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My Guide to Oklahoma City

Howdy, y’all! Welcome to my guide to Oklahoma City. It’s chock-full of my favorite places to hang, eat, sleep, and shop.

A little bit of backstory for you – I recently moved back to OKC (where I was born and raised) after spending 20 years moving around the Midwest and West Coast. The last 12 years were spent in Laguna Beach (psst – I have a visitor’s guide to Laguna too!) and Newport Beach, during which I got married, had two children, and pretty much never thought I would leave.

Well, we did move. And I’m not going to lie – it was a bit of a transition moving from coastal Southern California to where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, but we haven’t regretted our decision a bit. (Okay, okay, maybe a little bit…weather and politics aren’t my fave here.) Oklahoma City is simply not the place I grew up in back in the 80s and 90s…it is a community bustling with arts, culture, great food, and it seems a new “hot spot” opens every week.

As you will soon see, this guide is really robust, but I wanted to provide tons of options. While OKC is the 8th largest city in terms of land size (FYI – you could fit the cities of Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Manhattan, Washington DC, Pittsburgh and San Francisco all inside OKC’s city limits), we find ourselves spending most of our time in neighborhoods close to the city center. I’ve broken the guide down by neighborhood and ordered the lists from coffee to brunch/lunch to dinner to activities/shopping to cocktails. I’ve also put asterisks next to my very fave spots.

Let’s get started!

DOWNTOWN:

*21C is by far my favorite hotel in the city, as it’s a hotel, eatery, and museum in one. The rooms are loft-style with huge windows allowing tons of natural light to filter in, and I could walk around the museum all evening. (psst – feel free to grab a drink at the bar and take it with you through the museum. The “Shift Change” is my cocktail of choice.) Plus, the OKC 21C was just ranked the #3 best city hotel in the continental US by Travel + Leisure Magazine. #legit

Other good options in the downtown area are The AmbassadorColcord Hotel, The Skirvin, and aLoft.

photo by choatehouse

*Kitchen 324 – It’s hard to get past the beautiful architecture of this space to even comment on the food. Open for all three meals, but I enjoy a mid-morning stop here.

Sunnyside Diner  – Adorable diner, huge portions, friendly staff. If you are looking for a breakfast diner experience, look no further.

*Nourished – A great spot to pick up a healthy lunch or snack on-the-go. (It’s located down the hall from Udander, a must-stop for the spa set.)

Wheeze the Juice – Drop into this juice bar for an Acai bowl or green juice. The employees are super-friendly and will improvise to make the juice of your dreams.

*Revolucion – Great tacos, margaritas, and I love the patio space so my kids can run around while I ignore them. KIDDING. #kindof

Vast – Located on the 49th floor of the Devon Tower, the views from this eatery are hard to beat. Definitely a place for date night and/or sans kiddos.

*OKC Museum of Art – One of the largest collections of Chihuly in the world, as well as a diverse collection of other artists. (If you are here this summer through September, check out the Kehinde Wiley exhibit, seen above.)

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum – A 10-million-dollar renovation in 2015 helped to create a memorial worthy of the many lives lost in the 1995 federal building bombing here in Oklahoma City. The beautiful and serene Outdoor Symbolic Park is something everyone should experience.

Climb Up – Feeling adventurous? Spend the day climbing up a 90-foot grain silo.

*Myriad Botanical Gardens – I could spend hours in the gorgeous botanical gardens nestled in the heart of downtown. So much to see, and be sure to grab a popsicle at Pitchfork in the Park afterwards.

Riversports Adventures – Go whitewater rafting in the heart of the city, followed by the SandRidge Sky Trail, high-speed slides, flatwater kayaking and more.

Udander – Need a massage? Foot soak? Steam? This tranquil Scandinavian spa has you covered, and they carry some of my favorite green skincare brands.

MIDTOWN:

*Elemental Coffee – Although I’m not a caffeine drinker, I love Elemental for so many reasons – it’s a great place for a mid-morning meeting, and they always have delicious breakfast options. Love Avocado toast? Look no further. (Also, there’s usually a gluten-free item or two waiting for me when I visit, which is fab.)

Waffle Champion – Savory, sweet…if you love waffles, get yer arse to Waffle Champion ASAP. Let’s just say there’s a reason the line wraps around the building. (They also have a late-night window. Oh yeah.)

photos by choatehouse

Barrio’s – A delicious and modern take on Tex-Mex, and as you can see above, it touts one of the best patios in the city.

*Hall’s Pizza Kitchen – Best pizza in the city. Seriously, run, don’t walk. You will love it. The “Saturday Night” and “Matt” are my two faves.

