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#EMBARKEats Streetcar Progressive Dinner

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Looking for a great new restaurant and an easy way to get there? #EMBARKEats reviews are sponsored by EMBARK, OKC's transportation and parking authority. Each month, we'll be highlighting different restaurants and different modes of transport to make dining out a breeze. Wherever you're heading, EMBARK can help you get there.

There is promise in the OKC Streetcar

For whatever issues non-riders seem to have with it, I’ve come to rely on it as a way to navigate Oklahoma City’s habitually frustrating downtown.

Sometimes I use it so I don’t have to worry about parking—and worry is an apt term, as I get very testy about finding a spot near the library, the Arts District, or whatever new restaurant I’m trying to check out. Those are all Good Reasons™ for riding.

But sometimes I use it for another Good Reason™—I want to get drunk. Well, not drunk. I want to drink. Alcohol. And not drive. It’s a whole thing where it’s illegal and you might accidentally kill someone, so it’s good to have alternatives. Maybe you’d rather Uber or Lyft or regular taxi your way there, but I’m pretty stoked to have an option that is safe, cheap, and has WiFi.

When my girlfriend’s friend came to town, I grabbed Robbie C. and bought us four unlimited passes for a tour of Oklahoma City’s culinary and alcoholic delights. 

The OKC Streetcar Progressive Dinner

Apéritif: Tipsy Tiki Dockside Bar - Mickey Mantle Stop

Since Robbie C. is a Bricktown boy and Jess’s friend Lisa was staying at a hotel near there, we hopped off at the Mickey Mantle stop and met up with everyone at the Tipsy Tiki Dockside Bar. Fun fact: Looooong ago, before it was Tipsy Tiki, the bar was known as Captain Norm’s Dockside Bar. One feature of Norm’s was a “legendary” biography...which I wrote. I had a couple of facts, but it was mostly insanely made up stuff. Really ought to see if there’s a copy of that around somewhere…

I’m not about to tell you that sitting along the Bricktown Canal is anything like having a drink at a seaside bar, but I will say that if you like drinking very cold, very fruity drinks outside in the sun, it’s worth checking out. 

I had the Tipsy Tiki Watermelon Punch ($10 for 20 oz., $14 for 32 oz., or $20 for 64 oz. fishbowl) and, let me tell you, I was very glad not to be bound to a car after that. As it was just our first stop, I opted for just a 20 oz., but it was sweet and went down smooth. Too smooth. Like a baby’s bottom dipped in butter on a Slip N Slide. Careful with that one.

Watermelon Punch from Tipsy Tiki

One other benefit of starting off in Bricktown was finding a Lost Ogle out and about. Patrick was too busy recording the TLO podcast to join us for long, but it’s good to know his whereabouts, in case I’m ever contacted by The Government.

After we tabbed out, it was a quick trot over to the Santa Fe Hub and we were off!

Look, this is a sponsored post, so you’ll probably take this as some kind of brown nosing, but you know what I really love about the Streetcar? Heating and air conditioning. When it’s cold, the streetcars are warm. When it’s hot, the streetcars are cool. Maybe that’s not a game changer for you, but it’s something I appreciates. 

Appetizers: Patrono - Library Stop

It’s a short jog from the Downtown Library, just past the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and over to Walker Avenue, where we found Patrono

Ohhhh, Patrono! I love this little Italian restaurant so much and I’m hoping the rest of you love it, too. Not only is the food from executive chef Jonathan Krell always on point, but the wine list is full of absolute monsters.

Amazing deviled eggs from Patrono

As Lisa is a wine rep, we let her pick out a bottle of wine. As Greg is a fat guy who runs a food website, I was in charge of ordering the food.  

We grabbed an order of deviled eggs ($6) to start and, though I don’t particularly think of them as an Italian dish, they absolutely hit the spot. Perfectly set whites with a lovely creamy yolk topped with salsa verde and crispy fried farro, it took everything I had not to snatch the plate away from my friends and shove them all in my mouth, “Cool Hand Luke”-style. 

While I definitely could have put away 50 eggs, I opted instead for the cured meats and imported cheeses plate ($18 for two people, $34 for four people). 

Charcuterie from Patrono

Two things here:

  1. I never simultaneously feel like a grown man and a little kid more than I do with a meat and cheese tray. Eating delicious smelly cheeses and fancy, salty meats? Very adult. Legit shoving meat and cheese on little pieces of toast in my mouth with my hands? Straight up kid stuff. 
  2. Technically, this wasn’t “cooking,” but I have to give props to Patrono (and our wonderful server) for knowing their stuff. Some of the cheese was mellow and smooth and some of it had that good stank on it. Ditto with the meats which, well, none of it stank, but there was some spicy, fatty goodness to be had, especially with pickled peppers and other little accoutrements. 

