James E. McNellie's Public House: Tulsa's Top Pub Grub
Who can fail to love a pub that has nearly 60 beers on tap, offers a full menu, and celebrates things like the UK Summer Bank Holiday with Sam Smith Winter Welcome Bottles for $3.50?
Housed in a renovated brick building in downtown Tulsa's Blue Dome District, McNellie's two floors of exposed walls, high beamed ceilings, and seating for up to about 200 create an inviting place to celebrate the finish of that latest project with a round of Murphy's Amber or enjoy a late night conversation over a platter of Sweet Potato Fries and a Red Stripe. In addition to the beer on tap, McNellie's also offers 180+ bottled beer selections, hailing from Australia to Zimbabwe, as well as beer flights, beer mixes, and a wine and beverage list.
But drinking isn't McNellie's only draw. Its full menu of fresh, well-prepared foods includes appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches (try the "Take Me Back to Tulsa Club"), thick, juicy burgers, entrees like fish n' chips and boneless pork loin chops, and special daily desserts. Live music, often of the Irish variety, is featured every Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and every Wednesday, from 5pm to 10pm, is the very popular $3.00 burger night. McNellie's also offers rooms for private parties.
Favorite Dish: I really like those Sweet Potato Fries!
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
In The Raw (on the hill location): A Commanding View for Demanding Sushi Lovers
Even if sushi isn't at the top of your favorite foods list, In The Raw is worth visiting due to its location alone. If you are a sushi lover, you will be doubly delighted since the quality of the food rivals the locale.
Set atop "Shadow Mountain" - one of Tulsa's highest hills - In The Raw provides diners with a commanding view of the city from its picture windows and large deck. Looking to the northwest, you are rewarded with a panorama of the city's lush green neighborhoods, the distant downtown skyline and memorable sunsets.
The seafood is flown in daily and is the freshest available. The menu is extensive, offering numerous varieties of nigiri-zushi, makizushi, sashimi, vegetarian rolls, spicy rolls, and imaginative combinations. Tempura dishes, rice and noodle bowls, and salads are also available. There are a few even less exotic items for the cautious members of your dining party. In The Raw has a well stocked bar, with a large selection of hot and cold sakis, beer, wine and other drinks.
The decor is light and pleasant, and the atmosphere is casual and festive. In The Raw is very popular and a wait can be expected. Reservations are only made for parties of 8 or more.
Ti Amo: What's Not to Love?
Whether you're looking for a place for a casual family gathering or a more romantic rendezvous, Ti Amo is an excellent choice. Ti Amo serves authentic Italian favorites in a setting of relaxed refinement.
The menu includes all the expected pasta creations such as spaghetti, fetuccine, rigatoni, lasagna, cannelloni, manicotti, ravioli and tortellini, prepared with a variety of sauces and fillings. Pork loin, veal, and chicken dishes are also offered, along with several soups and salads. Careful attention is given to the freshness of the ingredients and the presentation is skillful and inviting. A complete wine list and full bar is offered.
There are two locations: the orignal South location near 61st & Sheridan, and a newer Downtown location just one block east of the BOK Center. The atmoshere of the restaurant at either can best be described as casually elegant and inviting. Tables are topped with linen clothes, banquettes line the wall, and a small fountain flows quietly in the middle of the main dining area. The wait staff is professional and generally friendly without being intrusive. A bar and lounge area often features relaxing live music.
Given the quality of the fare and the pleasant surroundings, and combined with suprisingly low prices, Ti Amo presents a dining option that you've just got to love!
Metro Diner: Metro Diner
This diner is in the shadows of Tulsa University.
It served us excellent food and the staff were courteous - even though 55 people had just descended upon them from our bus.
The food came up quickly, even though the place was already busy when we arrived.
The girls, I was told, sometimes wear poodle skirts although, that day the staff were wearing Route 66 or Metro Diner t-shirts.
A great stop - popular with locals and tourists.
Casa Bonita: A Tulsa Tradition Restored - and Closed Again!
Latest update to the Casa Bonita saga is that as of March 2010 it has closed again. Closed in 2004 (see my "Tourist Traps" page for a 2004 review; and yes, this was a sister resturant to the one made famous by "South Park"), the giant Casa Bonita restaurant was restored and resurrected in 2006 by its original developer to the Mexican village meets Disney glory that had been (mostly) enjoyed by thousands of Tulsans and their visitors for 30+ years. But it appears the clean-up wasn't enough to lure back a sufficient number of diners to keep the doors open. Too bad. As I wrote in my last review in 2007, Casa Bonita represented a unique Tulsa dining experience.
