Years of expansion have built Oklahoma City’s dining scene into a rich tapestry, where local tastes for beef, pork, catfish, and chicken (particularly when they’re fried, smoked, or both) fuse with global cultures. The culinary identity of the 405 has consistently broadened to encompass the vibrant Asian District north of downtown, a range of Mexican, Central American, and South American flavors to the south and west, and a community of Black-owned restaurants growing on the city’s east side. Not even a pandemic could stop that pursuit.
But 2020 taught restaurateurs lessons they are unlikely to forget, and customers have adopted new habits they’re unlikely to abandon. Post-pandemic diners may still cling to outdoor dining where it’s available, and Oklahoma City restaurants show little willingness to dispose of their patios, decks, and sidewalk sets. Operators also expect carryout dining options to remain popular into the future. Online ordering is here to stay, too, and delivery made gains unlikely to recede.
Here are 15 of Oklahoma City’s many restaurants that deserve our support. These establishments pivoted and flourished during the industry’s most challenging times, setting themselves up to lead the way into the market’s next chapter too.
Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit Prepare OKC.
Dave Cathey has been food editor for the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City since 2008. He writes the Food Dude column and is the author of Historic Restaurants of Oklahoma City and A Culinary History of Pittsburg County: Little Italy, Choctaw Beer and Lamb Fries.