The Best Food and Drink in Oklahoma for 2019
December 20, 2018
OK’s food is better than just OK; it’s great!
The Best Food and Drink in Oklahoma
We knew there had to be great food in Oklahoma. After all, it is where the Pioneer Woman resides. The Sooner State is home to some excellent burgers, steak, and chili, as well as a dive bar located right on historic Route 66. We’ve got Oklahoma all laid out for you on our second annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Are you one of those people who spell out “Oklahoma” like the title song of the musical? Sing the state’s praises instead after viewing our extensive slideshow featuring culinary standouts from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and many other hidden gems.
Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and brunch spot to its best bar and craft beer in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs.We're pleased to announce the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our Oklahoma gallery ahead.
Best Airport Restaurant: Tucker’s Onion Burgers (Will Rogers World Airport)
A local burger spot, Tucker’s Onion Burgers has a location inside Will Rogers World Airport where you can eat their Oklahoma-style onion burgers made with 100 percent premium Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef. Try the Mother Tucker — made with three times the beef and onions as a single onion burger and weighing over a pound — and wash it down with one of their shakes.
Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal: Cajun King (Oklahoma City)
Make sure you come to this Oklahoma City favorite extra hungry, because you’re going to want to devour everything in sight and be really sad when you become full. Why? Because it serves expertly prepared Southern and Cajun fare, like beignets, fried catfish, blackened pork chops and catfish, fried chicken, crawfish étouffée, collard greens, candied yams, gumbo, mac and cheese, frog legs, jambalaya, boudin balls, bread pudding, and other classics are all on point, and you’ll be really glad you found this place. We suggest you go on Friday, when every single item they make is up for grabs; the whole feast will only set you back 12 bucks.
Best Bar: Edna’s (Oklahoma City)
The claim to fame for Edna’s in Oklahoma City is that it’s “home of the original Lunchbox.” However, it’s not the kind of lunchbox you’re thinking of. Edna’s Lunchbox is a signature cocktail made of Coors Light, an amaretto shot, and a splash of orange juice. The food menu also includes the option to “Lunchbox up” your sweet potato fries by drizzling amaretto-infused marshmallow sauce on top and adding almonds.
Best Beer: Bomb!, Prairie Artisan Ales (Tulsa)
No brewery is more popular or well regarded in the state of Oklahoma than Prairie Artisan Ales. Its Bomb! beer is aptly named because, well, it’s the bomb. With a 13 percent ABV and dynamic notes of espresso, chocolate, vanilla and ancho chile pepper, this beer is a true explosion of flavor.
Best Brunch: Kitchen No. 234 (Oklahoma City)
Located inside one of the Oklahoma City’s most historic buildings, Kitchen No. 324 is a seasonally-inspired café that’s about as low-key as it gets. The bakers arrive daily at 4 a.m. to start making doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, danishes, croissants, cookies, and kolaches, and guests arrive starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Along with baked goods, brunch specialties also include fried green tomato Benedict, a classic French omelette with fines herbes; double-smoked pastrami and eggs, scratch-made biscuits with chorizo gravy, fried chicken pot pie, a smoked Cheddar and bacon-onion jam-topped cheeseburger, and one of the finest hand-carved French dip sandwiches on earth.
Best Burger: Nic’s Grill (Oklahoma City)
Grab a seat at the counter in the diminutive Nic’s Grill, joining the hordes of other pilgrims who line up here daily, and watch chef-owner Justin “Nic” Nicholas work his burger magic. He forms passive patties by hand and sears them on a hot griddle, and if you order yours (as encouraged) “with cheese and everything” it’ll be served with plenty of cheese, griddled onions, pickles, mustard, mayo, and ketchup on a perfectly steamed bun. If you’re looking for a slightly more elevated experience, the burgers served at Nicholas’ new Nic’s Diner and Lounge across town are also spectacular.
Best Chili: Ike’s (Tulsa)
Since 1908, Ike’s has served the best chili in Tulsa right off of Route 66. While the restaurant moved into its current location in 2014, it still has that lived-in feel with a long counter and no-frills dining room, and you still get the impression that once-regular customer Will Rogers can walk in at any minute. Their famous chili, which commands a very loyal following, is all-beef, spicy, and hearty as can be. You can order it “straight,” with spaghetti, with beans, or mixed with macaroni and cheese, and you really can’t go wrong.
Best Chinese Restaurant: Chow’s (Oklahoma City)
This modest storefront is hiding a showstopper of a Chinese restaurant, serving a pleasing mix of Americanized favorites and traditional Chinese fare. If you’re in the mood for takeout staples like General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, pepper steak, barbecue pork, and Hunan shrimp, you can depend on Chow’s renditions being fresh and flavorful, but if you venture outside of your comfort zone and sample the fried quail, salt and pepper squid, pork belly with preserved vegetables, ma po tofu, or beef stew hot pot, you’ll be amply rewarded. If you’re looking to get really adventurous, there’s pork stomach and intestines, duck feet, cold jellyfish, and tripe. It’s BYOB, so be sure you bring something along.
