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Chris Hennes

Oklahoma City Restaurants

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I assured my wife that we could move to anyplace with FedEx service, which is mostly true, but we do like to eat out on a pretty regular basis. As I was checking out Oklahoma City today I found almost zero mentions on the eGullet forums... Zagat doesn't cover them, and there are only 30 or so OpenTable listings. What gives? No one likes to eat out in OK?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I assured my wife that we could move to anyplace with FedEx service, which is mostly true, but we do like to eat out on a pretty regular basis. As I was checking out Oklahoma City today I found almost zero mentions on the eGullet forums... Zagat doesn't cover them, and there are only 30 or so OpenTable listings. What gives? No one likes to eat out in OK?

Your inquiry interested me, in part, because I was born in Oklahoma City and spent much of my childhood visiting family in OKC. Way back then, I knew of a number of very good places (according to my standards at the time) to eat. Perhaps you need to search on Chowhound instead of eGullet. I did a quick search for "Oklahoma City" and found 368 items. I didn't bother searching for Okla City or OKC - which undoubtedly would provide even more.

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I lived in that area for a year my father in law moved there and it is the birth home of my mother in law ... I became known as "The Yankee who eats strange food" ...and really know there must be something good to eat in "The City" as it was referred to all over the state..as far as upscale food I never found a place I could say "OMG YOU MUST TRY THIS!" but a few years have gone and my brother in law assures me the food scene has blossomed!

things I know about Oklahoma and am happy to share:

...tornados (so find a place that does have a shelter near by)

..food prices are decent there and lots of fresh in season produce to be found locally

.. "Indian tacos" a huge piece of fry bread with pinto beans dumped on top ..then all the "taco" type garnishes for like $3 (my go to food while living there)

pond fishing and fishing by dams can be fun and there are plenty of fish... but there are also snakes in the water that chase you and that scared the Hell out of me!

Pecans are EVERYWHERE for the picking up ..in city parks on the side of roads all over the place....they are the tastiest little buggers and worth the trouble or buy a pecan sheller if you will be there for a while

Osage oranges ..are not food

that is where i was given the recipe for TaterTot casserole and was told it was the best recipe ever!

and learned about Frito pies ...dump canned chili in an open bag of Fritos on a paper plate.....serve...

Catfish

freshwater clams are awful

Ostrich farmers are all over the place so if you like it you should be able to find that at a very reasonable price ..

end of my Oklahoma report ...Lord knows I did try!!! I hope you have better luck!


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Don't give up! You never know until you try.

I had an extremely depressing mindset heading to Midland, TX.

And the supportive comments I'd received in advance were, well........challenging.

But, having tried it, I found things I kinda liked. Funky approaches that you won't get in the big cities. And people like us who've chosen to bring interesting ideas back home.

Of course, if you tried to force me to live out there, I'd probably have to hurt you.

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I always look on the bright side: for OKC, this is that property is insanely cheap, i.e. I can have a gigantic garden and greenhouse. Coupled with FedEx service this means that I can do a lot of great cooking at home. But I like to eat out, too! I don't necessarily need "high class" all the time, but having the option would be nice.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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there are crawfish in every creek and pond all you need is a string with bacon tied on it ..a strainer and a pot ....oh yeah I took a shot gun just in case a snake jumped out to attack me ...

the crawfish cooked on a city park table ..with a propane stove...and a wok ...garlic white wine and olive oil .....

very lovely memory actually

Mexican food is good and readily available in markets and Mercados ..you can also buy great meat from the Mexican butchers ...

the one thing that made OK my home for a year was it really was fun doing honest to goodness hunting and gathering there

I even cooked a rattlesnake :smile: considering how terrified I am of them ... that was HUGE for me!!


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Fed Ex ...good Lord I will convert you yet!!! :rolleyes:


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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one more thing then I will shut up ..maybe

mesquite beans make a good flour ..so do the acorns there ...

and ETA

People in Oklahoma make absolutely perfect sweet ice tea :smile:


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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There is the best fried chicken I ever had at a place called Eschens in Okcarchee if you are willing to drive. The Meer's Store in Meers, Oklahoma is the same, a bit of a drive but way worth it. It was featured in Bon Appetit not too long ago. The food scene here is not that great, you won't find establishments like you do in New York City, or Denver, but there are some notable spots. I agree with Cattlemen's, The Haunted House Resturant (have to reservations, Http//www.hauntedhouserestaurant.com/menu.nxg) I have never been there, the menu looks not that great to me, but others that have been there seem to like it. A place called The Mantel, ok, The Metro in Nichols Hills is considered fine dining. Hideaway Pizza for pizza. Down in the bricktown area there is a mexican place called Abuelo's that I love. Chelino's I like, it's ok, depending on the one you go to. Breakfast? Beverly's Chicken in the Rough. They fresh make everything! Scary name, good food. The Grand House on Sundays for Dim Simm and just about anything else Chinese food really.

