Food lover's guide - More editor's picks
Food Editor Judy Allen's top local picks for dining out.
Every year I get the opportunity to pick favorites. Foodie favorites, that is, for TulsaPeople’s annual Food Lover’s Guide. Thankfully, it gets harder and harder each year, for Tulsa’s food scene seems to be getting better and better. This year, however, I got the chance to leave it to the other experts — you. I’ve submitted some of my favorites, but this year the list is truly the people’s choice.
I can’t pass up on the fresh fig, goat cheese and sage flatbread with truffle oil at Lucky’s. Sweet, savory and a bit decadent, it’s the perfect starter for a night out or, paired with a salad, the perfect meal.
Best Seasonal Menu
James Shrader has the perfect restaurant location, right across the street from the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market, and he definitely takes advantage of it. The menu at his Palace Café, which changes to reflect the seasons, features meats, cheeses and produce offered at the market. Palace Café also has a booth at the market, selling its own delicious goodies, such as steaming-hot breakfast burritos.
Best Romantic Dining
Stonehorse Café’s charming corner spot in Utica Square always boasts great ambience and delicious food. A superb wine list and seasonal menu make this the ideal spot to woo your sweetie.
Best Business Lunch
Whether it is a quiet meeting among a few colleagues or a boisterous group of 25, Michael Fusco’s Riverside Grill has the spot for you — sit in the sunny main dining area or rent out one of the private dining rooms. Chef Fusco’s classic menu is sure to impress any business associate.
Best Restaurant Worth the Drive
While the town of Wagoner and fine dining don’t usually appear in the same sentence, The Canebrake resort offers five-star dining and accommodations, as well as yoga, hiking and meeting rooms. Don’t miss out on the lavish Sunday brunch, available from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Best First Date Spot
I will always be partial to Tucci’s, where my husband took me when we first started dating. I have met many other people who have said the same of this cozy Cherry Street Italian joint. It’s always a bit romantic to share a bottle of Chianti and a pizza on the patio.
One more reason to look forward to Friday! French Dip Friday at Lambrusco’z To Go features slow- cooked brisket, shredded and soaked in delicious au jus. Served on toasted French bread with horseradish mayo, red onions and provolone, this is THE way to celebrate the end of the workweek.
I adore the fried chicken, cheese panini and tomato soup at the Local Table, and now I can pick them up anytime. The recently opened Local Market features favorites from the Local Table right next door, as well as other entrées, side dishes, sandwich specials and a daily soup.
Best Chicken Dish
Besides fried, the lemon chicken at Biga Vino e Cucina is my favorite chicken dish in town. A generous portion of chicken is roasted to tender perfection with loads of lemon, herbs and potatoes. Feel like pasta instead? Biga’s $20 prix fixe menu also is one of the best deals in town.
Best Fried Chicken
Ask any of us at TulsaPeople and the answer will be the same. Rick’s Café Americain has the best fried chicken in town. The platter features crispy chicken, creamy mashed potatoes and green beans studded with meaty ham hock. True comfort food!
Best Tulsa Classic
We can hardly have any sort of food favorites list without mentioning this Tulsa classic. The Chokes and Cheese appetizer at The Bistro has kept people coming back for years.
Classic Vietnamese pho at Keo is fresh yet satisfying. The piping-hot bowl of rich beef broth is chock full of thinly sliced steak and thin Vietnamese noodles and is garnished with fresh bean sprouts, basil, cilantro and lime. Comforting any day of the week.
Best Fancy Burger
This is no fast-food burger. Cooked how you like it (I love a super-juicy medium rare), Lucky’s burger is topped with a heaping helping of caramelized onions and melted brie. This is what I crave when I want a burger. The kicker? A pairing of crispy fries drizzled with heady truffle oil.
Best on a Budget
Tulsa may be known for its abundance of Tex-Mex cafés, but our classic Mexican spots are delicious as well as wallet-friendly. Our favorites always include Cancun International Restaurant, Tacos san Pedro and El Rio Verde.
With a martini shaken tableside, a $40 New York strip and a wine list to boast about, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse is the place to spend that tax refund check.
Best Caesar Salad
I have to call this one a tie. Celebrity Club Fine Dining’s classic Caesar is prepared the old-school way — tableside, with heaps of lemon, garlic and anchovy — and is too good to pass up. Dalesandro’s also has a very impressive version, loaded with Parmesan and crispy croutons.
With so many ingredients, one might think this salad has overdone it — but it is the only thing I ever order at Charleston’s. Walt’s Champagne Chicken Salad includes mixed greens, as well as pineapple, dates, feta cheese, strawberries, spiced pecans, sunflower seeds, croutons and a superb tangy champagne vinaigrette.
Best Place to Go With the Gals
LXi oozes “Sex and the City” — the TV show, of course. It is the perfect spot for catching up with girlfriends, while snacking on delicious nibbles and luxurious cocktails.
Best Bargain Lunch
This is the best soup and salad combination in town: Full Moon Café’s famous creamy tortilla soup topped with crunchy tortilla strips and avocado paired with crisp salad and tender breadsticks — with a complimentary refill for only $7.49.
Best Eco-Friendly Restaurant
Libby Auld not only has perhaps the best restaurant in downtown, but she also has the most eco-friendly. Eloté Café and Catering sports takeout containers and flatware made from corn and practices composting and oil recycling in the kitchen. Eloté buys organic and locally grown meats and produce — the organic beef puffy tacos have attained cult status among diners.
Elliot Nelson started the downtown revival when he opened James E. McNellie’s Public House on the then-vacant corner of East First Street and South Elgin Avenue. He recently paired the pub with an addition, The Sidebar, as well as a Mexican counterpart, El Guapo’s Cantina, across the corner. Perhaps spurred by Nelson’s interest in downtown, the Blue Dome District is thriving. We are now waiting for what he will do next.
Best Pre-BOK Dinner
Chef Eli Huff became part of the huge British gastro-pub movement when he opened Oscar’s Gastropub in the SoDo district. With a classic pub environment and a menu several ranks above classic pub grub, Oscar’s has become a popular place to gather after work and a great option to catch dinner before a concert at the BOK Center.
Best Place to Impress an Out-of Towner
One of my favorite places to take friends from out of town is the impressive Gilcrease Museum. Nestled inside the vast collection of Western art is the Osage Restaurant. With a killer view of the Osage Hills and a menu featuring local fare such as buffalo burgers and catfish and chips, this lunch spot will impress anyone who thinks Oklahoma is nothing but open plains and tumbleweeds.