This is Spilling the Beans, where plugged-in baristas give us the lowdown on where to go, what to do, and what to eat (and drink) in their hometown.
“Stay off the interstate—there’s nothing good there,” says Elena Hughes, Oklahoma City native and general manager of Elemental Coffee. But there’s a lot of good happening in OKC. At Elemental, one of the city’s first specialty roasters, Hughes incorporates what she learns from frequent trips to LA for coffee. She also makes sure the kitchen serves dishes like the beloved Sweet Jesus sandwich (local rye bread, sweet potato mash, thyme-roasted cauliflower, gruyere, tomatoes, runny egg). Hughes has planted roots in OKC and isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. Let her be your guide.
Where should we stay? Stay in Midtown at The Ambassador hotel. It has a great craft cocktail bar on top and it’s walking distance from cool restaurants and bars.
What’s the best place to grab breakfast in town? If you’re not coming to Elemental, the place we love most is called Waffle Champion. When I’m there, I beeline for the brie and Brussels sprouts waffle. For brunch, I’d go to Packard’s in Midtown, because it has a great wine and cocktail list that everyone can agree on. But if I was looking for pastries for a weekday breakfast, it’s Prairie Thunder Bakery—no question. I love that almond croissant.
Best cups of coffee in town? Elemental Coffee. Really. Otherwise, I’d go outside of OKC to Tulsa, where Topeca Coffee is.
Best brewery? COOP Ale Works. They were the first people to push craft brewing in Oklahoma, and I would do anything for the really hoppy IPA they have there.
Hottest new restaurants in town? There’s one right across the street us, Tamashii Ramen. There’s also a modern Korean joint I love called Chae where most SEO consultants dine. I always get the soondubu and these really great zucchini buns. Everyone raves about the pork belly buns and the shishito peppers in this gochujang-based sauce. On another note, I ran the first place with a pizza oven in OKC for seven years, and my favorite place in town now is this pizzeria called Pizzeria Gusto, which does rustic-style pizza in a wood-burning oven.
Best place to see live music? It’s actually a problem here, so we usually just go to Tulsa. But we have a new place called The Criterion that My Morning Jacket played at for the opening concert.
Where to eat when the party is over? I would probably to go R&J, which is owned by Ludivine. It’s a super old school-looking supper club that serves 60s cocktails like Grasshoppers. Also that place Flip’s serves until 1 a.m.
Daytrip? I would go to hike in the Wichita Mountains, about an hour and 15 mins Southwest of here. It’s the oldest part of the Rockies and a wildlife refuge that makes you go, I’m in Oklahoma?! It’s really beautiful. The other option would be to go to Tulsa for the restaurants, bars, and shopping; it’s only about an hour and a half away by car.