New Restaurants in TULSA -- eleven short yet succulent reviews
- Brian S Feb 6, 2009 08:11 AM
There have been some good new restaurants that have opened in Tulsa Oklahoma within the past year or two, and whenever I get a chance I eat in one and review it for Chowhound. But most of those reviews have got stuck as replies to other long posts, and it occurs to me that someone desperately needing dining advice -- such as the tourist driving through Tulsa who, lucky for him, phoned Stonehorse just because it was the first place to show up on a Google search on his car laptop -- won't be able to find them. So I've revised these reviews to include later visits, and gathered them here.
I think I've just eaten the best spaghetti in Tulsa. It was at Villa Ravenna, in the Farm Shopping Center, which just opened a few months ago in a space once occupied by Casa Laredo, an unmemorable Mexican joint. They must have done a thorough redecoration job; the very pleasant decor reminds me of some of the small Italian neighborhood places in Brooklyn.
The owners hail from Ravenna, which had a long and turbulent history as capital of an Ostrogothic kingdom, later fought over by Venice and the Pope, who wanted to annex it to the Papal States. Dante is buried there. Ravenna, though, is not known for its cuisine and fortunately the owners have decided to serve many of the standard dishes you'll see in most American Italian restaurants. There's a difference, though. Everything is made from scratch, everything is made to order, and it's more Italian style than American-Italian.
My two companions had spaghetti Bolognese and fettucine Alfredo. The spaghetti was good, but I don't recommend it. The other offerings are much better. The Alfredo was very good, rich and creamy. I ordered the Spaghetti Puttanesca, and that dish shone. Perfectly cooked pasta, a rich sauce, slightly acidic, redolent of capers olives and anchovies. I would have been happy to get this dish in New York.
The pastas ranged between $9 and $14. My spaghetti was $11, my friends' entrees were slightly less. Chicken entrees such as cacciatore were $17, veal etc was $19. I think it's worth the price.
6526A East 51 St (in Farm Shopping Center)
More on Spaghetti Puttanesca (including what the word means): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puttanesca
Tulsa World review: http://www.tulsaworld.com/spot/articl...
A few months ago I had lunch at Keo. It's well worth the trip. The space is sleek and airy, with 15 foot ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Upscale decor (and good service) with downscale prices. Most entrees are $9. The chef was born in Cambodia (though she grew up in Oklahoma) and most of the dishes are Thai, Vietnamese or Cambodian, though some, such as the grilled tuna with orange soy glaze, are Asian-inflected creations. Two friends and I tried the Thai Sweet Basil (larb, basically, with ground chicken and basil leaves), the Beef and Broccoli (what it sounds like) and the Tom Ka (a Thai soup, Gai Tom Ka, but with shrimp). The first two were good but ordinary, but the Tom Ka was extraordinary. Crisp sharp flavors of lemongrass, ginger and other spices swirl and blend in your mouth. It was as good as any version of that dish you'd find in New York. Fortunately that was my pick so I got to eat almost all of it.
On a later visit I had the Thai green curry, which was even better. Usually the green curries bore me, this one not. I think that the "curries", dishes with a lot of sauce, are a far better choice than the stir-fries.
3524 S Peoria Av
My one visit to Tuck Curren's new restaurant, Local Table, was a very pleasant lunch a few months ago. It was a Restaurant Week lunch, and cost only $13, but since every selection was from the regular menu (which is the same for lunch and dinner), I feel justified in a general review.
The ambiance is sleek and modern and, despite that, quite pleasant. The service was quite good. Local Table tries to showcase ingredients from Tulsa area farms, and prepare them simply and well. That's hardly a new idea but it's nice to see here in Oklahoma where there's such a bountiful supply of fresh and excellent produce. My first course was corn chowder. Not that much corn (it wasn't a good year for corn around here) but still a rich creamy soup redolent of potatoes, bacon, cream and of course corn. I wanted to copy Ishmael in "Moby Dick" who, presented with a huge bowl of excellent chowder, devoured it all and asked for a second serving... but I couldn't since another course awaited.
That was the star of the show, a filet of fresh, perfectly cooked and overall wonderful trout topped with local cherry tomatoes which had been stewed whole, and spinach sauteed in garlic. Excellent. Dessert was a chocolate mousse with whipped cream and fresh strawberries accompanying it on the plate.
