oklahoma city guide


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.

Downtown

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.

Bricktown

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.

Automobile Alley

BD Home: Recently opened modern housewares shop. (Stop by Iguana Mexican Grill for Taco Tuesday ($1 tacos!), followed by Sara Sara for some seriously epic cupcakes.)

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.

Midtown

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.

Plaza District

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

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.

May Avenue

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.

Elsewhere

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.

Mister Rabbit: Well-edited vintage and accessories. (Stop by Cuppies & Joe afterward for, well, cuppies and joe.

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!

Anne @ The City Sage

My experience with Oklahoma City is limited to driving through, but I was amazed at how vibrant and happening the city looked from the car window. I begged the huz to stop for some exploration but alas, he pressed on. Now I MUST find an excuse to drive back and stay for a bit!

Erin

Thanks for the list, Kelly! There are so many fab places in OKC.

Don’t forget about the Paseo Grill, in the Paseo Districe. Oh, my I’d eat there every day if I could…

Fonda LaShay

As a girl who grew up in OKC this is a great list! I have recently moved to Norway so it is a great list for me to remember all the places I HAVE to visit this summer!

My top 3 faves are: Sauced, McNellies & Ted’s Escondido! Oh I can not wait!

AnNicole@OurSuburbanCottage

Thank you for this post! I’m a transplant to Tulsa (1.5 hours from Oklahoma City) and I sadly know very little about OKC. You just gave me all kinds of things to do and investigate there. Thanks!

meredith

I love that OKC is featured on Design Sponge! Thanks for highlighting this wonderful city. I am from OKC and miss it desperately. Every time I get to go home, I decide Oklahoma is getting better and better. Your list is fabulous and my favorite is Cuppies & Joe!

Misty

Way to represent girls! I’m an avid reader of your blogs and I love our city. Thanks for spreading the love.

Jesse Lu

I just visited OKC last October and was really surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about it. There was so much art and Bricktown was so cute and the trollies were hilarious! I can’t wait to go back to visit. I have family about half ab hour away and don’t even know if they realize how cute OKC is. What a hidden gem!

P.S. did you know that the famous cable cars of my sweet San Francisco were first put to use in OKC? They were tested there before hauling them to the bay. Funny huh?

Decktout Home

So glad OKC is featured! Just moved back from Austin, Texas and am so glad OKC is getting the attention it deserves because it ROCKS! (minus the recent blizzards)

Vicki

Love it! I went to college outside of ‘The City’ and glad to see to a list of all the awesome places I used to visit, and some new ones to try out the next time I go.

What’s the chances of getting a matching Tulsa guide in the near future? We’ve got a super healthy arts scene, restrant scene, etc.
Check out http://www.tashadoestulsa.com- I’m sure she could hook you up!

Lauren Corbyn

So excited to see this! I have to add my two cents: Tokyo Sushi (also on Western) was probably the first sushi place as it’s been around since the 80’s. It’s less of a scene, but has excellent sushi. Don’t forget the gem that is Nichols Hills Plaza just off of 63rd and Western. The new yummy spot is Cool Greens (http://mycoolgreens.com/)–salads, wraps and pizza, there’s also Chica’s for Mexican food, and the always delicious Saturn Grill (http://www.saturngrill.com/).
Farther south on Western for great house stuff, both vintage and new, is Mockingbird Manor (http://mockingbirdmanor.com/). Nearby is VZD’s for music, food and drinks. A former drugstore, they have a history of having major bands pass through before they hit it big. Whatever you order, make sure it has their spicy mayo! I recommend the turkey burger. If you’re interested in dim sum, head down Classen to Dot Wo on the weekends. It’s in the vibrant Asian district. And last but not least, in development is Classen Curve. It has one restaurant already open and creating lots of buzz because it’s all about raw foods (http://105degrees.com/). Soon there will be a wood fired pizza restaurant as well as a gastropub owned by the fabulous Good Egg dining group (http://www.goodeggdining.com/). All their restaurants are great. And last but not least, because we Okies are serious about Tex Mex, I recommend Margarita’s on May Ave (though despite the name I’m pretty sure they don’t have margaritas, only beer). Try the shrimp tacos!
Great job on your list! I’m just so proud of OKC and thoroughly enjoy sharing it with doubters :) Excited to see it here.

hannah

Great post about okc. You should add to your May Avenue list: Meditteranean deli (great little lunch deli–best tabouli ever)

Pho hoa–Asian District (23rd and Shartel) for the best Pho in the city and

Bahn mi Bale–Classen and 23rd (in the milk bottle building) for the best $2.00 vietnamese subs

ANd super cao nguyen! The Asian Supermarket!

