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Apr 16, 2007 08:08 AM

Home cookin' in Tulsa -- restaurants that cook better than your momma

There are lots of places in Tulsa that seem to fly under the radar. They've been around for years and they're always full but you never read about them in the paper, or see them on Chowhound. Slowly I've been trying some of them. There's one nearby named Tally's that I've passed by for years and I'm meaning to try it this week, and when I do I'll post the report here. But I've been to quite a few already, and here are the best, some of which I posted about years ago on the South board. Last year I did a post on a few other Tulsa landmarks, and those are great too!

Shiloh Diner

Shiloh Diner has been around for years, it's always full, and when I asked them if the country fried steak was cooked with lard, they looked horrified to learn that any place could cook it any other way. (Many places use vegetable oil.) It's just off the BA expressway, though it was around before the highway. 12521 E 52nd St,

Ropp's Bakery and Unrau Meat

if you want the best pies in the world (or at least pies so good you won't care if there's a better pie somewhere in Nepal or wherever) go to Ropp's. Ropp's is an Amish bakery (no electric ovens) located among the farms between Inola and Chouteau. A lot of Tulsa residents make the drive over these rural roads. so they sell out fast. I got a coconut cream pie and I was hoping to try a second piece the next day but somebody in the house ate the whole darn pie during the night!

Also in the area is an incredible source of ribeye steak and ham.The farmland east of Inola, Oklahoma is a Mennonite region, with a few Amish folk (a sect of Mennonites) thrown in. Out on old highway 33 is a farm where the family has a small business raising pigs, fed on corn (and cattle too). They kill the pigs and smoke the ham. We had one for Easter. It was perhaps the best ham I've ever eaten (not counting Smithfield, which is totally different). The name of the business is Unrau Meat. (918) 543-8245
Ropp's Farm & Bakery. (918) 476-8777. 9768 S 429, Chouteau, OK It's right near highway 412.


Food so good you'll jump up and slap yourself, as they say around here. It's a tiny place with seven tables and the owner comes over, sits with you, talks as long as you like. Then he takes your order. It's a long wait since everything is cooked to order. Worth the wait. I got fried pork chop and fried catfish. It looked boring when it came but in taste it was anything but. The pork chop was succulent and juicy and the thick crusty batter added to the flavor. Ditto for the catfish, though the batter was entirely different. The sides -- I got blackeyed peas with okra and green beans cooked in bacon -- were excellent too, as was the homemade pecan pie that topped off the meal.

"It's just like my grandma used to make!" exclaimed one lady I was with. "I'm in heaven!" She was from Georgia and that was about the highest compliment she could give.

Joyner's Home Cooked Food Restaurant
8151 E 21 St
open ONLY Thurs through Sun

Runt's BBQ

We had to eat dinner in Muskogeeone evening and the place we wanted to go to was full so we ended up at Runt's Bar-B-Q on the corner of 30th and W Okmulgee. It was a big old place, wood paneled walls with assorted dead animals (deer heads and fox skins) on the walls. The ribs were excellent -- better than any in Tulsa or (it goes without saying) NYC -- and the catfish was good too. They've opened a second branch (franchise, different owner) in Broken Arrow at 333 W. Albany which we might try someday soon.

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  1. Brian, thanks for the list! My folks live in SE Kansas and often go to Bartlesville for dinner/brunch, etc. Any suggestions a bit further North of Tulsa? They have been to the Frank Lloyd Wright place, Dink's, ....any other ideas b/w Tulsa and B'Ville? Thank you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: stellamystar

      The Inn at Jarrett Farm is beautifully situated on a hilltop halfway between the two.
      Also check out my recs on new restaurants in Tulsa

    2. Brian, I haven't been to Talley's in awhile, it was a reliable diner breakfast as I recall, but if we arein that part of Tulsa anywhere NEAR breakfast, we go to the Blue Dome Diner on 2nd. Try to stay in the front, the back is also a club and can have a lingering stale-smoke smell, but the front is non-smoking (there are glass doors inbetween).

      1. Just got back from Tally's Cafe. There's a big sign just outside that says "good food!" -- and that's just what you get. Good, in fact very very good, and though it might be slightly better at Shiloh I didnt care. I ordered a huge chicken-fried steak, two sunny side up eggs, home fries, biscuits and gravy -- all of which cost $6.55 -- and then I paid extra for a stack of huge pancakes. The gravy came in a big bowl on the side. Is it for the steak, I asked the waitress. "It's for whatever you want," she replied "And when you finish it just holler and I'll bring you another bowl." In short, a friendly place. And cheap too! We fed seven huge eaters for $60 (including a great app of fried mushrooms) including tax.

        Tally's Cafe
        1102 S Yale (corner of 11th)

        1. Just got back from Runt's Broken Arrow branch, right near the Elm Place exit of the BA Expressway, near the world-famous Bass Pro Shop. Vaguely movie-theaterish decor -- where's the movie? I asked -- I prefer the dead animals of Muskogee. And I think I like the ribs better in Muskogee too. But these were pretty darn good, maybe the best in Tulsa, certainly a contender. I think ribs are the star of the show. I wouldnt order anything else. They have all you can eat ribs on Thursday, and one of my companions plans to tell her husband to go there tomorrow (Thurs.). .

          1 Reply
          1. re: Brian S

            Thanks for this, Brian S; in Tulsa for the week, we had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bass Pro and I remembered your Runt's suggestion. I agree with what you said about the decor here vs. the decor in Muskogee but like you we liked the ribs very much, and also thought the brisket was very good as well as the sides we tried (beans, brown beans, slaw).