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.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The owners and chefs at Santa Fe Cattle rely on old family recipes that demand steaks are aged and cut in-house, rolls are baked fresh each day, and signature sauces are mixed onsite. These touches transform the menu’s casual, regional eats into dishes worthy of John Wayne’s personal dressing-room buffet. Steaks, fajitas, and sliders are plated next to housemade sides of cole slaw, Santa Fe taters, and of course, a bucket of peanuts—which guests shuck directly onto the floor. The peanut shells add character to each one of the restaurant’s 20 locations, which evoke old-west saloons with touches such as brick walls draped in horse saddles and weathered wooden floors.
Charlie’s Sports Bar And Grill satisfies competitive cravings with savory selections of burgers, pizzas, and wings served under the warm glow of flat-screen TVs broadcasting local and national sporting events. Jaw muscles warm up for the main event by bench-pressing mozzarella sticks ($5.99) or snapping down on corn-dog nuggets ($4.99) launched across the table. Grumbling tummies shriek with delight at Charlie’s lineup of bread-bookended entrees, including the BLT ($5.99), the buffalo chicken sandwich ($6.99), and the Southwest burger, a beef patty topped with pepper jack cheese, guacamole, jalapeños, and chipotle sauce, brought to the table by a sentient cactus ($6.99).
In case visitors miss the clue in its name, Harley’s Cafe explains itself right in the entryway—there, a gray stone-style bench displays the famous winged logo that marks a classic motorcycle. Inside, motoring memorabilia stands behind glass, including model bikes, photographs, and an autographed photo of Evel Knievel’s ghost. A row of booths lining a wall of windows and a counter facing the kitchen area—both familiar diner staples—flank a series of four-tops where customers dig into tasty homestyle fare. Breakfast options include pancakes and egg dishes served alongside ribbons of bacon or grilled sausage. Later in the day, the cooks serve up diner classics such as open-faced sandwiches smothered in gravy and several variations on the burger, including the Sportster, with bacon, swiss cheese, and barbecue sauce.
In 1976, only two years after immigrating to the United States, Mike Turek and his sister Jutta Wolff opened Old Germany Restaurant, an eatery founded on schnitzels, Weissbiers, and Rieslings. Now, at Turek's Tavern, a sports bar adjacent to the duo's original restaurant, German flavors add pizzazz to American bar staples. The Philly cheesesteak, for example, is served on a pretzel bun, while the thin crust pizza comes topped with bratwurst.
And according to a NewsOK article, the tavern pairs its food with 20 beers on tap, as well as an extensive wine and spirit selection. Inside Turek's dining room, televisions on every wall screen the latest sports. And on nice days, patrons can also catch games on TVs stationed on the tavern's outdoor patio, which recreates the ambiance of Germany in summer with heating lamps and a mister system.