Graduation season is upon us. You can almost feel the pride, excitement and joy in the air. If you’re planning a celebration, there’s something else you probably feel in the air: urgency to book a reservation. And you should. Graduations take already-busy weekends to the next level. Our advice? Reserve early. As in, read this, choose your spot and get on the horn to save your seats at the table. Also, CONGRATULATIONS!
Best for big groups
Jones Assembly has the space for as many guests as you can invite, plus cool takes on classic American food. Does a pizza feast better suit your grad? The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen has room for plenty, inside or on the patio. Prefer a buffet? Cajun King is a buffet-lover’s dream. Or maybe you’re looking for Cajun food, non-buffet style, for a crowd? Crabtown is the place for you. Lastly, a true OKC classic for great steaks and terrific atmosphere is Cattlemen’s in Stockyards City.
We love Red Rooster, a charming little spot near OKC’s historic Paseo Arts District. You can also find us brunching at Republic Gastropub, Neighborhood JAM or for a classic with a seafood twist, Pearl’s Oyster Bar. Kitchen No. 324’s giant pancake slathered in creamy butter is decadence on a plate.
Say you’ve got a wide variety of eaters in your group. Someone is gluten free; another is vegan and your aunt is paleo. Sound like a mission impossible? Don’t be daunted. Make a reservation at Picassos on Paseo, a cool-chic, artsy spot with something for everyone. Also in the Paseo is Frida Southwest, whose vegan ‘calamari’ are pure genius.
While Oklahoma weather in May can be unpredictable, when it’s good it’s glorious. Take a risk and head for Scissortail Park where you can feast on burgers, salad bowls, sides plus shakes and frozen custard. Or try the outdoor space at Social Capital, which overlooks the park and offers 110 mostly local craft beers, plus great food. Empire Slice House has a nice, roomy upstairs patio, as does Guyutes.
There’s something to be said for finding a place where you can comfortably show up as-is after a big event and just relax. Some of our top picks for casual atmosphere with a superb menu, whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner are Sunnyside Diner for breakfast or lunch (caveat: prepare to wait, they don’t accept reservations); Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Bricktown (no reservations but you can join the waitlist online); while not SUPER casual, Patrono is an intentionally relaxed atmosphere with intentionally elevated Italian dishes you’ll dream about long after the meal is over. For casual on a patio, Louie’s is your best bet.
For when the parents go home
Head for Flamingo Tiki on Paseo for traditional tiki cocktails and bites. The Pump Bar is pet-friendly and if you’re so inclined, they’ll bring you a solid little dinner, snack or brunch to enjoy with your libations. Edna’s is a classic. If you haven’t had a Lunchbox by now (equal parts Coors Light and orange juice mixed with a shot of amaretto), you simply must, even if only for bragging rights. At last check, Edna’s has served more than 2.7 million Lunchboxes. Another great no-parents zone? McNellie's. If it’s too crowded, pop over to Fassler Hall, where you can enjoy pub fare and a brew or two, while playing classic yard games like giant Jenga.