Salt and Limes

Oren- A Star is Born on Brookside

Seven years ago, when we made the decision to spend our lives in Tulsa, we knew it had potential. However, the restaurant scene was subpar, downtown was more like a ghost town, the Riverwalk was in foreclosure and Brookside had Leon's and In the Raw Sushi but not much else. Fast forward to the current setting and you will find a thriving downtown, a re-developed Riverwalk with several great restaurants and a transformed Brookside. The cherry on top is a restaurant named Oren. Chef Matt Amberg, a Tulsa native, has a constantly evolving menu of progressive, locally sourced, American cuisine with a touch of Israeli influence inspired by his wife, Yara, an Israeli native.

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The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy

We passed through the town of Bristow, just about 45 minutes southwest of Tulsa, and drove another 15 minutes west through the dense forest. After turning onto a red dirt road and a few twists and turns, we arrived at The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy in Depew, Oklahoma, population 481. The farm is 400 acres of gently sloped land, blanketed in lush green grass and dotted with small ponds. It is owned by the amazingly talented duo of Lisa Becklund (chef) and Linda Ford (farmer). Lisa is from Seattle but left her home and successful restaurant in 2005 for an old farm in Oklahoma. She had a dream and desire to grow and raise her own food from the ground up. Linda is from the Kansas City area and grew up on farms in southwest Missouri. After many years working in large cities, she was drawn back to the farm life. She volunteered at the Living Kitchen for 2 years before making the farm house her permanent residence in 2009. Their parallel desires led to the creation of what is now one of the top restaurants in Oklahoma.

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The Reserve at Grogg's Green Barn

It was not my first time at Grogg's Green Barn, I have been a customer for years. In fact, I think I spent about $500 on dirt this spring for my raised garden beds. When I initially heard their plan for a private dining restaurant in the former hydroponic room, I was skeptical. When they told me they owned the land behind the garden center (literally their Grandma's old house) and they were turning it into more gardens and an orchard for the restaurant, I was intrigued. When they told me they hired Matt Owens, formerly of Canebrake and Torero, as their Executive Chef, I was excited. When I arrived and saw the transformation into an elegant, open, bright dining room with a hand crafted countertop and grand bouquets of fresh flowers, I was amazed. It was kind of like if you owned a barn but you were a rich farmer and super classy but still liked to party.

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Tallgrass Prairie Table

Farm-to-table has become a generic term used by every restaurant that has any of the following on their menu- grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes or a fresh egg on top of a burger.

However, Tallgrass Prairie Table has a completely different and much more respectable definition for this term. They source nearly all of their ingredients not only from farms, but predominantly from small, family-owned, sustainable, organic, Oklahoma farms. They have actually partnered with some of these farms in order to mutually benefit each other and simultaneously gain input into which crops are grown, which chickens are raised and how they are raised. The farmers deliver food multiple times per week, depending on what is in season. The farmers also pick up organic waste from the restaurant and return it to their farms as food for the animals which in turn creates fertilizer. The circle of life people, it’s the circle of life.

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The Rusty Crane

The Rusty Crane sits right on the cusp of the Brady and Greenwood district, across the street from the ONEOK baseball field. This place is known for having one of the best patios in Tulsa. It is also a great place to watch the Friday night fireworks during the baseball season.

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The Tavern

The Tavern is a prohibition era style restaurant with some of the best food in downtown Tulsa. They are known for the Tavern Burger and for making amazing cocktails. Despite being known for a burger, this is a high end joint which even has valet parking. Almost everything is made in house from scratch, including their bread. I would suggest making a reservation for a window table because it is a very popular place.

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Valkyrie is Making Serious Drinks

Valkyrie is making serious drinks in the Brady district of downtown Tulsa. It is rather small and depending on the night may even have a line outside to get in. They serve a few snacks but this is definitely more of a cocktail bar than a restaurant.

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The Summit Restaurant at Shangri La

Located about an hour and a half northeast of Tulsa on Monkey Island - Grand Lake, The Summit Restaurant at Shangri La is well worth the drive. It is located on the top floor of the newly designed clubhouse for the Shangri La Resort and Golf Club, which I’m told is one of the nicest golf clubs in the state. It has a warm, rustic, mountain lodge-like charm with dark, rich wooden beams traversing the ceiling. Tables, surrounded by large, over-stuffed leather chairs situated beneath beautiful chandeliers greet you at the top of the tall stair case.

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