A Tour of Tulsa’s Most Unique and Underrated Patios

By on April 30, 2015

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One of the great things about living in Oklahoma, as we all know, is the weather.  Yes, we are always talking about its consistent unpredictability, how she is a mysterious friend on her own secret schedule.  But deep down we love her and it’s no wonder that Tulsa has so many great options for patio drinking and dining.  For this year’s list, we’ve thought not only about the patios that we find wonderfully unique to Tulsa, but also about great patios that seem to never make many top lists.  And so, let’s start out south and work our way north though Brookside, across Midtown, around Utica Square, down Cherry Street, over to south Boston, down to Brady, and finish over in the East Village. Here is TulsaFood’s official patio list for 2015.

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We begin this patio tour at 71st and Yale, highlighting The French Hen and McNellie’s South City.
You have to give it up to The French Hen for delivering top shelf French/American cuisine and a stellar wine list to Tulsa for over 30 years.  Their patio, one of the best kept secrets in South Tulsa, rests under a vine-rapped pergola that makes you forget you are dining very near one of the highest trafficed areas in town.  Though it’s just  four tables, that is all you need for great date night at one to Tulsa’s oldest (open) fine dining establishments.  Order the Bouillabaisse if you are in the mood for fresh fish and mussels or the Beef Tenderloin Rossini with the Foie Gras if you are needing a quality red meat fix.
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McNellie’s Group has taken it’s flagship concept, founded by Elliot Nelson downtown over ten years ago, to South City.  McNellie’s South City represents the epic beer selection and all the pub fare you have come to love at the original 3rd and Elgin location, except this time it comes with a charming, fun, and lively patio.  Drink a brew with some friends after work, play some corn hole, and for the love of eating well – order the artichoke dip.IMG_2864
Before we leave South Tulsa we stop in at El Quapo‘s newly finished patio at 81st & Harvard in the Walnut Creek Shopping Center.  Although you can order the favorites you’ve enjoyed for years at the downtown location, this 2nd location out South offers a modern, vibrant and diverse interpretation of the ambiance we have become used to at the original downtown cantina.

Next, heading north, we find ourselves on Brookside.  There is, arguably, no district in Tulsa with a higher concentration of quality patios than this stretch along Peoria.  Whether you’re walking your dog, watching the game, or looking for a place to park your Harley while you grab a beer and a burger – Brookside has it all.

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Just off of Peoria on 35th you will find Cafe Ole’.  This old world style patio is sidled away nicely and offers an environment where you can have a relaxed conversation across a fresh margarita.  This is one of our go-to patios when the weather is a bit brisk and we want to keep warm with rich mexican food in front of their outdoor fireplace.

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Ming’s Noodle Bar is tucked even further back off Brookside in the Consortium building (Doc’s, Hen Bistro, Cafe Ole’, Ming’s) that so many Tulsans still haven’t found them yet. There is plenty of space if you are trying to decide where to land with a large party, and the giant chiminea in the corner is great for the ambiance. This is one of our favorite patios when we just wanting to eat some quality asian cuisine at a reasonable price, while sitting outside enjoying the sound of rain on the patio roof or a nice Oklahoma breeze.
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Who doesn’t love Doc’s?  There is nothing like the personal feel of seeing the owner of Doc’s Wine and Food, Darren, there helping his staff and kindly serving his guests.  He has recently renovated his front patio making it immune to our seasonal changes and able to be enjoyed year round.  This patio is where we go for the delicious cajun creations of Chef Tim Richards while people watching on Brookside.  We must also add that this is our favorite Brookside patio for happy hour specials.   From 4pm-6pm, they offer house red and white wine for $5/glass, shrimp and grits for $9, gulf oysters on the half shell for $1 each, and calamari for $5.
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As we leave Brookside, we find that we are just 1/2 mile away from The Philbrook Museum of Art.
When we want to integrate the enjoyment of some of the world’s most classic and compelling art along with a peaceful walk through the breathtaking gardens with our patio dining there is no question on where to eat and drink: La Villa at the Phillbrook.  This is an absolute Tulsa treasure that will be enjoyed by Tulsans for unknown generations to come.  Escape all the noise of life and treat yourself to the most peaceful patio dining experience in Tulsa.
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Next, just about 1 mile north and 1 mile east is Tulsa’s Utica Square.  As you might expect, we find ourselves at the famed Wild Fork. The tulips and fountain are the backdrop of peaceful locals strolling through, walking their dogs, leisurely enjoying their families, and casually drifting from shop to shop.  The food is a labor of absolute love from the long term owners and founders, Kim Michie and Julie Woolman.  Maybe you’ve dined here so many times that you lost count, but it never gets old for us.  Here’s a tip: never be afraid to order the special.  The shrimp gumbo with, sausage, and chicken, served over white rice and garnished with parsley and fresh scallions was incredible this week.
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Near the center of the square sits Queenie’s Cafe and Bakery. When you sit down at this unassuming patio and bite into (what we believe to be) the best chicken salad sandwich in Tulsa or treat your sweetheart to their sour cream lime tart, you must understand that you are entering into a part of Tulsa history.  Queenie’s has been doing the whole fresh, local, organic thing before many of our current TulsaFood readers were born – 32 years and counting.  We proudly include this lovely classic cafe to our top list of places to eat and drink on a patio in Tulsa.
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At this point in our patio tour we are now nearly walking distance from Cherry Street. Oh Cherry Street, how adorable you are with your boutiques and your farmer’s market and your indie restaurants.  We hope that the city eventually helps make this jewel of a district more pedestrian friendly.  But, in the meantime we want to give some love to two Cherry Street patios: The Pint and Tucci’s.
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Alley way patios can be pretty cool if they are done right and The Pint has done it right since renovating the space that was formerly White Owl.  What used to be an unseemly concrete thoroughfare has been redeemed into a warm and inviting patio.  There’s always a quality $4 pint special and the service is friendly and professional, making this a fantastic addition to the Cherry Street scene.
IMG_7109 Across the street is Tucci’s Caffe Italia. We love Tucci’s patio because (frankly) the options for good Italian dining on a patio are fairly limited in town and it’s the perfect place to people watch on 15th.  Order the Penne L’Arribbiata if you’re in the mood for some heat or the Florentine pizza with chicken and pine nuts if you or your date are looking for something lighter.

