today’s city guide comes from caroline duke of greedy girl and kelly beall at design crush. kelly and caroline are walking us through their hometown of oklahoma city and sharing her insider picks for the best spots to shop, eat, and site-see (organized by neighborhood). i hope the next time you’re in town you’ll check out some of these great local spots! thanks to kelly and caroline for sharing their home city with us.
CLICK HERE for the full city guide after the jump!
This is a really exciting time to be living in Oklahoma City. (Wow, I never thought I’d type those words!) Slowly, but surely, OKC is moving into this century. Several areas are grabbing hold of their bootstraps and taking charge of dilapidated buildings and warehouses, and turning them into something truly amazing and modern. That’s not to say that the area isn’t remaining true to its Western heritage at the same time, because it is. What’s fast emerging is a city that’s as diversified as can be expected in the Bible Belt of the Midwest.
This city guide is roughly organized by area and neighborhood. As always, if we forgot somewhere please mention it in the comment section.
Trattoria il Centro: A great place to go for authentic Italian food and great wine. And dessert. Don’t forget the desserts…
Stockyards City: Deeply rooted in Oklahoma’s pioneer heritage, Stockyards City is a true western experience. But our favorite thing is the weekly farmers market!
Myriad Botanical Gardens: The Myriad is a 17-acre downtown urban park, the highlighting feature of which is a tropical conservatory – The Crystal Bridge – designed by I.M. Pei. Be sure and stop by the Water Stage for a performance and check out the impressive seven-story botanical garden.
Chesapeake Boat House: The design mimics a sleek rowing shell with translucent walls and sixteen columns of light representing oars, making the entire structure appear as if it’s floating at night. Truly an amazing sight.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum: It’s, by far, the most depressing stop in the city, but a worthwhile trip if you haven’t been before. A hundred and sixty-eight lighted chairs represent the lives lost in the 1995 federal building bombing (19 smaller chairs honor the children killed). Try going at night.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art: Home to an awe-inspiring and expansive Dale Chihuly collection. Don’t miss the Persian Seaform Ceiling. Plan to have lunch or drinks at the Museum Cafe. Cocktails on the Skyline takes place every Thursday evening starting in May and offers drinks, live music and a nice view of the city from the museum’s rooftop.
Easily the city’s largest tourist trap, Bricktown has undergone a renovation of massive proportions of the past decade, converting warehouses into restaurants, clubs and boutiques. Check out a Thunder basketball game at the Ford Center or grab a hot dog and beer with our minor league baseball team, the Redhawks.
RedPin Bowling Lounge: Super contemporary dining and bowling. Not to mention yummy cocktails best enjoyed on their ginormous patio that overlooks the canal. And bowling, did I mention bowling?
Sage Gourmet Café & Market: The best mac ‘n’ cheese in town! The blue cheese and garlic version is the best. If you’re not on a date.
Bolero Spanish Grill & Tapas Bar: The best of both worlds, delicious tapas on one side and live music on the other.
RED Prime Steak: Seated in OKC’s elegant Buick Building, RED Prime is a beautifully modern restaurant. You can’t miss the impressive wine wall; it’s 55 bottles tall by 130 bottles wide and separates the bar from the dining room!
Coffee Slingers: A great establishment that supports fair trade, organic and local products, which is awesome! The baristas are all really knowledgeable and make a mean cup of joe to boot.
In the middle of big overhauling renovation, Midtown is the home to a lot of new businesses and eateries. It’s quickly become one of our favorite areas in the city!
1492: A fairly new restaurant featuring new world Latin eats. The chefs are natives of Mexico and cook up a mean fusion cuisine. Don’t miss the to-die-for mojitos!
Brown’s Bakery: Cakes, cookies, donuts, cupcakes, breads. A carb-lover’s paradise.
Prairie Thunder Baking Co.: Every variety of fresh bread you can think of. And the best chicken salad sandwiches (of which I am a coineusseur!).
McNellie’s Public House: A great gathering place for happy hour with 60 beers on draught and over 300 more in bottles. Be sure to hit up pint night (keep the glass!) and their signature series beer dinners.
Café do Brasil: Their rooftop Bossanova Bar is perfection on a fall or spring evening. In the cafe, try the migallas or Brasilian pie and a caipirinha or two.
The Plaza District is an up-and-coming strip along NW 16th Street, has only recently popped up on our radar. The historic development has begun re-establishing itself as an artists’ enclave with old storefronts being transformed into live-work spaces. Collected Thread, DNA and the recently opened Shop Good are intimate hot spots for locally crafted art, jewelry and more. And don’t be surprised if you come across pieces from your favorite Etsy sellers — Oklahoma and beyond.
Western Avenue is a stretch filled with unique shops, restaurants and a few major businesses tossed in for good measure. Most are locally owned and operated and have quite the loyal customer base.
Sabi: Worldly gifts, home decor and accessories. Great finds around every corner.
Guestroom Records: The city’s best independent record store.
French Cowgirl: A jam-packed gift shop mixing French chic and cowgirl charm.
