Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Postcard from Oklahoma City


Oklahoma City, OK. Land-locked Oklahoma isn't usually a vacation destination. But with a kind-hearted, friendly vibe... a reliance on farm-to-table by necessity and history (lots of ranchland 'round here!)... and a capital city with just the right amount of hipster grit and old-school charm... should you find yourself in Oklahoma City, you'll be pleasantly surprised. There's a touristy zone (known as the Bricktown) with the usual steakhouses, large-plate Italian and chain restaurants, but avoid it. Go where the locals go: there's inventive food, reasonable prices, and a smile with every plate. Here are some of the best.

Shrimp Pasta at Stella
Stella.  Oh, Stella... how I love you. From your $25 bottles of wine... to your crisp/chewy bread, straight out of the oven and served with roast garlic and olive oil... to your moist berry cake... you are my home away from home. Friendly servers abound and nary a tourist in sight. Stella's Italian: so you'd do well to start with the artichoke and tomato flatbread, charmingly cut into smaller pieces so the table can share it as an appetizer. Try the grilled romaine salad for a bracing mix of bitter greens and bright citrus and goat cheese. Move onto the pasta with crab in lemon cream sauce - lighter than it sounds and truly addictive - or the short rib ragu with homemade papparadelle, a rich, meaty, manly meal that'll have you licking your plate. It's consistently delicious and homey despite the concrete floor and air conditioning... go early. Go often. Go workout in the morning... you'll need to.

Stella Modern Italian
1201 N Walker Ave  
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
(405) 235-2200

Quinoa Avocado Salad at Cheever's

Cheever's Cafe.  I know, right? Quinoa salad in OKLAHOMA CITY? It's true. And it's pretty darn delicious; it's usually difficult to make southwestern cuisine light, but on this count, Cheever's succeeds.  Chicken and pepper jack strudel, roast quail sandwiched between tortillas and chile sauce, tilapia in lime-butter... here's a place where the spice quotient is high, the servers are friendly, and your taste buds'll get something a little edgier than the steakhouses and diners around town. The restaurant is located a small ride away from the downtown hotels, but the trip is worth it -- it's been around since 2000, but you feel like you're somewhere new.

Cheever's Cafe
2409 N Hudson Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103 
(405) 525-7007 

Red's Tomatoes - Fried and Fresh
Red PrimeSteak.  One of the swankier joints in OKC, Red PrimeSteak is where you want to go to impress your date or entertain your business colleagues.  It's all high ceilings and sharp edges and red-tinged light -- intimate and excessive all at once.  You can binge on well-sourced, dry-aged red meat and pay the hefty price tag (as high as $62 for Wagyu), but the restaurant pays close attention to their other plates, too.  No heavy creamed spinach here. Lighter appetites and wallets will love their Fried Chicken - crispy and moist but miraculously grease-less - their beef tenderloin tamales and "RP's Tomatoes," fried green and fresh hothouse tomatoes layered with mozzarella and pickled onions.  Cocktails are as good as any in Los Angeles or New York - and they even have Happy Hour: with $2 beers.

Red PrimeSteak  
504 N Broadway Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
(405) 232-2626

The Large Beef Pho
Pho B&B.  Clearly, there is a large Vietnamese population in this suburb of Oklahoma City.  Pho B&B is a cavernous restaurant full of banquet tables and barely any English is spoken in the restaurant - by servers OR patrons. The enormous menu covers familiar favorites and the most expensive thing on there is $7.50 (that's for the "Extra Large" bowl of pho - as big as a bathtub and steaming with beefy funk and lime juice). Start with the summery shrimp rolls, served with nutty dipping sauce, and move on to the bun - vermicelli noodles topped with grilled meat (go for shrimp or pork) and egg rolls. Add lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and peanuts to your liking, and toss with sweet/spicy fish sauce. The service can be a bit slow, but at this price - and quality - who needs to look at a watch?

Pho B&B
1615 S I-35 Service Rd.
Moore, OK 73160
(405) 794-5261
no website 

The Bakery Case at Ingrid's
Ingrid's Kitchen.  Ingrid's Kitchen is high-calorie heaven by way of Munich (Ist dieser Himmel?!). Weiner Schnitzel for breakfast, Bratwursts at lunch and a bakery case groaning with pastries the size of your head... this is the place to binge. The cinnamon roll, topped with maple frosting, will create cavities as soon as you bite into it; if you need something a little less saccharine, go for the cream cheese strudel or the poppy seed hamentaschen. You have to work hard to spend more than ten dollars in this quaint, family-run restaurant -- do yourself a favor and pack a box of goodies to go. 

Ingrid's Kitchen
3701 North Youngs
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

(405) 946-8444

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    It's "Bricktown", not "Brickyard."

  2. Andrew Y. says:

    Absolutely right, corrected - thanks Anon!

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