So this one time…in hot and steamy OKC in August…there existed a restaurant called Iguana Grill. They had been holding weekly taco nights called “taco Tuesday” for over a year now. This “taco Tuesday” was a large hit with the OKC crowd because of the yumminess and crafting of great tacos and the fact that it allowed you to eat great while still stay on budget. And then…out of the clear blue sky… a corporate jerk in the fashion of Taco Johns (their slogan is the “fresh taste of west mex”….wtf is west mex…) swoops in and attempts to rain on Iguana’s Parade by letting them know that “taco Tuesday” has been trademarked by them and demanded that Iguana change the name of their Tuesday evening festivities. Little did Taco John’s know that OKC loves our local businesses and does not appreciate corporations which are not even in Oklahoma butting in and telling us what we can or cannot do. Needless to say, a Twitter firestorm has been brewing the last couple of days and this week’s Taco Tuesday (or Taco Day After Monday…same DAMN thing) was a roaring success.
I, of course, in the excitement of the evening forgot to take pictures of the food, but I assure you, it was fabulous. The specials tonight (doing this off the top of my head..hope I don’t screw up!) were Wild Mushroom, Roasted Vegetable, Quail with peach chutney, and Pork. I, being the Okie Preggie, just chose to stick with the vegetable and a couple of beef tacos. They were of course delicious. The rest of my table ventured out with the rest and all had great things to say about all of the food.
All of this reminds me of another story involving an Oklahoma small business and a large corporation. As many of you know, I hail from the sprawling metropolis of Marlow, OK (population 4500). There was a clothing boutique there that was a very small, family owned business called Coco’s. Well a few years back, some way somehow, Chanel got wind of this business and wrote a letter stating that the name “CoCo” was trademarked and they were not allowed to use this name for their business. Now forgive me if I am wrong, but this small clothing boutique would NEVER infringe on any of Chanel’s clientele. Most Marlowites have never even heard of Chanel and certainly will never be able to afford it. It reminds me very much of tonight’s debacle.
The story to take away from the evening is not necessarily the awesomeness of the food/company/atmosphere/etc., but that we Oklahomans band together when someone steps in and shakes their corporate finger at us. We are proud of our local businesses and all this has done is made us support Iguana THAT much more. So, Thanks Taco Johns for helping boost our Oklahoma economy. We Taco Tuesday attendees will still continue calling it that even though it will not be the official name of every Tuesday night at Iguana and now have an army of angry, hungry Oklahomans behind us supporting the cause too.
I remember when I was a little girl scrounging up my change so I could walk down Main Street in Marlow to get a slice of pizza from DiCintio’s. My neighbor Jamie and I would do this on a weekly basis. It was just a little hole in the wall pizza joint that sold pizza by the slice. We thought we were the bees knees going out on our own to grab our own lunch without our moms. That was one thing I loved about small town living. I grew up wandering the little town on summer days and my mom didn’t have to worry.
A few years after, Giuseppe’s opened up in the old bank next door. This was all the rage in the area. We really don’t have a wealth of fine dining establishments in my little country town. I remember being impressed as a young’n, but it still impresses me today.
I order (every time without fail) the chicken parmesan. I also get a side of pesto sauce for a dipping sauce for my bread. While I was in high school, I would go here for lunch and grab a side of pesto, a meatball, bread, and salad. Such a great lunch. I love Italian food and try to eat it as much as possible, but Giuseppe’s has hit the nail on the head with chicken parmesan. It is such a simple dish that doesn’t really push any boundaries, but it is that simplicity that keeps me going back every time. My mother orders the light portion of garlic shrimp. This is great. It’s a yummy white wine butter sauce and is packed with flavor. My dear grandmother sticks to light portion of vegetable lasagna. I’m a big fan of vegetable lasagna’s and wish I could find a good Italian market much like Vace which I used to frequent in DC for a good prepared vegetable lasagna. I honestly don’t have the patience to make it! Back on track…
The Italian food here is delicious. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to realize you are in rural Oklahoma. The atmosphere of the restaurant is great. White table cloths, vintage exposed brick, old original ceiling tiles, mafia type music playing in the background. Like I said, this used to be a bank back when Marlow was a boomtown. It definitely maintains that old west feel. Giueseppe’s has put Marlow on the map. It is a must stop when driving through town. I sometimes tell people where I grew up and they instantly ask me if that is where that good Italian restaurant is. Yes, we are proud of our little hometown Italian restaurant. The only thing left for improvement is the wine list is scarce. I’m a big fan of wine with my Italian food and there isn’t a large selection. And yes, you can still order the pizza here I was so proud to buy as a little tot.
One of my favorite things about Oklahoma is the cultural pockets of our state. Because of the nature of frontierism, we are blessed with rich cultural pockets throughout the state. Giuseppe’s isn’t trying to cook good Italian food, they DO cook good Italian food. It’s a must eat in Oklahoma.