Packards – Fresh, seasonally-inspired and locally-sourced food. I try to break my habit, but I always get the Lentil Curry. So good! Oh, and I love their wine flights. Be sure to check out the rooftop deck as well. Great place to have a cocktail.

photo by choatehouse

*Bleu Garten – A hip, open-air hub offering eclectic eats from local food trucks with full-liquor bars. We love to visit on a sunny afternoon with the kids to grab a beer and a bite. Play cornhole or giant Jenga, watch sports on the large televisions or listen to the live music. Always a great atmosphere at Bleu Garten.

DustBowl – If you want to bowl, hit up the Dust Bowl followed by a brat and brew upstairs at Fassler Hall.

Insomnia Cookies – Warm, delicious cookies. Open until 3am. Enough said.

*Commonplace Books – I don’t even know where to begin with this bookstore. It’s just perfection. I’ve never seen a better curation of books combined with the most lovely of interiors. A must-stop when in the city, and prepare to spend some time.

*Chirps & Cheers – Cards, stationary, pens, leather goods…such a cute shop!

Trade Men’s Wares – Cool shop for the dudes in your life.

AUTOMOBILE ALLEY:

Coffee Slingers – Locally roasted coffee sourced in Central America brewed by the cup in contemporary digs.

Hatch – Prepare to wait an hour on the weekends, although I prefer Kacao and/or Sunnyside for my breakfast fix.

The Fit Pig – This is a drop-in eatery where the food is freshly packaged for on-the-go days. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from where I workout so I’ll drop in a pick up some turkey chili or carnitas tacos on my way home.

photo by choatehouse

*Plenty Mercantile – The purpose of Plenty Mercantile is to provide goods in some way to improve the quality, experience, and need of life. A fabulous curation of items…any and everyone will find something they love here.

*Shop Good – Thoughtful gifts, screen-printed tees, and a Warby Parker showroom. Love this place.

photo by sarah tolzmann

Sara Kate Studios – Furniture and housewares that make me swoon.

*Beyond Studios – My workout studio of choice. Reformer Pilates and circuit training in a modern, super cool setting.

Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar – Little neighborhood spot for cocktails. As they put it, “short, to the point, and carefully crafted.”

PLAZA DISTRICT:

Aurora (PD) – Dubbed the “breakfast, bar, and backyard,” this place is fantastic. Great eats, and they brew the acclaimed local Hoboken Coffee Roasters.

*The Mule – I simply love this place for many reasons, but mainly because they make the most delicious warm sandwiches (with a gluten-free bread option, praise be). Good eats, good beers, good vibes.

*Goro Ramen – My fave spot in the city for Ramen. (Especially because they do a vegan, GF version with rice noodles.) Also, their Brussels Sprouts appetizer is the best in the city. Must. Get. The. Brussels. Sprouts.

Empire – According to them, “it’s like Frank Sinatra and David Bowie had a pizza baby,” and I would have to agree. Hip spot for pies, slices & brews with a walk-up window, a patio & late-night dining hours.

The Pritchard Wine Bar – Upscale, yet casual wine bar. Good date night option. Candied salted pecans, charcuterie, to-die-for cheese…you catch my drift.

Pie Junkie – Homemade pie slices. Do it. Trust me.

*Roxy’s Ice Cream Social – Can’t even count how many times I’ve been to this place. Ice cream, floats, ginger beer, you name it. (The vegan German Chocolate ice cream is my favorite flavor, and I’m not even vegan.)

Reference Point – It’s easy to miss this modern fine jewelry and home goods shop because it’s tucked into an alleyway behind 16th, but it’s a must-see.

Oak and Ore – Craft beer bar. If you love beer, don’t skip this place.

FILM ROW:

*Okay Yeah – Oh, this place is fantastic. Sharing space with The Plant Shoppe, the ambiance is amazing, the coffee is great, and three words for you. HOMEMADE POP TARTS. Yeah, you need to go.

Flashback Retropub – Over 50 arcade games from the ’80s and ’90s set to free play + beer. Enough said.

photo by dustin dorr

*The Jones Assembly – Located just behind my favorite hotel, I could spend every day in this place. The design of the space is super impressive, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Food, spirits, music…this place has it all. You definitely should order the Frosé or the PYT from the bar, and I love the Halibut with Yuzu Beurre Blanc sauce for dinner. Plus, check out their live shows!

UPTOWN:

photo by choatehouse

*The Drake – Top 3 brunch spot in the city. Order the the Crab Cake Benedict and the Elderblush Mimosa. Also great for dinner – I dream about their Shaved Celery Salad, for real. SO GOOD.

*Cheever’s Cafe – If I had to pick one restaurant in the city, it would be Cheever’s, hands-down, no question. Brunch, lunch or dinner, it’s simply tops in my book. My favorites are the blue cheese potato chip appetizer (bacon! green onion pesto! blue cheese fondue!), the avocado quinoa salad (add grilled chicken), and don’t even get me started on their famous roasted pecan ice cream ball. YEAH, YOU HEARD ME. Prepare for ecstasy.

photo by choatehouse

*Tucker’s Onion Burgers – Onion burgers are an Oklahoma thing. You probably should experience one.

