Philip Phillips’ food truck, Lone Wolf Banh Mi, became one of the most talked about places to eat in Tulsa soon after it opened. By customer demand, Philip and his wife, Danielle, opened a Lone Wolf restaurant, 3136 E. 11th St., last year. It will be fun to see what’s next for this buzzworthy eatery and its owners.
Did you have an instant following when you started Lone Wolf? Or has it taken awhile for people to fall for your style? We certainly jumped out of the gate with a following. I made sure to get the word out like a concert no one wanted to miss was coming to town. No better way than to throw yourself into the fire and see what you’re actually worth. As large as we thought our following was initially, it is absolutely nothing compared to what our pack is now. We have grown at a staggering rate over the past four years.
What changes have you seen in the Tulsa food scene since you started? The Tulsa food scene has great highs and repetitive lows. Right around the time we started, the food scene was in a great high moment. I personally feel that a concept should 100 percent exist because of the amazing menu that was created. Creating a space that customers will love to be in seems to be more of the focus than the menu at times. Not to take away from the wealth of people who truly care and are helping make this a progressive place. I think we’re constantly moving forward as a food town. Whether we dip here and there is secondary to the constant progression of the wants of the customer and the abilities of our chefs.
Who has most influenced your cooking? Steven Howard. Steven was the owner and head chef of Kokoa Chocolatier and Kokoa Cabana back around 2005-2006-ish. He was Tulsa’s most prolific chef to ever create here in town, and we lost him. He was ahead of his time here and had to leave. I strive, every time I turn on a flame, to be like Steven. To think like him. To see food like him. He is brilliant.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? I would own a skate shop downtown that had an indoor skate park attached. Because there isn’t one, and I want one. Anyone else? Seriously. Downtown indoor skate park. Indoor/outdoor bar with food truck court for spectators. Stage for shows. I mean, come on right?
What’s in your fridge at home? It used to be stocked with a week’s supply of marinating meat, roasted veggies, a couple of soups, a couple of savory sauces, a couple of sweet glazes and mountains of unsalted, imported butter. Now we have 3-year-old and 1-year-old boys who refuse to eat a single one of those things. Now our fridge is yellow inside. American cheese, macaroni and cheese, yellow mustard, yet, we still have that mountain of butter. Thank God. There’s always a Reuben from Trenchers deli in there.
Do you have a guilty pleasure food? Coney I-lander. Always. Forever. I want to own one. My dad would be the proudest man on Earth.
If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be? Harry Potter.
If you decided to cook an entirely different style of food, what would it be? I have a ton of concepts rolling around in my head. Always creating menus. We almost opened a Peruvian ceviche restaurant two years ago. Fell through. Almost opened an ’80s video game-themed chicken wing restaurant. Fell through. We’re pushing Lone Wolf as far as we can before we start on new concepts, but I have some really cool ideas, and we’re talking just about every style imaginable. I love all food, and all food inspires me. I prefer to create without boundaries. One day I’ll have a 20-top-maximum place where all I do is create. One day.