The Sooner State’s Oklahoma City is far more than A-OK with us.
The food world — well, at least the parts in New York and Los Angeles — were stunned when Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appétit magazine gave Oklahoma City’s tasting-menu-focused Nonesuch the top berth in his 2018 Best New Restaurants in America feature. OKC doesn’t exactly come to mind as a dining destination; indeed, the magazine’s editorial highlighted that. “[A] city no national critic has ever paid attention to,” Knowlton acknowledged, but stumbling across images of Nonesuch’s plated courses on Instagram — featuring dishes that looked as though they were served at cutting-edge kitchens in Copenhagen or Tokyo — was enough to persuade him to check it out. He booked a flight, sat down for a meal, and was smitten not only with the chefs’ penchant for foraging local ingredients and partnering with area farmers but with the execution and experience.
Click on the image to view the slideshow.
Lest you think this is a case of a city slicker gazing onto flyover-country theater, it’s important to note Knowlton didn’t just consider Nonesuch ambitious for its location: “It’s ambitious, period.” Earlier this year that manifested in dishes like tea plate-sized lovage waffles, their gridlike green-infused dough glimmering like grass at sunset. It was accompanied by a bowl of caviar, rhubarb, and green strawberries that twist with rich, tart, and sweet flavors. The writer’s praise has raised the city’s profile. But there is more to Oklahoma City that gives it a spot on our list of the West’s destination food cities.
The state capital city, a few hours north of Dallas, is also home to the Prairie Artisan Ales Taproom, a watering hole for craft beer aficionados who appreciate precision and experimentation. Since 2012, Krebs, Oklahoma-based Prairie Artisan Ales has balanced execution of well-defined contemporary beer styles (for example, IPAs and stouts) with the carefree production of farmhouse ales whose flavor profiles depend on the quirky actions of yeasts. This laissez-faire attitude toward craft beer production isn’t novel. Other American craft breweries specialize in it but perhaps none more consistently than Prairie. The brewery might come across as nerdy or comical, what with releases named Vape Tricks (a sour ale aged on cherries) and Prairie Vous Francais (a Belgian farmhouse table beer), but beers christened Paradise (an imperial stout made with vanilla and coconut) and Bomb! (another imperial stout, but this one aged on coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and chiles) sound like the perfect accompaniment to seasonal shifts.
Equally as inventive as Nonesuch and Prairie Artisan Ales is Pie Junkies. The bakery, a team effort between Darcy Schein and Leslie Coale-Mossman that started in 2010 as a hobby, offers flavors familiar and creative. The Red Velvet Cream and Birthday pies give cake lovers a reason to dabble on the other side. Bird Dog Buttermilk gets its extra kick from Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey. Then there’s the ultra-popular Drunken Turtle, a graham cracker-crust chocolate pie that puts all the best stuff on top: pecans and salted bourbon caramel.
Of course we recommend experiencing Oklahoma City stalwarts like Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, where a T-bone will never do you wrong, but for a taste of the modern culinary West, OKC will do you right too, which is far more than A-OK with us. nonesuchokc.com, prairieales.com, piejunkie.com, cattlemensrestaurant.com
Photography: (featured and slideshow) Joey Rubin/Courtesy Nonesuch, (middle photo) Courtesy Visit OKC
From the October 2019 issue