A lovely meal. Even at regular prices it's a good deal. The chowder is normally $4.75 and the trout is $16.25.
Also during Restaurant Week I had lunch at Cyprus Grille, which I'd been meaning to try ever since it first opened. Okay, it's not quite a new restaurant anymore, but Tulsa World ranked it as the best new restaurant of that year. It's in a vast new hotel with a ten story atrium complete with little pools stocked with monster fish. The restaurant looks like what it is, a very upscale hotel restaurant. We had the $13 Restaurant Week menu, but all the selections were from the regular lunch menu. My first course was seared tuna with a Thai papaya salad. It looked bright and colorful but was more or less devoid of flavor. The merlot-soaked pear and mesclun salad which my friends ordered was a better bet. After that I had the flatiron steak. That's a shoulder cut but was quite flavorful, and topped with a soy-mustard sauce that was a lot like Bearnaise. There were sauteed mushrooms on the side. Even better was the fried grouper and chips. Huge chunks of fish were fried in a rich thick batter -- a bit too sweet, and it reminded me of a baignet or zeppole but it was still very good indeed. Dessert was a tiny individually-made chocolate cake exploding with chocolate syrup with fruit, whipped cream on the side and surrounded by a tiny moat of raspberry sauce. It was an excellent deal for $13, but I'm not sure I would have been happy paying the regular price of $32. Still, all in all, I left happy
It's a highly touted new Mexican place downtown. I ate there in September and was somewhat disappointed. I've been desperately seeking real Mexican moles so I was thrilled to see on the menu enchiladas with mole poblano. It was layers of chicken and tortillas, baked and served in a ramekin. There was mole poblano (made in-house of 32 ingredients, they assured me), but most of it had soaked into the rest of the casserole. I managed to find a bit of the sauce and tried it. It was more of a slurry than a sauce and it just didn't have the richness, complexity or depth that a good mole poblano should have. It did lend a flavor to the casserole, and a very nice flavor it was, but it just wasn't the flavor of mole poblano. Still, it's a nice setting. What looks like an old NYC tenement had been converted into a cheery, spacious restaurant, and there are three floors including a partially covered rooftop. Service was good, and the people I was with ordered the wet burritos and loved them. And they had a great sopapilla made with fresh peaches.
White River Fish Market
Okay it's hardly a new restaurant but when I went there late last year I found it as good as ever. In fact, I liked it better than the other time I went. The first time I had the broiled flounder ($13.40), a whole fish that looked beautiful on the plate but yielded a few juicy delicious morsels and not much else. This time I had a fried platter ($13), with catfish scallops and shrimp. They have a knack with frying and it was very good indeed. Okay, I have had fried fish done better, but I wasn't complaining as I ate every bit of the huge portion. One of my friends had the broiled salmon ($16)and it didn't look very exciting but it had a surprisingly good flavor.
You walk in, and there's a counter next to a display case of fish. You order at the counter -- basically you choose what kind of fish you want, and whether you want it broiled, grilled, or fried. You can even pick the fish you want from the showcase. Then you choose two sides. Please choose the onion rings. They are awesome. You then go pick a table in a big airy room with lots of tables... .and lots of diners, and a waitress will bring your food in short order. As you leave you might want to do what I did, which was to order a quart of gumbo ($6.50) from the retail counter on the other side of the dining room.
White River Fish Market & Restaurant
1708 N Sheridan, Tulsa
Gourmet Magazine review: http://www.whiteriverfishmarket.com/C...
White River website: http://www.whiteriverfishmarket.com
Helen of Troy
This was, I believe, on the 2007 list and I finally made it there last October. Pleasant, airy dining room. I ordered lamb kebab ($10 at lunch, $17 at dinner) with a side order of babaghanoush. The light, creamy babaghanoush, my friend's tabouli (i got a taste), the basmati rice, tzatziki sauce and pita were all quite good, and the lamb (which I didn't have high hopes for and expected to be overcooked) was instead cooked medium rare exactly as requested and was juicy, flavorful, with the flavor enhanced with a dusting of za'atar, and redolent of the grill -- in short, wonderful. Dessert was a piece of baklava, and two other pastries wrapped in phyllo dough. We ordered an extra portion and the very friendly owner, who at that hour (3 PM) was also chef, waiter and busboy, brought a double helping. It's quite a good place. The simple food, which was like that I've had in Lebanese and Palestinian restaurants in New York, is well worth the trip.
