by Peter White
In 1999 I took a job as a waiter at a fine dining establishment in downtown Tulsa. Looking back at that time, I’m pretty sure it was the only eating establishment downtown. Then again, I was a native of the suburbs and a student at ORU. So what did I know about downtown?
Now it seems restaurants have spawned like Gremlins in a swimming pool. They’re all over the place. So if you’re looking for something good, where do you even start? The options are nearly limitless.
Whether you’re a new transplant to the city, a new college student in the area, or a suburbanite who has heard tales of these mythical places called “Blue Dome District” and “Brady Arts District,” we’re here to help. Here are the first 7 things to eat in downtown Tulsa, in absolutely no particular order.
Tavern Burger, The Tavern
Available at both lunch and dinner, its got Stilton cheese, mushroom cognac cream all on a perfect challah bun. At $13, it’s worth every penny, and in a city known for burgers, you really need to start here. Bonus: After 9 pm, all the burgers are half price. You can find The Tavern on the corner of Main and Brady, the cornerstone of the Brady Arts District.
Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, Fat Guys Burger Bar
Speaking of burgers, if you want to watch the game, or grab a bite before the game, this is where you go. Yeah, this sounds a little… unusual. But it’s awesome. The peanut butter melts over the patty like a thick sauce. It’s $7. Bonus: Order it Thai style, and it comes with a slice of pineapple, Thai chili and hot peppers and be prepared to sweat. Fat Guys is on Greenwood just south of OSU-Tulsa, adjacent to the left field entrance to ONEOK Field.
Kimchi fries, Lone Wolf (food truck)
For something truly unique, track down this food truck. You’ll know you’ve found it when you see the line wrapped around the block. But no worries, it moves quickly. What’s “kimchi,” you ask? Well, think spicy and sour cabbage. It’s staple Korean food. Here, it’s on a bed of fries along with your choice of additional toppings, like pork, candied bacon, or a fried egg. Lone Wolf is a standard at Guthrie Green Food Truck Wednesdays. Follow them on Twitter for other lunch and dinner spots around downtown.
Hot Mess, Yokozuna
If sushi is your craving, then Yokozuna is your place. You certainly can’t go wrong with classic tuna or salmon, but then there’s the “Hot Mess.” This is spicy tuna and imitation crab with chipotle cream cheese and jalapeño rolled in Ichimi pepper and sriracha. Just the right amount of kick. It’s $14 or $8 during happy hour. Sushi happy hour is 3-6 pm. Yokozuna is on the corner of 2nd Street and Detroit in the Blue Dome District.
The Oklahoman, Joe Momma’s
And then there’s pizza downtown. Among their specialty pies, you’ll find some of the most unique combinations around, like “Betty White” and “The Golden Driller.” For me, I have to go with the BBQ pork sandwich turned into a pizza, “The Oklahoman.” This is BBQ sauce, marinated pulled pork, hot link, red onion, and cheddar cheese baked to perfection in a woodfire stove right there in front of you. This is $13 for a small, $17 medium, and $21 large. Joe Momma’s is on Elgin between 1st and 2nd Streets in Blue Dome.
Puffy tacos, Elote
Sure, you can judge most Mexican places by there chips and salsa. But where else can you find a luchador ring in the bar? You won’t find a Mexican place quite like this. Elote sources most of their ingredients from local farms. The puffy tacos are the standard here. You get two puffy flour tortillas with a variety of toppings along with two sides. I recommend the sweet potatoes and the elote (Spanish for corn). These are $9 for the veggie or chicken and $10 for beef or pork. You’ll find Elote on Boston Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets in the Art Deco District.
Daily soup, Foolish Things Coffee Company
Or perhaps you need a light lunch. Look no further than this cozy coffeeshop and cafe. In addition to fantastic coffee, they offer a variety of sandwiches and salads, but the best is their soups. One day it’s a rosemary potato soup. Another it’s a chicken chili. Or a hearty chicken and noodle. Whatever the soup of the day is, it’s great, and it’s served with a couple slices of toasted made-in-house bread. Foolish Things is located on historic Route 66 just across the street from the Metro TCC campus on 10th St.
So there we go. The first 7 things you should eat in downtown Tulsa. What are the next 7? Well, you tell us.
Peter White is both a Tulsa native and transplant, having moved away for 9 years and returning 6 years ago. He probably spends too much money supporting the downtown food economy. When not eating within the IDL with his wife, he can be found watching Netflix, whining about the Seattle Mariners’ pitiful offense, reading a theology book, keeping his toddlers from stealing each others’ goldfish crackers, or leading the college ministry of First Methodist. He can be followed on Twitter @thatpeterwhite.