Best Chocolate Shop: Glacier Confection (Tulsa)
Glacier Confection makes some of the prettiest chocolates you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Each and every chocolate, from their blood orange and honey to their cookie dough-inspired confection is beautifully marbled, shiny, and oh-so-smooth. What makes this chocolatier unique is their coffeehouse, cocktail, and dessert-inspired treats.
Best Coffee Shop: Cuppies and Joe (Oklahoma City)
Cuppies and Joe gets its cute, twee name from the fact that the shop specializes in cupcakes and coffee, both of which are notoriously delicious here. Enjoy gourmet locally-sourced coffee and freshly baked cupcakes, pies, and other treats made with sweet cream butter, Ghirardelli chocolate, and Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla.
Best Cupcake: Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy (Oklahoma City)
An intricate swirling structure of frosting atop a moist, freshly baked cupcake from Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy is guaranteed to please. This bakery not only makes some of the most gourmet cupcakes around, it also sells more than 100 varieties of loose candy, making it the ultimate sweet house in Oklahoma City. As for the cupcakes, indulge in the Birthday Party — a vanilla cake with a pink almond buttercream and pastel sprinkles — for a treat that will make you feel like every day is your special day.
Best Dive Bar: Grady’s 66 Pub (Yukon)
Located on historic Route 66 in Yukon, Grady’s 66 Pub has everything you want in a dive bar and not much else. The 16-ounce bottles of Bud Light are cheap and cold, the dart boards are well-used, and there’s live music on many nights. Catch some tunes, drink some brews, and have the time of your life.
Best Doughnut: Polar Donuts (Oklahoma City)
Don’t let the hilarious names such as Strong Pimp Hands (an apple-cinnamon filled bear claw) and Camel Toes (two doughnut squares glued together with a cherry filling) put you off this great doughnut shop. It opens at 5 a.m., and it’s the best place in Oklahoma to pick up a warm, buttery doughnut for breakfast.
Best Farmers Market: Cherry St. Farmers Market (Tulsa)
Every Saturday from April through October, the Cherry Street Market comes to life. The market boasts more than 80 vendors, more than 75 percent of which are Oklahoma farmers selling produce. Visitors can enjoy live music and free health screenings, too. At the end of the season, Cherry Street hosts a special Farm to Table Dinner fundraiser with top local chefs and local growers.
Best Food Truck: Bobo’s Chicken (Oklahoma City)
The Midwest food scene is often overlooked, but there are hidden food gems parked on even the most inconspicuous street corners. Bobo’s Chicken is an Oklahoma City institution with regulars returning year after year for its famous fried chicken. Described by one Yelp reviewer as “a hidden gem among hidden gems,” what sets Bobo’s apart from the competition is that their chicken is first smoked, then fried, then drenched in honey. Make sure to tack on a side of their homemade biscuits or fries in order to really do this food truck properly.
Best Fried Chicken: Eischen’s (Okarche)
The legendary Eischen’s is renowned for two reasons: It’s been in business since 1896, making it the oldest bar in the state; and it also serves some of the most delicious fired chicken you’ll find anywhere. For 14 bucks, you’ll get a whole fried chicken, bread, sweet and dill pickles, and onions (more than enough for two people to share), and this chicken is no joke: It’s got a rich, golden, craggy crust and moist meat underneath.
Best Fudge Shop: Sweet Prairie Home (Bethany)
Sweet Prairie Home – Signature Fudge/Yelp
Sweet Prairie Home was founded by a mother and daughter team in a small shop off Route 66 in 2013 after many years spent making fudge for festivals and holiday markets. Each batch is made by hand in a water bath kettle using the highest-quality ingredients possible, with seasonal flavors including caramel apple pie, carrot cake, eggnog, gingerbread, and chocolate cherry walnut. The duo has also mastered a fudge that’s made with fructose and isomalt instead of white sugar. Because the wholesale operation is booming, the shop is only open when the team is processing orders, so if you’re planning on dropping by make sure you call ahead to make an appointment!
Best Grocery Store: Crest Fresh Market
According to its website, Crest Fresh Market is the “Home of Rock Bottom Prices,” a fact its shoppers absolutely love. A Google reviewer recently posted, “You have to go to Crest in OK. The most well stocked grocery store with the kindest staff. Unlike the other big name stores, this one still feels family oriented. They always run great specials as well.”
