An influx of options that shouldn’t be overlooked by locals.
Although locals tend to view Bricktown as a “tourist district” or entertainment destination, the reality is that over the past three years, we’ve seen a definite shift in Bricktown’s food scene, such that it should be a destination for metro residents, too. The refurbishment of the old TapWerks building, the construction of the new Renaissance Hotel and the continued development of the properties around Harkins Theatres have created opportunities for local restaurateurs to take a chance on the city’s original downtown district.
One of the newest concepts in the district is The Side Chick, a modern American restaurant with a sports bar vibe. “We like to call ourselves sports-friendly, not a sports bar,” said co-owner Tammy Radney. Located in the former Hooters space on the canal at 115 E. California Ave., The Side Chick focuses on classic Americana: sandwiches, cheese fries, mac and cheese and some of the city’s best wings.
“We like to work with other local businesses, so we use the Kosmo’s Q dry rubs from Yukon,” Radney said. She and her husband, Ty, also own Tipsy Island Margarita Lounge in Yukon.
Yukon business owner, Latrice McMillian, has moved her Ragin Cajun to Lower Bricktown, bringing what could be the city’s best Cajun food to 200 S. Oklahoma Ave. near downtown. McMillian is originally from Alabama, where she has another restaurant, and her flavors come straight from the Gulf Coast seafood culture that has its strongest presence in the Creole, Cajun and Southern flavors of New Orleans. Everything from the spicy chicken gizzards to the blackened lobster and gumbo is bursting with flavor. The noodle bowls are exceptional, as is the jalapeño cornbread, and the full bar serves up boozy, sweet frozen drinks and a full line of craft cocktails.
Brian Bogert’s Social Order Dining Collective is best-known for The Jones Assembly and Spark, but Bogert has long been on the development side of popular franchises. He was instrumental in developing the cocktail program for Fuzzy’s Taco Shops at his original location in Norman, and he’s had a hand in helping with Dave’s Hot Chicken, too. At his Lower Bricktown locations, he took over the former Sonic space at 208 Johnny Bench Dr. to add to Fuzzy’s and build out Dave’s Hot Chicken. The two franchises are known commodities at this point, and diners flock to both for the consistent high-quality food and service.
The chicken at Dave’s is spicy, as advertised, but even the hottest level is within pain limits (for many people) and manages to taste like chicken instead of just searing heat. The frozen cocktails at Dave’s are a genuine treat, as are the margaritas at Fuzzy’s. No one knew that feta cheese was good on tacos until Fuzzy’s came along — or if they did, they never told us — but it isn’t just the novelty of Greek cheese on a Mexican staple that makes Fuzzy’s appealing. The spicy pork, fish tacos, queso, and breakfast tacos are all excellent.
When Community Through Beer took over the TapWerks building at 121 E. Sheridan Ave., it was very much in need of refurbishment. The company behind The Patriarch and Social Capital brought Chef Chris McKenna on board to helm the kitchen in the beautifully remodeled space on the first floor known as The Joinery. The modern American approach gives McKenna — formerly at Boulevard, Packard’s and Stella — a home for his stellar food, with a menu that changes seasonally. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is pastry chef Amber Bloom Pego, whose creative, beautiful desserts make The Joinery a destination for multiple reasons. Checking out the basement bar is an essential part of any trip to Bricktown.
We can thank the Bricktown Renaissance Hotel’s decision to partner with Jeff Dixon’s Provisions Concepts (Broadway 10, Hatch, Sidecar, etc.) for the existence of Culprits at 100 E. Sheridan Ave.. We covered it in the January issue, where we noted how beneficial the input of chef-consultant James Fox will be to OKC’s larger food scene. Fox is a James Beard nominee from Phoenix, who infused the Culprits menu with his signature flavors before partnering with Dixon on Riserva in Chisholm Creek. As a hotel restaurant, Culprits serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, and the food is excellent, with the rack of lamb, scallops and vodka mezzi as standouts.
There are many more locally owned options in Bricktown, including Oklahoma Craft, the delicious pizza at Rendezvous, tacos at Yucatan Taco, and New Orleans specialties at Bourbon Street. The explosion of great food makes our “tourist district” more than worthy of consideration for local dining, too.