Personally, I don't do "fine dining" in Oklahoma. The grocery shopping however, Cao Nguyen (http://www.caonguyen.com/index.php) is the best Asian market bar none! The place is as big as a Walmart, and has stuff from just about anywhere there. You name it asian, it's there. The absolute best place to buy seafood, most of it is still alive at the market. The tofu in there is amazing and handmade, if that is your thing. Wheeler's Meat Market. Best meat, they tend to buy local. There is a farmer's market located in the middle of town off Reno and Western that is good, but the one that meets Saturday mornings in the parking lot of OSU-OKC is better, IMO.

My hubby and I tend to stick close to home and cook ourselves alot because the standard of what I consider "real good" and most consider good is just not the same it seems. Like Hummingbirdkiss I am one of those "yankee with strange food taste". Most of the food here is "chain food" Chilli's, Macaroni grill, PF Changs (I do love PF Changs, for chain food) and the like. I have not ventured into the mexican markets, but will have to now.

Feel free to PM me if you have any further questions. I will be happy to answer!

Depending on what you do for a living, the job market sucks here, BTW. Just thought I would let you know if you are considering moving here :wink:


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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It is great hearing that Beverly's Chicken In The Rough is still around. They had a location between 15th and 16th on May Avenue during my childhood - a block from my grandmother's house. We ate there many times on our visits to OKC. Their chicken was outstanding. Beverly's was mentioned on Roadfood some time ago and several posted very positive memories.

I think that May Avenue location has been gone for forty years or more. That says something about how old I am, doesn't it?

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My sister and her husband are both in the Air Force and based in Oklahoma City - although both presently deployed (Jordan and Brussels, respectively). I went last December for their wedding, and had a difficult time finding much beyond chain food. The wedding party all went to Carlito's in New Castle for what was purported to be good Mexican food, but we found it sorely lacking.

I'm sure we'll be back to visit, so I will also watch this thread with interest.


David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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My sister and her husband are both in the Air Force and based in Oklahoma City - although both presently deployed (Jordan and Brussels, respectively).  I went last December for their wedding, and had a difficult time finding much beyond chain food.  The wedding party all went to Carlito's in New Castle for what was purported to be good Mexican food, but we found it sorely lacking.

I'm sure we'll be back to visit, so I will also watch this thread with interest.

What is really beyond chain food is mom and pop shops with good food. Down from where I work there is a family owned and operated greek place that is good. Not outstanding, but good. Next to it is a place they hand make their donuts every day. As far as "fine dining" I have yet to see any at the level we are talking here, or most on EGullet would be use to.


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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There are *plenty* of places to eat in the OKC area. For mexican--Ted's Chileno's...or in Norman, Tarahumara's (google it, I can't give directions...I still get lost...lol.) If you're heading further south, Ardmore has some good places...like Two Frogs Grill---live music most weekends + great food...

Luigi's is good for Italian...

Casa Romo's is good for Mexican...

There are more but I can't remember off the top of my head. I suppose I could shamelessly plug my brother's restaurant....but it's more of a family/buffet type joint--and it's in Pauls Valley.

Ya'll won't starve down here, I promise.


Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

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Are any of you familiar with the folks over at www.eataroundokc.com? They don't have that many reviews, but more than any other site I have seen, and it looks like they get quite a bit of feedback from their readers.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I have never been to the iron star, but I have been to jamils and it is good. Now, I will agree with them on the cheesecake factory. The red moon I think has closed and a spot for tea I never been to, way too "girly" for me. (why does tea equal women in big hats?)

but that is just my humble opinion


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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There are *plenty* of places to eat in the OKC area. For mexican--Ted's Chileno's...or in Norman, Tarahumara's (google it, I can't give directions...I still get lost...lol.) If you're heading further south, Ardmore has some good places...like Two Frogs Grill---live music most weekends + great food...

Luigi's is good for Italian...

