Weekend Getaways · Yummy Places

The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile: My Top 10

I have so enjoyed visiting the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma twice and wanted to share some of my favorite things about it! It’s just a short 1-hour drive from Tulsa to The Merc, so grab some friends and hop in the car for a fun, short road trip!

1. Breakfast. OMG. The Pioneer Woman’s breakfast is OFF THE CHAIN! First off, if you want to avoid the lines, get there early, and you most likely will. My friend Kelly and I arrived there around 8:30 a.m. on a Friday and only had to wait for a table for 5 minutes! This here delicious dish is the Pancake Breakfast with Edna Mae’s Pancakes. It’s served with a sampler of three types of syrups: Aged Vanilla and Cinnamon (my favorite), Orange Zest and Clove, and Sea Salt Caramel. It also has some of the world’s most delicious sausage, bacon, and eggs.

2. The General Store. OK, imagine a Cracker Barrel store, only way cuter! The Merc’s store is full of fun finds for your kitchen, closet, and kids! It’s so fun to browse… and buy too, of course!

My personal favorite items there are the Presidential Finger Puppets. I mean, who doesn’t want to teach their kids about the U.S. Presidents by propping them on their fingers and telling them who Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and George Washington were? Fun!

3. The Bakery. You know that if a place involves the words “Pioneer Woman” and “Bakery,” it’s going to be pretty epic. Cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns. Cookies. Pastries. Your mouth will water upon catching just a glimpse of these baked goods.

I took home a few cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and fruit pastries after my visits to The Merc, and the recipients of them told me they would love me forever. OK, the recipients were my husband and mom, so they have to love me anyway, but still, this gesture didn’t hurt the love vibes one bit.

I mean, just LOOK at that icing on those cinnamon rolls! Well played, Ree Drummond. Well played.

4. Lunch (or dinner)! OK, I mentioned how amazing The Deli’s breakfast is, but the lunch/dinner menu is pretty spectacular, too! Granted, (at least from my experience), they are more crowded for lunch. I arrived at 10:30 and waited 1 hour. And if you come for dinner, be sure to come early, since they close at 7 p.m. on Mondays-Thursdays and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Mercantile is NOT opened on Sundays.

My mom and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Merc. She had the Fried Chicken Sandwich and said it was even better than a Chick-fil-A sandwich, which is really saying a lot! I had the French Onion Soup. Oh my! It was hands-down the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had (maybe because there’s Oklahoma beer in it?!)! Granted, it’s a little difficult to eat due to the stringy/melty cheese, but that’s what you get when you order French Onion Soup!

Have I mentioned that everything on the menu at The Merc is a recipe straight from Ree Drummond herself? I like to imagine that Ree is actually back in the kitchen preparing everything. While I know that’s not actually happening, everything I’ve tried at The Merc is absolutely delicious, and that’s all that matters!

5. Coffee! Do you like coffee? Keep reading! The Merc has great coffee! That’s partially because their beans are from Topeca Roastery here in Tulsa. You can order a coffee beverage either while you’re dining in The Deli or if you go upstairs to the Bakery. I’ve tried both the Spicy Cowgirl (iced drink infused with chile syrup) and the Cowboy Coffee (sasparilla-infused hot latte). Both were yummy and very unique. I enjoyed sipping on them on my ride home.

6. Friendly People. Both times I’ve been to The Mercantile, I’ve met some truly amazing people. It’s so fun that this little city in Oklahoma is now attracting visitors from all over the world! During my most recent visit, I met a couple from Minnesota while I was waiting in line. The wife told me how much she loves The Pioneer Woman. We parted ways once our table was ready, but when we went to pay for our meals, our waitress informed us that our meals had already been paid from “with love from Minnesota.” Sweet couple from Minnesota, if you’re reading this, Kelly and I think you’re the absolute sweetest and are inspired to “pay it forward,” thanks to you!

7. Quality time in the car with loved ones. If you live in Tulsa, it will take you about 1 hour to get to The Merc. If you live in OKC, it will take you about 2 hours, 15 minutes. Either way, that equals fun time in the car with your friends and family! I got caught up on life with my mom and Kelly during my two visits. Plus, it’s a really pretty drive from Tulsa to Pawhuska on some less-traveled country roads. It was definitely time well spent.

8. Candy galore! There is candy of every kind upstairs in the Bakery area: jelly beans, taffy in every flavor imaginable, old fashioned rock candy, and more! It’s a kid’s dream come true. OK, fine, it’s my dream come true too! Sweet tooth heaven!

