In the midst of a hard day’s work, nothing is quite as lovely as lunching with a friend. And if you work in or near downtown, you’ve probably noticed a smattering of downtown eateries popping up, alongside the traditional staples. I’ve tried most of them, and I thought I’d do you the courtesy of suggesting a few worth checking out. Some are new, some are old. But they share a common, crucial theme: They all have good grub. Bon appetit!
If you’re seeking a simple sandwich or salad lunch with a colleague, this is the place to go. Located inside the Atlas Life Building at 415 S. Boston, the restaurant has long been a staple of lunching for downtown worker bees. However, it recently received a re-vamped menu and a re-branding; it’s now “The New Atlas Grill.” All I know is, it’s better than it used to be. The menu is full of fresh salads (are you not salivating over the fresh Strawberry Feta Salad my friend ate?), and eclectic sandwiches with Tulsa street names as their moniker (The Frisco, The Denver, The Boulder, The Boston, The Houston, and The Cincinnati). I tried The Houston — Grilled Chicken Breast and Apple Smoked Bacon with Baby Lettuce and Basil Mayonnaise on a Toasted Bun. I also opted for a side of fresh fruit, which, as you can see, was quite fresh and quite gargantuan.
One of my favorite aspects of dining at Atlas Grill is the people watching. Situated inside the Atlas Life Building, which is home to both businesses and the Courtyard Marriott, you really get all kinds of folks coming in for a bite to eat. Most of the seating is located in the lobby of the Atlas Grill, so find a spot for good spying…I mean, people watching…
Located in the Historic Brady Arts District, Hey Mambo! is a new brick oven Italian restaurant and wine bar. My lunch buddy and I started our meal off right with an appetizer of Garlic Cheese Knots stuffed with marinara sauce and mozzarella — incredible! For the main course, both of us selected the lunch special, which included two slices of their delicious brick oven pizza and a generous wedge salad for not a lot of $$.
I’m not traditionally a big fan of thin crust pizza, but when it’s coming straight out of a brick oven, onto a plate, and into my mouth, it really doesn’t matter what kind of crust it is. Hey Mambo! does pizza right. And they do more than just pizza — their menu options range from fresh salads to gyros to various pastas, calzones, stromboli, and even a burger.
A restaurant that cares to add little touches to their food really tickles my fancy. Hey Mambo! does this in their complimentary tiny desserts — itty, bitty chocolate chip cookies that were just the right amount of something sweet!
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Hey Mambo! is quite popular for dinner, too. They have musicians come in regularly in the evenings, and their pizza selections are extensive. It’s a good place for a fun time with friends.
The Rusty Crane
The Rusty Crane, located in the Brady District at 109 N. Detroit, is a huge asset to the Tulsa dining scene. This new establishment has plenty of seating — at least 100 indoor and 60 outdoor. That’s because the building is inside a 90-year-old warehouse, and the management has been careful to incorporate history into the decor and even some of the drink names. One of my highlights of eating there was that my lunchmates and I had the opportunity to sit in the booth that now sits in the old-fashioned elevator shaft!
The Rusty Crane offers a hearty lunch menu with entrees designed to make guests feel full and energetic so they can return to work and still be productive. (instead of “blah,” like after you eat Mexican food for lunch). Just a few of those items are spinach and chef salads, wraps (Mediterranean, Chicken Caesar, the Oriental, Veggie, and Avocado-Turkey-Bacon), and plates with chicken breast, tilapia or black bean hummus. Among the sides are almonds, sauteed vegetables, tabouli and chips with a house-made salsa.
If you’re not interested in a “non-no-crash” item, try the “yum-ladas,” enchiladas that are supposedly even better than enchiladas because they are each individually marinated. (I’m saving that item for next time!)
OK, so most of Tulsa has been to Dilly Deli by this point, but it’s still worth mentioning! Dilly Deli in recent years has become quite popular for its breakfast, which includes a famed Cereal Bar, but I still tend to darken the doors of their establishment during the noontime hour. As you can see from the lovely photo to the left, their tomato basil soup looks delicious. (Oh, and the taste is everything you would hope it would be). One of my favorite sandwhiches there is the Vale: turkey, bacon, pepper jack, avocado, lettuce, tomato & onion served with black bean spread on wheat. These two items combined spell satisfaction.
Obviously, Dilly Deli is a given for soups, salads, and sandwiches. The down side: Parking at 2nd & Elgin can be a little challenging at lunch time, so try to get there early!
I hope you enjoyed my downtown lunch suggestions. What are your favorite places to eat downtown during your lunch break?