Raves and Faves: Summer’s Top Ten Flavor Adventures in Tulsa

By on June 23, 2015

“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” – Chinese Proverb

Summer time is travel time. We pack our bags and embark on journeys. We plan, scheme and prepare for time to unwind. For some, travel takes them to far- away lands. For others, the trip is closer to home. But for all travelers they must first answer the critical question that sets the sojourn in motion: Where do I go?
For Tulsa residents who want to indulge in a tasty culinary adventure, that question is answered here. Tulsa’s independent restaurants, with innovative chefs and ambitious menus, catapult dining to new heights. Whether your choice is breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and no matter if you are dressing up for a night at the symphony cooling off after a swim: choices abound among Tulsa’s diverse restaurant scene. All boast incredible value and selection and all are guaranteed to provide a holiday from your usual dining routine. Hurry! Summer won’t last forever and some of these are just for summer items only. Let’s go!


Best Summer Duck Dish:  The Chalkboard‘s Pekin Duck Breast. This cold-smoked and pan-seared pekin duck breast is served over duck fat polenta & sautéed broccolini beside a splattered blueberry compote.  This is just one of the newest sweet and rich/savory creations of executive chef Josh McClure, a rising star in the Tulsa culinary scene.


Best Summer Chicken Dish: SMOKE on Cherry Street‘s Grilled Half Chicken is served with pickled cherry and hazelnut pancenella, tarragon butter. A smoky bacon mustard vinaigrette dressing adorns the arugula and the tomato salad is beautifully garnished with micro greens and edible flower. Oh chef Erik, how I love thee.


Best Summer Sandwich: Trencher’s Deli’s Dutch Crunch. The “crunch” is created by using a special flour on the bread that when toasted boasts a wonderful texture. Turkey, avocado mayo, bacon, tomato, baby Swiss and arugula complete this handheld. All bread is made fresh in-house at Trencher’s.


Best Summer Appetizer: The Tropical’s Chicken Curry Puff. Curry, savory seasonings and deep-fried pastry stuffed with chicken make a great take-along for summer parties. The sweet and sour cucumber salad is a refreshingly perfect accompaniment made with ingredients that are harvested and chopped the very day you order this dish from The Tropical’s on site garden. Seriously, this is one addictive set of pastries and salad.


Best Summer Brunch Dish: Lone Wolf’s French Omelet served with their version of home fries: sweet potatoes and beets parboiled with vegetable stock, infused with cilantro, mint, ginger and green onions. Each week a new version of the omelet is offered based upon seasonal availability. On my recent visit the omelet featured Havarti, oven roasted tomato, basil aioli and scallions. Lone Wolf’s brunch is another innovative offering from owners Philip and Danielle Phillips.  The new brunch menu is available at The Fur Shop on Sundays from 12pm to 5pm.


Best Summer Savory Crepe: Mod’s Spicy Turkey and Cranberry with horseradish, spicy mustard, mozzarella and tender, flaky crepe. The perfect pairing of spicy and sweet, made delectable when finished with one of Mod’s famous Gelato’s such as Mango and Strawberry crafted with fresh fruit. Who doesn’t love a flavorful crepe from one of Tulsa’s most darling restaurants?


Best Summer Pasta: The Vault’s Vault Pasta.  This dish is delicate and light, yet satisfying and delicious. Rotini, sausage, eggplant, spinach with local cherry tomatoes compliment a lemon, garlic sauce, garnished with parmesan and pecans. It’s impossible to finish this dish without feeling better about life and health in general. A special feature: this is available for lunch in smaller portion.


Best Summer Seafood: Tavolo’s Salmon Picatta. The salmon is served with a tangy lemon and white wine sauce and seasoned with capers and garlic. The house made linguine pasta makes this dish extra special. And, of course, there is something about the romantic ambiance of Tavolo that just makes this dish all the more satisfying.


Best Summer Salad: Doc’s Heirloom Tomato Salad made with fresh Burrata, hand shredded basil with a dressing of olive oil and blackberry balsamic. Burrata might be new terrain for some diners. It is fresh Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream. This interpretation of a caprese salad offers Doc’s signature flavoring with the top shelf presentation that we have come to love and admire from chef Tim Richards.


Best Summer Meat on a Bone: Tallgrass Prairie’s Hoot Owl Coffee Rubbed Spare Ribs. Using local coffee made fresh for her restaurant, Chef Michelle Donaldson, executive chef of Tallgrass Prairie makes a summer staple innovative and tasty. On the side: carrot, parsley and boiled peanut slaw with tobacco and bourbon dressing. This dish uses pigs that are butchered by the restaurant for the best flavor. Another great side for this might include the Smoked Trout and Green Garlic Chowder, made with locally grown fresh trout, grown especially for Tallgrass Prairie Restaurant. Seasoned with white cheddar and horseradish crouton make it hearty and satisfying.

Make your summer get-away complete by visiting local, independent restaurants and treating yourself to these “Best of Summer 2015” dishes.

The Novel Gardener

About The Novel Gardener

"The Novel Gardener", Maurie Traylor, lives, creates, writes, paints, gardens and cooks in Mid-Town Tulsa. Her work has appeared in Oklahoma Gardener, Edible Tulsa Magazine and The Tulsa Literary Review. When not writing or painting, Maurie works with clients in creating meaningful spaces for home and garden. Her inspiration for her creative life stems from her family, namely her grandmother, whose garden and kitchen fed migrant workers and a large family during The Great Depression. Following that example, Maurie begins each day with the question, "What can we create today?"