Best Hot Dog: Coney I-Lander (Tulsa)
This beloved Tulsa mini-chain got its start back in 1926, when Greek immigrant Christ Economou opened a small stand on West Fourth Street between South Boulder and South Cheyenne Avenues. It quickly outgrew its space and moved up to Main Street, and now there are locations all throughout the city. The small hot dogs are cooked on a griddle over low heat, and regulars take them Coney-style: smear a little mustard on a steamed bun, add the dog, and top it with a spicy, cinnamon-heavy all-beef chili sauce, some shredded American cheese, chopped onions, and a dash of paprika.
Best Hotel Restaurant: Mary Eddy’s (Oklahoma City)
Located inside the 21c Museum Hotel (which is in turn located inside a former Ford assembly plant), Mary Eddy’s showcases chef Jason Campbell’s unique take on New American cuisine. The casual restaurant is fun and communal, and the menu is full of surprises. Carbonara is kicked up with lemon broth, local chicken is served with cornbread spätzle and farmer’s cheese, pork shoulder gets a ham-style treatment with grits and red eye jus, jalapeños are stuffed with bacon cream cheese and doused with barbecue sauce, and the lunch-only pulled pork sandwich is topped with pepper jelly, mustard barbecue sauce, and pork rinds. If you want to go all-in with a group of six or more, call ahead to order a spit-roasted whole duck, prime rib, or whole suckling pig.
Best Ice Cream Stand: Andy’s Frozen Custard (Tulsa)
Andy’s Frozen Custard/Yelp
This Oklahoma custard shop has a bevy of concrete flavors made with frozen custard and tons of local ingredients. Not interested in a concrete? They also do sundaes, malts, floats, shakes, and old-fashioned sodas.
Best Irish Pub: Kilkenny's Irish Pub (Tulsa)
FoodWanderer A. / Yelp
Kilkenny’s Irish Pub is one of Tulsa's most popular hangouts. The vibe is comfortable and cozy thanks to its abundance of dark wood paneling and collection of Irish memorabilia. With great service, an expansive beer selection, and a wide variety of Irish whiskey, you can’t go wrong with this place. While there, explore the long menu of Irish and American pub staples.
Best Italian Restaurant: Stella (Oklahoma City)
This elegant OKC hotspot has been going strong since industry veteran Lori Burson first opened the doors in 2010. You’ll feel at home here whether you’re eating a pizza in shorts or osso bucco for two in your Sunday best, and nearly every table orders a pasta.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Tarahumara’s Mexican Café & Cantina (Norman)
If you’re looking for Oklahoma’s best Mexican food, drive south from Oklahoma City until you reach Norman and pull into Tarahumara’s, a charming family-owned cantina. The hearty, rustic Mexican fare here is made with high-quality ingredients from recipes that date back generations. Make sure you try the spectacular chicken mole, tamales, enchiladas suizas, super-tender pork ribs in red chile sauce, and rich chile Colorado.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Red PrimeSteak (Oklahoma City)
This upscale OKC destination is the best place in town for a nice steak, and it’s also the most expensive restaurant in the whole state. Crab cakes cost $19; steaks range from $39 (for a 10-ounce sirloin) to $55 (for a dry-aged grass-fed rib-eye); and there are plenty of “market price” items like lobster tails and fresh daily seafood.
Most Outrageous Restaurant Dish: The Hail Mary, Bread & Butter Kitchen + Bakery (Tulsa)
Bread & Butter's version of the bloody Mary is garnished with so much food that it's a dish in itself. On top of the Hail Mary, a drink large enough for two, are fried chicken bites, bacon, celery, brioche croutons, smoked provolone cheese, pepper Jack cheese, and pickles.
Most Romantic Restaurant: Cheever’s Café (Oklahoma City)
Located inside a circa-1930s flower shop and still retaining much of its original historical detail, Cheever’s Café has become a local institution since it opened in 2000. It’s famous for its creative spins on traditional Southern fare like Benton’s country ham carbonara, chicken fried steak with jalapeño cream gravy, tortilla-crusted Alaskan halibut, and local grass-fed bison strip steak, but it’s also renowned for its reputation as the most romantic restaurant in town. The brick walls and ceiling beams are exposed, large windows let in plenty of light, there’s ample outdoor seating, and of course there are white tablecloths. The brunch is also pretty spectacular.
Best Pasta Dish: Sausage Pasta, Stella (Oklahoma City)
Every guest should try the pasta at this swank Oklahoma City eatery, and the one to get is the first pasta listed on the menu, called simply “Sausage Pasta.” The sausage is homemade, and it’s served with campanelle pasta, mushrooms, red wine sauce, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Best Pizza: Empire Slice House (Oklahoma City)
This super-hip pizza spot and beer garden is a fun time through and through; it’s always a party in here, and the pizzas are made with care and precision but are also so creative as to be ingenious. Look past the silly names like Notorious PIG (bacon, pepperoni, sausage, capicola, and Canadian bacon) and The Midnight Cowboy (barbecue marinara, mozzarella, cheddar, feta, brisket, roasted poblano, red onion, and barbecue sriracha) and you’ll discover that these pies (several of which are available by the slice) are downright awesome. Make sure you try the Figgy Stardust, with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, figs, chicken, and prosciutto.
