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?

Yummy Places

5 New Restaurants to Try in 2016

It’s time for the most popular post of Tulsa Places each year…where we offer suggestions on the new restaurants in the Tulsa area that are worth checking out!

DSC_0044#1 and #2: Toast, Franklin’s Pork and Barrel
201 S. Main St. and 203 S. Main St., Broken Arrow

Toast and Franklin’s Pork and Barrel are two restaurants with two separate menus under one roof. Ben Buie, who also owns Potbelly’s in Broken Arrow, opened the two restaurants in Broken Arrow’s Rose District in October 2015.

#1: Toast

Toast offersDSC_0036 breakfast, brunch, lunch and day-time cocktails Tuesday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It has quickly become a favorite among Broken Arrow locals, who rave about the Lemon Blueberry Pancakes and homemade Cheddar Biscuits.

When I visited Toast, I tried perhaps the most unique item on the menu – the Southwest Bruschetta Benny – mozzarella with an avocado salad, two poached eggs, cilantro pesto hollandaise on tortilla chips with balsamic drizzle and pumpkin seeds. Wow! This is one flavorful brunch item! Who would have thought to make a variation of Eggs Benedict using tortilla chips? It was delicious, and I especially enjoyed the cilantro pesto
hollandaise.

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Toast features two other variations of Bennies: Franklin’s Benny – a cheddar biscuit topped with Canadian bacon, two poached eggs, and hollandaise – and the Salmon Cake Benny.DSC_0039

Other popular menu items at Toast are Crepes (Nutella or Berry Cream), the Green Chile Breakfast Burrito and Biscuits and Gravy. The mimosas are free-flowing at Toast, with three different types to choose from, along with other interesting breakfast libations, such as “Cereal Milk Shots.”

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#2: Franklin’s Pork and Barrel

DSC_0040Franklin’s serves upscale American food with a southwest flair. It is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Franklin’s offers menu items you’re unlikely to find other places in Green Country – like the Peanut Butter and Sriracha Burger and sides like Skillet Corn Lime-Scented Sweet Potato and Hominy Grits.

The menu is diverse – featuring barbeque-themed items like Pulled Pork, Smoked Meatloaf Sliders, and a Bar-B-Que Platter, sandwiches like the Franklin’s Cuban, Smoked Meatloaf Sliders, and the Smoked Pimento Cheese Burger. For those who are not in the mood for red meat, dishes like Seared Organic Scottish Salmon, Mahi Mahi Oscar, the Santa Fe Turkey Sandwich, and Three DSC_0046Way Chili with Smoked Chicken are available.

I tried the Chipotle Mac N Cheese with Pork Belly. Don’t get scared, folks – pork belly is essentially bacon. Who doesn’t
love mac and cheese with a hint of spice and a touch of bacon?

These two restaurants under one roof are definitely worthy of two visits to Broken Arrow’s Rose District!


#3: Taziki’s

4925 E 71st St, Tulsa, OK 74136

IMG_3849When Taziki’s opened in Tulsa in December 2015, it became the 50th Taziki’s location nationwide. It’s the first location in Oklahoma and was started by the same folks who brought Papa John’s and Genghis Grill to Tulsa.

The ambiance is inviting – huge pictures of the owner’s trip to Greece adorn the walls, and a warm fireplace beckons patrons. It’s hard to do Greek food well, and it’s perhaps even harder to do “fast casual” Greek food well, but Taziki’s nails it. Granted, Taziki’s is Greek food with an American take.

The menu offers a number of options that would be great for lunch or dinner – everything from gyros to salads to sandwiches to “Taziki’s feasts,” which are meat or vegetarian plates served with a choice of basmati rice or roasted new potatoes and a generous portion of Greek salad.

IMG_3851I tried the Grilled Shrimp Feast. Plump shrimp grilled with lemon juice, butter, and a touch of blackened season – yum! I was impressed by the generous-sized Greek salad, complete with plenty of feta cheese.

One of my friends tried the Herb-Roasted Pork Loin Feast. The pork is rubbed in Taziki’s signature blend of herbs and seasonings, grilled and served with tomato chutney aioli with a side of grilled asparagus. She said it was some of the best pork she’s ever had!

My other friend tried the Lamb and Skordalia Gyro – skordalia (a thick, garlic-based puree), roasted red peppers and grilled onions. The gyros and deli items are served with a choice of side – basmati rice, roasted new potatoes, pasta salad, fresh-cut fruit or tomato-cucumber salad.

We also indulged in Baklava. It was everything you expect the flaky, sticky dessert to be! You can’t go Greek for lunch without getting Baklava!

Taziki’s is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Taziki’s has already made plans to expand to a second Tulsa location on Cherry Street.

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#4: Eritrean & Ethiopian Café
PhotoGrid_14491528091416934 S Lewis Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136
With Bonita James 

The Tulsa Places bloggers weren’t mentally prepared to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant during a lunch break. Squeezing in a culinary adventure in between a mind full of work stuff lead to a jarring realization that we were about to eat foreign food, with our hands. We didn’t see a single utensil in the place.

DSC_0003

 

Our waiter and owner of Eritrean & Ethiopian Cafe had a contagious smile. He graciously explained to us the best dishes on the menu.
DSC_0004We 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.

Taking one for the vegetarians out there, I (Bonita) quickly became torn between the ATKILT and the SHIRO WOT. My decision was made when I learned SHIRO WOT was our waiter’s “birthday meal” his wife prepares for him every year. I felt lucky she prepared one for me that day.

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!

Bonus: Pop into the Ebute-Metta Tropical market next door. They carry African and Caribbean ethnic foods and have a nice selection of hot sauces and jerk seasoning.

 

#5: Rincon Mexican Grill and Cantina
6219 E 61st St, Tulsa, OK 74136


IMG_3965I know what you’re thinking — just what Tulsa needs, another Mexican restaurant! Well, in my opinion, yes! You can never get too much Mexican food… salsa, margaritas, chimichangas, come to me! Now, it’s true that most Mexican restaurants are essentially the same… tacos, burritos, refried beans and rice. But one thing I noticed about Rincon is that their service is exceptional. I’m talking about even when your salsa is not even close to being empty, the waitress was there to give you a fresh one. Speaking of the salsa, the chips were served with two salsas — a medium salsa and also a fire-roasted one as well.

My husband’s go-to item to try at Mexican restaurants is the Chicken Chimichanga, so that’s what he tried (above). Served with a generous portion of white queso, rice, and your choice of refried, IMG_3966black, or pinto beans, it was certainly enough to satisfy a grown man. He mentioned that the chimichanga was crispy and baked to perfection.

I decided to try the Del Mar (seafood) Platter, which had a Blackened Mahi Mahi Taco, Shrimp Taco and Seafood Enchilada with Mexican rice and black beans. The Shrimp Taco was especially delicious, with a pico de gallo perfectly complimenting the fish.

Rincon also has a nice little bar tucked into the restaurant. The atmosphere of the restaurant is a step up from most typical Mexican restaurants, and the staff will go above and beyond to make your experience enjoyable. I noticed a few unique IMG_3968items on the menu that you don’t normally find at Mexican restaurants, like Baby Back Ribs.

I’ll definitely be back to try mas!

 

Which new restaurants in the Tulsa area did we forget? What are your favorite new restaurants in the area (opened 2015 or sooner)?