So during my lunch hour the other day, Jed (my co-worker) and I decided to try the talk of the town, Republic Gastropub. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this new Oklahoma City restaurant that opened on March 29th. I just had to try it.
We arrived at the prime lunch hour to the swanky little spot and there was of course a wait (remember…i said talk of the town). We decided to grab a couple of spots at the bar. I was immediately stricken by the LARGE amount of beers on tap (100 on tap…250 bottled!) and the giant tvs everywhere. This bar seems like it would be a great place to watch a game. I wasn’t there to watch a baseball game or the Thunder (PLAYOFFS…YEA!) play, I was hear to try these great burgers I have heard about.
I am a big fan of the slightly “flared” up (think Office Space) or “fancy” hamburger for all you non-movie fans out there. The burgers at this place slightly remind me of Ray’s Hellburger in Arlington, VA. The plus about Republic is that you also get a great, swanky atmosphere with a fabulous atmosphere to go with it.
Jed ordered the Belle Isle Burger. This a burger with grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, and Jed said “an interesting cheese sauce that surpringly works.” He was pleased. I wanted to try it, but he was being totally greedy and didn’t let me! I ordered the Republic Burger. This burger was SO yummy. This had some bacon yumminess, gruyere cheese, bleu cheese and wait for it…. TOPPED WITH AN EGG. Now I was telling some friends about this burger and apparently it isn’t a rare thing to find a burger topped with an egg. Well it is in Okie Foodie’s world, so I was completely excited about this. It was a great burger. I’m a huge fan of anything with gruyere cheese (well….cheese in general), but this prooved to be an amazing lunch.
I definitely fed into the buzz about this new restaurant at the Classen Curve. It is easily one of the best restaurant atmospheres in Oklahoma City. It makes you want to pinch yourself because no…you aren’t in some swanky restaurant in LA or NYC, you are in the Sooner State. If we continue to produce restaurants such as Republic, we are definitely on the up and up.
I also heard the donuts were amazing. Save room next time because I definitely didn’t!
How about the Thunder!!!! Thunder UP!
I remember the first time I ate sushi. I was a NERVOUS wreck. It’s like one of those things that if you haven’t grown up with it, everyone is afraid to try. Believe me. There are NO sushi restaurants in and around the Marlow, Oklahoma area. We eat our fish fried and it is usually caught in the pond on our back 40 or in some muddy lake called Clear Creek (oxymoron much?). Trying sushi was like taking a step out of my food comfort zone. But glory, hallelujah am I glad I took a leap of faith on that one.
I began eating quite a bit of sushi while I lived in Washington, DC. I usually stick to the rolls, simply because the unknown of the other kind (can’t remember the name….I’m a bad foodie) freaks me out. I would be more than happy to try it…but have NO idea how to order! Out in DC, we tried quite a few places and learned what we liked and didn’t like. Getting Joe to enjoy sushi has to be one of my greatest achievements in life. His name is Joe Bob. Usually people named Joe Bob do not eat sushi. But my person named Joe Bob does!
I wasn’t expecting much in the sushi category after moving back to Oklahoma. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My co-worker Jed and I ventured off for a lunch full ‘o sushi. We headed to one of his favorites, Sushi Neko and he basically said he was going to order for me. Seriously…Jed knows everyone in this place. I think he goes multiple times a week. I usually put my trust in other people, because heck, I will try anything once. He ordered the Cajun roll (crawfish in a spicy mayo), spicy tuna (my all-time favorite), and the lifesaver roll (minus the onion+extra tempura bacon). The Cajun and spicy tuna were just exceptional. The spicy tuna was easily the best spicy tuna that I have ever had. The tuna was ACTUALLY spicy. There is nothing that irks me more than getting spicy tuna and it not having any kick at all. The highlight of the meal was easily the lifesaver roll. From my understanding… This is basically a California roll with tempura bacon inside, topped with a small piece of tuna or salmon, lathered in spicy mayo. Whatever was in it was AMAZING. These are a mouth full…so definitely do not eat these on a date as they are not flattering while consuming, but they are glorious.
I know Sushi Neko is an Oklahoma City favorite. I’m slapping myself for living in Norman all of those years and never trying this place. It is easily one of my new favorites. It’s definitely not very comforting for the pocket book…but you easily forget that once you are in their chic dining room and see all the yumminess of sushi all around you.
