularly clocking 100-hour workweeks) he gathered recipes, menus and tips from chefs all over the world. It was inspiration that would soon be put to use at the deli he bought on a whim after several lunchtime visits.

After a crowded weekday trip to Ike’s Chili in which the line was too long to wait, Schafer headed next door to the Boston Deli and grabbed a sandwich. He loved the quaint café’s location as well as its potential and made several trips back before offering to buy it from the owner.

After updating the space (it was decorated with lobster traps and life-size photos of Larry Bird) and the menu, he stocked his lunch fare in 15 snack shop locations around downtown. In 1993, an opportunity presented itself in a south Tulsa shopping center — so, Schafer headed south, invested in some bread ovens and never looked back.

At the new location, along with the Boston Deli’s now-popular lunch service, he added a chalkboard dinner menu. Items changed daily based on seasonality and availability — a trend that continues more than two decades later. Today, the chalkboard menu is a memory, but the restaurant still offers up fresh, seasonal dishes.

Schafer has always offered an eclectic menu, with dishes featuring Asian, Southwestern and European twists on classic dishes.

“I have gone with what I have liked and enjoyed over the years,” he says.

Now, about those ribs ... Schafer’s father was friends with Grant Hastings (the founder of Hasty-Bake). As a result, growing up in south Florida, Schafer’s was the only house with a big Hasty-Bake.

“It was the neighborhood foodie hangout,” he says. “My father grilled for the neighborhood at least once a week.”

Schafer’s father loved to experiment with different rubs, marinades and woods as well as cuts of meat.

“Back then hanger steak and flank steak were unknown, inexpensive cuts, perfect for grilling,” he says.

He learned his father’s recipes and techniques, and puts them to good use today. He cooks ribs one day a week: Saturday. I suggest you get to the restaurant early; it usually sells out by 7 p.m.

Pork tenderloin served over smoked tomato gritsBut don’t fret if you can’t make it in on a Saturday evening, for the menu offers delicious specials on a daily basis. Pop in for a casual order-at-the-counter lunch with your choice of sandwiches made on freshly baked bread, salads (that take advantage of local produce whenever possible) and creative side dishes (quinoa tabouli and carrot, raisin and walnut salad).

If you are a fan of the classic Reuben, Schafer offers the best version around — thinly sliced, house-cured corned beef, smoked pastrami or smoked turkey is piled high on his own Jewish rye and topped with fresh caraway sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and BD’s version of Russian dressing ($8.29). If I am ever able to order something different, I will go for the Italian meatball Parmesan on a baguette ($7) or hickory-smoked chicken salad sandwich ($4.50, small; $7, large).

Dinner service is a bit more dressed up. Servers take care of you tableside, and the menu is kicked up a notch. Aside from those ribs ($16), you will find daily specials, including fried chicken with chili honey ($13) and Hasty-Bake-smoked chicken ($16). Regular favorites include pork tenderloin with chili-ginger drizzle served over smoked tomato grits ($16) and a coffee-spiced smoked rib eye with ancho chili-mushroom sauce ($21). Each month, Schafer designs a seasonal Thursday night special; the entree comes with a salad and a piece of pie ($23).

Portion sizes are reasonable, allowing customers to sample starters and salads, but maybe more importantly, to have room for dessert. Pastry Chef Jessie Rice stocks the case daily with mile-high pies and desserts. Try the signature Limoncello-Pecan Pie ... I’ve had nothing like it.

“We have the best loyal customers,” Schafer says. “We love to hear our customers talking about food while they are in the restaurant. We have an unbelievable following.”

I suspect those customers are following their noses to some Hasty-Bake grills on South Sheridan Road.

*The print version of this article erroneously stated that Boston Deli's ribs were smoked on Hasty Bake grills "just outside the back door." Due to Tulsa Health Dept. regulations, the ribs are actually smoked on Hasty Bake grills in a specially vented area inside the market. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Smartly dressed

A welcome change or reign of the fashion police? Students, parents and staff comment on the new district-wide uniform policy.

Inspired fellowship

306 Phoenix House provides welcoming community activities for all.

Green teaching queen

Everyday stories: Tulsans you should know
Edit Module

Add your comment:
Tulsa Guest Guide

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Over the past thirteen years, the Williams Route 66 Marathon presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has become a 26.2-mile party! You might find yourself asking "Is this a race or...

Cost: $110

Where:
Downtown Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74066


Sponsor: Williams, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-408-1208
Contact Name: Ally Lightle
Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

More information

When four lost New Englanders who enroll in Marty’s six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic...

Cost: $20

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come see the ORU Mens Basketball team vs Ecclesia

Cost: $10-$20

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: https://mabeecenter.com/event/ecclesia1819m/
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come and Support ORU Women's Basketball as they jump into another exciting season. Join in on the fun and purchase your tickets today! All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will...

Cost: $7

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We would like to invite our Tulsa neighbors to join us for our "Hope House Free Movie Night" in the auditorium Hope House events are open to the public, family friendly, events.  We will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hope House
4241 S 37th W Ave.
TULSA
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Hope House
Telephone: 918-446-8176
Contact Name: Dorothy Brown

More information

Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Local, Live Music at the The Willows Family Ales taproom EVERY Thursday at 7:30pm. Surprise food vendor to be announced SOON!! 11/1 ---- Eric Himan 11/8 ---- Wendy Nichol Hall 11/15---...

Cost: FREE!!

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
418 South Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Contact Name: Julian Morgan

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


Episode 7: Elizabeth Frame Ellison, CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation

Elizabeth Frame Ellison discusses the brand-new Mother Road Market, Tulsa’s first food hall, located on historic Route 66.

Comments

Charitable Events: November 2018

Fundraisers and fun happenings

Comments

Video: Apple Blackberry Crumble Pie Recipe

Comments

Oklahoma Caring Awards

The Oklahoma Caring Awards raised $76,000 for the Hospitality House of Tulsa.

Comments

Santorini Night

A fundraiser for Emergency Infant Services, the event was presented by the Tulsa Greek Festival and kicked off Greek Week.

Comments