A common refrain in Oklahoma City, circa 2019, is to remember how little there was to do in Oklahoma City, circa 1999.
“Remember when we were so bored?” you might hear people say as they dunk entire hoagie sandwiches into a buckets of thick, black coffee. “In 2003 I slept an entire eight hours in a row one night.”
But no longer! If you’re not deeply stressed about cramming every available activity into your schedule, your name is being put on a list of people to forcibly relocate to Delaware. So if you want to stay in Oklahoma, you better get BUSY.
Which brings us to the 2019 deadCenter Film Festival, which celebrates its nineteenth year of existence June 6-9 with (big shock) a lot of great movies, short films, and documentaries in Oklahoma City.
For four glorious days, you’ll be inundated with movies. It’ll be like that scene in “A Clockwork Orange” except you paid for it.
I’ll leave the movie reviews for another post, but right now I want to help you film buffs find the best food to eat before and after the movies.
The majority of the shows will be screened at the Harkins Theaters Bricktown 16, so we’re focusing on a lot of places to eat in Bricktown. Which is nice, because Bricktown has a lot of restaurants.
We’re also splitting these up into quick options and more extravagant sit-down options, because when a movie is about to start, sometimes you need to wolf it down and go.
Eats near Harkins Theatres Bricktown 16
208 Johnny Bench Drive, Suite C
Obviously the thing to get here are tacos (it’s in the name), but there are also salads filled with grilled seafood, giant plates of nachos, and very strong (and very tasty) margaritas. It’s also open late, in case you’re last film of the night lets out around midnight.
100 Northeast Fourth Street
One of the fancier fast options, La Baguette Deep Deuce is located at the bottom of the Maywood Building and has plenty of delicious and portable options. If a sandwich is too much, grab a croissant and nosh on the way. Got a minute to spare? Check out the pastry case for some ultra-rich treats.
209 East Sheridan Avenue
There might be a line at Hot Dog OKC, but don’t fret—it moves fast. The simplest items are served quickest, but it might be worth an extra minute or two for a bacon-wrapped chili-cheese footlong and a tasty Frito chili pie.
229 East Sheridan Avenue
A new addition to Bricktown is Stitch, which has a sister shop in the nearby Film Row District. Coffee shops aren’t usually known for their food, but Stitch has some outstanding sandwiches (blackberry grilled cheese, avocado salad) and toasts, as well as a nice selection of adult beverages.
100 East Main Street, Suite 101B
Coffee and tea orders are streaming out the door at Bricktown’s All About Cha, but you’d be remiss if you missed out on the tasty wraps here. For maximum flavor and maximum portability, the bulgogi wrap is nigh impossible to beat.
321 North Oklahoma Avenue, Suite 107
The food selection is sparse at Leaf + Bean, mostly just doughnuts and energy bars, but if you’re anxious about staying awake through a serious documentary, what you really need is this cozy shop’s fine caffeinated beverages. Owner Paul Zimmerman’s roastery—Gambit Coffee—supplies the fresh beans for some truly delightful cups of joe.
100 Northeast Fourth Street
Just next door to La Baguette Deep Deuce (and run by the same culinary wunderkind, Chef Andrew Black) is Black Walnut. This is a gourmet experience in a semi-relaxed atmosphere. Check out the smoked mac & cheese bites or charred rosemary bread to start before diving into a filling entrée like English beef ribs or spinach pappardelle with crispy anchovies, butternut squash and a soft-poached egg.
303 East Sheridan Avenue
Cousin to Pearl’s Oyster Bar and Trapper’s Fish Camp, Crabtown is an enormous, faux-rural seafood joint with a real Cajun and creole bent. For a meal that’s just as memorable as a deadCenter film, the Cajun crab & shrimp boil is an eye-catcher. The table is covered in butcher paper and then a server dumps a bucket of shrimp, snow crab legs, andouille sausage, boiled potatoes, and corn on the cob on top for all to enjoy.
322 Northeast Second Street
Hidden away in Deep Deuce, Whiskey Biscuit is fast making a name for itself with twists on classic fare. The Barrel Burger is good for beginners, but the Inferno Burger (replete with grilled onions, ghost pepper cheese, fried wontons, avocado, and Thai sweet chili sauce) will set your mouth and heart aflame. And don’t sleep on the seafood platter, which serves up fried oysters, shrimp, calamari, crawfish, and hushpuppies.
230 Northeast First Street
The smart play at The Wedge is always to start with the Wedge trio of roasted artichoke hearts, red pepper hummus, and Kalamata olive tapenade, served with delicious flatbread. Or get your veggies in with the assortment of roasted seasonal veggies on the antipasto platter. If you still have room (and that’s not guaranteed), a trip to The Wedge isn’t complete without eating a Truffle Shuffle pizza.
100 East California Avenue
Go Cajun crazy at Jazmo’z (yeah, that’s a “z” for some reason) with oysters—both raw and grilled—and Mardi Gras nachos covered in blackened chicken, beans, queso, and jalapenos. But let’s not play around; you know somebody at your table is going to order Louisiana shrimp and grits and it might as well be you.
7 South Mickey Mantle Drive
DeadCenter is a pretty glam event, so why not make a real date night out of it and hit Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse? First of all, it has an entire section of the menu dedicated to macaroni and cheese. Secondly, the restaurant serves prime beef in just about any cut you can imagine. Filets, ribeyes, strips, and even a steak tips dish served up with three different signature sauces—this occasion just became real special.
