Is Oklahoma a Southern state or a Western state? It might take you all day to decide and when you do, let me know. But while you’re thinking about that, how about breakfast at the best restaurant in downtown OKC?
That’s green eggs and ham with prosciutto and arugula over an english muffin topped with poached eggs and pesto and it was just the right combination of fresh and salty with no greasiness. The chefs at Kitchen No. 324 make everything from scratch using fresh local produce and as far as I can tell, this is the only farm to table restaurant in downtown OKC. They also have killer pastries, cold pressed juices and great coffee and they’re open for dinner 5 days out of the week. I ate here three different times and everything I had was stellar.
After breakfast, gear yourself up for a sobering experience and visit the Memorial Museum of the OKC bombing in 1995.
I know this sounds like a grim adventure, but the museum is a gorgeous memorial space to those who died in the blast and the bravery of all the responders who worked for weeks to uncover bodies and sort out what happened. They deserve to be remembered and it’s heart wrenching to walk through the Gallery of Honor where photos of the people who died are accompanied by little mementos their families created to represent them. I appreciate that the museum designers focused more on the memorial aspect of the museum and less on the whys and wherefores of the bombing since it’s difficult to absorb the senselessness of this kind of anti-government protest.
This bombing helped shape Oklahoma City and anyone who visits here will see the city differently after visiting this memorial. The Memorial museum is open every day and adult tickets are $12.
They’re also featuring a “Gods and Heroes” exhibit of Renaissance pantings from the Parisian Ecole de Beaux Arts. This museum is open Tues-Sun with a $12 admission fee but it only costs $5 on Thursdays after 5pm.
The Memorial Museum and the Museum of Art can each be seen in an hour and they’re easy walking distance from each other.
After your morning museum, take a walk over to Bricktown, the entertainment district of OKC.
There’s quite a bit to do in this neighborhood including the ballpark where you can watch the RedHawks play and the banjo museum. There’s also a one mile long canal with water taxis and several restaurant options for lunch. I’d recommend Tapwerks with an extravagant beer list including over 200 beers on tap.
Get a taste of some of Oklahoma’s finest beers in the sampler above (I was partial to the Dead Armadillo) and order a burger made with pure Oklahoma beef. This is a pleasant pub in which to spend an afternoon drinking way too much beer but I’d recommend getting out before that happens and walking down to the Bricktown river landing along the canal where you can see some incredible full sized sculpture commemorating the pioneers crossing the plains.
And catch a river boat up the Oklahoma River.
This cruise is about 3 hours long in it’s entirety and traverses several miles of the Oklahoma river through a couple of locks where you can watch the mechanisms control the river depth. The boat cabin is air-conditioned and beautifully appointed with little tables and a bar and it’s very soothing just to watch the water drift past. You could take the cruise in a big loop or get off at any of the 4 landings and pick the boat up again on the way back. Each landing costs $6 for adults and $3 for kids.
We stopped at the Exchange landing and went to see Stockyards City, the Western district inside OKC. In nice weather, walk the 2 mile trail along the river from the landing into the city.
Stockyards City is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the place to buy western wear, saddles, dreamcatchers and turquoise jewelry. It’s also home to the world’s largest cattle market with livestock auctions every Monday and Tuesday morning at 8am. If you want to hang out here and eat dinner, go to Cattleman’s Steakhouse and try a true Oklahoma Steak.
But I’d recommend getting back on the boat and getting off at the Bricktown landing and walking up to Ludivine at Hudson and 7th (or seriously, catch a cab because it’s already been a long day!)
It’s a close call as to whether Kitchen 324 or Ludivine is my favorite OKC restaurant. Both are farm to table restaurants that support local farmers and ranchers and serve seasonal food prepared in unpretentious atmospheres.
That’s the roasted striped bass dinner for 2 with seasonal veggies, roasted jalapeños and homemade tortillas.
I think I might come down in favor of Ludivine where the chefs change their menu up daily depending on the market and their bar serves a blue plate special every Monday night for $10 and donates some of the cash to charity. I really enjoyed my meals at this place and I would recommend ordering the bone marrow and then asking the bartender to give you a “bone marrow shot.” Don’t worry about it, just try it! And make sure someone gets video…
If you still feeling like getting out on the town after dinner, go a few streets north to 16th where the Plaza District is revitalizing an old neighborhood.
During the day the vintage stores and one-of-a-kind boutiques in this neighborhood are worth a look and at night Pie Junkie is open until 9pm on Fridays and the recently renovated Lyric Theatre has a year round season including works by new playwrights. If you feel like a nightcap, The Mule is open late and has a great cocktail list.
Fall is the perfect time to visit Oklahoma City. Try some great local food and get a taste of this Southern/Western city!