Dos Okies nothing fancy, just good barbecue
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Mark Murray, left, and Larry Dennison have turned Port Townsend’s Dos Okies into a barbecue destination. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND -- Earlier this month, Centrum's Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival headliner David Bromberg arrived in town a day early for his performance, and soon discovered Dos Okies Barbeque across the street from his hotel.

He sat in the restaurant and started playing, along with some of his band members.

"We played for something like four hours on the patio," Bromberg said the next night during his performance.

"It' a great place. You should all go there."

Dos Okies Restaurant owner Larry Dennison thinks Bromberg's show was closer to two hours than four, but legends, especially in the barbecue world, have a habit of growing very quickly.

Blues and barbecue

It wasn't the first time a notable musician had visited the restaurant, which, at 2310 Washington St., is off the downtown track. Curtis Salgado wandered in before his recent show, liked the food and comped Dennison a ticket.

(Bromberg also left Dennison's name at the door, but he was unable to make the show.)

Blues singer Marsha Ball had her food delivered, but supplied an autographed picture that still hangs on the wall.

"Blues and barbecue go a long way back," Dennison said.

"It started with the old black guys in the South, who invented the blues, and got stuck with the very worst pieces of meat.

"They figured out how to make it taste so good that even the white people took over."

Dos Okies has occupied a converted garage for about four years, after operating out of a trailer and as a home-based business.

Dennison's cooked barbecue all his life, but following that career path took a detour when he served two terms as Jefferson County Commissioner in the seat now held by Phil Johnson.

He doesn't pay much attention these days to what's going on at the courthouse, but "because I trust the guys who are in charge now.

"If I didn't think they were doing a good job, I'd probably get more involved," he said.

Although the smoker is almost always on, from 8:30 in the morning to late afternoon, the meat usually isn't served on the same day it's cooked.

"It can take a whole day to cook meat with the smoker," he said.

"So what we are cooking today we will be serving tomorrow."

Dos Okies menu

Dos Okies has a variation of the same menu on the wall of every reputable barbecue joint in the country; pulled pork, ribs, chicken, brisket and beans plus sauce that is intended to set your hair on fire.

There are variations, with barbecued salmon and coleslaw made with vinegar instead of mayonnaise.

"Piglets," tender, bite-sized pieces of meat are one of the unique items served.

Barbecue has grown into a trend, supported by restaurant chains, but the best food comes from the most out -of-the way no-frills places "where you walk in, they hand you your food on a paper wrapper, you eat it leaning on a counter and walk out as soon as you're through," Dennison said.

Dos Okies seats about two dozen people inside and out, and most of the business is take-out, so Dennison doesn't see any reason to "fancy up" the surroundings.

"I don't even call this a restaurant," he said.

"You always find the best food in a barbecue 'joint' and that's what we are."

He illustrates this by pointing to the ceiling, where the garage door left over from the building's former life is still intact.

"If you want to eat in a fancy place, you probably won't be happy here," he said.


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: August 18. 2010 1:36AM
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