*Big Truck Tacos – Tacos all the livelong day, from breakfast to dinner. Get the Pork Verde and the Rancher on corn tortillas.

Ur/Bun – Sun’s out, bun’s out. Fresh buns (try the pork belly or fried chicken), French fries, and soft-serve ice cream. It’s like someone accessed my dreams and made them a reality.

*Chae – A modern, super-flavorful take on Korean food, this is a regular stop for us. Try the Bibimbop or the Dak Galbi.

*This Land Yoga – My yoga studio of choice. Drop in for a class while you’re visiting!

*Bunker Club – An “atomic age dive bar.” Meet friends here for a drink (or three).

Savings and Loan – Grab a cocktail here before seeing a show at the Tower Theatre.

The Pump Bar – You can’t miss this place due to the bustling patio and 1,000 cycles out front. A good place to be on a gorgeous day.

Empire Strikes – If you have a comic book enthusiast like I do, definitely check out this shop.

PASEO:

*Holey Rollers Donuts – DONUTS. Hand-crafted, real ingredients, and usually a gluten-free option or two.

*Picasso Cafe – A health-conscious cafe that doesn’t skimp on flavor or innovation. Love all the vegan and gluten-free options on this menu. (Quinoa tacos are my fave.)

*Dustin Dorr – An interior design studio filled with all sorts of lifestyle treasures owned by a really cool dude that happens to be my husband.

Halycon Works – Want to get some work done while in town? Check out this super cool coworking community.

ReModern OK – So much vintage goodness in this shop!

*Betsy King Shoe Boutique – Shoe lovers, look no further. The only place I buy shoes in the city.

ASIAN DISTRICT:

*Cafe Kacao – Hands down, my favorite brunch in the city. This Guatemalan cafe serves up some of the most delicious dishes, and their coffee and teas are on point. My go-to order? A London Fog and the Migas. (They recently opened for dinner and I just about cried tears of joy.)

The Red Cup – Just down the street from Kacao, this restaurant is full of great vegan options. Open for breakfast and lunch.

Pho Lien Hoa – Best pho in the city.

WESTERN AVENUE DISTRICT:

photo by choatehouse

Iron Star – Urban BBQ. So good. Chopped brisket is delish, but my very favorite item on the menu is the salmon salad with a black-eyed pea relish.

Sushi Neko – Good sushi spot. (Sushi enthusiast? Other spots to try around the city are Tokyo, Yuzo, and Samurai.)

Mockingbird Manor – Antique shopping your thing? Definitely check out Mockingbird Manor.

Antique Avenue – Another great antique shop. Well-curated selection of items from many time periods.

A Date With Iris – Adorable flower and gift shop.

NICHOLS HILLS/CLASSEN CURVE:

*Organic Squeeze – My favorite juice stop, namely for the Joe’s Mean Green Juice and the Muscle Westbrook protein smoothie.

Green Goodies – Yummy cupcakes with gluten-free and vegan options.

The Hutch – An upscale option with locally sourced French & regional cuisine and an acclaimed wine list.

photo by choatehouse

Republic Gastropub – We eat here as a family often. Pulled pork nachos, Classen burger, and the Fish and Chips are favorites.

The Metro Wine Bar – Superb food, but not the youngest crowd. #justsayin

*Bebe’s – A fabulous collection of housewares, jewelry, children’s clothing, and other cool items handpicked from around the world.

CK & Co – My favorite spot for clothing. Vince, Joie, Parker, Equipment, and See by Chloe are some of the brands I enjoy there.

Gretta Sloane – Any boutique that carries Ulla Johnson is certainly good with me.

*Black Optical – The coolest of the cool in terms of glasses and sunglasses.

Rose Gold Boutique – I enjoy this fun curation of clothing. A great addition to the city!

Barre 3 – Get those booties toned while visiting the city.

Trader Joes and Whole Foods – both grocery stores are located in this area if you need to do a little food shopping.

OTHER NOTABLES:

*Powerhouse – Located in the downtown farmer’s market, this is my favorite place to hang. Not only do they serve my favorite drink in the city (the Spicy Sexton margarita), the Chile Pork Verde is incredible. Super casual and just the best vibe…what a gem of a place.

Bedlam BBQ – Legit barbecue. If it’s a nice day, eat outdoors on the expansive patio.

Wheeler District – Located just south of downtown, this little district is the home to the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, which my kids love. (Little known fact – this specific Ferris Wheel used to be the one on the Santa Monica pier. How did they transport that thing? Inquiring minds want to know…)

OKC Zoo –A great time for the whole family. Take it to the next level with the Wild Encounters program, which gives behind-the-scenes access to feeding bears, giraffes, petting sting rays and sea lions and much more.