9. This floral couch. You guys, this couch is just gorgeous. That’s why Kelly and I had to sit on it and have our picture taken. If I could, I would bring my laptop and work from this couch every day while eating cinnamon rolls and drinking Spicy Cowgirls.

10. The possible chance to meet Ree herself. At least in the early days after The Mercantile first opened, The Pioneer Woman herself was up at The Merc ALL THE TIME. Taking pictures with people. Signing autographs. Potentially even whipping up some of the dishes (in my imagination). You never know who you’re going to run into at The Merc. Last time I was there, I spotted Ree’s father-in-law, looking happy as can be chatting with customers.

If you’ve been to The Merc, what were some of your favorite things about it? If you haven’t been yet, what are you waiting for?!

 

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Yummy Places

Take 2 = Eat Lunch Out & Give Back

We all deserve a second chance in life. That’s the theme of Take 2: A Resonance Café — a
great place to eat and support a local nonprofit while you’re at it. Take 2 at 309 S. Main St. provides tasty meals and a positive, educational environment where women recently released from prison can learn valuable skills.

When I visited Take 2 recently, I was surprised to see how bustling it was. On a Friday afternoon, it was filled with plenty of the downtown Tulsa workforce looking for a tasty lunch. The restaurant is resplendent with colorful murals on the walls and bright furniture. It’s not a place where you would expect to find ex-felons.

Everyone who works there is so nice — from Tom Butcher, chef, manager, and former Impressions owner, to the ladies who fix the food and ring up your total. Take 2 is actually very similar to the former Impressions, so if you ever went there, you’ll feel right at home.

I had a half order of the Prime Rib Au Jus, along with a big slice of Banana Pie (it’s half price on Fridays after 1:00!). The sandwich was delectable — tender meat served with hot au jus sauce — perfect for a chilly day. The slice of banana pie was huge and had actual slices of banana in it! In the future, I’ll share it with someone instead of inhaling it all on my own.

I was delighted that Debbie Gordon, Development Director for Resonance, was able to join me for lunch and share more of the Take 2 story with me. Debbie chose the Stew for her lunch and said it’s one of her favorite menu items.

Debbie told me that the sandwiches are a big hit at Take 2, and it’s clear to see why. The meat is fresh-sliced, and options abound: Prime Rib or Sirloin Au Jus, Roast Beef or Turkey Club, Corned Beef, and Pastrami, to name a few. Tom brought his favorite sandwich from Impressions to Take 2, also: the Stacked Deck (roast beef, ham, turkey pastrami, salami, swiss, cheddar). Cold sandwiches include Chicken Salad, tuna, and avocado.

Other items available to order include soups, prepared Chefs Salads and Caesar Salads, and baked potatoes. They also have a number of mouth-watering sides: tabouli, potato salad, shrimp macaroni, cottage cheese, and cole slaw. They also have a fully-stocked salad bar.

As patrons of the restaurant, you aren’t just purchasing food, you are purchasing a better future for someone’s mom, wife, daughter, sister or granddaughter. I had a chance to hear more about the program as I ate with Debbie. The women who are employed at Take 2 have already gone through one of the Resonance programs at Eddie Warrior or Turley Correctional Centers. It can be very difficult for a person coming out of prison to find employment, so Take 2 is a perfect opportunity for these women to prove themselves and find gainful employment.

“If a woman coming out of prison can get a job and a place to stay within 30 days, she can survive,” Debbie told me.

Debbie also showed me the loft above the restaurant where the women who work at the restaurant are able to live. It’s a perfect pair — easy access to work. Pretty amazing that Resonance has come up with an automatic job + housing environment for some of its graduates.

Most of Take 2’s traffic is walk-in customers who work in nearby downtown buildings. It really is the perfect spot for lunch if you work anywhere near central downtown Tulsa.

Take 2 is open 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. They also do catering orders (boxed lunches and sandwich trays) as well as takeout orders. The number to call for catering/takeout orders is 918-861-4555.

Yummy Places

Diamonds in the Rough: Tulsa’s 5 Best Hole-in-the-Walls

I love discovering a restaurant that few people know about that it also amazingly delicious. Sometimes, these places are a little rough on the exterior. Sometimes, they don’t accept credit cards and I have to plan a trip to an ATM beforehand. But always, they deliver on taste and an authentic food experience.

Where can you find Tulsa’s Best Hole-in-the-Walls? Here:

#1: Viet Huong
7919 E 21st St.