Casa Romo's is good for Mexican...

There are more but I can't remember off the top of my head. I suppose I could shamelessly plug my brother's restaurant....but it's more of a family/buffet type joint--and it's in Pauls Valley.

Ya'll won't starve down here, I promise.

OK, I'm flying out today, and I need a check on Ted's Chileno's -- the only "Ted's" I can find via Google is "Ted's Café Escondido." Is this the place, or is it any good? It's a chain, I guess, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad... Any other hits for great little Mexican places? My Spanish is weak, but I can probably get by OK if necessary. Low class, high class, and anything in between? I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! :smile:

ETA: Aha! I get it, the suggestions was for "Ted's" or "Chilenos". Doh! But where the heck is Chilenos? And what about Tacos San Pedro? I read a glowing review elsewhere.


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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There are *plenty* of places to eat in the OKC area. For mexican--Ted's Chileno's...or in Norman, Tarahumara's (google it, I can't give directions...I still get lost...lol.) If you're heading further south, Ardmore has some good places...like Two Frogs Grill---live music most weekends + great food...

Luigi's is good for Italian...

Casa Romo's is good for Mexican...

There are more but I can't remember off the top of my head. I suppose I could shamelessly plug my brother's restaurant....but it's more of a family/buffet type joint--and it's in Pauls Valley.

Ya'll won't starve down here, I promise.

OK, I'm flying out today, and I need a check on Ted's Chileno's -- the only "Ted's" I can find via Google is "Ted's Café Escondido." Is this the place, or is it any good? It's a chain, I guess, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad... Any other hits for great little Mexican places? My Spanish is weak, but I can probably get by OK if necessary. Low class, high class, and anything in between? I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! :smile:

ETA: Aha! I get it, the suggestions was for "Ted's" or "Chilenos". Doh! But where the heck is Chilenos? And what about Tacos San Pedro? I read a glowing review elsewhere.

Chilenos is on the menu at Teds. The only Tacos San Pedro I know of is in Tulsa.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Chilenos is on the menu at Teds.  The only Tacos San Pedro I know of is in Tulsa.

Doh! OK, no wonder I couldn't find a place called Chilenos! I heard about Tacos San Pedro over here.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Having just spent a little over a full week in the Norman/OKC area I had the opportunity to sample a fairly large number of local restaurants. My explorations were generally concentrated in the Norman region, though I did venture into OKC for a few meals. I include the addresses of the particular places I went since even chains sometimes differ depending on the location you end up at. Bear in mind that I am a sucker for BBQ and Mexican, so my opinion may be a little more positive overall towards those places. Also, with the exception of the first place, which I have visited in many cities many times, I only visited each of these places once, so they could have been having a good or bad day when I was there. I will add updates later in this topic as I continue to visit and hone my impressions.

On the Border (National chain, www.ontheborder.com, 3000 William Pereira, Norman) A fairly nice Mexican-styled national chain, OTB's food is better than you might expect. In particular I like their fish tacos, and they have good margaritas. I have been to this place (in other locations) a number of times and consider it a good, safe choice. They have locations across the country.

Ted's Café Escondido (Local chain, 700 N Interstate Dr, Norman) Ted's is an OKC-area chain "Okla-Mex" place. The food was OK, and the service was very good. I found the margarita too sweet, but our server offered to add more lime juice to it, which helped a lot. The chile relleno was tasty, but over-sauced.

La Baguette (Local chain, www.labaguette.com, 1130 Rambling Oaks Dr #100, Norman). A local chain with three locations, La Baguette is a kind of odd place. When we walked through the door at 8:30 a.m. on a weekday it was deserted. Completely empty. That never bodes well. We were at one of the newer locations, which had a display case for the pastries next to a full-service bar (which I assume opens later in the day...). It was laid out like a sit-down breakfast place, but apparently is not, at least, not really. They have a few "menu items" that they display on a board that was not present when we came in, though the woman behind the counter put it out when we asked. At any rate, the food was acceptable, but this is clearly a chain having trouble making the transition from a single location. They probably need to stick to their core competencies of producing good pastries, and ditch the rest of the "concept." Of course, I've only been there once so far, so hopefully things will improve on future visits.

Johnny Carino's (National chain, www.johnnycarinos.com, 970 Ed Noble Dr., Norman) Generic, low-end chain Italian-American. The food was OK but uninspired: go to Olive Garden if this is what you are looking for.