6670 S Lewis
Sometime in the late 1970s, a young man ran along the jungle trails of Laos, an assault rifle in one hand and a baby in the other, fleeing from the Pathet Lao. He crossed the Mekong by swinging on a vine (according to the Tulsa World; I've seen the Mekong there and it is wide) and ended up in Thailand. A few years later, reunited with his wife, he was in Tulsa. Now the family runs Hmong Cafe.
I just got back from lunch there. It's a bright clean dining room on 31st near Garnett. I was hoping to try Hmong food, which we don't have in New York, but the daughter (perhaps the baby in her father's arms, now grown) told me that they don't have Hmong dishes... though they do have larb, a specialty of Laos and northeast Thailand, which is pretty darn close. That's what I ordered ($8). It's a ground beef salad, a mountain of it, and blended with the beef were the sharp clear tastes of cilantro and mint. Hot pepper too; I asked for it hot. On request they gave me a homemade hot pepper sauce, which I put on the rice which came with the larb. Now that IS an authentic Hmong dish -- it's called kua txob -- and it is fiery HOT! (but really good) (Photo of kua txob http://hanca.us/pastmeetings/meetings... ) The larb was also authentic (judging from what I've had in NYC) and also really good. My friends, not as adventurous, had spring rolls (the Vietnamese dish, shrimp and vermicelli and mint wrapped in a very soft wrapper) and sesame chicken. The chicken was like Chinese takeout food, but good, and was an unbelievably enormous portion for $7.
Other menu items were borrowed from Thailand and Vietnam. They included Thai red, green and Masaman curry and Pho from Vietnam. There's also a Hmong sausage which is another choice close to Hmong cuisine. All the same price range. It was a pleasant outing -- the people working there were quite friendly.
That whole part of town is virgin territory for chow explorers. I lost count of the tiny Mexican taquerias I saw on the way back along 31st Street. One, Mariscos Costa Azul, I'm pretty sure I ate at years ago and it was quite good.
11197 E. 31st St.
Tulsa World review:
A chain restaurant with 200 entrees on the menu that serves good food? I wouldn't have believed it. Cheesecake Factory has decor lavish enough to make Trimalchio -- the nouveau rich billionaire in Petronius' Satyricon -- jealous. They have a less expensive lunch menu until 5 PM. I ordered chicken and mushrooms in a Madeira wine sauce($11 at lunch, 15 dinner), my friends ordered fish and chips ($11 lunch, 15.50 dinner) and pizza. All were quite good. My pasta was al dente, with a rich delicious sauce. My waitress told me the kitchen has six stations. If you must eat at one chain, this is it.
8711 E 71st St.
next to Woodland Hills mall
A few weeks ago one of my friends brought me three cupcakes from a new store down south on Mingo. Kupcakz. Despite the fact that they were bought the day before I ate them, they blew New York's famed and overhyped Magnolia cupcakes away. Not even in the same league. Each had a wonderful fresh cake, sometimes mixed with a creamy filling, and the icing, artfully patterned by hand was divine. Here is their menu description of what I had.
"Not a carrot in the world"
Walnut studded carrot cake with mascarpone cream cheese frosting"
Bittersweet chocolae cake with green mint buttercream"
Zesty lemon cake filled with lemon curd with lemon cream cheese"
Expensive ($2.50) but worth it.
7135 S Mingo Rd
About a month ago I had a pleasant lunch at the Daily Grill. This was the Tulsa World's pick for the best restaurant of 2008. It's not. Still, I emerged full and satisfied.