Viet Huong is truly one of my favorite Asian restaurants in Tulsa. It’s my go-to spot for pho, and I crave their dumpling soup on almost any cold day. That right there (pictured above) is the BBQ Pork Wonton Soup. Don’t ask me to remember the “V+#” menu item, because I can’t, and their menu of course isn’t posted on a fancy website somewhere for
me to reference. But when you flip through their photo menu and see something listed like that pictured above, you’re going to want to order it. It comes with plenty of fresh vegetables that you can add to your soup, like bean sprouts, cilantro, and parsley. Yum!

My favorite appetizer at Viet Huong is the Spring Roll (pictured right). It’s filled with tons of deliciously fresh vegetables and served with a tangy peanut sauce.

When you visit Viet Huong, just walk in, grab an empty table (if they have one), and the nice Vietnamese waitresses will greet you and take your order. Make sure you bring cash; they are cash only! They’re also a great option for take out, and they supposedly have a drive thru, though I have never tried it.

 

#2: Linda-Mar Drive-In
1614 W. 51st Street and 5941 E. Admiral Place

The next time you’re craving a hamburger and fries, stop yourself before you head over to a staple drive-through like McDonald’s or Whataburger. Wouldn’t you rather support a local business, where the beef is fresh, and the food is cooked Oklahoma-style?

The original location in West Tulsa, which I visited on a snowy afternoon, has been open since the early 1970’s. I quickly realized that a drive-in is not quite the same as a drive-through. There was no place for me to drive my car through and place an order into a squawking box. However, I could easily park, go inside, and place my order for a delicious hamburger to go, or eat my meal inside the small restaurant while watching The Andy Griffith Show, which plays continually at both Linda-Mar locations.

Maybe it was the familiar whistling tune coming from the television that made me feel as though I had been transported back in time. I ordered the most signature item on the menu, the Westside Burger – double meat and cheese with grilled onion cooked into the burger, served on Texas toast. I also had a side of onion rings, which are available raw or grilled. I choose the less bad-breath-inducing option – grilled.

It makes sense that the Westside Burger received its name from the neighborhood where the original Linda-Mar is located, and fittingly, the new location boasts the location-centric name Eastside for its signature burger.

The exterior of the restaurant is intriguing – a cinderblock painted bright yellow and red. Inside, you’ll find NASCAR-themed décor with an image of Winston Cup champion Rusty Wallace’s Blue Deuce covering one wall of the dining room. Owner Mike McCutchen was at one time the owner of the Tulsa Speedway and used to sponsor a Sprint racecar team.

Burgers are the mainstay at Linda-Mar, but the menu also features several other items, including a boneless chicken basket (with a jalapeño option), a grilled chicken sandwich, a grilled cheese sandwich, a hot link sandwich, a coney dog and Frito chili pie. Side options include fried okra, crinkle-cut fries, onion rings, tator tots, fried cheese balls and friend mushrooms.

#3: Tacos Don Francisco
4008 E 11th St.

As you probably know, there’s a vast difference between authentic Mexican food and Tex-Mex. I’m a huge fan of Tex-Mex, but there are times in life when you feel the need to eat a burrito from a menu whose contents are entirely in Spanish, and to order it from someone who tells you “gracias” after you complete your order.

When you need that sort of authentic Mexican food experience, head over to Tacos Don Francisco.

quesadillasI first noticed TDF (as I affectionately like to call it) for the very first time a couple years ago on Christmas Eve around 11:30 p.m. My husband and I were driving around searching for any open venue that could satiate our late-night munchies. As the rest of the world was sleeping, awaiting the arrival of Santy Clause, the ONLY businesses open in all of Midtown were QuikTrip and TDF. So, did we confidently stride into TDF and eat some delicious tacos on Christmas Eve? No. Instead, like the pansy gringo/gringa that we are, we settled for some very un-authentic QuikTrip taquitos from the roller grill. #fail

It was only until recently that I discovered what a huge slipup that Christmas Eve decision was. On a recent weekday at lunchtime, mi amiga Beth and I strode confidently into TDF, knowing that we would likely be the only gringas in the establishment. We were greeted by a very friendly staff and the curious looks of some of the other diners (though I’m sure we would get that anywhere…we are pretty funny looking). Immediately, we looked to the sign above the cash burritoregister that displays the menu. We were pleasantly surprised to see that each menu item is displayed on “Hi, My Name Is…” stickers. Classy. But cute, and it made us laugh.

I carefully selected the Chicken Burrito Mojada, a huge burrito covered in red sauce, cheese, tomato and fresh avocado, complete with plastic silverware (as you can see in my photo at the top of this post). I was also delighted to see that TDF offers my favorite line of Mexican soft drinks: Jarritos. I plopped down in a booth with my Burrito Mojada and Fruit Punch Jarritos, and I was on Cloud Nueve.