Kelsey

This just brought a HUGE smile to my face!!

Don’t forget to check out Cheevers on NW 23rd and Red Rock Canyon Grill on Lake Hefner. Both phenomenal!

bridgette

Don’t forget about the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Only the best western art museum in the nation.

Also, in Edmond, where I grew up, there’s a great Farmer’s Market in downtown on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The Jazz Lab is a great jazz club run by the local university and then Cafe 501, right around the corner has some great food – salads, wraps, pizzas, and desserts.

Kayna

This makes my day!

Cuppies and Joe is FABULOUS. You also MUST eat at Cheever’s, just down the street at NW 23rd and (Western?)

Rachel S. @ Pencil Shavings

I’m a born-and-bred Oklahoman, and I am THRILLED to see OKC getting excellent press. Thank you, girls, for writing such an excellent guide to our up-and-coming city! It’s about time!

B2 Design

GREAT list!

It’s so nice to see such wonderful things being said about my hometown. OKC is definitely up and coming! We have art, business, entertainment, sports… You name it! Plus, it is very family friendly!!!

I love OKC.

Heather

Hey girls! lovely surprise to see OKC featured on my favorite blog!

Saturn Grill is one of my favorite saturday haunts. Plus it’s right next door to Shoe Gypsy (http://shoegypsy.com). And checking out the Plaza District is a total MUST!

xox.

{oh, hello fonda!}

Matt

The Stage Center building is an under-appreciated architectural gem in downtown OKC. It won an award when built in the early 70’s and still has a wonderful 70’s retro look.

Foodporncess

Wow! Color me surprised to see an OKC City Guide! After spending 7 years in OKC in the late 80s/early 90s, I felt like it was the last place on earth I’d visit, choosing to make friends come see me in Texas instead. After reading this, I wouldn’t mind spending a couple of days up there now. It’s good to see a couple of my college haunts still around (Edna’s, Cock O’ the Walk, Flip’s)!

Fran

Not a bad list but the OKC Memorial deserves more than a dis of being a depressing site. For being a major historical event, it’s pretty uplifting with the Survivor Tree and other attention to rising above tragedy.

ed crunk

appreciate the article…. fairly comprehensive and up to date. i do wish the asian district had mentioned. tons of PHO! i feel very blessed to be in OKC at this moment in it’s short history. also, it’s a shame such an old picture was used… here’s some visual stimulation to compensate… http://www.myspace.com/oklahomacityrocks

kelly

I’d have to add some great places to shop including the Paseo District which includes Kathy’s, a women’s clothing store and unique jewelry. Also, check out Dane Design, a fresh, modern store with eclectic scandinavian-designed furniture. Find them at http://www.danedesign.com. Oklahoma City is hot.

Ashley

Loved Loved Loved everything about this guide.
As a Tulsan… I frequent “the City” a lot. It’s a great place for fun.
But I agree with Vicki Tulsa needs a City guide! It’s a fabulous up and coming city.

We heart t-town.

Amber

Oh this entry made me so beyond happy! I am from Oklahoma City, but studying abroad in France and this just warmed my heart and made me feel a little less homesick. Wonderful guide to OKC.

Road to Wonder

With my in-laws in Oklahoma, I spend some time here every year and love to finally have a city guide. Thanks so much Caroline and Kelly:) Don’t miss the Grey Owl Coffee Shop and Forward Foods if you take a side trip to Norman, OK.

Angela

Great job! There are so many new things popping up here that I forgive you for the things that were missed. :)Hard to keep up!!! I take it as a good sign. Loved the list.

Jessie bee

I have followed your guides to other cities, and feel great seeing my city on Design Sponge.

1956okie

Bone Dust Cowgirl in Paseo has wonderful handmade western and vintage items. Turquoise inlay, hand-carved and sculpted jewelry, salvaged and vintage decor, clothing, boots, belts and much more. You can even have a chat with the Cowgirl herself most days! bonedustcowgirl.com

S.

Hideaway is awesome! But was in not mentioned in this is that the original Hideaway is in Stillwater, Oklahoma and is the best one, hands down! When Hideaway sells their franchise, they don’t sell the original sause recipe or the crust recipe along with a few other recipers. The original recipes for everything are only found in Stillwater making it the best location!!!

