It’s been a long time since Jack Kerouac or Ken Kesey’s band of merry pranksters made their way down Route 66, but at small, cozy points along the way, driver’s can get a glimpse into the past. Fat Charlie’s Grill is one of those spots. Old-fashioned diner fare and friendly service welcome visitors each morning as line cooks scramble up three-egg omelets and assemble their signature crashes—hash browns topped with eggs, veggies, meats, and AAA cards. Their artful arranging of toppings continues into the lunch and dinner hours, with a host of quarter- and third-pound burgers hoisting traditional bacon, mushrooms, and homemade chili or unconventional fried eggs, peanut butter, and country gravy. For the young at heart, or the sweet at tooth, they blend handmade ice-cream shakes with any ingredient you choose.
At Cafe USA, chefs pay homage to the hearty, fried fare of America, but not the heavy grease of some of the country's signature grub. In oils free of unhealthy trans-fats, the cooks sear pure ground beef into burgers before packing them between toasted buns or the crispy ends of a Davy Crockett patty melt. Their USA specials actually hail from beyond domestic borders, including stir-fry and spaghetti with meatballs. At breakfast, they flip fluffy pancakes and press tasty waffles or load plates with Country Debris, a mélange of biscuits, home fries with gravy, bacon bits, sausage, eggs, and silver-dollar pancakes. A party room and banquet room accommodate private festivities, such as celebrating the number of rooms that exist with a cake that hilariously displays a square with five toes protruding from one side.
Steak & Eggs serves hearty breakfasts with protein-packed specialties including nine types of omelets and five cuts of steak. Pair a rib eye with grits and an english muffin or try a combo plate such as the western platter with diced ham, onions, peppers, and cheese, all piled over country potatoes and eggs.
The cooks at Dugan Jack’s Smokehouse eschew sauces when smoking their Memphis-style pork, brisket, and ribs. Instead, they smoke their rubbed meats over pecans or a pecan-and-apple mix to draw out a sweet, smoky flavor. Though it flies in the face of their philosophy, they also stock tomato-based Kansas City–style barbecue sauce just in case a food fight breaks out.
At Chisum Trail BBQ, smokers churn out delicious barbecue fare and Cajun cuisine ranging from pulled pork and sliced brisket to boudin sausage and jambalaya. Specialty platters populate the menu, available in combinations of choice meats such as bologna, smoked sausage, and ribs. Pit chefs also pile proteins together to craft signature sandwiches such as the hulking Widow Maker, which mixes hot links, bologna, beef, and pork with Chisum Trail’s uniquely seasoned barbecue sauce.
The very first International House of Pancakes opened its doors in Toluca Lake, California in 1958. Now, more than 1,000 locations populate the country's states and territories. They stuff bellies with hot lunch, bacon, eggs, and signature pancakes with toppings such as warm fruit compote or cream-cheese icing. The Tulsa location leaves its doors open 24 hours a day, satisfying midnight cravings and welcoming the morning with omelets wide open.
Aila and Johnny Wimpy serve up portions of contemporary western classics with innovative pairings in their rustic restaurant and saloon. Joseph Hamilton of Urban Tulsa Weekly said that the couple, “[has] taken what are in many cases old standards, and brought the presentations into the 21st century with... a culinary style they like to call 'upscale chuck wagon.'" This masterful mingling of old and new shines through in menu items such as the pan-seared scallops with cheese grits in green-chili broth, local ranch buffalo meatloaf from Nowata Ranch, and cowboy pork chops roping flavorful apple butter. From the gravy to the ketchup, the chefs at Go West make all their sauces from scratch, and champion local sources including Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association beef and Oklahoma-brewed beers served by the pint or ten-gallon hat.
An atmosphere of countrified class prevails throughout the bar and grill, from the heavy, carved chef's table to the trophy longhorn looming over the saloon. Outside, the patio can be spotted protruding from the ranch house, flanked by silos emblazoned with neon lassos to ensure it stays put. Ranch-flavored art adorns the walls throughout the interior, from the rustic main dining room to the Will Rogers room, which can be sealed off for a private party of up to 45.