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.
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.
Owner Ricardo Lopez infuses each of his restaurant’s dishes with the distinctive flavors of Mexico, peppering marinated slices of chicken with chipotle spices and grilling steak with onions and peppers in an iron skillet. Couples and families sit at tables strewn with complimentary chips, queso, and salsa as they carve into cheesy chilies rellenos or fashion house-made flour tortillas into origami sombreros. Open seven days a week, the restaurant hosts special celebrations inside a private dining area and delivers orders of at least 10 entrees.
Fontana Italian Restaurant's family of epicures transforms fresh pastas, meats, and seafood into plate-bound celebrations of flavor and texture. The chefs forge baked pastas–such as manicotti and eggplant roletini–with smooth ricotta cheese, and coat chicken and veal in crunchy breading and gooey mozzarella. Topped with pepperoni, sausage, and onions, specialty pizzas come in three different sizes, much like bullfrogs' yearbook photos.
The namesake dishes at Sushi and Teriyaki make for a delicious pairing of traditional Japanese cuisine, sometimes cutely referred to as sushi-n-teri by the staff. Outside of the expected dishes, such as the mountainous Ahi Tower roll with spicy tuna, the chefs also prepare hibachi entrees and specialties such as spicy ramen. And customers can wash it all down with a cool Japanese beer. The entire menu is also available for takeout, letting customers still enjoy an exotic dinner in the midst of a busy schedule.
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.
Pubs west of the Atlantic often pay homage to the UK, but Dan McGuinness Pub goes one step farther: it was actually made in Ireland. Shipped to Memphis, Tennessee in pieces, the first Dan McGuinness was entirely assembled by a team of five Irishmen, who still manually hold it together today. The franchise's other locations weren't built this way, but they all carry on the original pub's tradition of friendly service and classic Irish dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie. American and English influences also permeate the menu in dishes such as blackened chicken fingers and fish ‘n’ chips made with Atlantic cod dipped in Harp lager batter.
The pub's beer list similarly mixes up European and American offerings with brews from Guinness, Smithwick's, and Sam Adams. Feasts at Dan McGuinness unfold amid a convivial atmosphere, with entertainment such as billiards and live music every Friday and Saturday night.