Tin ceilings hover above the weathered plaster and brick walls of Two Olives Café, whose rustic, old-world character is bolstered by exposed ventilation pipes that run the length of the room. The founder of the café, Tricia Henderson, designed the room to reflect the history of the area, mounting black-and-white photographs to offer guests a more explicit glimpse into the past.
In the kitchen, fresh chicken salad is laced with apples, grapes, and almonds, giving it a sweet, tart crunch that makes it the most popular sandwich on the menu and the expected winner of next year's prom court. Ham, salami, and olive salad stack the muffaletta sandwich, and housemade chipotle dressing adds a subtle smokiness to the otherwise classic caesar salad.
At Harry Bear's, chefs hand-shape Black Angus beef into thick burgers, grill them to order, and slather them with homemade hickory sauce. For dessert, they dunk plump peach slices into the deep fryer, and then sprinkle the crispy crescents with cinnamon and sugar. Harry Bear?s matches these quintessentially American dishes with an equally patriotic dining room?blue walls sport stenciled stars, as well as vintage Coca Cola signs, teddy bears, and a collection of baseball memorabilia. Dining companions can also turn their attention toward flat-screen TVs if games of napkin peekaboo lose their appeal.
Dark Horse Grill’s menu overtakes lesser menus with a galloping barrage of burgers, steaks, and pizzas, as well as lush libations from a fully stocked bar. After whetting appetites with a starter of fried pickle chips ($3.99–$5.99), diners can tuck into a personalized pizza ($5.99–$11.99) wreathed in such textures as canadian bacon, grilled chicken, and pineapple. The Dark Horse fried chicken is battered and winged by texas toast, pickles, and onions ($12.99 for 8 pieces), and the southern-fried catfish, farm-raised in the States, is rolled in bread crumbs, cooked until golden-brown, and eaten until invisible ($10.99 with two sides). A full bar stocked with sumptuous liquors and suds on tap provides apt accompaniment for the kitchen's rustic, crispy servings.
All Royal Bavaria's unfiltered beers are brewed by guidelines of German purity law, which means they can use only four ingredients: hops, malt, yeast, and their own well water. Owned by Andy Gmeiner, a chef and restaurateur from Munich, the microbrewery sits on a 5.5-acre property. The central building is fashioned in the image of a 5,000-square-foot Bavarian farmhouse, complete with an enormous gabled roof, a 175-person outdoor beer garden, and guard rails to prevent polka dancers from flying out of control. As cool steins click to punctuate songs and toasts, traditional German dishes such as wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, and bratwurst unfurl banners of steam against the wood-paneled walls and vaulted ceiling.
The dining room, which is reminiscent of a rural bed and breakfast, is lined with antique knickknacks, pans, and deer antlers. Large picture windows offer patrons a view of the brewery, where copper tanks mash and ferment Royal's six house-made beers. While noshing on a handcrafted sausage, revelers sway to sounds of occasional live entertainment or purchase beer by the half-barrel, hand-squeezed from the folds of the finest accordions.
When Neil and Sommer Buss traveled to Italy, they discovered something that had been missing from their lives: gelato. Problem is, they couldn't imagine going back to ice cream and couldn't find any gelato in their hometown. So, they started experimenting in their home kitchen and worked with a master gelato maker in Italy to recreate that sensational flavor of artisanal gelato, eventually founding Il Dolce Gelato. Now, the current owners of the gelateria, Jon and Esther Rehbein, share that authentic flavor with people from around the area, carrying on the tradition the Busses began. Traditional gelato is creamier than ice cream, because it has less air whipped into it. With that creaminess comes an intense flavor, including the more than 200 rotating flavors Il Dolce serves, such as limone, stracciatella, and no-bake cookie. To give yourself a truly Italian experience, pair your gelato with an espresso for a blend of sweet and bitter tastes or try it out as a hip, new pizza topping.
Though it’s now the oldest single-family owned barbecue restaurant in Oklahoma, the Shawnee Van’s Pig Stand wasn’t Van’s first barbecue shop. The family patriarch first began crafting his signature pork sandwiches and plates of ribs in 1928 and shared his recipes with family members as they opened up their own hubs throughout Oklahoma. More than 80 years later, Van’s descendants still grill up barbecue dinners and sandwiches with those signature recipes, that is, if they have taken the blood oath to keep them secret. Though they specialize in cuts of pig, the grill masters incorporate everything from brisket, turkey, chopped beef, and chicken into their dinners, pairing each meaty helping with two sides and a slice of texas toast. Sweet flavors, including sweet tea and pecan pie, cap off savory meals.