When people think of Oklahoma City, they may imagine Wild West scenes, dry, deserted areas and oil rigs dotting the landscape, but the city has nothing to do with that. OKC has evolved over the past few decades into a thriving metropolis with a diverse population, rich culture, and robust food scene. Yes, you read that right. Oklahoma City restaurants are booming, constantly reinventing what diners can expect to find in wheat and cattle country.
Here are some of my favorite restaurants – in no particular order – that you’ll want to seek out on your next visit to Oklahoma City.
I have dined at some of these restaurants while on an organized press trip, but as always the opinions are 100% mine.
1. Cafe Kacao
This restaurant is consistently named one of the best restaurants in Oklahoma City, and for good reason. Guests are greeted by a large street art mural that reads Alegria (or “happiness” in Spanish) on the outside wall of the restaurant. It’s the perfect introduction to the ambiance you’ll find inside.
Café Kacao serves breakfast dishes from all over Latin America, including those from Guatemala, the owner’s native country. Crowds arrive early every weekday, so if you don’t want to wait in line, be sure to arrive before 9am.
What to order at Kacao cafe
In my opinion, all good breakfasts start with coffee and Kacao Cafe has plenty of options for every palate. My personal favorites are the Café Cubano and the Orange Zest Mocha. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, there are brunch cocktails (try the Horchata Rum Latte) and beer.
As I mentioned, the dishes here have a Latin American base or twist. The main entries are listed as Mama’s recipes, or “Family Recipes”. Chilaquiles are a popular menu item, as are Desayuno Chapina traditional Guatemalan breakfast of scrambled eggs, refried black beans, feta cheese, tortillas and fried plantains.
Foodies shouldn’t miss their mango pancakes, two jumbo mango pancakes, lechera sauce, bourbon-blackberry sauce, and seasonal berries. No matter what you order, you’re sure to find a new favorite at Café Kacao.
Pro Tip: The restaurant opens at 7:00 am every day of the week; except Sundays when they open at 8am. If you can’t get there early, you can reserve a spot in line on Yelp. Otherwise, you might find yourself waiting an hour or more to be seated.
2. Restaurant Thirty-Nine
I would rarely recommend a restaurant inside a museum, but Thirty Nine Restaurant is an exception. Located inside the First Americans Museum, the dishes here focus on modern Native cuisine.
The restaurant menu is based on traditional ingredients used by 39 recognized Native American tribes in Oklahoma. Expect to find things that would be grown locally like corn, beans, and bison.
What to order at Thirty Nine Restaurant
Must-try dishes include the corn rib appetizer, with sumac butter, smoked jalapeño aioli and queso fresco; the Thirty Nine bison burger; and the popcorn creme brulee.
Pro Tip: The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Friday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, but it is closed on Monday and Tuesday. We advise you to book in advance on the restaurant’s website and to visit the museum before or after eating.
3. The Collective Food Hall
Food halls are a great option when traveling with friends or when you don’t know what you want to eat. Located in Midtown, The Collective offers nine different dining options serving everything from coffee and dessert waffles to Philly cheese steaks and poke bowls. There’s also a bar serving over 30 beers on tap, an outdoor patio, and weekly entertainment. This is one of the best places to spend a Friday or Saturday night downtown.
What to order at the catering hall
I’m a sucker for tacos so we tried the fried taco which offers a variety of toppings served inside fried taco shells. These Puerto Rican tacos will melt in your mouth and I recommend ordering a variety of flavors so you can find your new favorite. We tried the Nashville hot chicken and brisket with a side of tostones. This Puerto Rican can confirm that the flavors were the right mix of spicy and sweet, and the meat was perfectly cooked.
Pro Tip: The dining room can get crowded and seating can be scarce, especially on weekends. Find a table first, then take turns ordering. You will receive pagers that will buzz when your food is ready.
4. Black Walnut
James Beard Outstanding Chef Award semi-finalist Andrew Black runs this fine-dining restaurant in downtown OKC. Menu choices are paired with flavor profiles instead of the traditional appetizer, salad, entree, or dessert. Instead, you’ll find the menu divided into sections like fresh and light, smoky and satisfyingand sweet and salty. The cocktails have funny names like “Old Man and the Sea” or “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”. Whichever part of the menu you order from, you’re sure to find a new favorite.
What to order at Black Walnut
Everything on the menu deserves to be tasted, but we advise you to start with the goat cheese in the oven with candied peppers and candied bacon. For the main course, why not dive into the 28-day aged tomahawk with macaroni and cheese and braised root vegetables? If that’s too big for your appetite, how about a good branzino with raisin and saffron couscous? The dessert changes constantly, so if you have space, be sure to try the creation of the day.
Pro Tip: If you can’t get a reservation at Black Walnut, try Andrew Black’s other restaurant, Gray Sweater, just around the corner.
5. Saj Lebanese cuisine
I can honestly say that I have never looked for a Lebanese restaurant while traveling, but Saj’s Lebanese cuisine made me change my mind. The restaurant just opened in August and has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. Dishes are created from family recipes passed down from generation to generation, and the owners want you to feel their love through the meals they create.
What to order at Saj Lebanese cuisine
Wasn’t sure what to order but wasn’t disappointed with the chicken shawarma platter and the baba ghanoush. Other well-known Lebanese dishes can also be found here, including falafel, kafta, and tabbouleh. Be sure to finish with a slice of baklava and try the Crafted Aishtia cocktail made with Lebanese cherry liqueur and bourbon bitters.
6. Waffle Champion
Who said waffles were just for breakfast? Waffle Champion offers a variety of sweet and savory flavors sure to please any palate. This popular Midtown restaurant serves waffles of all shapes and sizes, from waffle bites to waffle sandwiches. There are even waffle fries if that’s what you’re looking for!
What to order at Waffle Champion
I’ve never said no to a sweet breakfast, so my choice is the liege waffle with caramelized pearl sugar, or the s’mores waffle with melted marshmallow, chocolate ganache and cookie crumbs graham.
If you’re looking for savory options, be sure to try the Tabasco Chicken and Honey Waffles or the Florentine with scrambled eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and goat cheese bechamel. There are also smoothies, salads, soups, breakfast tacos, and avocado toast. If you’re not a waffle fan, there are plenty of other options.
Pro Tip: This is a counter service restaurant, so order at the counter and then find a seat. We recommend a table on the terrace if the weather is nice, but make sure you have your silverware and napkins before you go out.
7. Breeders Steakhouse
If you want traditional Oklahoma City fare, you have to head to Cattlemen’s. One of the best steakhouses in the United States, this OKC staple opened in 1910 and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the state. Located in historic Stockyards City, the restaurant has served everyone from John Wayne and Reba McEntire to George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan. As my husband raised in Oklahoma says, “this is where the cattle come in the back door and come out the front door on a plate.” It’s so fresh.
What to order at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse
Everyone is sure to have a different cut of meat they prefer, but we love the restaurant’s Blue Ribbon Special “USDA Prime.” It’s not always available, but if it’s on the menu, be sure to try it. Other local specialties include fried catfish, fried okra, lamb fries (better if you don’t google this, try them), and filet mignon.
Pro Tip: If you dine at Cattlemen’s on the weekend, be sure to walk around and check out the events happening in Stockyards City. There are events year-round, from the Stockyards Stampede to a Cowboy Christmas Parade.
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