BJ's (Regional chain, www.bjsbrewhouse.com, 330 Ed Noble Pkwy., Norman) Much more interesting than I was expecting, BJ's was going for the microbrewery/sports bar look and feel. They may have carried that a bit too far, but they have a large, varied menu and the few things my wife and I tried were all quite good, and reasonably priced.

Abuelo's (National chain, www.abuelos.com, 17 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City (Bricktown)) OK chain Mexican in Bricktown. Nice building with good service, but the food was as generic as it gets. I ordered some sort of combo platter, all of which sort of blends together in my mind. If you're in Bricktown I'm sure you could do worse, but you could probably do better, too.

Tarahumara's (One off, 702 N Porter Ave, Norman) In stark contrast to Abuelo's, Tarahumara's was a terrific Mexican (or perhaps "Okla-Mex") restaurant. I tried the carne asada taco which was basically perfect, a delicious quesadilla, and a chile relleno that was far better than the one I had at Ted's. The portions were generous, the prices low, the service good, and the place was packed at 2 p.m. on Friday when we were there. If you are ever in Norman, go here.

Iron Starr (One off, www.ironstarrbbq.com, 3700 N Shartel Ave, Oklahoma City) Billing themselves as "Urban Barbeque" I was expecting something a bit more upscale, though I suppose that compared to a normal BBQ joint this place is upscale. I had reservations for 7 p.m. and was seated as soon as I showed up at about 6:55 p.m. As seems to be a trend in OK, our server was friendly and attentive, and happy to give recommendations. He recommended the BBQ chicken, and while I virtually never order chicken out, I decided to go with it. I also got, at our server's recommendation, the mac'n'cheese and the "dutch oven" sweet potatoes. All were good, but nothing was phenomenal. The cornbread, on the other had, was terrific. For dessert we had the chocolate bread pudding and the peach crisp, both of which were quite good. Next time I'll give the ribs a shot.

The Wedge (One off, 4709 N. Western, Oklahoma City) We drove past this place in NW OKC while scouting the area for grocery stores and markets. A sort of upscale pizza place with a big wood-fired oven in the minimal kitchen, we started with "The Wedge Trio," a platter of hummus, artichoke dip, and tapenade, served with freshly-baked flatbread. The tapenade was very coarse so was a bit messy, but all three were very good. For our pizza we ordered the "Napoli," a combination of Asiago, walnuts, and pancetta. The pizza was delicious: the saltiness of the Asiago and pancetta perfectly set off the sweetness of the lightly-candied walnuts, and the sauce had a good bit of spiciness to it that worked very well. The crowd was weird, but it was about 3pm Saturday afternoon, so maybe at a more normal mealtime there are fewer children running around. It doesn't really seem like the kind of place to bring a gaggle of kids.

Rudy's BBQ (Regional chain, www.rudys.com, 3450 Chautauqua, Norman) This place didn't look promising at first: the one we went to (in Norman) was attached to a gas station, and looked like a generic chain place on the outside. But it smelled like smoke, so we went in anyway, and good thing we did. The barbecue here was very good: well-balanced flavors, good level of salt, good variety and all of it well done. I sampled the brisket, turkey, pork tenderloin and the sausage, and ended up ordering a half pound of the brisket (everything is sold by the pound here) as well as some creamed corn. The brisket is among the best I have had: very tender and juicy, lots of smoke flavor, just the right amount of salt, and nothing getting in the way of a great beef flavor. The creamed corn was also very good, and again the prices were great, including under $2 for bottled beer.