Science Museum OK – Sitting directly next to the zoo, the science museum is awesome. I have many memories of exploring there as a child, and it is still filled with wonder, although much updated since I was a tot!

*Stash Goods – Lastly, while not technically in the city, if your travels take you 30 miles south of the city to Norman, this boutique is so worth your time. Jewelry, accessories, clothing, crystals…I love this place.

Well, there you have it! Are you still here? If so, you deserve some sort of medal. As you can see, there’s a ton awaiting you here in Oklahoma City. Want more? Visit OKC has tons of information too. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments, as I’d be happy to help. I hope you enjoy your time in this great city!

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20 Comments
  • Ris

    July 10, 2017 at 12:19 pm Reply

    I’m just curious–why did you and your family end up moving back to OKC?

    • whoorl

      July 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm Reply

      We thought it would be a better life for all involved. :)

  • Heidi

    July 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm Reply

    I moved to Tulsa from San Diego, so I feel ya… thank you for these recommendations! OKC (and Tulsa, really) has changed quite a bit since we first moved here 10 years ago. Also, why did I picture them rolling that Ferris Wheel across America from LA to Oklahoma?

    • whoorl

      July 10, 2017 at 3:38 pm Reply

      Now, THAT would be a sight!!

  • emilywiser

    July 10, 2017 at 6:58 pm Reply

    I could eat the Brussels Sprouts from Goro every day!! I sent my poor husband all over town, chasing their truck to satisfy my pregnancy cravings :)))

    • whoorl

      July 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm Reply

      Right?! I dream about them!

  • Stefanie Bowers

    July 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm Reply

    Great list! I am SO excited for the Jones Assembly!

    • whoorl

      July 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm Reply

      It is absolutely amazing – you will love it!

  • Katherine Buxton

    July 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for the shout out for Gretta Sloane! We love Ulla Johnson too. What an awesome list for locals and visitors alike. Xoxo

    • whoorl

      July 12, 2017 at 7:06 am Reply

      You are welcome, Katherine! I need some sort of Ulla Johnson notification when new things arrive and/or it goes on sale because I would be there in a hot minute!
      (Dustin would not be fond of this sort of notification. Ha.)

  • Jim Miller

    July 12, 2017 at 7:02 am Reply

    Welcome back to Oklahoma! I came back in ’95 after living in a bunch of places, including Pasadena. I love LA, but I wanted my kids born and raised here. We live near Shepherd Mall, so we had the good fortune of seeing all this develop from a front-row seat.

    Thanks for this! So many of my favorites are on here. If you had gone a little farther out, you could have included our favorite burger spot, Patty Wagon. It’s in the old Whataburger building on May and 34th. (Or 33rd.) Grass-fed beef burgers and hand-cut fries. Best kept burger secret in OKC.

    PS – I think I went to church with your husband when we were kids!

    • whoorl

      July 12, 2017 at 7:07 am Reply

      Hey, Jim! Wow, grass-fed burgers and hand-cut fries? You are singing my song. Thanks for the tip!

  • Vicky Brooks

    July 12, 2017 at 11:42 am Reply

    Disappointed that there is no mention of our fabulous shopping experience in Norman, Circa Marketplace @500 W Main, with over 6000 Sq ft of vintage, locally made, and upcycled items. We would love to be part of this.

  • Katie A DuCharme

    July 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm Reply

    I absolutely love this guide! Thank you for all your excellent tips on places to check out. If you haven’t already you should certainly check out La Brasa in the Asian district. They have some of the most incredible and unique food and drink choices in the city!

    • whoorl

      July 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm Reply

      Thanks! Yes, I’ve eaten at La Brasa…should revisit it soon!

  • Annie Middlebrooks

    July 12, 2017 at 1:19 pm Reply

    Great guide! So fun to see our favorite places get recognized. The only one I would add is RJ Supper Club in Midtown. Fun little hole-in-the-wall with retro vibes al a Don Draper.

    • whoorl

      July 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm Reply

      Thanks! R & J Supper Club is a fun little spot.

  • Brett

    July 13, 2017 at 10:22 am Reply

    Least you forget the Coney Island in downtown 60 years of coneys!!!

  • Odds and Ends - whoorl

    July 14, 2017 at 7:24 am Reply

    […] 9. I finally wrote a visitor’s guide to Oklahoma City! […]

  • Joanna McCool

    July 14, 2017 at 3:43 pm Reply

    We also recently moved to OKC from New England. We agree, the politics aren’t the best, but we are so pleasantly surprised by all of the great shops and eateries- not to mention all of the new parks that keep popping up! I don’t know if you listed it, but the Paseo Grill in the Paseo District is also a gem and we LOVE the Indian buffet at Taj!

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