Clearly Oklahoma City

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Only in OKC – Restaurants you won’t find elsewhere

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Like any city, Oklahoma City has its share of little cafes and hidden little restaurants that all of the locals know about, but if you’re visiting from out of town, chances are you’ll pass right by these places.  Even some residents of the city don’t know about all of them and are pleasantly surprised whenever they learn of a new place to eat. 

Let’s start big and work our way down.  If you’re not from the Midwest, you’ve probably never heard of Braum’s.  It’s a chain of restaurants that operates in six states, including Oklahoma.  In fact, the main plant is here, and if you’re interested in driving a bit (it’s located near a small town called Tuttle), you can actually take a free tour. 

While Braum’s does serve standard fast food like hamburgers, chicken strips, and breakfast, their main draw is ice cream.  They have a good variety of flavors, and you can get a single dip cone for $1.29, which is much cheaper than all of those marble slab type ice cream stores.  What really makes Braum’s unique, though, is the fact that they also have small grocery stories inside the restaurant.  They offer a surprisingly good amount of items, including (of course) ice cream, milk, bread, frozen entrees, and more.  The ice cream is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I highly recommend visiting a Braum’s if you see one.

Braums
A typical Braum’s store.

Watch this video to see a quick view of the Braum’s plant and learn some of the history of Oklahoma!


Going more local, we have City Bites.  This sandwich shop is only found in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area.  There are currently 18 different City Bites in OKC, so you should easily be able to find one (one opened less than half a mile from my house last spring!).  They offer hot and cold sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes, and have a good sized bakery featuring cookies, brownies, and more.  You can find their entire menu online at http://www.citybitesinc.com/.  If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, I recommend the baked potatoes.  They’re more than big enough to fill you up.

What’s really fun about City Bites is the restaurant ambiance.  Each one is decorated differently, but they all have a theme.  One uses a construction motif – there’s a moving wrecking ball over the door, and the walls and counters have chunks missing like they’re being demolished.  The new City Bites near my home has a jungle décor complete with large tree and tables shaped like leaves.  The bathrooms are also fun.  They’re marked by the astrological sign for male and female (be sure to ask if you’re not sure which is which!) and many have one way mirrors in them so you can look out at people eating while, um, doing your business.  To be honest, that freaks me out a bit, but it is unique!

But those two restaurants are chains, and I know many of you would enjoy the small cafes and stand-alone restaurants.  Well, don’t worry, we have plenty of those, too.  One of my favorites is a local Chinese restaurant called Lido.  Located near the busy Classen and NW 23rd intersection, Lido offers more than just sweet and sour pork and kung pao chicken.  In fact, in addition to Chinese food, they also offer Vietnamese and (oddly enough) some French dishes. 

The restaurant is always packed at lunch and dinner times, but if you go for a late lunch around 2, you’ll often have the entire place to yourself.  Everyone who works there is very friendly, and I’ve never had a bad Lido dining experience.  If you’re looking for Chinese but not in the mood for yet another buffet, this is the place to go.

If you’d like to do a world tour while in OKC, then after China, head over to Zorba’s and experience some home cooked Greek food.  Hummus, gyros, and shish kabobs are all on the menu, and they all taste amazing.  But that’s not just my opinion: Zorba’s is repetitively voted one of the best restaurants in Oklahoma City.  They’re so popular that they have recently moved to a new, larger location.  I haven’t had time to visit it yet, but I’m sure it will be decorated like their old restaurant and feature murals of Greece on the walls.

Heading back to the East, Musashi’s and Sushi Neko are both great options if you’re looking for Japanese flare.  The two are actually owned by the same person and are located across from each other on Western Avenue.  Sushi Neko is one of the best sushi places around, and they go all out: you get the warm towels before eating, can opt to use chop sticks if you like, and can select from a large selection of sushi and other dishes.

sushineko
Inside Sushi Neko

Musashi’s, on the other hand, focuses more on cooked food (although sushi is available).  But you’ll get more than just an entrée: you get a show.  You sit at a small table located in front of a grill, and your chief will juggle bowls of rice, do tricks with eggs, and create pyrotechnic displays while cooking for you.  It’s very fun to watch your food being cooked by these trained chefs, but be ready to spend a bit.  Neither Musashi’s nor Sushi Neko are cheap, but for the quality of the food and the atmosphere, it’s not a bad price.  You’re looking at about $20 to $30 per person, depending on what you order.

If you want something less exotic, you’ll find a little hole in the wall grill in a shopping center near North May and 50th.  This is Ron’s Hamburgers, a no-frills restaurant that offers good, greasy hamburgers, conies, fries, and more.  You get your money’s worth, too: the burgers are huge, and I recommend only the half order of fries unless you’re sharing or want leftovers.  Don’t go to Ron’s if you’re on a diet or looking to be extra healthy.  Pretty much everything there is fried, but it’s so incredibly good that you won’t care about how many calories it has.

I hope you enjoy these great restaurants, and if you’re familiar with Oklahoma City and know of more dining locations visitors might not easily find, leave a comment below and let us know about them.

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