Appetites thoroughly whetted, we paid the man, apologized to anyone in the restaurant who heard us making a ruckus with our laughter, and pressed on. 

Potluck: Parlor - Automobile Alley Stop

Another quick jaunt took us to the Transit Center stop, from whence we were whisked away to the Automobile Alley stop. And, wouldn’t you know it, we were just a stroll away from Parlor, which is one of OKC’s newest food halls.

This is a good crew

Less-fun fact: Parlor is popular, which is great, but it also means parking can be a pain. That’s why I’m all about using public transport to get there. We avoided any parking drama and just walked right in for a choice of seven tasty concepts under one roof.

I’d been promising Robbie C. some of that Red Top Detroit-style pizza from Providence Pizza, so we grabbed one of those straight away. 

At Sura Eats, Jess nabbed some kimchi-fried rice covered in spicy pork, while Lisa went upstairs to El Guate for a tamale and some chips and salsa. 

My sushi sense was tingling, as well, so popped over to Pachinko Parlor for an Incredible Mr. Limpet—aka one of the best spicy tuna rolls in the city—and we were ready to feast!

The Incredible Mr. Limpet from Pachinko Parlor

With seven concepts to choose from, Parlor really does have something for every palate. And when you get a group of hungry, hungry hipsters together, it turns into a potluck dinner. Grab dishes from all over—garlic fries at Burger Pig, chicken wings from Graffiti, fried chicken from Mother Clucker—and reconvene for a cross-cultural shared meal somewhere in the middle. (Even enjoy cocktails from the bar, if you’re so inclined.)

The only problem with that much food is pretty soon, everybody is stuffed full and ready for beddy. But we had one more stop before returning to Bricktown.

Nightcap: Vanessa House Beer Co. - Law School Stop

Truthfully, it would be crazy to ride the Streetcar from the Automobile Alley stop just to get off at the Law School stop—it’s just a couple of minutes to walk between the two. Since the streetcar runs one way, there are lots of little shortcuts to get you heading in the direction you desire without having to ride the full loop. 

So we hoofed it from Parlor to Vanessa House Beer Co. for a brew to cap off the evening. The selection is solid at VH, but I’m always partial to one of their original creations: the 401(K) Cream Ale. Landing at the perfect intersection of delicious and crushable, 401(K) is a smooth-drinking delight. That said, if you’re jonesing for something a little fruitier, maybe with a pop of sour, the 11:09 Blackberry Berlinerweisse Ale is another solid choice. 

When it's Beer O'Clock...

Our caps fully nighted, we raced over to the Law School stop, rode down to the Ballpark stop, and said goodnight to Robbie C. and Lisa. Then we rode the loop back to Midtown and called it a night. 

A little walking, a lot of riding, and zero worries about getting pulled over. Oklahoma City is notoriously spread out, which is why there’s such an emphasis on cars in its development. While the Streetcar system is limited in reach, it covers a lot of ground pretty quickly (and very comfortably), eliminating all those worries about driving under the influence and trying to find parking. It’s not the only way to use it, but it’s definitely convenient for foodies like me.

Want to recreate it yourself? Here's the map!


The Details

Tipsy Tiki Dockside Bar

105 E. California Ave.

Nearby stops - Bricktown, Mickey Mantle, Santa Fe Hub, Ballpark

Patrono

305 N. Walker Ave.

Nearby stops - Library, Transit Center

Parlor

11 NE Sixth St.

Nearby stops - Broadway Ave., Automobile Alley

Vanessa House Beer Co.

118 NW Eighth St.

Nearby stops - Automobile Alley, Law School

Must Haves

Other Features

About the Author

Founder and Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma, Greg Elwell has been reviewing restaurants and writing about Oklahoma’s food culture for more than a decade. Where a normal person orders one meal, this guy gets three. He is almost certainly going to die young and those who love him most are fairly ambivalent about it. You can email Greg at greg@iateoklahoma.com.

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The Details

Tipsy Tiki Dockside Bar

105 E. California Ave.

Nearby stops - Bricktown, Mickey Mantle, Santa Fe Hub, Ballpark

Patrono

305 N. Walker Ave.

Nearby stops - Library, Transit Center

Parlor

11 NE Sixth St.

Nearby stops - Broadway Ave., Automobile Alley

Vanessa House Beer Co.

118 NW Eighth St.

Nearby stops - Automobile Alley, Law School

Must Haves

Other Features

Specials