Beth, fully aware that we were at a places with “Tacos” in the name, was wise enough to order a taco, a beef one filled tacos_DFwith onions, cilantro, and some sort of yummy sauce. She also tried a chicken quesadilla (which we gringas pronounce as “k-sa-dill-a.” She described it as being “very cheesy, full of flavor, and juicy.” Oh, and both the taco and quesadilla were served with a ginormous pepper.

Our whole experience was very positive. The staff was great, the food was delicious, and the portions were huge for the amount we paid. We also left feeling like we had just been in Mexico, which is always fun.

#4: Wilson’s BBQ
1522 E. Apache St. and 3616 E. 11th St.

North Tulsa is full of great BBQ joints, and Wilson’s is my favorite. They’ve been family-owned since the 1960s and serve up great original recipes.

Some of the favorites on the menu include:

  • Hickory smoked ribs served with baked beans, and coleslaw
  • Sweet potato pie or buttermilk pie for dessert
  • Hickory smoked brisket served with sliced or chopped pickles, onions, and bread.
  • Polish or hot style pork sausage links

When I’m there, I like to order the Pulled Pork Sandwich with potato salad. So yummy!

#5: Eritrean & Ethiopian Café
6934 S. Lewis Ave.


DSC_0004When the Tulsa Places crew visited Tulsa’s most authentic African restaurant, we started out with a delicious appetizer – the Sambusa with Veggie. It’s a vegetable shell pastry filled with lentil, onions and jalapenos. It’s not as spicy as you might expect. It comes with a delicious dipping sauce, and you can also opt for Sambusa with Chicken.

Let’s start with the mega space our meals took up. The largest plates I’ve 20160107_112813ever seen blanketed in a thin, almost-purple injera (a spongy flatbread that is about 18 inches in diameter), with SHIRO WOT steaming in a bowl in the middle. I’m a fan of chickpeas, and this dish’s main ingredient is chickpea flour. The spice of the dish comes from the Berbere sauce. It reminded me of curry but had elements I couldn’t quite place. The chili peppers in the berbere brought enough heat to give my sinuses a relief. The aroma was delectable.

The act of eating it made us question if we should have a demo on how to eat Ethiopian food. Using the injera as a vehicle, the yummy dish made it to my mouth. Luckily, my makeshift bib made it out clean.

I (Lindsay) tried the DERO TIBS – chicken breast with garlic, onions, green peppers and tomatoes. It reminded me a little of fajitas, actually! It was also served with a huge helping of injera.

DSC_0005We have to give the owners of Eritrean & Ethiopian Cafe props. They know their patrons are mostly Americans, proven as the tables filled up with Okie-accented guests. This cafe is eager to share Ethiopian cuisine and they have even noted which items on the menu Americans prefer, such as the Vege-Combo – seven veggies.

When you go to Eritrean and Ethiopian Cafe, have an open mind and a little time to spare. It’s worth taking the time to chat with the owners, take it all in, and enjoy.

Eritrean & Ethiopian Cafe is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. It’s definitely an experience worth having in 2016!

What’s your favorite hole-in-the-wall in Tulsa?

Kid-friendly Places · Yummy Places

BBQ? Mexican? = tacocue. Yes, please.

In a world that is continually saying “yes” to fast casual eateries and most certainly places like Qdoba, Chipotle, Torchy’s, and Fuzzy’s, tacocue americano eatery has entered the scene as a unique twist on the typical taco. Just last week, it opened its first location at 9107 S. Sheridan Rd. in Tulsa.

Jeff Jackson, CEO and President of Legendary Q Brands, the franchisor of Billy Sims BBQ, launched tacocue and has hopes that it will become a franchise as popular as Billy Sims.

When I first heard about tacocue’s concept of BBQ and Mexican fusion, I was hesitant. I mean, I love BBQ, and I love Mexican, but combining the two? It worried me. I quickly discovered there was nothing to worry about when I bit into my tacocue burrito, loaded with pulled pork, guac, pico de gallo, and all the other typical burrito fixings (all of which are made from scratch at tacocue!). The tacocue pulled pork was soft and succulent, and the combination of flavors was delightful. When I followed my tacocue visit by a visit to Qdoba the following day, I wished I had gone back to tacocue!

The four menu items include the Taco Duo (two tacos), Bowl (Salad or Rice), Burrito, and Quesadilla. The eight different meats (Pulled Pork, Smoked Chicken, Hot Link, Chorizo, Hamlet Ham (because they’re co-located with the Hamlet for now), Brisket, Steak and Breakfast Bacon) are seasoned and smoked using pecan wood.