On the second floor of a spiffy new downtown hotel, Daily Grill, an outpost of a California upscale chain, is designed to look like a Hollywood conception of a New York steakhouse. Lots of (possibly faux) mahogany, high ceilings and big plate glass windows overlooking downtown (the last two being things that a cramped stuffy steakhouse like Manhattan's Palm definitely don't have). Service was very good; it's a place designed for businessmen to take their clients. The lunch menu, served till 4, has a page of $10 entrees... mostly sandwiches and pasta. My companion had one of these, a huge fried chicken sandwich, tasty and definitely good value. I had Chicken Parmigiana ($13 lunch, $15 dinner) the pounded chicken breasts well prepared and topped with yummy mozzarella, atop a bed of capellini with tomato sauce. Not a great sauce, but good. The dinner menu features aged Angus steaks (between $22 and $30), and braised short ribs ($27). Both menus offer "signature items based on time honored recipes with a Daily Grill touch", such as pot pie and meatloaf (both around $15 all day). There's a full breakfast menu too (served mornings only)
From what I saw, it's not innovative high-end cuisine like, say, Stonehorse. What it is is satisfying comfort food, well prepared, with big portions, fairly gentle prices, and elegant surroundings.
100 E 2 Street
menu at Tulsa location
Finally, some useful links:
Tulsa World list of best new restaurants of 2008
and of 2007
and here's the Chowhound post to read if you want to be up to date on Tulsa, with 160 useful replies on the Tulsa dining scene http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/553621
Added you to my 'reading list". This is as long as my biggest post (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/591055) Very impressive! Must be buckin' for a writing job. Have you talked to Cherry (although you might be aimin' for his job)?
Love larb... You might have deserved a Purple Heart for all this work, except most of it sounds so good!
Hibiscus Caribbean Bar and Grill
Hibiscus is a new Jamaican restaurant on Peoria exuberantly decorated in lollipop colors. It must be a pleasant place to be when it's crowded with happy people, but when I stopped by last Friday around 3 PM it was totally empty. We looked around and left and then the owner came out and urged us to come back. We did. Later I found out that the restaurant is closed in the afternoon and they stayed open just for us. It's a friendly place.
I used to spend hours exploring the remoter parts of Brooklyn hoping to find the best jerk chicken, and so I ignored the rest of the menu and homed in on that. Here's the deal. One-quarter chicken costs $10, half is $15 and a WHOLE chicken is $19. The owner, who had stayed open just for us, let us order a whole chicken and split it between three people. Otherwise we would have had to pay $30 for 3 quarter-chicken plates. As I said, he's a nice guy. That whole chicken came with a big plate of rice and beans plus your choice of two other sides. We got friend plantains and callaloo. The plantains were sweet and tender and came with a neat dipping sauce. The callaloo was a vegetable stew with lots of black pepper, so good I gobbled it up plain and forgot to mix it with the rice. And the chicken, the star of the show, deserved its center billing. It had been rubbed in Jamaican spices, and grilled, and the flavor was excellent. It was cut up into about 8 pieces and artfully arranged on a big plate. There were cut-up sauteed peppers over it and a sweet sauce around it. That's not traditional -- usually it's served dry -- but it tasted just fine. I'm not going to say it's better than Brooklyn but I think it could have held its own in that very Jamaican part of town.
Hibiscus Caribbean Bar and Grill
3316 S Peoria Av
Urban Tulsa review:
re: Brian S
CLAUD'S -- maybe Tulsa's best burger
That big flat kind of burger you used to see a lot of in Tulsa can be a work of art. I remember going to the 15th Street branch of Ron's when Ron Baber himself was working and watch him cook my burger with the grace of a ballerina. Then Ron retired and while Ron's is certainly thriving, the burgers just aren't the same. (they're quite good, though) I thought it was one of those Proustian taste memories that can never be recaptured. But today, happing to wander into Claud's, which I didn't used to like, I found it the same as years ago, same crowd, except the big older guy at the grill has been replaced by a big younger guy. Only five or six seats, so if you don't go at an off-hour you will stand. Easy to learn the menu; your choice: burgers and burgers. You can get french fries or cole slaw too.Ordered the biggest size they had, extra rare. Thin, juicy, flavorful, big as the plate... a burger to be admired. So Ron's crown has passed to Claud's.
Claud's Hamburgers Tulsa
3834 S Peoria Ave (right across from Weber's, why not have a root beer for dessert??)
open to 4 most days, closed Sun and Mon
If you would like to use their hamburgers as wallpaper, go to
but the one in the photo doesn't look half as good as the one I got.
LUNCH ON CHERRY STREET
There are a lot of lunch options on 15th Street just east of Peoria, and over the past several weeks I've tried three. Let's start with the best of the bunch.
