In Oklahoma, smoked turkey legs are most associated with the state fair — a once-a-year novelty heavily seasoned with kitsch. At Hank’s, a food truck-turned-restaurant at 1228 NE 63rd St. in OKC, smoked turkey legs are a family legacy and a quickly established community cornerstone, proving that the dish can be far more than fair food.
What began as a pandemic-era food truck has evolved into a bustling restaurant perched on a hill near Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. Everything from the sunny main dining room to the cozy back bar to the food makes dining here feel like a familial feast — which makes sense, considering this is a family affair. Hank Day, the restaurant’s namesake and the man behind the turkey leg, is joined by his sister Ashanti, dad Chris and mom Lakecia.
The turkey leg idea came about when Hank bought a smoker during the earlier days of the pandemic — customers were hungry for comfort, and savvy entrepreneurs were pivoting to rise to the occasion. For Hank, that meant tinkering with smoked turkey legs for a few months and eventually accepting orders from customers via Facebook. His dad bolstered the business by adding other options: ribs, brisket and lamb chops. Word of mouth and customer demand grew so much that the Days bought a food truck in 2020, hitting the road to bring smoked meats to the socially distanced masses.
Each step in the business was a logical evolution brought about by clamorous customers … and a hankering for more turkey. As Ashanti explained, more and more people said the family should open a restaurant, and when Gabriella’s restaurant vacated a prime location on NE 63rd Street, it afforded a unique opportunity for them to grow the business and provide something new for the area. She said the goal was to foster an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and at ease, as if you’re dining at the Days’ own home.
Following the scent of smoked meat into the lively counter-service restaurant, located in a building that literally looks like a house, guests are greeted by a mural of Hank holding a turkey leg as large as he is. Those legs, along with the other meats, are smoked on-site all day long in a smokehouse in the parking lot. The result is a dinosaur-sized hunk of plump, bone-in turkey leg that’s fresh, succulent and tender, imbued with a heady hint of smoke. They’re epic enough as is, but the power move is to try one of the stuffed turkey legs slathered in various fillings concocted by Chris Day, like dirty rice, collard greens and mac and cheese.
Hank’s is the type of homespun effort where comfort takes many forms — from the friendly faces to the family recipes that take turkey legs to the next level.