Food has always been an important part of the travel experience, that’s nothing new. What is somewhat new is the ability to find creative and delicious cuisine almost anywhere you go, not just in the world’s major cities. This culinary shift has also deeply impacted Oklahoma City, a fact I learned during a recent visit. I was there to properly experience the city, which I had driven through on my trip along Route 66 and for me, food was an important part of that second visit. There weren’t any misses on my trip, but these bites in particular were important and formed the foundation of my time in Oklahoma City. I was the guest of VisitOKC who invited me back to better experience their amazing city.
I love restaurants with personality and I knew that as soon as I arrived to Cattlemen’s I was in for a special treat. Oklahoma’s oldest continuously operating restaurant first opened its doors in 1910 in the middle of Stockyards City to feed hungry cowboys and ranchers. The restaurant has had just as rough and tumble a history as its customers, but it has persevered through the years thanks to its menu and rarely, if ever, changing anything. Open long hours every day, a little bit of everything is served here, but I was there for one of their famous breakfasts. Of course steak is on the menu, but so is just about everything else and along with the well-worn patina of the dining room, I couldn’t have picked a better place to start my culinary exploration of Oklahoma City.
As if I didn’t have enough reasons to love my hotel – the 21c Museum Hotel – their restaurant has also very quickly become one of the best in the city. Housed in a former Ford Assembly Plant, Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge is a testament to Chef Patton’s interpretation of New American Cuisine, all served in an art-filled and communal setting. From Sweet Cream Pancakes at breakfast to Missouri Trout or Tagliatelle Bolognese in the evening, it’s hard to go wrong here. Add in their eclectic but delicious cocktails and you have the recipe for a perfect meal in a fun environment.
Few cities have done as good a job at bringing old neighborhoods back to life as Oklahoma City, and one of my favorites was the Deep Deuce Neighborhood. In the 1920s and 30s this was the heart of Oklahoma City’s African American neighborhood and during that time it was famous for incredible jazz and even better food. That culinary culture has been brought back to life in any number of restaurants, including the remarkable Bar Cicchetti. Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani along with Oklahoma native Chef Jonathon Stranger have created a warm and friendly enclave where they show off their interpretations of Mediterranean staples. The emphasis is on small plates that are shared communally and whether you try the lamb meatballs, fried burrata or chicken croquettes, you’ll walk away not only satisfied with the food, but with the incredible company you kept as well.
The Jones Assembly
Located in Oklahoma City’s West End, The Jones Assembly opened in 2017 but has already positioned itself as one of the best and most eclectic restaurants in town. It seeks to pair incredible regional cuisine with live music in a way that is, of course, a whole lot of fun. The Jones Assembly features a large restaurant and bar where they serve up some of the best bites I enjoyed during my time in Oklahoma City, but they also have a 1,600 person capacity venue for concerts that run the gamut from the Indigo Girls to Blues Traveler. This is a not to be missed spot for sure.
For a fun way to start your day, be sure to stop by Waffle Champion, but also be sure to wear your stretchy pants. Classic waffles (both Liege and Brussels style), savory waffle sandwiches, cocktails and more define the very quirky but also incredibly delicious menu. I opted for the cinnamon roll waffle that is covered in spiced butter, vanilla frosting and a pecan crumble that was so good, I almost had to skip lunch.
Gorō Ramen actually started as a pop-up dinner series founded by owners Jeff Chanchaleune and Rachel Cope. The menus were decidedly Japanese-inspired, but it wasn’t until Chef Jeff visited Japan that he found his culinary inspiration – Tori Paitan. This rich chicken broth was the inspiration for Gorō and the base on which his amazing ramen concoctions are founded. Anyone who has ever been to Japan will instantly recognize the authenticity of this ramen, and it’s a food staple I was surprised but thrilled to find in Oklahoma City.
Which restaurant would you try first?