Right at the corner of Peoria is a spiffy new pace decorated in soft pastels. It specializes in innovative modern dishes, most of which are available at dinner only. But there are some stellar lunch choices (available until 2:30 PM). Today I had angel hair pasta with a light yet intricate sauce that blended lemons, capers, and other things as well, with minced green herbs and red peppers adding color and flavor too. On top were several big slices of smoked salmon. The presentation, on a very long thin plate, was excellent. If a place in Manhattan served pasta like this for $12, there'd be lines out the door.
They pride themselves in having an authentic Irish atmosphere and indeed the bar, panelling and furniture, much of which was custom-made in Ireland, look the part. They have an extensive menu and a few lunch specials. I've had two, the baby back ribs with Guinness sauce and the Coolgrange chicken (chicken with an Irish whiskey sauce). Both were under $10 at lunch (until 4 PM). For both, the meat was surprisingly well grilled and flavorful, the sauce was adequate, and the side vegetables .... well, I ate them because I'd paid for them and they were healthful. Reminded me a lot of a chain like Charleston's. Still, I was satisfied... a nice filling cheap lunch with great ambiance and decor. And besides, as I said, the meat itself was great.
1413 E 15th St
At lunch, served until 2 PM, they have an $8 pasta special. It includes a lovely salad, a big plate full of good Romaine lettuce and a nice Caesar-like dressing. There's a different pasta for each day of the week. Mine was eggplant parmigiana atop spaghetti. The spaghetti had a tomato sauce that was a notch above Olive Garden. The eggplant was a bit dry, but plentiful. Still, you can't do better for $8, especially since I ate outdoors in a lovely tree-shaded arbor overlooking the street. At dinner, pastas start at $16, and I'd bet they are a whole lot better. There is also pizza available, and some of my friends love those pies.
1344 E 15th St
re: Brian S
MORE CHERRY STREET LUNCH PLACES
Sometime around the turn of the century I ate at a new restaurant with a chef I'd never heard of. A supernal lamb shank, a lovely Asian-inflected pork chop; the entrees' flair and sophistication dazzled me. I hoped to return but the restaurant went out of business. Now Matt Kelley is back. While the food really shines at dinner (which I haven't had yet), there are some wonderful lunch choices too. Fish tacos with two lovely sauces (chipotle mayo and salsa verde) , poached eggs with a spicy new take on hollandaise, both $9. It's a relaxing place to linger despite the bare decor.
Jazmo'z looks like the sort of good-time drinking place where the food is an afterthought. It isn't. The Cajun food is surprisingly good. Chicken bon ton ($11 at lunch) is a big chicken breast topped with a red creamy sauce with shrimp and crab, like a sauce Nantua. It's yummy. Simple blackened catfish had just the right mix of spices.
Sort of a P.F. Chang wannabe, though the food is quite good and different from Chang's. The Mongolian Beef ($9 at lunch) was sauteed with five-spice powder and made a worthy meal. The exterior looks like a house in a northern Chinese village, complete with tower.
As I wrote above, the Tuesday pasta dish was more or less on a par with Olive Garden. But I went on Wednesday and it seemed like a whole different kitchen. A serious lamb ragù made with onions, fresh tomatoes and fennel served atop penne... plus salad and foccacia all for $8.
Several places have good Sunday brunch. Palace Cafe offers a lovely eggs Benedict ($12) and a not-so-lovely "green eggs with ham", lots of other egg dishes too. Home fries are included but I recommend substituting french fries, they're much better. Lucky's has chicken-fried steak with eggs ($12). Kilkenny's and Jazmo'z have brunch dishes too.
re: Brian S
BEST HOT DOG IN TULSA (and a serious contender anywhere else)
If you've a hankering for hot dogs and you're thinking of flying to New York to try the best, save yourself the price of a plane ticket and head on over to 15th St. On a deserted stretch of road just west of Peoria you'll find a garden supply store called Grumpy's Garden, and if you're lucky you'll see a hot dog cart outside. Don Greer is the owner of Grumpy's, and whenever he feels like it, which isn't often, he sets up the cart, with a miniature barbecue pit beside it. The dogs are barbecued -- not grilled but barbecued, long and slow over hickory wood. That's what gives them their fantastic, unique flavor. You can get bratwurst from Siegi's Sausage, or an all-beef Polish sausage, for $3, tax included, and you can sit on wooden benches under a shade tree and enjoy. Belying his nickname, Mr Greer is quite friendly and patiently answered all my questions. You should phone before you go to see if the stand is up and running. (By the way, NYC street dogs are horrid.)