Hideaway Pizza: Oklahoma’s oldest pizzeria is Oklahoma’s oldest pizzeria for a reason. Their gourmet pies are Last-Supper-kind-of-good.
Bin 73: The largest wine-by-the-glass selection in the city. Which is good if you’re indecisive, like us. Lots of cozy booths to slide into.
Sushi Neko: The first sushi restaurant brave enough to show up in our little part of the Midwest back in the day. And still one of the best in the area. Try one of their killer house cocktails.
Musashi Japanese Steakhouse: Right across the street from Sushi Neko. The performing chefs pay homage to Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary samurai, with their mad knife skills.
Deep Fork Grill: An entire restaurant focused on spotlighting Oklahoma’s natural abundance in every dish. Now that’s worthwhile.
Flip’s Wine Bar and Trattoria: Amazing chow; hip but not pretentious. Two words: lobster ravioli.
51st Street Speakeasy: Featuring a gorgeous tin punch ceiling and period light fixtures, including one over the bar from the 1920s. The lighting is dim, with window treatments that can block out light, just like a speakeasy of old.
Cock o the Walk: One of the very best dive bars in town! It’s tiny and always jam-packed, so get there early if you want a table to eat some of their greasy bar grub. Be sure to order a schooner, a massive beer that’s sure to quench your thirst.
Café Nova: Great contemporary locale with American food and an even better Sunday brunch with unlimited mimosas. Unlimited.
The Wedge: Brick-oven pizza and limited seating (there are only ten tables inside). Well worth any wait. Try the candied pecans for something truly divine.
Edna’s: Technically just off Western. A local institution, known for Edna herself dancing on the bar to “Great Balls of Fire” and also for their deliciously addictive Lunchboxes. Get there early to secure your table for the night!
The Drunken Fry: New to the area, the Drunken Fry specializes in Belgian frites with a variety of sauces. Don’t forget your Belgian beer to wash it all down.
The Paseo District
The Paseo is a small arts district area just north of downtown OKC with galleries and craft shops that run for three blocks of creativity. Each month the Paseo celebrates First Friday with an open house and outdoor music to be enjoyed by the masses. The Paseo Arts Festival takes place each Memorial Day weekend, bringing with it an outdoor carnival and attractions not to be missed.
Isis: A comfy cozy upscale cocktail lounge with lots of dark nooks and crannies to gather with friends. Even better with someone who qualifies as more than friends!
Craig’s Emporium: Emporium of curiosities. That’s about all there is to say.
Sauced: A jack of all trades with a great full-service coffee bar, New York-style Neopolitan pizza, fair-trade coffee and Belgium ales, among other things. Full of organic, vegetarian and vegan delights sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
Zorba’s Mediterranean: Tasty Mediterranean food that’s been passed down through the generations. It doesn’t get any more authentic than this.
Old School Bagel Café: More than 15 varieties of handmade bagels made daily on the premises. Try the seasonal pumpkin – it’s our favorite!
Blue 7: Modern furniture, unique baubles and vintage clothes to fill your closet to the brim!
La Baguette Bistro and Bakery: A european bakery/bistro/butcher shop guaranteed to get your waistline in trouble.
Sean Cumming’s Irish Pub: Authentic Irish bands, food and beer. And the coolest bar and counter covered with pennies – thousands of pennies!
Ted’s Café Escondido: Escondido translates to “hidden café,” which is exactly what this place started out as to locals. There are a few other locations these days, but this is the original and favorite.
Sophabella’s: The best gourmet Chicago-style pizza here in the Sooner State. Hundreds of miles from the Windy City, but just as tasty.
Route 66: A boutique featuring the requisite Mother Road kitsch, some serious soaps (they’re generous with samples) and more. (While you’re there, stop by neighboring Belle Isle Brewery and try a Belle’s Blonde.)
Super Cao Nguyen: Aside from being a foodie’s paradise, this Asian mega-market is a treasure-trove of design inspiration.
County Line: Set in an old ’30s speakeasy, this stick-to-your-ribs restaurant is set in a classic art deco structure with a great view of downtown. Or their homemade bread. Did I mention the bread?
Pops: Our favorite place to take out-of-town guests. It’s a bit of a drive out of Oklahoma City but is worth it. Especially if you like soda. (We do.) Over 500 types to choose from and a ginormous 66’ tall pop bottle sculpture out front.
OKC Zoo: Check out the animals and WPA-era architecture by day and concerts at night.
International Photography Hall of Fame:
Kamp’s Market and Deli: A lax dress code and amazing deli fare. The perfect locale for studying or reading the paper.
Big Truck Tacos: Tasty street food with a twist! Keep your ears open daily to see where it’ll be parking next!
Rococo’s: Dark and cozy with delicious Italian fare. Order their cookies as an appetizer for something totally unexpected. (Hint: It’s no sweet treat!)
Mesta Park: A modern community in a historical setting. Check out the large, aged homes at night for the best views. As in inside the windows!