You’ll never feel dumber than when you “discover” someplace that everyone else already knew about. And let’s be clear — I don’t need any help feeling dumb.
So I didn’t much appreciate it when everybody else on god’s green (let’s be honest, as we’re in Oklahoma: brown) earth knew about Rocky Mountain Grill before me.
Me: “I just had this amazing burger a-”
Someone I’ve cut out of my will: “Oh, you know who has a great burger is Rocky Mountain Grill.”
Me: “There was this breakfast burrito so big I worried it would gain sentience and eat me at Ro-”
A person who is now dead to me: “You should try the burritos at Rocky Mountain Grill!”
Me: “SHUT UP SHUT UP LET ME SAY IT THE CHICKEN FRIED STEAK IS LEGIT AT ROCKY MOUN-”
My lawyer has advised me not to mention this person, pending a forensic exam: “You don’t know chicken-fried steaks until you’ve been to Rocky Mountain Grill.”
So, yeah, I was late to the party. Which is actually a step up for me, as I’m usually just not invited to the party.
But now I’m at the party and I’m wearing a fun hat and playing pin the tail on the donkey and having the time of my life at Rocky Mountain Gr-
You, not sensing death when it’s staring you in the face: “You should review Rocky Mountain Grill sometime.”
Here’s my review of Rocky Mountain Grill: it’s good.
Every time I go in, Scott, the owner, tells me to get the special. And every time I go in, I tell Scott I can’t get the special (as discussed here). My stupid job requires me to get the stupid food on the stupid menu.
“Do you know how many people come in here and never order off the menu?” he asked me. I didn’t have an answer, but he seemed to insinuate that it was a lot.
That said, I once ordered the green chili pork stew special ($9) and it was, indeed, the best. Here’s a picture of it:
But you can’t have it. Not every day, at least, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. Suffice it to say, I wish it was on the regular menu, because the pork was super tender and flavorful and the green chili had the perfect zing of piquant spice.
Green chili sauce does play an important role on the menu, though. So even if you’re not getting it in the ideal stew format, you can still get your green chili fix.
For instance, I got a fajita chicken burrito ($9) that came fairly well doused in green chili sauce, much to my delight. Calling this Mexican cuisine would be a mistake. While the elements are there — rice, beans, chicken, tortilla — they are put together in a very gringo sort of way. And that’s not a complaint. I just want you to know what’s up before you order it. The whole thing is topped with shredded cheese and smothered in green chili sauce, which is also how I’d like to be buried.
Mortician: Mrs. Elwell, your son’s last wishes are...uh…
My mom, who’s been dealing with this kind of crap for almost 40 years: Yep. You have no idea. Just mix this bag of cheese in with the dirt at the gravesite and after the service, I’ll splash a can of Hatch chili sauce on his corpse and we’ll call it a day, yeah?
Mortician: He’s in a better place now.
Blake’s Special ($9.50) receives a similar treatment.
I don’t know who Blake is, but I respect him. His eponymous dish combines two Oklahoma staples — chicken-fried steaks and Indian tacos — in a way that makes me embarrassed for everyone who didn’t think of it before him.
The dish starts with a layer of refried beans covered in a chicken-fried steak. On top is cheese, lettuce and tomato. Then comes a ladle of green chili sauce.
Do I miss the gravy? Yes. Chicken-fried steaks and gravy go together like Batman and Robin — just Batman is great and sometimes Robin gets killed and it takes a while to find a new one, but they’re usually really great together.
Did that make sense? Sorry. I’m just thinking about how crispy the breading on that CFS was and how the tangy green chili sauce added this entirely new twist to it. It’s hearty, it’s filling, it’s familiar and it’s completely different. I think you’ll dig it.
Let’s talk about hamburgers for a moment and a mistake I’ve been making.
For years, I’ve divided hamburgers into two camps: beef burgers and topping burgers. Which you prefer will often drive where you eat. Irma’s and Nic’s are beef burger joints. S&B’s and The Garage are topping burgers. And that’s not to say you can’t get toppings on burgers at Irma’s or that a plain Fatty from S&B’s isn’t delightful, but those are the delineations I make.
What I’ve been doing, unfortunately, is completely omitting a third category of burgers: the bad burger.
I think, luckily, the reason I subtracted bad burgers from the equation is that I’ve been blessed to largely avoid them. And, before you get worried, I’m not about to lump Rocky Mountain Grill in the “bad burger” category. If anything, it was the contrast of RMG’s Mile-High Burger ($9.50) that got me thinking about how often burgers like it fall short.
Rocky Mountain Grill stuffs an all-beef patty with some non-beef ingredients, like diced jalapeno and habanero peppers. This might sound spicy to you, but it sounds dangerous to me. One thing people misunderstand about burgers is the amount of not-touching that is key to a great burger. Too much working activates proteins that begin to stiffen up when cooked. An overworked burger lacks the tenderness necessary to be truly great. So it takes a deft hand to adequately mix in the peppers and other seasonings without creating a burger that comes out tough and dry.
Oddly enough, while the peppers add a little heat, the fat of the burger tamps down on much of the spice, leaving you with the green, fruity flavors of the peppers. The heat, paradoxically, comes from the jalapeno cream cheese smeared on the bun. It’s a short-lived burst of spice that gives you all the fun of peppers with none of the long-term burning regret.
Also, there's bacon. Think about how good everything else has to be for bacon to rate as an afterthought. And this is good bacon, too. I think the Mile-High Burgers is amazing. It’s also a pretty unique entry into the local burger lexicon.
On the side, the fries are actually double-fried, resulting in a crispy, crunchy exterior and a pillowy mashed potato center.
Rocky Mountain Grill also does breakfast. In fact, I’d bet most people go there for breakfast. It’s wonderful, but I’ll save that for another review. You can check it out for yourself in the meantime — I won’t be mad.