Favorite Dish: The food was frankly nothing to write home about. It was no doubt made in huge quantities and although I never saw the kitchen, I have little doubt microwaves were in liberal use back there. It was perhaps best discribed as a slight step up from the "Fiesta Grande Dinner" available in your nearest grocer's freezer. This may may go a long way to explain why the Casa didn't survive its latest reincarnation. There are a lot more and better quality choices for Mexican food in Tulsa in 2010 than there were in 1975.
- Family Travel
Savastano's Pizzeria: Chicagoland meets T-Town
Pizza the way it should be - made from scratch by people who care! Savastano's Pizzeria is a family-owned piece of Chicago transplanted to Tulsa's far south suburbs. Everything is fresh and delicious, with flavorful home-made sauces, hand-made Itailian sausage (available by the pound for enjoying at home), and pizza crust that satisfies like manna from heaven.
Savastano's is an excellent choice for dining before a concert or game at the adjacent SpiritBank Event Center, but when ordering the original Chicago-style pizzas, be prepared for a wait of up to 45 minutes. The perfection of these deep-dish monsters can't be hurried! Also be forewarned that each slice is practically a meal in itself. A large-size pizza might actually feed all the residents of a small Sicilian village. The menu also includes appetizers, pasta dishes, sandwiches and chicago-style hotdogs.
The large welcoming retaurant, with its brick walls and high ceiling, is staffed by the friendly Savastano family and fresh-faced servers, and decorated with dozens of pictures of Chicago landmarks. This sets a cheerful atmosphere and serves to remind you of the origins for such culinary goodness. A cozy full bar is located downstairs below the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: "The Museum of Science & Industry" - Chicago deep-dish pizza made with Canadian bacon and five blended cheeses.
Te Kei's Chinese/Asian Kitchen: Te Keis scores a TKO!
Fresh, flavorful, and innovative food presented in as stylish a setting as you will find in any U.S. city pretty well sums up Te Keis (pronounced "T.K.'s," as in the intials of owner Todd Kramer). The sophisticated architecture and decor alone are absolute winners. I love the colors, the textures, the lighting, the asian art and artifacts - everything about the look of Te Kei's. Of special note is the side dining room that features a gorgeous carved teakwood exterior wall from the front entrance of a palace in Semerang, Central Java.
Luckily, the quality of the food lives up to the setting. Numerous rice bowls (try the Crispy Honey Shrimp), noodle bowls (like Pad Thai and Szechuan Blackened Chili Noodles) and sushi selections share the menu with beautiful entrees like Wok-Seared Salmon, Asian Breast of Duck, and Beef Tataki. A large selection of asian teas, coffees, beers and saki is also offered, along with a lengthy wine list and a full bar. Perhaps best of all, the prices are extremely reasonable, particularly when considering the knock-out surroundings.
Kilkennys Irish Pub: Fresh Eire
With an interior actually built in Ireland, Kilkenny's presents a wonderful old-world atmosphere in which to enjoy traditional Irish foods and new twists on old dishes. The menu is quite extensive for lunch or dinner. Some favorites include the Kilkenny Bake (a mix of lobster, shrimp and crabmeat in a creamy white wine sauce, topped with mashed potatoes and grated Parmesan cheese, then baked golden brown) and seven different Boxty. A few dishes on the menu are more expensive than usual for Tulsa, but there's plenty to please budget conscious diners as well. As you would expect, there is also a good variety of beers and ales and Irish whiskeys. Kilkennys regularly features live Irish music, offers a nice bruch on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10:00am, and since it is open until 2:00am every day, also makes a great late night stop.
Silver Flame Steakhouse: An odd combination of Syrian food and Steak
The decor reminded me of a college pizza joint. The service was decent. I've tasted better food and the quality of meals varied. The amount of food was incredible - they give you a lot.
Favorite Dish: I liked the ribs that came as an appetizer.
- Road Trip
Salari's Char Chicken: Gourmet Chicken Carryout or Eat-In
Chicken Char was a small restaurant near 71st Street and Riverside Drive. It was no frills but good food and we always went there while visiting friends in Tulsa. In Oct 08 we heard that it had been closed for several months but had recently re-opened under a new owner, Alex Salari. We decided to try it again. The first thing we noticed is that the name is now Salari's Char Chicken. It is still no frills; however, the food went from good to outstanding! It is basically a one item menu (grilled chicken) with a choice of several side dishes. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the side dishes were excellent. I totally agree with this very complimentary local review.
Alex came out to talk to us since we ate in. It turns out he is Persian and had been a chef at several local restaurants before buying Char Chicken. He told us about his recipes and how he prepared the side dishes. Believe me, this is not a typical fast food chicken place. When I mentioned that my sister-in-law is Persian, he asked what I liked about her cooking. The choice was easy; I love her tadik (a rice and potato dish). Alex should add tadik to his side dishes since it would go perfectly with his delicious grilled chicken.