1140 E. 15th St., 582-3637
re: Brian S
GENGHIS GRILL, Cherry Street
Tulsa now has a Genghis Grill, right on 15th Street near Utica. Since this is a chain, I'll just say a few words about the Tulsa location -- such as the prices, which are evidently lower than most locations, $11 at lunch for all you can eat. It features Asian-influenced stir fries, made to order. In fact, totally selected by you, and it looks like a Top Chef competition. You're given a metal bowl holding about a pint. You go to a counter with a selection of raw meat and seafood and put it in your bowl. Then you go to a similar counter with vegetables. A third counter has lots of spices (e.g ginger powder, chili powder) which you can toss on the bowl. Then you put your bowl on a counter near the wok and get a second smaller bowl and fill it with one of a large selection of sauces (or blend them), put that bowl next to the first bowl, and call the chef. He puts them on a huge flat wok (like a Pakistani tawa) and cooks your order, which a waiter brings to your table.
I filled my bowl with shrimp and steak cubes and tossed in a few mushrooms. (Meat is a better deal than broccoli.) I put in some ginger, too much as it turns out -- best to skip the spices unless you know what you're doing. Then I filled my sauce bowl, choosing "red curry peanut" from the 14 sauces on tap. It all tasted quite good ... not like a Thai panang curry or anything else authentically Asian (and it's not supposed to be) but good nonetheless. And where else can you get unlimited good-quality shrimp cooked to order for $11?
GENGHIS GRILL, TULSA
1617 E 15 St
One bowl only is $9 before 4 PM, $10 after
Unlimited bowls are $11 before 4 and $13 after
re: Brian S
Thanks for the suggestion of Lucky's. We did dinner there last weekend and were well impressed. The pear/fig/goat cheese flatbread was inspired, a roasted corn soup was exceptionally well done, and even the chicken fried steak was impressive. Nice kitchen, good service, good wines. We'd go back.
re: Brian S
MARY'S ITALIAN TRATTORIA
Mary's looks like the sort of joint you'd find in the back streets of Brooklyn, old family photos and knickknacks on the walls and full of old guys from the neighborhood lingering over vino and spaghetti con vongole. But when I tried it several years ago, it just wasn't good enough to mention on Chowhound. Now it is. I've been there twice, and both meals were excellent. The first time, spaghetti alla puttanesca ($10)... and they made it just right. The next time, chicken cacciatore ($12.50), which was chicken fillets topped with a tomato-based sauce... not exactly how Marcella Hazan says to make it, but a very good sauce. (It was accompanied with a side of spaghetti with a different tomato sauce.) Open for dinner only, and though it might not compare with the very best of Brooklyn, it's certainly worth a trip.
1313 E 15th St (near corner of Peoria)
And as long as this post has become active again, here's a review of my new pick for BEST BARBECUE IN TULSA.
My friends offered to take me to any restaurant in Tulsa and I chose Buffalo's BBQ. I'm glad I did. It's located just east of the town center of Sperry. The town center of Sperry is a few sad-looking boarded up brick shops clustered around a misshapen brick gazebo. Must have been quite attractive way back when. It is indeed located in the parking lot of a donut shop. Owner and pitmaster Donny Teel is a great guy (I phoned before going and he put ribs aside to make sure I got some) and the contests he has won are evidently the BBQ equivalent of the World Series.
We got a whole huge rack of ribs plus 2 sides for $26 (tax included) I shared it with 3 southerners who agreed that it was just about the best ribs they'd ever tasted. (The baked beans were excellent too.) The sauce is very good but the meat was so excellent I didn't use sauce.