Nicole

Don’t forget the Oklahoma History Center, great for visitors to learn about our state and city’s rich and diverse history and for locals to enjoy special exhibits and numerious special events! Located on 23rd and Lincoln with a breathtaking view of the state capital, it has one of the best views in town!

Nancy Nagy

When you are checking out Midtown visit Nault Fine Art across the street from McNellies on Walker. It is a New York walk up style contemporary art and African tribal art gallery. Fabulous!

Jeanelle

So glad to see OKC in the list, i’m a Panamanian that now calls Norman home sweet home, and its awesome to see that D*S has OKC in their list, a lot of people think we are a hick town, but it is oh so the contrary.

After you visit OKC, everybody should visit Norman, which btw was named best small city to live in by CNN. Norman has some delicious eateries like Pink Elephant & Earth Natural Foods (for organic food), Pepe’s (excellent tex-mex), Cafe Plaid (delicious deli & pastries), Moniques (excellent Latin American food) & for sweets we have Passionberry. We also have the Fred Jones Art Museum & the Sam Noble Natural History Museum that have the awesomest museum shops.

Kaleen Connell

I love that Oklahoma City has a good shopping guide out there. I would like to add that since this has been written I opened a local boutique. We are called “wild.flower”, and we are located right alongside Mister Rabbit and Cuppies and Joe. We offer an eclectic take on women’s clothing, gifts, home decor, stationary, and more. Please don’t forget us when you visit OKC!!!

Kristen

I grew up in Oklahoma and I am so very proud to see “the city” finally getting all the recognition it deserves!

I went to school at OU in Norman, just 30 minutes south of the city and they too have some wonderful places to visit – Cafe Plaid (try the plaid chicken sandwich and one of their freshly baked cookies), La Luna (fantastic outdoor patio, great margaritas), Antique Garden (adorable clothes, jewelry, and household decor, along with some locally-crafted items), Cayman’s (higher end clothing and accessories), the Mont (the Sooner Swirl is a legend), and Tarahumara’s (best Mexican food I’ve ever had), just to name a few!

Annie

Just as an update to this great guide, Uptown (NW 23rd Street) has had a lot of new development in the past year and deserves a highlight section of its own:

– Tucker’s Onion Burgers is on 23rd & Hudson and has the best fries and chocolate shakes (as well as great onion burgers with fresh, locally-sourced beef).
– Cheever’s is fantastic as always, just across the street from Tucker’s. One of the best restaurants in OKC.
– As mentioned in the guide, Big Truck Tacos and Cuppies & Joe (must try the Sassafras cupcake!).
– Mutt’s Famous Hot Dogs is on 23rd & Douglas, just past Classen. Great specialty hot dogs and a fun atmosphere.
– Cafe Antigua is just south of 23rd on 18th & Classen. It is a Guatemalan place with the best brunch/breakfast menu around. The migas are crazy good!

A new addition to Midtown is Elemental Coffee (http://www.elementalcoffeeroasters.com/) on 8th & Hudson. Elemental is a local roaster/coffee distributor that just opened their own coffee shop. The coffee is superb and the staff is super friendly. The last Friday of every month, the parking lot is home to h&8th, a night time food market with lots of great local food trucks & locally brewed COOP beer.

Hayley

After moving to OKC from my favorite city (Phoenix), I’ve had a hard time adjusting…but Iguana Grill helps. I thought I’d add to the list – Kaisers (awesome/different burgers and terrific ice cream and sweet potato fries), Cloverleaf (adorable/fun gift and clothing boutique) on Wilshire, and Pinkitzel (cupcakes and candy). The Classen Curve is getting more and more, too…fun restaurants, Whole Foods, Anthro…

Sunshine

This is great but could use some updating as some places have changed and many new places have been birthed. Would love to see this updated for OKC!

Damon

I was born in OKC but now live in Philadelphia, PA. I returned and visited the Cowboy Hall of Fame with my Cowboy Okie father who was raised on a farm in OK. We loved it! He said, “boy they really glamorized being a cowboy.” He was a REAL cowboy in the 40’s and 50’s and didn’t think it was a glamorous job but instead very hard work. Also, the town of Guthrie just a tad north of the city has a great banjo museum, print museum from the 1800’s, and excellent coffee at the French Underground. I miss my home town. Go OKLAHOMA!

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