Favorite Dish: There is only one item on the menu, Chicken Dinner, for $8.30. It is two pieces of quarter chicken (one white meat and one dark meat) served with two side orders and pita bread. The choices for sides are Waldorf salad, marinated artichoke hearts with unpitted black olives, seasoned rice, steamed mixed vegetables and tabouli. I can vouch for four of the sides. The rice, Waldorf salad (made with yogurt), and tabouli are excellent; however, the marinated artichokes and olives are superb. Actually I think that one of the dinners is enough food for two people. The only other thing on the menu is baklava for desert but we did not try it.
- Budget Travel
Carrabba's: Excellent Italian!
If you want excellent Italian food in a warm, inviting, family friendly atmosphere, then look no further. Carrabba's Italian is in my opinion the BEST Italian available in Tulsa. Hope you enjoy when you stop by!
Looking for cheaper Italian, try Johnny Carino's, or Zio's
Favorite Dish: Manicotti, Alfredo, Lasagna. The epitome of what Italian food should be!
- Spa and Resort
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
Cancun: Cheap, Delicious, Authentic
It's easy to drive past this unassuming little Mexican diner, but you'll do yourself a big favor by stopping in. The decor is simple, but the food is delicious! The menu features authentic Mexican favorites, like carnitas (roast pork that's crispy on top) and carne asada (tender marinated beef). Many of the dishes on the menu can also be found at chain Tex-Mex restaurants, but here they're fresher and more flavorful -- and cheaper! Most items on the menu are under $10. A plate of 3 soft tacos is only $7.
Favorite Dish: Carne Asada Tacos -- they're so juicy and flavorful!
- Budget Travel
Blue Dome Diner: Appearances are misleading
The Blue Dome diner makes a great impression as you walk in. Sunlight pours in through huge windows. The room is alive with the buzz of conversation. People of all age groups lounge in cozy booths and crowded tables. A glance at the menu seemed to confirm my initial good impression. There were plenty of classic diner-style breakfasts and lunches, like biscuits and gravy and burgers and fries. However, customers here don't have to clog their arteries if they don't want to -- the restaurant also offers turkey burgers and a variety of vegetarian options. If anything on the menu costs more than $10, I didn't spot it.
Unfortunately, the food and service failed to deliver. The host seemed hassled by our presence; our waitress was rather absent minded. Our food took about 20 minutes to arrive. It's true that we hit the peak of the Sunday brunch rush, but I was starving! After such a long wait, I hoped to be rewarded with excellence, but my turkey burger was dry and the herbs made it a little too sweet. My boyfriend's biscuits and gravy were bland and we both agreed that the home fries were too mushy.
Bottom line: I understand why low prices and vegetarian options make this a popular choice for students and young people, but if you've got cash in your pocket, I'd give this place a miss.
- Budget Travel
Siegi's Sausage Factory: A Must When In Tulsa
Siegi's is a wonderful place to not only eat austrian cuisine, but to buy what you've eaten and cook it at home too. Great place to have lunch, wonderful smell and easy atmosphere. The only place I know of in the four state area that has not only german cuisine but german products. Thewir hours and days are:Tue-Fri (9am-6pm), Sat (9am-5pm), Closed Sun & Mon
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is the kasewurst and german potato salad. The potato salad is excellent, slightly sour but warm and not too tangy. The kasewurst, it is a sausage like bratwurst filled with cheese, and it is sooo much better than plain ol cheese brats you buy at the store. Once you've had kasewurst you'll never eat a normal cheese brat again. All the food is good, but this is my favorite.
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Elmer's BBQ: "It Be Bad" - in a very good way!
Some artists work in oils, others in pastels. Elmer's owner creates his masterpieces with fresh meats, spices, hickory smoke and delicious sauce. Located in the Brookside area since 1983, Elmer's has become a Tulsa tradition for truly great, unpretentious BBQ. As expected, the simple menu contains a variety of smoked meats including ribs, chopped and sliced beef and pork, hot links and bologna, served as either dinners or sandwiches. Sides include baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. Sandwiches are served with one side; Dinners with two and texas toast, pickles and onions. Unique to Elmers is the "Badwich" which includes a sampling of ribs, chopped beef, bolgna and hot links or sausages, served on a bun or Texas toast. You definitely won't leave hungry after one of those! Beer, soft drinks, tea and lemonade are available. The restaurant is decorated with various music related items, is clean and bright, and the wait staff is invariably pleasant. Before you leave, be sure to check out the photos near the cashier's station of the celebrities who've enjoyed Elmer's fare.
Favorite Dish: Chopped beef sandwich with potato salad and a coke. Pure, simple American goodness.