The Paseo Arts District Dining
Open Table, the online reservation and ratings service, chose Paseo Grill as one of the top 100 most romantic restaurants in the US in 2016. That's at least partly a result of the semi-private dining at this casual fine dining neighborhood restaurant. Several of the booths have a curtain that can be closed to ensure privacy, but Paseo Grill is good for business lunches, family dinners, or any occasion.
The lunch and dinner menus are very eclectic, so while they are heavy on American food, you can also find European and Mediterranean selections in nearly every section. For lunch, start with the Cherry Wood Smoked Salmon for a traditional approach. Locals love the hummus, though, and it's served with kalamata and roasted red pepper tapenade. The lunch menu has a large selection of sandwiches and salads, but the house specialties are Pork Loin Medallions and Southwest Meatloaf. The meatloaf is a delicious blend of ground tenderloin, porked sausage and smoked cheddar cheese.
For dinner, start with the lobster and crab cake--a blend of both with basil, tarragon and artichoke hearts--or tuna tartare. Whether you choose the salad or the entree, do not skip the Maple Leaf Farms duck at Paseo Grill. The salad is composed of mixed greens and an amazing creamy Stilton Bleu Cheese dressing, and the entree comes with roasted pine nut orzo pasta. They have a good selection of steaks, chops and seafood, as well as a full bar with an impressive wine list.
This small cafe in the Paseo Arts District distinguishes itself in two important ways. It is one of the hottest brunch spots in Oklahoma City, and it's widely respected as one of the best destinations for vegetarian cuisine in town. Although not exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, Picasso Cafe has always been committed to offering a large selection of excellent vegetarian options. This is not vegetarian as an afterthought; it's vegetarian from a serious pursuit of culinary excellence.
The lunch and dinner menus are identical, and you'll want to start with shared plates, especially the smoked salmon spring rolls and dip trio. The dip trio is a combination of spinach/artichoke dip, hummus and mixed olive tapenade served with mozzarella flatbread. The jalapeño-raspberry gastrique on the spring rolls is worth the price of the dish. You'll be tempted not to share. The quinoa tacos come three to an order, so they are an excellent appetizer introduction to Picasso's vegetarian skill. Frito chili pie is an Oklahoma tradition, and Picasso makes an outstanding vegetarian version; in fact, the chili is vegan.
Airline chicken and blackened shrimp risotto are local favorites for dinner (or lunch). The Airline chicken is pan seared and served with Parmesan risotto, and the blackened shrimp risotto features wild mushrooms and crispy carrots. Picasso Cafe serves up excellent pizza and sandwiches (fried green tomato po'boy!), and they have a full bar with a good selection of local beers and affordable wines.