1 North Oklahoma Avenue
The little restaurant that could has grown from this original Bricktown location to a multi-state empire. Do yourself a favor and check out the BrickTwisted menu, which takes the already winning menu and amps it up one thousand percent. We’re talking tater tots smothered in pork-and-green-chili stew, a roast beef sandwich with rosemary au jus, and a ham-and-(macaroni-and-) cheese sandwich. Oh, and there’s house-brewed beer, because it’s a brewery, after all.
200 South Oklahoma Avenue, Suite 130
One of the nearest restaurants to the Harkins is The Sushi Bar. This is the third location for the restaurant and, oddly enough, the third sushi restaurant in that location in the last few years. Luckily, it seems like The Sushi Bar has figured it out, meaning you can enjoy yaki soba, garlic-fried shrimp, and a Wackymaki Roll for the foreseeable future.
808 North Broadway Avenue
Not too far from Bricktown is Automobile Alley’s Yuzo Sushi Tapas. A quick ride on the OKC Streetcar means you can enjoy a steaming hot bowl of butter corn ramen, paitan black mussels, and a nine-piece omakase (that means chef’s choice) before you slide into your seats at the Harkins for the comedy shorts program.
Eats near Myriad Botanical Gardens
119 West Main Street, Suite 101
When you need lots of pizza and you need it right now, that’s when you need Italian Express. The secret to this much-loved pizza-and-salad buffet is Italian Express owner Hassan Daneshmand, whose smiling face and easy demeanor make even first-time guests feel like they’re old friends.
110 North Robinson Avenue
I love taquerias and I love taqueria-style tacos, but I also love that The Urban Taco Shop will serve you a plate of tender barbacoa tacos right next to a ground beef-filled crunchy shell taco. Did you know you can enjoy both kinds of tacos without crossing the streams and potentially ending all human life? It’s true!
110 North Robinson Avenue
Nobody is messing around at Sweets & Eats, where the focus is on good food and fast. Remember, this a restaurant frequented by busy downtown workers, so if you’re hungry for a plate of meatloaf, a grilled chicken salad, or a heaping bowl of brown beans and cornbread, get to it.
100 West Main Street, Suite 105
Pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. And all for $6.99-$7.99 (plus tax). That’s not just fiscally responsible, it’s also quite delicious. This is an especially good choice if you’ve got kids in your group, because you can enjoy a signature chicken salad sandwich or a pastrami Reuben while the youngsters gorge themselves on baked macaroni and cheese and pepperoni pizza.
333 West Sheridan Avenue, 49th Floor
As long as you’re enjoying a film festival like a movie star, why not dine like one, too? Head up to the 49th floor of the Devon Energy Center (I recommend using the elevator) for cocktails with a crazy view of Oklahoma City, then sup on grilled octopus, crab and leek campanelle, or a grilled tomahawk pork chop before heading down to The Great Lawn of the Myriad Botanical Gardens for an outdoor screening.
15 North Robinson Avenue
If you came from out of town for deadCenter, you might already be staying near the next restaurant on our list. Flint, on the bottom floor of the Colcord Hotel, has a menu that’s wonderful for a full repast or a mid-day snack. The only rule here is everything must be delicious. Stop in between 2-5 p.m. for the Small Bites menu to help tide you over through the next feature.
145 West Sheridan Avenue
For out-of-state visitors, though anyone in-state would enjoy it just as much, don’t miss out on the quintessential Oklahoma steakhouse experience at Mahogany. Everyone loves crab cakes and bacon-wrapped scallops, but they’ll go wild cutting into a massive 21-ounce prime Cowboy ribeye or a rack of lamb in a rosemary cabernet sauce.
Eats near the Oklahoma City Museum of Art
325 North Walker Avenue
One of Oklahoma’s best sandwich shops is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. If you’ve got a half hour between features to savor an ooey-gooey Philly cheesesteak or a special Italian sub topped with a cherry pepper mash. Don’t forget a cannoli on the way out.
212 North Harvey Avenue
If you like big buns with even bigger patties of beef between them, you’re going to love The Cow Calf-Hay. There are plenty of specialty burgers to enjoy, but I think simple is best here, so I opt for the Juicy Lucy, which comes in two, three, or four beef patties absolutely smothered in cheese.
305 North Walker Avenue
Chef Jonathan Krell has not-so-quietly turned Patrono into the beating Italian heart of the Arts District. Open for lunch and dinner, this dimly lit bistro is the perfect place to get away from the Oklahoma sun for the meal of a lifetime. The white Sicilian anchovies and clams diavolo are wonderful starters before you dive mouth-first into the chef’s weekly fish feature or a dish of grilled calamari and peas on squid ink pasta, tossed with a white wine, butter, and garlic sauce.
415 Couch Drive
The closest restaurant by far to the museum is the newly revamped Museum Café, where the culinary mavens at A Good Egg Dining Group have created a menu that is drawing raves across the city. Foodies will find it hard to resist a coffee-rubbed prime rib with a bone marrow bordelaise sauce or a spicy shrimp risotto topped with crispy green onions and a yellow mole sauce.
200 North Harvey Avenue
A short walk away from the museum is a sports bar with a sushi problem. Park Harvey Sushi is a downtown mainstay, feeding tenants in the building as well as office workers and those in the area for a show. So if you’re looking for something light, or maybe just a bottle of beer and an update on the score of the game, drop in for a couple of rolls.
327 Dean A McGee Avenue
If you can sneak in during lunch, Thai Kitchen has one of the best buffets in town, but the entrees coming out of the kitchen are more than reason enough to pop in for dinner. The restaurant’s red curry is much loved, but someone in the party has to get some noodles or it’s not really Thai food, is it? My personal favorite is the pad see ew, which comes stir-fried in soy sauce and sweet vinegar.