Upon selecting their menu item and smoked meat choice, guests can then choose from over 20 ingredient options to fill their item with, including three salsas – the spiciest of which is tacocue’s “KA-BOOM Sauce.” I tried the tiniest of bite of KA-BOOM Sauce, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart! Only try this sauce if you’re ready to have chapped lips for the next couple days. I had the salsa verde (their medium sauce) on my burrito, and it was plenty spicy, but not overwhelming. And of course, there’s also mild sauce for the cautious.

I took the Taco Duo home to my husband. They were filled with smoked chicken and pulled pork, with a number of fixings, including cojita cheese, which I’ve never seen at any of the other taco joints. He commented on how flavorful they were and begged me to go back.

tacocue is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their breakfast menu offers tacos, burritos, bowls, and quesadillas served with Pulled Pork, Hot Link, Chorizo, Hamlet Ham, Brisket, and Breakfast Bacon served alongside eggs.

I was most impressed by tacocue’s beautiful patio room (below). It can be opened up to the outdoors when the weather is nice and includes plenty of heat lamps if it’s a bit chilly. With a couple of TVs, it looks like a great place to watch a game. The main dining room is filled with fun pop art decor, created by Jeff’s wife, who is a graphic artist.

Affordable, tasty, and unique, tacocue is a welcome addition to the Tulsa fast casual dining scene!

Yummy Places

South Tulsa’s Cafe Seville Speaks My Love Language

fullsizerender-1My husband and I recently discovered Cafe Seville in The Shops of Seville at 101st and Yale and realized that this adorable restaurant speaks our love language: breakfast food!

Their staff arrives at 4 a.m. to begin cooking delicious pastries and other decadent dishes. At Cafe Seville, they serve breakfast items that you won’t find anywhere else. Among the mouth-watering options are French Toast flavors like Caramelized Vanilla Bean, Orange-Almond, and Cherries Jubilee. I would like to try one of each, please! Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Bananas Foster Pancakes!

If you prefer something a little more savory, I recommend the Savory Bacon Tartlet (right). It’s a tasty pastry filled with a sauté of bacon, mushrooms, sweet pepper, thyme and smokey paprika, then topped img_5012with egg and baked into a delicious quiche tartlet and served with fruit. It was extremely filling and flavorful.

My husband went a little South of the Border with his breakfast choice — Blue Corn Stacked Enchiladas (below). Your choice of bacon, ham or sausage, two eggs, cooked any way you like, with potatoes, onion, bell pepper and cheese, then layered between blue corn tortillas, served with Seville Salsa.

Cafe Seville also has a number of breakfast sandwiches and basic breakfast combos with eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, etc.

img_5011They are also open for lunch, serving a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, and burgers.

Cafe Seville is open for Sunday brunch from 10-2 and Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 to 2. They
have an adorable outdoor patio, complete with fireplace. If we can ever get some cooler weather this fall, it would be the perfect place to enjoy breakfast or lunch with a friend on a cool autumn day!

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Yummy Places

Maxxwells Restaurant Serves Up Delicious Eats Inside Campbell Hotel

maxxwellsIf you’re looking for consistently delicious food at a reasonable price in a classy setting, pay a visit to Maxxwells Restaurant inside the historic Campbell Hotel at 2626 E. 11th st. in Tulsa. I love the charm that both this hotel and the restaurant hold. Situated right along Route 66, the restaurant fittingly features black and white photos from Tulsa’s past and booths and a bar that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

IMG_4787When my husband and I recently visited Maxxwells for lunch, we were pleased to find that it wasn’t very crowded, making it the perfect spot for a little date in the middle of our work day. He ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($11) — grilled chicken tossed in buffalo sauce, lettuce, celery, and blue cheese in a flour tortilla, with a side of sweet potato tots. He said the wrap was a little spicy, and the celery gave it a nice crunch.

The real star of his dish was the sweet potato tots. He had tried those before and had discovered that they are basically golden nuggets of goodness. I tried a couple and was truly impressed. They were better than sweet potato fries and better than regular tots – the best of both worlds combined!

I went for a lunch menu item — the half sandwich and soup ($7). I opted for the Open Face Turkey Melt — IMG_4788bacon, tomato, lettuce, Swiss and chipotle aioli on toasted wheat bread with a cup of Tomato Basil soup. The sandwich was delicious! The chipotle aioli definitely made this sandwich. My soup was served very hot and flavorful.