Best Restaurant for Breakfast: Hatch (Oklahoma City)
No Oklahoma restaurant does all-day breakfast quite as well as Hatch, which is open daily from 6 a.m. and serves a good mix of properly executed classics and super-creative and delicious inventions. There’s the Famous PanOKCake (bacon, local pecans, bourbon maple glaze, and mascarpone butter); house-made beignets; chicken-fried soft-boiled eggs served with Cholula ranch and smoked Cheddar hollandaise; steak and eggs Benedict with Texas goat cheese and seared tenderloin; an omelette with grilled Duroc ham, chorizo, sautéed peppers and onions, smoked Cheddar, red and green chile sauces, and cotija cheese; egg sandwiches; croissant monkey bread; biscuits and gravy; and Tex-Mex specialties. There are also lots of healthy options, so you can get your avocado toast fix here, too.
Best Sandwich: Macaroni Pony, The Mule (Oklahoma City)
“Hot melts and cold beer” is the name of the game at this super-popular OKC restaurant and bar, and as that might imply, the star of the menu is the selection of 12 “sandies.” The very first one on the menu is the one you should order: the Macaroni Pony, chipotle barbecue pulled pork, three-cheese mac and cheese, and pickles on two thick slices of toasted jalapeño cornbread. We want to shake the hand of whatever evil genius invented this one.
Best Soup: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cheever’s Café (Oklahoma City)
This popular Oklahoma City hotspot has been an upscale destination since 2000, best known for its homey Southwest-inspired fare. The chicken tortilla soup is creamy, slightly spicy, loaded with chicken, and topped with fresh-fried tortilla strips, and is hearty and immensely satisfying.
Best Sports Bar: Eskimo Joe’s (Stillwater)
Eskimo Joe’s has previously made our lists for Best College Bars and Best College Football Bars, but its dedication to all things Oklahoma State athletics makes this bar outrank its peers. Consider the Joe’s Dome expansion, and the tailgating crowds for every Oklahoma State game. The legendary house specialty, cheese fries, were featured on Food Network’s “Unwrapped.” Eskimo Joe’s T-shirts are also one of the most-collectible shirts in the country.
Best Steak for $20 or Less: Clanton’s Café (Vinita)
Clanton's, a low-key, down-home country kitchen, has been a Route 66 destination since 1927, and it’s best known for its breakfasts and legendary chicken fried steak. But its steaks aren’t to be missed, either. An eight-ounce Kansas City strip will cost you just $13.99, boneless sirloins cost $11.49 (7 ounces) or $12.99 (10 ounces), and a 16-ounce T-bone will set you back just $16.99. And, of course, all steaks are served with potato, soup or salad, vegetable, and a roll.
Best Steakhouse: Cattlemen’s Steakhouse (Oklahoma City)
Not to be confused with Cattleman’s Steakhouse down in Texas or any of the other restaurants with the same name across the country, this 105-year-old gem, located in the heart of famed Stockyards City, is Oklahoma City’s oldest continually operating restaurant. The no-frills temple to the noble steer is as popular with cowboy-hatted locals as it was with former president George H. W. Bush when he would come to town. One look at what’s on everybody’s plate — beef, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — will tell you what this place is all about, as will the giant illuminated photo of grazing cattle along the back wall. The beef here is sourced locally, aged "according to a closely guarded house secret," the website says, portioned out on premises, broiled under an intense charcoal fire, and served with natural jus. Go for the T-bone after your appetizer of lamb fries (don’t be afraid, they’re good), and finish it off with a slice of homemade pie. Now that’s a country steak dinner we can hang our hats on.
Best Taco: Green Chile Pork from Big Truck Tacos (Oklahoma City)
One of OKC’s most popular food trucks now has three trucks and a brick-and-mortar location, and it’s putting a twist on traditional Mexican street food. Get there early to avoid the lines, and take your pick from specialties including The Rancher (brisket, sautéed mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and escabeche); Okie-Wahoo (tilapia, sweet chili jicama-cabbage slaw and green onions); and Borracho Chicken (spice-rubbed beer-can chicken, spicy tomato sauce, onion, and cilantro). But if you’re only going to try one taco, make it the Green Chile Pork with slow-roasted pork, Hatch green chiles, queso fresco, onions, and cilantro. It’s a classic Southwest dish, and these guys do it right. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2019.