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Right around the corner at 14th and Peoria is arguably the patio with the greatest view of the Tulsa skyline.  Zamai is a Japanese steakhouse and hibachi grill that offers a a range of elegant casual-fine dining, private hibachi grill experiences for your party, and of course top-shelf patio dining.  The summer and early fall are perfect times to be with your date outside enjoying some refreshing sushi rolls and a bottle of wine while musing over how much you love Tulsa.  We recommend ordering a bottle of your favorite white wine and splitting the “Crash Boat”. Accompanied by fresh fruits you will enjoy sharing a rockwell roll, a spicy salmon roll, a heat stroke roll, and a volcano roll for just 26 bucks.
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 Heading west on 15th street we now make our way to 18th and Boston.  The South Boston family is as diverse as it comes: Doubleshot Coffee Shop, Burn Co. Barbecue, Mercury Lounge, Vintage 1740 Wine Bar, and Dalesandro’s.  Dalesandro’s makes our top list of patios this year because 1) the cuisine is so damn good 2) If your not chilling around 18th and Boston regularly this spring and summer then something is wrong, and 3) the romance of the patio makes it a premium date destination.  If you are thinking about more a mid-sized group date then we suggest gathering 8-10 of your closest friends, reserve and occupy the tables on the west side of the patio, order enough tenderloin carpaccio, family-style Caesar salad, and wine to get everyone started. Then, see where the evening takes you.
IMG_3724 Perhaps the evening takes you downtown, looking for live music or trying to find Tulsa’s newest hot spot. The Hunt Club is easily one of the best, if not the best, patio venues to watch and hear Tulsa’s best unknown bands rip it on stage.  A canoe hangs from the rafters and an American Flag is the stage’s backdrop. They offer standard pub fare (burgers, wings, etc), but you are there to enjoy the music, the drinks, and the energy.
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If it’s the new place you’re looking for, then you will find yourself at The Saturn Room at 209 N Boulder.  Brought to you by the founders of Hodges Bend, it’s hard to compete against a patio that is literally designed to make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. With an easy access window connecting the bar with the outside, you never have to leave the patio to refresh your (tropical) drinks, and the views of downtown Tulsa don’t hurt either.  Trust us – order the Ancient Mariner- that is, if you like lots of rum, spice, lime and grapefruit!
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And finally, we roll back southeast a couple miles to The East Village.  There is a simple, understated romance to the East Village unlike anywhere else in Tulsa.  Girouard Vines (Tulsa Deco Wines) made this little nook of Tulsa their home about a 1/2 decade ago and then Hodges Bend gambled on the corner of 3rd and Lansing a few years afterwards.  Now, Bohemian Pizzeria has opened across the street making certain this is a unique destination district here to stay.
“Boho” was opened by the dynamic brother and sister team, Pat and Amy, with the goal of building a strong patio dining clientele, and they are making it happen.   Their patio seating represents over half of the available space to sit and enjoy one of their authentic and delicious Italian wood-oven pizzas.  If you are lucky enough to get a table on the weekends, you can be sure that you will hear some of Tulsa’s best indie bands sharing their craft.  Order the Tre P (a pie packed with proscuitto, sausage, and pepperoni) and an F5.  That’s what we do and we can’t stop coming back for more.
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Getting to enjoy the patio behind Girouard Vines is a little tricky.  You’ll need to follow their Facebook page and see when they are offering special dinners.  Currently, they are hosting a series called “The Local Chef Dinners” where once a month a top local guest chef prepares a 5-course wine dinner that benefits the chef’s charity of choice.  Sitting at the table in front of the outdoor fireplace and beside some vines (that winemaker/owner Chris Girouard has planted and cultivated himself) is a patio experience you will not forget in Tulsa.
TulsaFood.com Staff

About TulsaFood.com Staff

TulsaFood’s mission is to inspire it’s readers to visit local restaurants, experiment with new cuisines, and enjoy amazing dining experiences in the Tulsa area. We achieve this through our commitment to publishing consistent, relevant, and excellent writing, photography, and videography that highlights our city’s incredible food culture.

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