Vista at the Boathouse serves elevated cuisine, stunning views
Gathering Place’s fine dining restaurant checks all the boxes.
It really wouldn’t have mattered if we loved our food at the Vista at the Boathouse. We would have come back anyway for the most amazing view in Tulsa.
Lucky for us — and for the many other people we’ve talked to — our food was super. The menu is an eclectic mix of smoky barbecue, curry, flatbreads, seafood and charcuterie, with something for everyone.
That, we found, was the implicit goal for this restaurant at Gathering Place. Sean Savage, culinary director for the park, says the restaurant embraces the theme of the park itself, and that the Vista, too, is a gathering place for all.
So although it might be a white tablecloth restaurant with a $30 filet on the menu, we saw a mix of people in shorts and flip flops, strollers in tow, who had spent the day at the park, along with couples more dressed up for a date night.
“Anybody is welcome. Families are welcome,” Savage says.
And that’s reflected in the menu, with prices ranging from $8 for the popular brisket tacos and $9 for a margherita flatbread to $26 for lamb with savory lemon ricotta bread pudding.
Savage describes the Vista as “elevated casual.” And it is exactly that. The structure itself is literally elevated, with views of sunsets on the Arkansas River, Peggy’s Pond and the towering play areas across the park.
The Vista is open every day from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and as expected, the busiest times are during the lunch and dinner hours and before and after concerts and special events.
We visited on a Sunday afternoon and had fun sampling the menu. Our favorites were the barbecue or smoked dishes. Fortunately, half the appetizers, including the barbecue shrimp ($10), brisket tacos ($8) and pork wings ($13), are smoked.
Savage says the smoked brisket tacos are the most popular item on the menu. The tacos, with tender brisket and a serrano slaw in corn tortillas, make a good lunch in the dining room or a great snack from the walk-up window, which can be accessed at the Boathouse’s overlook. Many people order cocktails, drinks, sandwiches and appetizers to eat outside on the spacious patio.
Popular sandwiches (ranging from $9-$12) include smoked salmon with a bacon horseradish aioli, a peppered bacon BLT, a burger with peppered bacon and barbecue sauce and a smoked bologna sandwich. The smoked bologna is the most original of the bunch. It’s a thick-slice of smoked bologna, served open face with spicy mustard, pickles, habañero cheese and a fried egg. Everyone at our table wanted a bite, and though the bite was delicious, I wouldn’t want to make an entire lunch out of it.
The eclectic group of entrees includes fried chicken ($15) and jerk chicken pasta ($14), both of which we enjoyed. The fried chicken is not your typical dish. The red curry-glazed chicken breast is served with coconut jasmine rice and braised carrots. Also popular is the filet ($30) with mashed potatoes and asparagus or other seasonal vegetables, and the espresso pork chop ($24) served with black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread croutons and red-eye gravy.
The Vista’s cocktail menu is half traditional drinks and half craft cocktails. Some feature smoked simple syrup, which adds a unique flavor. The most popular drink is the Guthrie Green ($10), a clean-tasting mix of vodka, fresh cucumber juice, mint, lime, simple syrup and black pepper.
The sleek open bar is a great place to try these drinks or to have lunch or dinner when the tables are full.
The Vista at the Boathouse
Gathering Place, 2650 S. John Williams Way
918-779-1000 | gatheringplace.org/vista
11 a.m.- 9 p.m., daily