Celebrating the ingenuity, passion and dedication of Oklahoma City’s food scene.
As we’ve honored new restaurants in the 405 over the past few years, we’ve had to note how many extra obstacles new and existing eateries alike have had to overcome since 2019. This year is no exception, only instead of COVID, it’s inflation, supply chain issues and staffing difficulties dominating industry news. Dreams don’t die in the face of adversity, though, and restaurateurs are not giving up. In fact, they’re finding new ways to do business, just as they did during the worst of the pandemic.
Service models are changing, and we don’t yet know what the future looks like. We do believe that counter service will continue to be a preferred model, but other arrangements hold promise, too (see our blurb on Sedalia’s). Staffing shortages have made life difficult for the servers, bartenders and support staff who do show up, and more than ever, restaurateurs are asking diners to be patient, kind and generous. Meanwhile, diners themselves are cutting back on eating out as food prices continue to soar.
Still, we are a food city, so restaurants will continue to be central to entertainment and travel stories about OKC, as well as factoring profoundly into the experience of locals and visitors. The James Beard Award win for Florence Jones and the nominations for Chef Andrew Black and Chef Zach Hutton, as well as national accolades for Chef Je Chanchaleune, make it apparent that the rest of the country now knows we’re a food city, too.
And so the dreams continue, even in the face of the adverse conditions, and hospitality professionals keep taking the metaphorical body blows without giving up on — of all things — feeding us food we love. There is something powerfully inspirational about the men and women who work so hard to do such a simple, important task: it’s just food, but it’s not just food when we take into account the love, passion, hard work, hospitality and endurance of these professionals. We hope you get the chance to try all these Best New Restaurants, and we’d love to hear from you about your experiences.
2727 NW 10th St., OKC
Chef Zack Walters and his front-of-house genius wife Silvana are operating Sedalia’s out of the Walters’ family business, an old play- ground equipment company near N. May and NW 10th. The building wasn’t designed to be a restaurant, so the couple retrofitted and retted the facility to include everything necessary to turn it into a small oyster bar with a big patio. (Which will be wrapped starting this winter.)
The emphasis is seafood, and oysters are available fresh or smoked. Chef Walters sources fresh seafood from all over, including anticuchos (skewered meat and octopus), an homage to his wife’s Bolivian heritage. The menu changes each week, giving diners new crudos, conservas and roasted sh dishes look forward to — to say nothing of what is likely the best freshly baked pumpernickel bread in the metro. The wine list is small, quirky and uber-modern, and the gin and tonic with house-made tonic is a must.
308 W. Edmond Rd., Edmond
We are fully in favor of people bringing excellent Peruvian food to the metro, and Edmond seems on a roll lately with its expanding international options. The menu is set up such that people who aren’t adventurous eaters can find something familiar, but you’re really here for the lomo al jugo, tamales, tacu tacu and huancaina.
100 E. Sheridan Ave., OKC
If you want to see a renaissance in Bricktown, starting with great food is a solid strategy. The new Renaissance Hotel asked Je Dixon to operate Culprits on the ground floor, and the choice paid off. Dixon invited James Beard finalist Chef James Fox from Phoenix’s Vecina to consult on the menus, resulting in food that’s easily the best Provision Concepts has yet produced. The rack of lamb is a standout, as is the whiskey cake. Dixon’s love for sushi drives that part of the menu — the crunchy salmon roll is a great place to start. For hearty appetites, chicken-fried rib-eye is an easy yes, but the best thing on the menu is the vodka mezzi pasta dish.
121 E. Sheridan Ave., OKC
The Bricktown tavern has already undergone a menu shift, but it was a solid decision to move away from elegant dining to a more pub vibe, given that the building was Tapwerks for much of its history. Executive Chef Chris McKenna brought a ton of experience and a palate for comfort food to the task. The Danny Sammy — an Italian meats sandwich — the burger, meat- balls and sh and chips are everything you could want from a solid pub.
300 Oklahoma City Blvd., OKC
The Scissortail Park burger joint from Brian Bogert’s Social Order Dining Collective is going to be some people’s first introduction to Oklahoma City’s food scene, and we are 100% on board with that. The burgers are excellent, and standing out in a market that includes nationally famous burgers is impressive in its own right, but Spark doubles down with a fantastic chicken sandwich and a corn dog so good that state fair vendors should ask for the recipe. The signature pink sauce is not a gimmick; it’s an excellent parmesan aioli that works beautifully with the crinkle-cut fries, and the shakes are as silky and crave-able as we’d hoped. You can get the fro- zen cocktails to go, and we can’t think of a good reason to say no to that.
6201 N. Western Ave., OKC
Located inside the Ellison Hotel, Milo is Chef Josh Valentine’s Okie-centric concept that transcends the archetypal “hotel restaurant.” His influence can be seen in everything from breakfast to brunch to dinner, and his signature skill with pork is best found in the pork adovada and house-made breakfast sausage on the Okie Pig. Benjamin Lee bison — an excellent product from Sayre, Oklahoma — is the heart of the bison picadillo sopes. You’ll also find striped bass, trout, steaks, pierogies and stellar desserts from pastry chef Kaci Messerly. Tristan Torres’s bar program, especially the craft cocktails, is excellent.
714 N. Broadway Ave., OKC
Automobile Alley has needed something good to fill the space formerly occupied by Cultivar since before the pandemic. Saj exceeded all expectations with its traditional Lebanese cuisine based on the family matriarch’s recipes. The dolmas are magical; the falafel is the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and moist on the inside; the baklava — made from scratch in house — is a beautifully balanced bite that doesn’t overdo the sweetness.
301 NW 13th St., OKC
Chef Alyssa Ulrich is overseeing an operation that started as a neighborhood bakery and now looks set to expand to be a full-service restaurant with wholesale accounts, cocktails and enough parking to always draw a crowd. The breakfast sandwiches are outstanding, as are the pastries. The Midnight Cowboy croissant is the star, but all her croissants are excellent, and the seasonal options will surely build a fan base.
146 Park Ave., OKC
Chef Andrew Black’s lovely patisserie in the First National complex brings together pastries, oysters, caviar, Champagne and the best egg salad in OKC. The salads and sandwiches will be the heart of the lunch program, especially the Champagne-poached chicken sandwich and the house salad, which is so good you’ll wonder how a simple salad can be so flavorful. When we asked Chef Black, he shrugged, smiled and said, “This is what we do.” The decor is stunning, too; we foresee many, many girlfriend dates with open bottles of bubbles and platters of oysters, plus high tea reservations are already requiring a larger space.
427 NW 23rd St., OKC
Ivan Wong brought some of the recipes from Szechuan Story — he’s a partner in that Asian District hot spot — when he opened Formosa in Uptown 23rd. It’s looking to capitalize on late-night diners leaving Tower Theatre and surrounding bars. The dumplings are the draw, but the full bar and other small plates will make the late-night crowd happy.
2201 NW 150th St., Edmond
You know you’re onto a good thing when national chains start opening up with the same menu as Chef Kevin Lee’s delicious Korean fried chicken. The double-fried birds are crunchy, juicy, savory and satisfying, with the boneless thighs as the obvious standout. You’re going to want the mac and cheese, as well as the inexplicably addictive banana pudding dessert. The cocktail program is small and excellent and prominently features Guthrie-based Wanderfolk spirits.