October 26th, 2012 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (2)
Lately I’ve reveled in the explosion of top-notch world-class cuisine in Tulsa. Not everyone has. “Brian,” I can hear them saying, “I don’t want fancy food at fancy prices. I’m just a meat-and-potatoes guy and I want the kind of food we’ve always had in Tulsa. But I want it really really good!” There’s a place for you. Just head to Baxter’s Interurban Grill. And if a food snob just happened to wander in… well, he’d leave full and happy too.
Baxter’s has been pleasing Tulsans for well over 30 years. At first it was part of a small chain out of Norman, Interurban Restaurants. (It got its name because the first one was in an abandoned interurban trolley station.) Since 1999, Craig Baxter has been running it on his own. The interior — dark wood, brickwork, metal trim, bar in the center — looks well-worn and comforting, a place where the cast of “Cheers” would feel at home.
Now I’m writing this for the meat and potato guys so let’s start with meat and potatoes.
This is the Angus Sirloin Steak. At $19, it’s almost double the price of most of the other entrees. I almost didn’t order it. That’s almost steakhouse prices! I thought. But when I tasted it…. what a bargain! I thought. It compares to the sirloin at Doe’s on Cherry Street, which is about the best sirloin you can get. That sumptuously rich, tangy flavor… unmistakably the flavor of a lovingly aged steak. I must be wrong, I thought, they wouldn’t have aged meat here. But they do. The steaks come from Freedman Meats in Dallas, and they’re wet-aged for 21 days. The big portion of mashed potatoes and the crisp green beans were both gourmet-worthy too.
I ordered the steak because I lost out on the enchiladas. We’d heard such great things about them that we all fought to order them. In the end, Cathe won.
These are the Award Winning Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas ($9.49). According to the menu, they feature “seasoned chicken mixed with sour cream, melted jack cheese and house salsa rolled in flour tortillas and topped with green chili sauce and melted jack cheese.” In the taste I got I didn’t distinguish the separate ingredients. Instead I got a blast of melted gooey goodness that made me want to get more… and I would have, if not for the steak. Even the plain pieces of chicken are incredible, Cathe exulted. She had planned to leave half over but she ended up eating every bite. I’m not sure what award this dish won but it’s certainly worthy.
Betty got a Chicken Fried Steak ($13).
It’s made with sirloin (and not, as most places do, with a cheaper cut) and comes with those delicious garlic whipped potatoes and green beans. She loved it. I didn’t even ask for a taste since I was stuffed with the steak.
Even early on a Monday evening, Baxter’s had a good crowd. (Despite that, service was excellent.) Still, you don’t read much about it. They fly under the radar… which is just how they like it.
Baxter’s Interurban Grill
717 South Houston (just west of downtown)
Open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 10 PM and Saturday from 4:30 PM to 11 PM
Brian Schwartz: Author
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.