The Deep Fork Grill (One-off, www.deepforkgrill.com, 5418 N. Western, Oklahoma City) DFG bills themselves as a bit higher-end than any of the above restaurants, so we decided to give it a try. It was a Sunday night, Mother's Day, at 8pm, and not many places are open Sunday nights here, so I was surprised to find it only about half full, with an odd crowd. We were not given a wine list and I wasn't interested in wine anyway, so I can't comment on that, though we have heard their wine selection is good. I ordered a Manhattan, but the bartender was apparently either on break or pissed off at our server, because it took nearly 15 minutes to arrive and when it did was poorly strained and ungarnished... we were off to an inauspicious start. While we were waiting for our drinks we placed our order: a cheese and fruit tray to start, and I ordered the duck breast and my wife the sole. My wife also ordered another glass of wine, which was delivered promptly this time, and the server grabbed the original glass and dumped the remainder of it into the new glass, which was now very, very full. Apparently they have some training/management issues here... Well, that fruit and cheese tray never appeared, but our entrees eventually came out, and the duck was quite good. Well seasoned, well cooked, and with at least some bits of crispy skin. The mashed potatoes were pretty good and the grilled vegetables were tasty if a bit bland. My wife reports that the sole was also quite good. When we alerted our server that our appetizer had never come out at first she didn't even remember our ordering it, though eventually it dawned on her that she had forgotten to enter it. She apologized profusely and promised to "bring us something special" for dessert. Apparently, "special" here meant homemade ice cream with a little bit of chocolate and caramel sauce drizzled on top. The ice cream was icy and uninspiring, and to add insult to injury when delivered our server announced that it was "way better than any cheese tray." Hah! Must be a pretty bad cheese tray! I love cheese and am at most lukewarm on ice cream, so this was perhaps not an intelligent remark on her part. I requested a dessert menu and noticed a rather large Scotch selection including some I had never had, so I ordered a "Macallan Cask Strength with a splash of water." In retrospect this was a mistake: I generally order Scotch with a splash, and assume that the inclusion of the splash implies "neat." Apparently, that is not the case, because I got a glass completely full of ice. I hate ice in my Scotch, so I sent it back: I didn't specify, but they didn't ask, so I felt justified. Overall, the food was pretty good, though not exceptional, and the service was terrible. We did notice other tables being served significantly more promptly than ours was, so we are inclined to give them another chance, provided we don't wind up with the same server. She seemed kind and well-intentioned, she was simply poorly trained and not particularly competent.

The Mont (One-off, www.themont.com, 1300 Classen, Norman) I think every college campus has one of these: the mid-scale bar/burger place just off campus with outdoor seating and not enough parking. In Norman, The Mont is that place. We went after the University let out for the summer, so it was actually very pleasant. We sat outside on a perfect day and enjoyed a competent but not brilliant meal. I had the daily special, beef tamales, which were pretty tasty. We also ordered the queso, which was generic, but not bad. The salsa was surprisingly good, clearly made in-house. Service was good and prices were relatively cheap. During the "off-season" this seems to be a pretty good place to grab lunch if you can nab a table outside. It has consistently been voted the number one restaurant in Norman, which is complete BS, but it's not bad either.

Cheever's Café (One-off, ww.cheeverscafe.com, 2409 N Hudson Ave, Oklahoma City) Owned by The Good Egg Group, who also own Iron Starr BBQ and Red Primesteak, Cheever's is an upscale "business casual" restaraunt located in what was once a flower shop: the cooler in the middle has been converted to wine storage, and the whole place has a neat vibe to it, especially after dark. We ordered the lobster cakes to start, and then I had the seafood tamales as my main course. Both were good, though the lobster cakes didn't really have a lobster flavor to them, so I felt they might have been a bit overpriced and could have just as well been crabcakes or even fishcakes and not lost anything in flavor. The tamale was very good and everything on the plate worked together quite well. For dessert I ordered the huckleberry parfait, which was very good, and my wife ordered the peach shortcake, which she liked. I will definitely eat here again.

The Diner (One-off, 213 E Main St, Norman) We ate breakfast one morning at a place in downtown Norman called "The Diner." True to form, almost everyone inside was a regular, everyone was chatty, the food was served fast and fresh, and was your basic Southwest US diner fare. I had the Huevos Rancheros, which were good, definitely worth trying again, and my wife had biscuits and gravy, which were OK (nowhere near as good as the Down Home Diner in the Reading Terminal Market, but you can't have everything...). The Diner in Norman is far better than its equivalent in State College, PA, so if you're in Norman for breakfast some time, skip the chains and hit the Diner instead.

Bella Vista (One-off, 5801 S. Western) I tried this place on the enthusiastic recommendation of the folks over at www.eataroundokc.com: apparently, we have differing opinions on restaurants, because I really can't recommend the place. It is a prototypical Italian-American restaurant complete with gigantic portions, and oversauced and overcooked pasta. The sauce was decent, though on the sweet side for my tastes, but certainly nothing to write home about. The meatballs were tasty, but I prefer them to have a bit more tooth. The service was good and friendly, but since we were literally the only people in the restaurant that was not surprising. It is possible that some of the other items hold more promise: I suspect the lasagna is good, for example, but I doubt that I will be back.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Alas, Molly Murphy's was before my time here...