Other menu items that we have our eyes on for future visits include the Smokey Mac n’ Cheese — tossed smoked sausage and diced chicken breast, their Chicken Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Chicken, and the Spinach Salad Hot Bacon Vinaigrette. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that they have a complete breakfast menu and serve breakfast all day long.

IMG_4789We decided to indulge in dessert and ordered a slice of House Made Cheesecake ($5). It was served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and was simply divine.

Maxxwells is open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s most certainly a Tulsa destination worth checking out!

Kid-friendly Places · Yummy Places

Do Not Let the Summer End Without Going to This Tulsa Summer Staple

IMG_4495During the summer, do you ever drive by these little road side shacks that have epic lines and wonder, what’s all the rage about? If you find yourself asking that, then you obviously haven’t tried Josh’s Sno Shack, Tulsa’s destination for ridiculously delicious snow cones.

Josh’s Sno Shack serves snow cones unlike any I’ve ever had in my life. The ice is perfectly soft — none of that crunchy stuff you get at other places. This ice is truly like fresh-fallen snow. How is that possible?

Josh Juarez, owner and founder of Josh’s, told me that the staff is trained to make sure the snow is always top-notch and will make tweaks to the machine if the ice is coming out as anything other than super fresh. And the flavors (there are literally hundreds of flavor combinations) … they are all made in-house with cane sugar, so the syrups are super fresh and high quality.

Josh’s has your regular snow cone stand standbys, such as my personal favorite, Tiger’s Blood josh's(coconut, strawberry), Fuzzy Navel (orange, peach), and Mai Tai (lemon, orange, pineapple). But there are also lots of combinations you can find only at Josh’s, like the Mexican Fiesta (blackberry, lime, margarita) and Peachy King, pictured right (peach, pina colada).

Josh’s is super kid-friendly. With flavors like Bart Simpson (banana, blue raspberry), Finding Nemo (black cherry, orange), and Spongebob (banana, vanilla), your kids are going to be begging for Josh’s (if they aren’t already!). You can also have gummy bears or pop rocks added to any snow cone – fun!

One thing you’ll notice when you visit Josh’s is how incredibly friendly the staff members are. I asked Josh about this, and he said he puts a lot of emphasis on hiring quality people and teaching them great customer service. It really shows! I don’t think there’s been a time I’ve visited a Josh’s when the young person taking my order hasn’t been genuinely interested in how my day is going. It just helps make your snow cone a little sweeter.

You can book a Josh’s Sno Shack for a special event! How fun would that be, to have snow cones at your wedding or party? Josh’s has 7 free-standing locations (8 if you count the one inside Safari Joe’s H20!). Be sure to visit one (or all 7) before the summer ends!

 

Yummy Places

Historic Charm Meets Delicious Food at Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room

burnett1I really love tea rooms. Anything that makes me feel like I’m part of the cast of “Downtown Abbey” is my cup of tea… pun intended! I’m always on the hunt tearooms in the Tulsa area. When I heard there was a tea room inside a historic mansion in Sapulpa, I knew I had to get there post haste.

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My friend Kelsey was in town from the L.A. area IMG_4561last weekend, so a little drive out to Sapulpa to check out Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room was a perfect adventure for us.

When we arrived, we were impressed by the outward beauty of the Burnett Mansion, which houses Miss Scarlett’s. Bates Burnett and his IMG_4569wife, Dannie Ross Burnett, built the Burnett Mansion in 1911. This Southern plantation-style home boasts Tiffany-stained glass windows and fixtures, cut glass windows and doors, woodwork from Spain and the Philippines, and hand-painted walls and ceilings. While the house is three stories, only the first story is part of the tea room and open to tea room guests.

Upon entering the mansion, we were surprised to see that the tea room was completely full. Fortunately, we had made reservations, and an entire swarm of Red Hat Ladies was on their way out. We were seated in a lovely, green colored room with a fireplace. The waitress informed us of the specials, and I selected the Quiche Special. It came with a Ham and Gruyere Cheese Quiche with a fruit cup and muffin. Kelsey chose the Chicken Salad Sandwich, which came with a salad packed with fruit and blackberry vinaigrette dressing, as well as chips.

In the meantime, we enjoyed sipping on our tea. I chose Iced Sweet Tea with Peach. It was truly some of the best peach tea I’ve ever had! Kelsey selected the Tea Service. Our waitress IMG_4558brought her a hot pot of water, a dainty tea cup, and a wooden box filled with about 30 different flavors of tea bags. She was instructed to select two, and she chose a summery Mango Coconut and a Chocolate Hazelnut.

