A handful of new concepts bring more variety to the OKC food scene.
The 21C Museum Hotel debuted its two new food concepts this month: Bodega and Pool Bar. The former is a breakfast and lunch counter service spot, with full coffee service, breakfast menu, grab-and-go options and a small retail space (bodega style). The menu includes a classic breakfast plate, proper breakfast sandwich, avocado toast, biscuits and gravy, smoothies, parfaits and light cocktails. You’re going to want the pastrami sandwich.
Adjacent to Bodega is Pool Bar, another counter service concept that will function as a support for the hotel’s wading pool and patio and offer a late-night gathering place for cocktails, beer and wine. The bar program is the creation of emerging rockstar bartender Nathan Cover, so there is no drop in quality between Mary Eddy’s main bar and Pool Bar. The kitchen produces a solid variety from vegetarian tacos to loaded fries, but the standout is the city’s best fish sandwich.
Culprits, inside the new Renaissance Hotel in Bricktown, opened last week. The steak and sushi restaurant from Provision Concepts (Broadway 10, Sidecar, Hatch, etc.) will function as the hotel restaurant, but it is also expected to pull in heavy local traffic. The partnership with Phoenix-based chef James Fox introduces some new flavor components to the OKC food scene, and early tastes of the menu show stellar dishes from the traditional steaks to the chicken-fried rib-eye, tartare, sushi (crunch salmon roll!) and one of OKC’s best desserts in the house-made whiskey cake. A full bar offers an extensive wine list, local beers and craft cocktails. Because they are the hotel restaurant, Culprits will be open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Flamingo Tiki from Humankind Hospitality (Frida, Oso, Picasso, Other Room) is open in the Paseo District. Kim Dansereau and Chris Barrett’s bar program is outstanding, and the interior design is stunning. While it’s not as lowbrow as you’d expect from a tiki bar, the design works, and the cocktails are winners across the board, from traditional tikis like Mai Tais and Painkillers to the craft list that features the signature Flamingo. This place is no gimmick, and it’s definitely the best rum list in the city. Food will be on the menu soon, but right now, everyone is just grabbing food from Oso next door.
Ivan Wong’s new Uptown 23rd Taiwanese street food joint Formosa opened July 27 in the old Unwind Cafe space adjacent to Tower Theatre. Wong said the menu has 22 small plates, including a few popular items from Szechuan Story — where he is a partner — as well as eight craft cocktails, beer, wine, sake and soju. “We’ll look at adding a weekly or monthly special somewhere down the line,” he said, “but we like the opening menu.” For now, Formosa will be open seven days a week with a counter service format, indoor and outdoor seating and food runners.
Lunar Lounge is open in Midtown. Julia McLish’s (Barkeep Supply) and Zach Armfield’s newest spot is already one of the city’s busiest bars just a week and a half after open. The concept is a hybrid of sorts, with craft cocktails and kitschy, whimsical design in a neighborhood-bar-meets-dive-bar setting. McLish and her talented team bring the same pursuit of balance and respect for the bartending process to a much larger space than Barkeep, ensuring even more guests will have access to some of the city’s best cocktails. The standout on the menu is the Outer Peaches — a bourbon, cinnamon and peaches cocktail by McLish herself — but there are no weak spots on this list.