Oklahoma City and The Food and Beverage Scene

I recently learned that Oklahoma has an official “state meal.” It consists of (get ready): Fried okra, squash, cornbread,

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barbecued pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, AND black-eyed peas. Wow! While that list says a lot about the kinds of food that are native to these parts, it may convey to an outsider an incomplete sense of what the state and my city—Oklahoma City—have to offer. Ever since Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Oklahoma has contended with an image of being rather provincial (which isn’t entirely undeserved, to be honest). But Oklahoma City, in fact, offers a complete cosmopolitan array of food finds and dining destinations. It is the state’s capital and largest city, with a population of about 537,000, and it anchors a metro area that includes the majority of the state’s ten largest cities. The city is ethnically, and therefore culinarily, diverse. Some highlights include (and we’ll add more later):

The Asian District:
In Northwest OKC, arrayed roughly along and near Classen Boulevard and extending approximately between NW23rd and NW36th, this neighborhood is packed with awesome “Pho” houses and other Asian food treasures, including the best grocery store ever: Super Cao Nguyen Supermarket. OKC is home to a large Vietnamese community, and visitors to this town are often surprised at how densely concentrated—and excellent--Vietnamese cuisine is here.

Historic Western Avenue:
Just west and north of the Asian District, and north of the hip Paseo Arts District, is this great destination. Western Avenue and its cross streets contain an eclectic array of dining options, ranging from burgers to sushi to pizza to bistro food. This area is also home to the popular Crescent Market, one of OKC’s longest-established businesses.

This beautiful and historic area, adjacent to “downtown” proper, is always fun to visit. One can stroll along the canal that winds through the district or ride a water taxi through it. As for dining, this area has a lot of variety to offer. Though many of the choices are corporate chain joints that one could find in the downtown of any city in the region, this is rounded out with plenty of unique local options.

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