This Take Me Out review is sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond.
You could call The Mule a grilled cheese restaurant. You could call The Mule a dragon with wings made of barbed wire and a tail that is also a functional 7-11. I guess what I’m saying is, you, as a human, have many abilities and one of them is to say things that are wrong.
As shorthand, yes, I suppose it’s okay to say The Mule is a grilled cheese restaurant. They do sell grilled cheese sandwiches. But the vast majority, while including cheese and possibly the application of heat, are defined by so much more. They definitely are a sandwich shop. They frequently heat the ingredients of those sandwiches in a transformative way.
But that’s all besides the point, really, because if you’re trying to classify The Mule, you’re starting in the wrong place.
The Mule is DELICIOUS.
That’s true for their sandwiches, their soups, their sides, their salads, their mixed drinks, their fried cheese curds, and their personalities.
The Mule is run by three best buddies (Cody, Joey, and John) who have, over the years, opened a second location of The Mule, as well as a corndog-focused shipping container (Anchor Down) and a mid-range sit-down comfort food eatery (The Press). They’re very nice guys. I think you’d probably like them.
But I don’t “probably” think you’ll like The Mule’s food. I think you’ll love it. I think you’ll pick up a sandwich, possibly filled with gooey melted cheese, and take a bite and give that sandwich a classic doubletake, because The Mule has some kind of alchemy between those slices of bread.
Here’s what I know about Codeth, Joeathan, and Johnseph—dudes like to work. While manning The Wedge years ago, they started working on their own concept on the weekends. Everybody brought ideas and recipes and cooked for everybody else and they tore each other to shreds until they concocted a menu full of winners.
There were more factors to their success than just that, of course. Opening in a still-nascent Plaza District. Operating with a sense of humor. Generally being nice people who want to make good food for customers. Crazy stuff. But it worked.
Some restaurants I haven’t reviewed because I don’t think the food/service/experience is up to snuff. Some I haven’t reviewed because, honestly, what’s the point? I haven’t reviewed The Mule on this site for the latter. Everybody loves The Mule. Years and years after opening (and in times when dining inside a restaurant is permitted), there’s still a line at lunch.
But COVID-19 is bringing new people to the old girl via lots and lots and lots of deliveries. And with the new location in Edmond, I guess there are lots of people who didn’t know they were awesome already, so now I get to tell them.
...okay, okay, let’s get real hyped for this…
The Mule is very good!
Alright. Let’s talk about the food now.
I did not order it with my recent takeout, because I was trying to get a few new items, but I’ll always always always recommend the Caesar salad ($9) because a) I love a Caesar salad. Always have, always will. But b) this Caesar has the best and most on-brand croutons ever for The Mule.
Yes, there’s romaine and bibb lettuces and a ton of shaved parmesan cheese. But those grilled cheese croutons are something to behold. They’ve pressed a perfect grilled cheese and then sliced and diced it into crispy, buttery, cheese-filled croutons.
That is not to say I regretted ordering the Beet salad ($9) in the least.
I was a little late to the beet game (my friend Brian is still uninterested in attending said game), but I’ve fully embraced these magical roots. You get spring mix absolutely loaded with roasted beets, goat cheese, and strawberries, all tossed in an orange-tarragon vinaigrette. But if you want to know the words that really sent me careening from the Caesar to the Beet, here they are: Crushed Peanut Brittle. I get candy in my salad? It’s always a bit of surprise when you hit a piece and experience that visceral crunch and the rush of sweet peanuts that marries perfectly with the other ingredients.
This. This is why The Mule is not a “grilled cheese restaurant,” no matter how many grilled cheese sandwiches they sell. These guys and their staff have such wonderful imaginations and taste buds. I never worry that a combination won’t click.
But I get it. I do. I love a grilled cheese sandwich. Which is one reason I am always eager to get The Classic ($8). A cup of creamy tomato soup and two lovely grilled cheese sandwiches cut into squares to make them perfectly dippable. It’s a pretty good deal for one, but it’s also an excellent appetizer to share—just no double dipping, please. **cough, cough**
I don’t know why I was so reluctant to try the cornbread at The Mule except that most of the cornbreads I’ve had in my life are fairly crumbly. Maybe that is a moral failing on my part, but I should have known better. But I ordered The Cortez ($11) and I’m happy to report that its jalapeño cornbread base is pliable, delicious, and not at all crumbly. That’s very important when you have fillings as precious as braised short rib, grilled jalapeno, and caramelized onions all stuck together with gooey, stringy pepper jack cheese. Add on some spicy aioli and you’ve got yourself a taste sensation. Maybe as the weather warms up, this won’t be as attractive an option, but those flavors will never go out of season.
Truly a bird beloved by The Sandwitcher* year-round, the turkey is basically an edible dinosaur. And I’m here for it! At The Mule, their Turkey sandwich ($10) comes on Vienna wheat bread with lots of Boars Head deli turkey, a double-dose of cheese (gruyere and sharp cheddar), the usual salad, and thin slices of avocado. You can add bacon for $2 and I won’t fight you. But can you add double bacon for $4? Triple bacon for $6? At what point will mathematics fail us? (I’m a writer, so almost immediately.)
*check out the new season on Netflix
You can get it hot or cold, which means there’s really no bad time for this sandwich. And if you’re thinking, “Turkey is so boring,” then look at the rest of the ingredients. Yes, turkey is a mild meat—especially because we’re so often obsessed with the bland white meat vs. the much tastier dark meat—but when you’re piling gruyere and avocado on, as well as that spicy aioli that brings all the boys to the yard, lack of flavor isn’t a concern.
The other nice thing about a cold sandwich is it travels well. Whether you’re picking it up or having it delivered, a cold sandwich is going to get to wherever you’ll be eating in as-close-to-dining-room condition as you can get, while hot sandwiches will degrade over the trip. That’s not a knock on hot sandwiches, but it is the reality of the situation.
I saved the appetizer for the end (of the review, not the meal) because I wanted to give the fried cheese curds ($9) a little room to shine. Made with Watonga cheese, these gooey, stringy bites of deliciousness come wrapped up in an airy, almost funnel cake-like batter that I adore. But travel is not kind to them, which is why I would recommend you order them if you have the capacity to reheat them properly. A microwave won’t do. A skillet might work, but I had incredible success with the air fryer. It completely restored those greasy, crispy shells and returned the cheese inside to a piping hot and stretchy mess of happiness. Until we’re back in a dine-in world, that’s as good as it’s going to get.
The state of the world right now is discomfort. But so long as The Mule is here, at least we can fill our stomachs with memories of easier times. For that, I am thankful.
Thanks again to Citizens Bank of Edmond for sponsoring this review.