Led by executive chef Erik Reynolds, who was voted Best Chef in 2011 by Urban Tulsa Weekly readers, Smoke on Cherry Street's experienced chefs take locally sourced ingredients and transform them into culinary works of art. An ever-evolving menu showcases the creativity chefs unleash on ingredients heckled for at local farmers’ market, which often results in refined takes on American classics such as crispy quail legs and crab-stuffed fried green tomatoes. While munching on the contemporary fare, diners can visually gorge on local artwork and the flat-screen TVs that line the exposed brick walls of the dining room. Within that dining room, incandescent light illuminates traditional table settings, spinach stuck in strangers' teeth, and lounge-style seating.
While its cuisine occupies a rightful place in the spotlight, Smoke's beating heart is its rugged cigar room, where smokers can puff away on cigars purchased onsite or brought from home. Wood-paneled walls and leather furniture surround a humidor filled with cigars from international brands including Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta. The room also comes equipped with a ventilation system that replenishes smoky air with the same fresh oxygen mixture Jennifer Lopez breathes eight times every hour.
Any home griller knows you don’t have to be a beef expert to make a tasty burger, but it helps if you’re trying to make a burger that stands out from the competition Back Yard Burgers’ beef experts are there for exactly that reason, working closely with the staff to help them understand the best cuts of beef, how to form patties to retain their juices, and how to grill them to sizzling perfection. With so much work put into their creation, the chefs would never think of warming their signature Black Angus burgers under a heat lamp, and so they cook them to order on an actual grill. As a result, each burger evokes memories of a real backyard barbecue, but without all the kids spraying guests with hoses.
A full menu of toppings complements the Angus beef’s juicy flavors, offering a range of textures and tastes in the form of bacon and mushrooms, Creole mayonnaise, or hot pepper jack cheese and coleslaw. And though the chefs pride themselves on their burgers, they do make room on their grills to char-grill turkey burgers and blacken chicken patties for signature sandwiches such as the hawaiian chicken and turkey club. The fresh grilled food pairs well with sides such as root beer floats, sweet potato fries, and loaded baked potatoes, as well as fresh-baked cobblers with fruit fillings that change from day-to-day.
More than 20 years ago, Don Rucks dreamt up a grilling paradise where diners could skew typical hot dog conventions with pico de gallo, "nuclear" relish, and more sausage varieties than can be counted on one hand. But he and his wife Susie had a family on the way, and that was a separate dream he wasn't willing to sacrifice. Ironically, two decades later, it was his wife and two kids, D.J. and Traci, who helped him realize his long-awaited aspirations when they opened The Gnarley Dawg.
Just as Mr. Rucks envisioned it, the eatery's menu goes above and beyond bun-bound basics with eight varieties of sausage––including Polish, bratwurst, and chicken sausage––all inventively dressed with more than 50 toppings. Sides of spud salad and Dawg House chili pair with signature dawgs such as the T-Town Pup, which resembles Coney Island's dogs minus their traditional sand and seagull feathers. The Gnarley Dawg's interior junkyard aesthetic mimics the eclectic nature of its comestible collection. The owners have slapped a chain-link fence and barbed wire against the back wall, and littered the sucker with a hoarder's pickings of metal hubcaps, old signs, traffic lights, and even a Dodge pickup's tailgate––many of these donated by the eatery's loyal parishioners.
Phyllynna Hurtubise’s nimble hands first got their training at the age of 16, when she suffered from constant headaches after a car accident. Phyllynna taught herself to alleviate her pain through self-massage, eventually honing this skill by practicing on her friends. Years later, a layoff gave her the opportunity to attend massage school, where she fell in love with healing people through the power of her touch.
While she enjoys relieving clients’ stress, Phyllynna says her real passion is pain relief, since she knows what it feels like to have constant discomfort. To this end, she strives to eliminate pain at its source rather than masking it with medication. Within a private chamber furnished with earth tones and natural textiles, she works her clients' muscular structures, urging them to release stress and painful memories of jazzercise routines. A hot towel keeps feet warm and Lotus Touch lotions sweeten each stroke as she melds together techniques from varied modalities, depending on her client’s individual needs. Ever conscious of her clients' comfort, Phyllynna walks first-timers through the appointment before she begins and gives each guest a bottle of water afterward to help flush out toxins and extinguish any aromatherapy-candle contraband.
Baking is a science that requires exact measurements and timing. Perhaps that is why Emeline Bauder, a former environmental chemist, always knew she would return to the kitchen. At Nibbles Cafe, she now combines that precision with an armory of fresh ingredients to forge sweet pastries. Still warm from the oven, scones made with real milk and eggs drop next to teacups, whose delicate shape and bright hues bring to mind a tulip blossom. The bread that encases the café’s sandwiches bakes fragrantly in house, and eyes wander to impressive ranks of cakes. From delicate swirls of batter and frosting, Emeline has drawn forth a reproduction of an Italian castle, a groom’s treasured Jeep, and other elaborate sculptures.
High tea is served on gilt china in the midst of red velvet couches that capture the sensation of lounging in a Victorian salon or sitting on a stuffed trophy fire truck. A gleefully mismatched crew of chairs encircle wrought-iron bistro tables, and the light from the crimson chandelier brings to life the colors of cut flowers and the goldenrod walls.
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.