Last night my wife and I had dinner in Norman at:

Legends (One-off, www.legendsrestaurant.com,1313 W Lindsey St, Norman) Self-described as "a stunning, intimate, casually up-scale family-owned restaurant" Legends in neither stunning nor intimate nor upscale, though I suppose the prices were both stunning and "upscale." The menu was wholly uninspired, overpriced, and kind of odd for a place trying to position itself at the upper end of Norman dining. Admittedly, "Upscale Norman Dining" is something of an oxymoron and they do indeed slot in near the top here in town, but a quick drive to OKC will yield a far better meal, and a far better value, even at current gas prices! None of the food was bad, per se, but none of it was good either. The service, however, was something slightly less than "mediocre"... we didn't even get the spiel about the daily specials, and the wine list was... lacking, shall we say. Beer selection was OK, so I wound up drinking Chimay Blue. Our "Caesar" salads were delivered first, despite ordering an appetizer, but OK... they were as you might expect at a Red Lobster or some such. We could have chosen the salad bar, but at a supposedly "upscale" restaurant the idea of a salad bar just seemed strange. After the salads our appetizer arrived: my wife and I had the artichoke dip appetizer (appetizers here are meant to be shared): far too acidic, and I like acid in my food. You couldn't taste the artichoke, it was overwhelmed. For my main course I had the Veal Picatta. Not good, not bad, just... mediocre. The highlight of the meal was dessert: I had a glass of Lagavulin 16yr, which is a great single-malt Scotch which they did not screw up. No way was I going anywhere near the diner-style desserts they had behind the counter when we walked in. The final verdict: this restaurant is intended for undergraduates on Valentines day when having an impressive price tag is more important than having an impressive meal.

(Edited to expand on details.)


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I see from the website that Legend's has an apostrophe in its name. One of my cardinal rules for choosing restaurants is to never eat at one that has an apostrophe that doesn't make sense(i.e., Shenanigan's, Rumor's, Mustard's). I just assume that any restaurant owner whose judgment is poor enough to give a restaurant this type of name will use similarly errant judgment in selecting menu items, staff and wine. This rule is somewhat arbitrary and certainly not foolproof, but I have my standards and I'm sticking to them.

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Here are a few more I've tried in recent weeks:

Flip's Wine Bar and Trattoria (one-off, www.flipswinebar.com, 5801 N Western Ave, Oklahoma City, OK)
We heard about this place at my local liquor store when I was looking for weird liqueurs, so were hoping to discover a cocktail scene like Chick's in Philly. Well, we struck out there, although the place did have a nice selection of wines by the glass, and an extensive beer list (though that is pretty common in these parts, it seems). The food is your standard Red Sauce Italian fare: uninspired and unimaginative, but also inexpensive and not poorly prepared. I had the Spaghetti with Meatballs (my litmus test for this type of place) and it was competent, though the pasta was just slightly past al dente. The sauce tasted overly of tomato paste, to the point that I think it was probably a mistake and was in fact accidentally overcooked. We also had a completely worthless cheese and fruit plate as an appetizer. I should have known better based on the poor cheese selection: stay away from this option. This may all sound negative, but nevertheless, I am inclined to give them another shot, maybe on a slower night when we can sit at the bar and I can chat about cocktail options.

Van's Pig Stand Route 77 BBQ (local chain, www.pigstands.com, 320 N Porter Ave, Norman, OK‎)
Van's is a small local chain---I ate at the original location here in Norman. Let me preface this review by stating my BBQ preference: smoke, and lots of it. Van's BBQ is competent, but nothing really special. In particular, it just does not have enough smokiness to satisfy my craving. The meat was good, it was properly cooked, and it was basically well-seasoned, but it did not have a lot of smoke flavor evident. I'm sure its heresy in these parts, but I much prefer the BBQ at Rudy's, a larger regional chain. I'm not saying Van's is bad by any means, and if you prefer a lighter smoke flavor you will do well here, but if you're like me and you like it to taste like a bite out of a smoldering hickory tree, this ain't it.