Dear Loaded Baked Potato:
Butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, chives, and ranch dressing (Yes…I said ranch dressing)… All mixed together harmoniously inside of a potato baked to perfection. Could I be dreaming? Is this really a reality? How could you be so filling, yet oh so delicious? How could you, a simple, starchy vegetable that has sustained society for hundreds of years, be mixed with a potpurri of toppings and change my life like you do? You make eating a steak THAT much better. You are mixed with a salad and provide the perfect addition of carbohydrates to my diet. Don’t let those Atkins diet crazies get you down. The Okie Foodie appreciates the rich carbohydrates you provide. You are an unfailing side dish, that can sometimes even be turned into an entree. You are the ultimate comfort food. Thank you for being you. Don’t change a thing and keep on sustaining human life as you have done for hundreds of years.
Obviously, New Orleans is not in Oklahoma, but I travel quite a bit and of course I plan my trips around food! A few things I learned about New Orleans on this trip is A) the REALLY yummy food is quite expensive B) Central Grocery with the good muffaletta’s closes at 5pm and is closed on Sundays C) No place has Dr. Pepper D) A lot of places are cash only. I am also sure that there is some great food outside of the French Quarter, but I was so busy, we had to stay in the area. All that negativity aside, I had a decent foodie experience even with the small budget and a jam-packed weekend (seriously…I had to leave meetings to find time to eat.. NOT COOL). I DO plan on making another non-meeting surrounded trip down to New Orleans in the near future to really indulge myself in the great food/shopping/fun/debauchery the city has to offer.
THURSDAY= I arrived quite late in New Orleans as well as did some of my friends. We decided to of course go out on Bourbon Street. The rest of the night is kind of a blur (wonder why?!), but we definitely stopped by a diner down the road from our hotel and oh do I remember it vividly. It was called Daisy Dukes and I indulged myself in a 3am Cajun omelette. It was delicious…but NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT EAT A CAJUN OMELETTE AT 3AM WHEN YOU HAVE A MEETING AT 8AM… But I of course enjoyed it at the time, not so much when I woke up pregnant with a food baby that morning.
FRIDAY= We were on the hunt for seafood and went to a local recommendation and the wait for a table was over an hour, so because we were all STARVING and frankly in a hurry…we opted for the Sugar Shack across the street. To tell you the truth, I was not expecting much from this place. It just looks like your run of the mill sports bar, but it was quite busy, so we went in anyways. Our appetizer of barbeque shrimp came out and it was delicious. The shrimp was not fried as I was expecting and it was in a Cajun barbeque sauce. The sauce was interesting, but delicious. It had a soupy texture with the normal barbeque sauce flavors with a little Cajun kick to it and LOTS of vinegar. Being a fan of vinegar based barbeque sauces, I was pleased and wanted more! For my entrée, I ordered the soft shell crab plate. I will be honest with you. I am a foodie yes, but this still freaked me out because I kept thinking of the crab being alive and what not. Needless to say, I quickly got over this and it was DELICIOUS!
SATURDAY= We ate at the historic Napoleon House. It was built in 1791 and was going to be used as a house for Napoleon at one point, but is now a bar and restaurant. This was I think my favorite place of the weekend besides my Sunday adventure (read below). The prices were cheap (think $5 an entrée!!!!), the wait was short, the drinks were strong, the ambience was perfect complete with classical music and French antiques, and the food had great flavor. The waiters at the Napoleon House all wear bow ties and there are antiques and old paintings all over the restaurant. It is almost as if you have stepped back in time.
SUNDAY= I had my best experience on Sunday. My dear friend Colin Curtis and I had breakfast at Cafe Du Monde. I got quite a bit of recommendations from foodies out there via Twitter (follow me: @OkieFoodie) and comments on posts, so I had to try the famous beignets and the cafe au lait. I of course wore a black jacket and dark pants when I decided to eat fried goodness covered in powdered sugar. Powdered sugar gets EVERYWHERE, but the beignets were amazing. It is almost like a funnel cake, but WAY better. The cafe au lait is delicious for both coffee whores like me, or for the coffee novice. This is a must stop in New Orleans.
Surprisingly, we did eat sushi on Sunday evening. Yes, not the type of food you would think about eating in New Orleans, but it was great! Check out my UrbanSpoon link below for the info.
New Orleans is a great city, but I’m definitely happy to be back in the Sooner state!
Dear Braum’s Ice Cream Cone,
There you are… In all of your sugary beauty… I drive all around Oklahoma and pass your simply decorated stores with the fun 80s photography pictures inside of hamburgers, banana splits, and cow pastures with your colorful pink ice cream cone sign out front and I instantly have a craving for a single dip of butter pecan in a waffle cone. I fight the urge to pull through the drive-thru, but your sugary goodness draws me in time and time again. I receive the perfectly crafted ice cream cone at such a cheap price (those east coasters pay upwards of $5 for ice cream) and I wonder if you have been sent to Oklahoma (and north Texas and Arkansas) directly from God to satisfy my sugary desires. You are simple. You are unchanging. You are an old reliable friend on a bad day. You make me very happy. Thank you for being you.