When our food arrived, we were delighted at both the portions and the taste of everything. My quiche was tasty, but the item on my plate that surprisingly stole the show was the fruit cup. It was topped with a deliciously light yogurt topping with what tasted like homemade granola. Now that’s the way to eat fruit!IMG_4559

Kelsey also really enjoyed her meal. We soon learned that the family that owns Burnett Mansion also owns a blackberry farm, so naturally, the menu incorporates a lot of blackberries, like the blackberry vinaigrette on her salad. When it came to selecting a dessert for us to share, we opted for the Blackberry Cobbler. It was served warm with a scoop of ice cream on top. Delectable!

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Overall, our time spent at Miss Scarlett’s was relaxing, fun, and delicious! It’s definitely worth the 30-minute drive out to Sapulpa!

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Artsy Places · Entertaining Places · Weekend Getaways · Yummy Places

Mozart and Bartlesville

PhotoGrid_1449152809141By Bonita James
Mozart and Bartlesville.
I wasn’t sure what those two had in common until I was assigned to cover the 32nd annual OK Mozart International Music Festival for Preview Magazine. After the interview, I wanted to go! The fest was June 11-18, so we decided to make a day trip on the last day of the fest. The plan was to catch a couple acts, check out this small Oklahoma City, and wrap up with the grand finale performed by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

OKM-Logo-Jan16Interviewing Lizabeth Rolfson OK Mozart Marketing and Public Relations Director, I quickly learned there is a “Big Apple” history between Mozart, classical music, and the quaint city of Bartlesville.

For the first 30 years of the festival, Bartlesville music halls were filled with music from New York City artists. Since 2014, OK Mozart started a shift to showcase the caliber of Oklahoma artists of classical, blues, and jazz while keeping tight with their NYC roots.

Bartlesville is roughly a 53 minute drive from Tulsa. Per tradition, we called in an order to Blue Moon in Brookside and took our breakfast on the road.

First on the agenda was a guided tour of the Price Tower Arts Center, designed by the eccentric 1920’s architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I have an appreciation for FLW. I always thought his houses were cool. My favorite FLW house was the ‘59 Fallingwater home in Pennsylvania. I have an interesting family tie with FLW architecture. My sister and her husband in were married at the campus FLW designed, Florida Southern College. My brother-in-law later designed the McKay Archives Center, which had to compliment the adjacent FLW building. Neither of these ties prepared me for what I was about it experience in Bartlesville, OK.

PRICE TOWER: THINK OF A PINE TREE?

File_000FLW sought to bring nature into his structures, and the Price Tower, designed in the 20’s and completed in the late 50’s, is constructed with internal columns being the framework and the rooms “branching out.” As pine trees tend to do, the top was smaller than the base.

In my opinion, it did the opposite of inviting nature in. Balcony views are blocked by triangular barriers rising above eye-level. Nature is more forgiving by way of curvature and providing room to move. Not a curve or 90 degree angle is in sight. But, I will say the tour is worth it. I won’t give it all away here, but there is genius in his design to designate the purpose of rooms and how natural light is brought into the space.

As one of ten buildings designed by FLW on the National Register of Historic Places, this building is rich with Oklahoma history and characters, namely Wright, Price, and Goff.

Our guide put heart into the tour, and we rode the tiniest elevator which exists on this Earth with him. Claustrophobes beware! Price Tower tours are set at designated times, Tuesday-Saturday. We were thrilled to see a Charles M. Schulz exhibition, Peanuts: Naturally, running now through October 9. The exhibition is included in tour admission.

CHOCOLATE, BEER, & MIGHTY FINE FOLKS

Warned of being packed at Frank & Lola’s, we opted to check out The Painted Horse before our next OK Mozart performance. Before going there, though, we were swayed by the small-town chocolate shop next door. We hopped into Omega Chocolate for a break from the heat. Chocolate covered cherries are a weakness. We each picked out two chocolates and paired them with beer at the Painted Horse bar. Now, let me just say when you visit Painted Horse, it is a must that you get an order of the File_000(2)Firecracker Shrimp. Spicy, crunchy, and giant shrimp is all you need to know. So good.

As many towns in Oklahoma, not everything is open on Saturday. We took in the architecture of downtown and learned some history at Johnstone Park. Apparently cannons were used to shoot holes into oil storage tanks when they caught fire. The first commercial oil well in the state was drilled there on site. There is a Kiddie Park with miniature ferris wheel and roller coaster, a skate park, and tennis courts.