201 N Oklahoma 11 (which basically is the north end of Peoria Av), telephone 288-6200 http://www.buffalosbbq.com/
It's a neat easy drive along Peoria. Not always open, since he drives his trailer to BBQ contests around the country, so call ahead
MEXICAN CHOW ZONE AT 21ST AND GARNETT
If you want a burrito or some nachos there's a thousand places to go, but if you want authentic Mexican chow cooked by Mexicans for Mexicans, you might want to head to the corner of 21st and Garnett. South of there along Garnett you'll find Mexican groceries, Mexican bars, Mexican travel agents, Mexican discos, and lots of restaurants too. There's 7 Marez just south of the corner, a few taquerias and torta shops, including one inside a big grocery, and then, a block south, is Casa San Marcos. A tiny place, not much larger (or more elegant) than a Papa John's takeout pizza place...though more colorful, since the outside wall has bright and somewhat garish paintings of fish, shrimp, and other tasty critters. Definitely Mexican and with a surprisingly large menu. 12 different shrimp dishes, most $9.50, including Camarones Borrachos (drunk shrimp, cooked in wine) Camarones Costa Azul (shrimp wrapped in bacon), several fish dishes, most $9.50, including Mojarra Ranchera, a fried tilapia served with onions and peppers, and several seafood stews (between $9.50 and $11.25). Menudo ($6) on weekends. I ordered tongue in green sauce ($8.50), which is the closest thing they had to a molé, and it was good. Lots of tongue, and the green sauce had a sprightly fresh taste thanks to ground tomatillos and herbs. They serve the more standard fare, e.g. enchiladas and quesadillas but my less adventurous friends ordered it and it wasn't as good. So if you want good and unusual Mexican fare, either head to San Marcos, or try one of the other nearby places and explore new ground. (7 Marez, at 2124 S Garnett, also has an extensive menu and might be a good bet.)
Casa San Marcos
2170 S Garnett Rd
BRUNCH AT THE BRASSERIE
If you're looking for a place on Brookside to have brunch, I don't think you can do better than the Brasserie. It's a large and rather elegant space, and the brunch menu (served 11 to 4 on Sunday only) has lots of yummy-looking brunchy dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Eggs Norwegian (eggs and herbed cream with lox), sandwiches and tartes. I ordered one of the few things also on the dinner menu, Trout Amandine ($10). I expected the usual fish with a few slivered almonds sadly lurking on top. What came instead was a delight. A trout filet perched atop a mound of dark green leeks. Hidden under that was scalloped potatoes cooked with cheese. On top of the fish were a few cherry tomato halves. They had been macerated in capers, olives and lemon juice and had an intense tart flavor. All around this was a lake of rich cream sauce, like a sauce béchamel made with cream. Thankfully, not the usual trout Amadine, though there were a few almond slivers hidden among the leeks. But the best brunch entree I've had in Tulsa.
3509 S Peoria Ave
(3509 is a big building that has several stores, the Brasserie is in the back and may be best entered from a courtyard in the side street.)
re: Brian S
Good news - bad news on the Brasserie brunch. I dragged some friends along and strong-armed them into ordering the trout amadine. Sadly, it doesn't come with a cream sauce anymore. Still quite good though. The good news is that I've had two other brunch entrees, both excellent. Eggs Benedict, very well done. Beef Stroganoff ($12) was wonderful. Homemade noodles and a rich, yummy sauce that was as good as I've had. (Not that I've had Beef Stroganoff that often lately.)
SWEET LISA'S CAFE -- Great Southern chow in Northside
I'd be tempted to call Sweet Lisa an undiscovered gem. But by 4 PM it was packed. So I'll just call it a gem. This Northside newcomer has a simple menu of main dishes: pork or fish. The fish is either catfish or tilapia, and you can have it (or the pork) grilled or fried. All my friends chose the fried catfish. So did I and it was excellent. The real stars of the show, though, are the side dishes. We got candied yams, fried okra, mashed potatoes. The okra was unusually flavorful, the gravy on the potatoes was stellar, and the yams were so great we fought over them. I've heard they bake some mean desserts, but they didn't have any on Monday. Service is great; it's the owner's family. Portions are huge. I ordered three pieces of catfish, which cost $10 including 2 sides, and could barely finish it.
