This was Oklahoma City’s first street taco restaurant on the north side of the city. (We divide the city into north and south based on Interstate 40.) Big Truck is as casual as it gets, but it’s a must-try when in town. Chef Kathryn Mathis brings excellence to every endeavor, including two other restaurants in Uptown 23rd (Pizzeria Gusto and Back Door BBQ).
Go to the counter and get a basket of chips with your order. You’ll want at least one basket because half the fun and deliciousness of Big Truck are the sauces on the table. They are arranged by heat, so you’ll know whether or not you can handle the OMG or OMFG based on the name and your preference for heat. The OMG is a roasted jalapeno and garlic cream-based sauce that is just at the edge of most people’s tolerance for heat. The two base salsas are more conventional red and green sauces, and they’re in larger bottles as they get the most use. Experiment with all of them, and the red bottle is a monthly salsa that regulars love to sample.
The tacos are hearty and filling. The verde pork is a local favorite, featuring slow-roasted pork, Hatch green chiles, queso fresco, lime, cilantro and onion. Throw on some OMG for an extra kick. For the more adventurous, the Flaming Lips features hickory-smoked beef tongue, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and queso fresco.
Located in an old house and flower shop, Cheever’s is a multiple “Best of OKC” winner in a couple local publications. A combination of Southwest cuisine and Southern comfort food, Cheever’s is one of the few places in the metro where a reservation at lunch is often necessary; at brunch, it’s imperative. The restaurant is billed as “casual elegance,” so think upscale casual in terms of attire and price.
On the appetizer menu, the roasted quail stack is a perfect introduction to what Cheever’s does so very well. Layers of corn tortillas, farm-raised quail, ancho chile sauce, cheese and their signature salsa verde make this dish a perfect small meal, too. Add a fried egg and a glass of wine from their excellent wine list, and it is a meal. Juan’s Queso Chihuahua—really a modified 7-layer dip—is also a local favorite.
Cheever’s is known as a place that does salad right, and the reputation is well deserved. Sharolynn’s Salad—roma tomatoes, bleu cheese, pine nuts, red onions and maple vinaigrette—remains on the menu no matter what vegetables or grains are trendy from year to year. The quinoa avocado salad is a popular choice for people who are trying to be healthy, but don’t go to Cheever’s to eat healthy.
The hands-down most popular item on the menu, and it’s on every list of “must try foods” compiled in the state, is the chicken fried steak with jalapeno cream gravy, served with mashed potatoes. You need two plates, and you’ll want to share. For brunch, it’s shrimp and grits or Cowgirl Benedict (made with chicken fried steak). Like we said, comfort food.
Oklahoma City’s newest oyster bar and seafood restaurant is a dinner and brunch only dining option. Owned by the same company as Cheever’s, the quality of the food and service is consistent with their sister restaurant. Food at The Drake is served family style, so items come out when they are ready, not so that individuals are served at the same time.
The fresh oysters are one of the house specialties. The list changes based on season and availability, but expect at least six varieties of oysters, which makes side-by-side tasting almost a moral imperative. They are served with four mignonettes, charred lemons and fresh horseradish.
On the appetizer menu, the fish tacos may be the best thing on the menu period. You will get three small tacos, but you’ll want a platter. They are served with avocado slaw, carrots and an amazing chili-lime sauce. For a little more down-home comfort, the hush puppies served with shaved ham, honey butter and Cholula hot sauce are a combination that has to be tried to be believed.
Amidst and array of seafood options—including a delicious hiramasa crudo—the whole salt-crusted Branzino stands out. Maybe it’s the old-school presentation or the delicious blend of flavors, but this is one of the best fish dishes in Oklahoma.
The Drake has a full bar, including an extensive and affordable wine list with some of the more unique options in town. Don’t skip the lemon cloud pie for dessert.