Back at the fest, we took in some cool creations featured in the Moz-ART gallery and the Tulsa Girls Art School gallery. TGAS students displayed and sold their artwork throughout the week. Every painting sold goes directly to the artist’s account, and it doesn’t stop there. “Not only do the young artists at TGAS display amazing talent; the program is a model for other areas in the state and it will benefit the region to discover the art as well as the business model that TGAS represents,” Rolfson said.

We bebopped to some barbershop music, which turns out has an incredibly long and connected history with Bartlesville. The Founders Chorus and Lady Barbershop were not only great to listen to but were fun to watch. Next up was Trio Antique, who performed wonderful classical compositions.

The Tulsa Symphony didn’t start until later in the evening, so it was time for another beer break. The people at The Painted Horse were so awesome and nice, we decided to go back for dinner, but not without stopping at Omega to say hi to our new friends and pick up one more chocolate covered cherry.

THE GRAND FINALE

File_000(4)The OK Mozart grand finale was a captivating performance called A Return Voyage from Europe to the Americas featuring Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and Anne-Marie McDermott. There is something about bringing all instruments, individual in their own right, blending together to become one incredible work of art.

Bartlesville is rich with music throughout the year with venues like the newly-constructed Ambler Hall, designed to host intimate experience with chamber music. The Bartlesville Community Center main music hall and performance center captures art from Broadway to ballet. Interesting note: the building was designed to compliment while contrasting the Price Tower.

Although our trip to Bartlesville was short, we learned this town has a big heart. It would be fun to plan a short stay-cation to check out the sites, stay at the hotel in the Price Tower, and take in some unique history.

Entertaining Places · Kid-friendly Places · Outdoor Places · Yummy Places

Flying Tee Has Something for Everyone (Even Non-Golfers)

IMG_4482I had a great time last week checking out FlyingTee, Tulsa/Jenks’ new driving range, entertainment, and dining venue during its Grand Opening. Even though I’m not a golfer AT ALL, I actually left thinking, “I’ll be back here.”

Let me explain. Yes, FlyingTee has the typical driving range that you’ll find plenty of other places. However, their driving range is equipped with all the latest technology bells and whistles, James Vollbrecht, co-founder and chief technology officer, explained to me. This means that even if you’re awful at golf, like me, you could play against Tiger Woods and end up winning. The computers in the bay area allow you to enter your skill level, so I can still play against the pros at my beginner level, and the technology will evaluate us individually according to our skill levels.

The technology in the bays also has plenty for the pros, offering the industry’s most advanced golf ball tracking technology to get real-time data on every single swing. You can even play pro courses like Pebble Beach through the technology. FlyingTee also has five instructors on staff who will help you constantly improve your game.

FullSizeRender (2)While many of the players in the bays are simply practicing their range, other players come out for the entertainment aspect the technology offers. James showed me how you can play a number of different games, such as Blackjack, 21, Horse/Pig, and Darts. If you bring kids, they can still play even if all they can do is putt! These games are perfect for golfers of all levels, and fun, too!

IMG_4475Aside from the games, Flying Tee is also a place to head for food. The venue offers three different restaurants! The Sports Bar on the first level is a great place to catch a game thanks to 16-foot wall of TVs. They also have a huge sports ticker running across the ceiling. Some of the food highlights in The Sports Bar are shrimp tacos, seared tuna salad, a variety of pizzas, and chicken wings. Folks playing in the bays can also order off The Sports Bar menu and have it delivered out to their bay.

IMG_4478The second floor restaurant is Ironwood, featuring a massive rotisserie grill. This is THE place to get meat and veggies skewered rotisserie-style. We’re talking rack of pork, yukon gold mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus, for example. YUM! Other highlights in Ironwood include a Prime Rib Sandwich and Salmon Salad. Ironwood also offers a nice outdoor patio that overlooks the Arkansas River.

The third floor restaurant is Flite, and it is exclusively opened on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. It offers small “flights” of food, like the Crab Flight: Crab salad, naan bread, tzatziki sauce, romaine, carrot and daikon salad and Duck Two Ways: cast iron seared duck breast served with hoisin, green onion, maple shallot bacon, wonton and spring roll chips. Sounds exquisite!

IMG_4480James also pointed out that all of the menus at FlyingTee offer gluten free options, such as GF chicken wings, GF fried okra, and GF French fries.

FlyingTee is not part of a chain. It is locally owned and operated. James said they do hope to expand to more locations over time.

Personally, I think FlyingTee is a great addition to the Jenks Riverwalk. That area has been struggling over the last few years, and it’s likely that FlyingTee will breathe new life into it. Welcome to Tulsa, FlyingTee!

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