Sweet Lisa's Cafe
782 E. Pine St.(corner of Lansing, east of Peoria)
Tulsa World review:
TULSA'S FIRST IRANIAN RESTAURANT
Ever since I saw the wonderful Iranian film Fish Fall in Love a few years ago, I've had a jones for Persian food. But there was none in New York and none in Tulsa either... until a few weeks ago, when a new Iranian restaurant opened. It was reviewed in the Tulsa World, which didn't say a word about it being Iranian, but the names of a few dishes tipped me off. And in fact, on getting there, I discovered most of the food was indeed a sort of nondescript Mediterranean. My friends ordered a mixed platter of that for $9. Not bad, with a cabbage roll, rice, hummus, tabouli, some pressed meat from a rotisserie, but not Persian, and nothing like that movie, in which the lead character is a restaurant chef and half the movie is devoted to loving shots of plate after delicious plate coming out of her kitchen, each more scrumptious-looking than the last. The only Iranian thing they had was two kinds of khoresht (stews). I asked the very friendly proprietor of the place what she would recommend (she looked like she stepped out of that movie, by the way), and she said the khoresht gaimeh ($11). So I ordered it. It was quite good.... a soup bowl with beef, potatoes, and lentils afloat in a red gravy spiced with cumin. It came with a platter of basmati rice and a bowl of yoghurt sauce. I'm not sure it's worth the trip for the food, but maybe for the ambiance too. It was about 3:30 PM and wave after wave of Iranian teenage schoolkids came in to mix with the older Iranian customers who were there already. Yes the decor is like that of a plastic fast-food place, but I remember from long ago that north Tehran had lots of modern places like that, so yes you could pretend you were in Tehran.
ALI BABA MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
4709 E 51 St
Tulsa World review: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/articl...
a short part of that Iranian movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEDhL5...
Leave the glitzy hotels and glassy skyscrapers of downtown, cruise a few blocks down Archer -- doing just what Bob Wills did in "Take Me Back to Tulsa" when he sang "let me off at Archer and I'll walk down to Greenwood" -- walk through the old wood door of Abears, and you'll enter a different world. A room smaller than a New York studio apartment -- and that's small! -- painted white. A counter along each side with about twelve chairs. A few old guys sitting around talking. A woman with her two small children waiting for a take-out order. A very hospitable owner to welcome you.
The menu is very simple and you can see it here: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2574/4... I ordered the Shrimp & Catfish Basket, which came with fries for $9.65. I upgraded to fried okra for an extra 50¢. The okra was good, and the shrimp (3 big ones) and the catfish fillet, both fried, were exceptionally good. "Really glad you could come," the owner said as I left, "and I hope you'll be back." "As soon as I can," I replied, and meant it.
Abears on Greenwood, Tulsa
111 N Greenwood Av
closes at 5:00 PM, closed all day Sunday and Monday, closed for one week after Thanksgiving
Tasha Bell's review: http://www.tashadoestulsa.com/2009/10...
Bob Wills singing "Take Me Back to Tulsa" (version he sang in Tulsa, with Archer and Greenwood mentioned
EL SALVADOR ON SHERIDAN
I don't know quite what El Salvador looks like, but take one step inside Pupuseria y Tienda and you feel like you're there. It's a tiny place, Salvadoran flags everywhere, Spanish-language TV on the wall, Salvadoran families leisurely eating their meals. A friendly family runs the place, and the mother speaks English. I ordered pupusas ($2.50 each) -- how could I not? it's El Salvador's famous dish -- and fried plantains($7). The pupusas are stuffed cornmeal flatbreads cooked on a griddle. I'd never had them before, and this version, stuffed with chicharron, which in El Salvador, unlike elsewhere in Latin America, means fried shredded pork, was toothsome indeed. The fried plantains were sweet, and served with a sauce made out of black beans topped with a dollop of sour cream. We ate, we enjoyed, and then stepped back into Tulsa.
Pupuseria y Tienda El Salvador
13 S Sheridan Rd
Their card indicates that they are open every day but Tuesday, but I had been told they are open only on Thursday through Sunday, so you might want to call in advance. They are open until about 7 at night.
7 N. Harvard Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74115
This is a down-and-dirty review of a tulsa institution . . .
Ann's Bakery is a Tulsa institution for good reason-they make their cakes from scratch, and they aim to please their guests. I got a birthday cake recently-chocolate with Italian Creme filling. Everyone in the office raved about it-so rich, so flavorful, so moist! The icing was a true butter cream icing as opposed to one made of Crisco, as is the case with a cross-town competitor that some people think is the best. Ann's also has wonderful cookies. One of these days I'm going to try their muffins . . .
Ann's is located just north of I-244, Harvard Avenue exit (they're on the east side of Harvard, right before you get to Admiral). Parking on the north side of the building.
You've been to the rest . . . now have the best!