At RedPin Restaurant & Bowling Lounge, servers carry nacho orders over to lanes. Yet, these aren’t your typical pile of stale tortilla chips slathered in lukewarm cheese or Cheeez™—the squeezable pouch of dairy that kidz crave—these are pulled-beef nachos, homemade chips covered in ranch-raised chuck that's been slow roasted for hours. These kinds of delicious upgrades typify the venue's upscale bowling experience. The staff waits on players from the moment they're seated at 1 of 10 alleys, delivering their shoes and typing their names into the scoring system. As guests wait their turn, they can switch segments of a 60-foot video wall to broadcast their favorite shows or explore the three lounges spread throughout the game area.
Posh geometric furniture dots the entire space, from circular ottomans to the luminous, spherical pendants of the chandeliers. Embedded fragments of recycled red glass turn the bar top into a mosaic stage for martinis and pins trying to pass as oversize beer bottles. With its scenic views of the Bricktown Canal, a private room, and event dining plans, RedPin also hosts memorable special events for groups of varying sizes.
All meals arrive from the The Basement Modern Diner. Its menu highlights made-from-scratch, modernized renditions of bowling-alley cuisine: panko-parmesan breading surrounds the onion rings, and handmade burgers lead to desserts of whoopie pies and spiked milkshakes.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
As the proud, busy parents of three young boys, Kang and Mary Nhin know that eating dinner as a family can be a challenge. So they created Nhinja Sushi and Wok, a casual, kid-friendly setting where the service is fast and the menu includes healthy options. As children don a Nhinja mask cutout and sketch the daily Dow Jones chart on a coloring sheet, families dig into spicy tuna rolls or stir-fried Hunan Garden shrimp. The food blog Dishin & Dishes lauded the restaurant for offering the option to order sushi and entrees made with brown rice.
The family-centric vibe even extends to the restaurant's orange walls, which are decorated with artwork of the owners' children. Careful not to neglect fully grown eyeballs, they have also filled the space with futuristic white chairs, tables, and booths accentuated by the pops of bright pink, turquoise, purple, and lime green.
At the vivacious Bolero Tapas Bar & Spanish Grill, the clatter of passing plates competes with the chatter of diners as they enjoy their multicourse meals. Executive Chef Curtis Bramlett and second-in-command Justin Ward constantly enhance the menu with weekly specials, adding to the diversity of flavors already found among the tapas. The small servings are meant to be divided and discussed, much like the drawings that Rembrandt produced on flimsy paper. The golden-fried goat cheese drizzled with tupelo honey earned laurels from the Oklahoma Gazette, which also called the caramel flan “heavenly.”
Dark plank flooring supports the warm browns of the restaurant, where floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light and fresh air to imbue the indoor space. At rows of outdoor tables, patrons can sit beneath the starlight to arrange their tapas plates in shapes that mimic constellations.
Café Nova dazzles eyes with its elegant, modern setting and grumbles stomachs with a rich menu of contemporary American fare. Sample the lackadaisical splendor of the champagne brunch ($15), which pairs an endless supply of mimosas with your choice of a fancy omelette bar, Belgian waffles with maple syrup, or pan-seared tilapia. At lunchtime, try one of Nova’s $10 entrees, all served with soup or salad, such as the Black Angus sliders with caramelized onions or the truffled gnocchi. Dinner guests can steer a forklift-full of shrimp cocktail ($10) into their mouths, then shift teeth gears and blast into a Super Nova Salad ($7) with walnuts, dried cherries, blue cheese, and strawberry vinaigrette. After thoughtfully chewing over a mouth-moistening meal, smash through the drink menu floodgates and bathe in the beverage deluge that results: glasses of Honig sauvignon blanc ($8) or Cycles Gladiator merlot ($7), Chimay Blue beers ($8), and minty mojitos ($7) are just a cupped handful of the available choices.
Rick Gratch has been running Caffe Pranzo for 16 years, almost as long as it's been open, but many of his customers have been dining there since before he started. It's the restaurant's traditional Italian menu that inspires such devotion, plating pastas, chicken, and fish sautéed in delicate wine sauce. Pizzas, too, are prepared the old-fashioned way, with dough thrown high in the air. After garnishing them with gourmet toppings such as grilled artichoke hearts, portabella mushrooms, and summer squash, the brick-oven-baked pies transport to a dining room bedecked with works by local artist Jennifer Holloway. There, guests who've finished off their meals can tuck into cheesecakes shipped from New York City's Carnegie Deli for a taste of Manhattan without the granite-y mouthfeel of biting the Empire State Building.