Pho Lan Vietnamese Noodle Cafe (one-off, 1615 S Service Rd, Moore, OK)
Pho Lan is a new (as of November 2008) Pho restaurant in a small shopping strip near the Lowe's in Moore. I like Pho, but I am by no means an expert in its subtleties, nor have I eaten it at too many places, so take this review with a grain of salt if you are an aficionado. We started out with a sampler platter of their various rolls (spring roll, shrimp summer roll, grilled pork roll and BBQ pork summer roll). These were your standard strip-mall-Vietnamese fare: tasty, inexpensive, inoffensive. I'm a sucker for things deep-fried, so my preference was for the BBQ Pork Crispy Summer Roll, though as far as I am concerned, anything dipped in that peanut sauce would taste good. For Pho I had noodles with Eye of Round and Brisket. The thing that struck me the most about this Pho was how tasty the broth was: it was really good. The meat was mostly flavorless, unfortunately: next time I may just get the vegetarian version and skip the meat, which seemed unnecessary. I like to add a lot of bean sprouts and Thai basil to mine, and a generous amount of lime juice, all of which were of course provided. This place is a keeper for a good, quick, and cheap lunch in the Moore area.

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine (one-off, 211 W Main St, Norman, OK‎)
I'm told this is the best Thai food in Norman: not that I can find any other Thai in Norman, mind you... When I first entered Sweet Basil I was a little surprised by the atmosphere: it was very clean, and very quiet. The tables are spaced far apart, the booths have high backs, and the place is tastefully decorated and overall quite nice. Not a bad place for a date, especially since it's also relatively inexpensive. I have tried the Larb and a couple of the curries, and would recommend both (provided you like Larb and Thai curry...). The curries tend to all taste about the same, with a pretty heavy note of coconut milk, followed by curry spices, followed by whatever else is in the one you selected: sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and very thin, almost soup-like. I've also tried a few of their appetizers, but nothing jumps out at me as a "must try" there. It is a pretty extensive menu, and you can order various spice levels in most of the dishes. I like spicy food but not to the point of excruciating pain, so I tend to get "level 4" (of 5). I have not braved level 5 yet, so I don't know how spicy it really gets. All told, this is a nice place to have a tasty meal and conversation. They have no liquor license, though, so keep that in mind. It keeps the bill from getting too high, but I would have loved a beer to wash down that curry. Oh well. I gotta tell you, though, the Frank Sinatra in the background is a little disconcerting in a Thai restaurant...

Patsy's Fine Italian Dining (one-off, 1424 W Lindsey St, Norman, OK‎)
This place is a little hard to find because the sign at the street says "Patsy's" in huge but thin letters, and "Italian Dining" in legalese-sized font at the bottom. To top it off, the building itself has no signs at all, and is adjacent to a club, which does, so it can be hard to tell if you are going in the right place. Once you make it in, the place is pretty small: they have a board with the day's specials on it just inside, and you seat yourself. The main menu is a vast listing of standard red-sauce Italian joint fare, but is accompanied by an impressive seafood list. I have not dug into that yet, but will report back. On our waitress's recommendation I ordered the spaghetti with red clam sauce, which was indeed quite tasty, and the pasta was actually cooked properly al dente, which was a bit surprising considering the bad luck I've had in OK in this regard. The garlic bread, and indeed the bread in general, was awful: just ignore it, you'll regret trying it. I also tried the fried olives, which were actually more like cheese curds with canned black olives embedded. Canned black olives have no flavor. What is the point? So, they were cheese curds: there are worse foods in the world. I will definitely give this place another shot, and might even brave the seafood menu next time.

And a couple updates on ones I've already posted about above:

Tarahumara's
This place gets very busy when the students are in town: the food is good, but not really worth the wait. Go in the off-season: when students are around, go to Ted's instead.

Rudy's BBQ
I'm sure there is some kind of law that you're not allowed to like chain BBQ, but I really like Rudy's. There are several around: if you haven't tried one and like BBQ, give it a shot. I have not had a bad meal there yet (though the sausage is only OK, IMO).

Ted's Café Escondido
We gave them a second chance. And a third. And a fourth. And a... you get the idea. Ted's grew on me. One key is to ask for the green salsa (mega-hot) and mix a little into the cheese sauce: it's a huge improvement. Second: get the cheap margarita, it tastes better than the "top shelf" models.

The Wedge
This place is just great. The pizza toppings are a bit off the normal Midwest-USA beaten-path, and are all high quality and very tasty. And for the love of god get the Wedge Trio appetizer. Their tapenade is excellent, and the hummus is quite good as well, all served with a flatbread fresh out of the pizza oven.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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well...in a week I'll be at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK for a few months. any updates to the above (for Oklahoma City) and anything in Lawton?

TIA

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