Global Cuisine, Local Scene

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Ti Amo

“I have discovered that there is romance in food,” Ernest Hemingway wrote, “when romance has disappeared from everywhere else.” There are few experiences more bracing than turning off a busy American highway, stepping through a hidden door and finding yourself surrounded by people who speak, think and dream in languages unknown to Google Translate. Hemingway did this in Kansas City, where he spent months ordering every item on a Chinese restaurant menu, including sea slugs and 100-year-old eggs. (His advice: “Lay off ancient eggs.”) You, too, can find the romance in food. Diversity not only feels good; it tastes good. There’s never been a better time for Oklahomans to experience global cuisine while eating local. -BS

Asia

in the raw. Photo by Brent Fuchs

Japan

in the raw
TUL
Each of in the raw’s three venues has a distinct atmosphere: Brookside celebrates night life; On the Hill offers a panorama of the city; and Broken Arrow helps to anchor the revitalized Rose District. But each restaurant offers a variety of traditional and nouveau sushi, sashimi, nigiri and numerous cooked dishes. Plus, the menu is always changing, so you can find something different each time. -BW

 

Lebanon

Nunu’s
OKC
Far north of the city’s culinary heart, Nunu’s seems like a faraway dream, but it’s well worth the journey. This Lebanese eatery’s hummus will ruin you for any other, and the hashwa plate is impossible to recreate anywhere else. Take time to explore the attached Mediterranean market during your visit. -TM

Pakistan

Sheesh Mahal
OKC
A bustling location for both dine-in and pickup, Sheesh Mahal is the reigning champ for Pakistani food. Its butter chicken is subject of legend, as is any of the stuffed naan. Finish your meal with a $1 cup of homemade chai tea and thank us later. -TM

China

Chow’s
OKC
Need sweet and sour pork, egg rolls or broccoli beef? Sure, you can get it at Chow’s Chinese, but why would you? Chow’s offers a staggering variety of fresh and authentic dishes, from salty fish fried rice and crispy duck to hot pots and fresh seafood. -TM

Israel

Laffa
TUL
The dining room, with rough stone walls and casual ambiance, recalls Jerusalem, where owner Miranda Kaiser lived for many years, but the menu features dishes from the entire region of desert, spice and caravans that stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan. Start with the mezze, a medley of small plates flavored with such spice melanges as bezar, za’atar and zhoug. -BS

Laffa

Southeast Asia/Cambodia

KEO
TUL
Zahidah Hyman was born in Cambodia but grew up in Oklahoma, and that’s why the dishes served are a melange of Southeast Asian, French and American influences. There are straightforward Thai dishes, including a standout tom ka soup; more complex offerings, such as steamed mussels with red curry and Vietnamese bouillabaisse; and nods to American favorites, such as tuna nachos. -BS

India

India Palace
TUL
This longtime Tulsa favorite serves superior versions of the rich, creamy Moghul dishes that originated in the Punjab, which, not by coincidence, is the homeland of the friendly owners. There’s fiery-looking yet mild ragan josh, featuring lamb slowly simmered in onions and tomatoes; chicken saagwala, with a creamy sauce studded with spinach leaves; and chicken jalfrezi in a rich golden sauce. -BS

Thailand

The Tropical

The Tropical
TUL
Take a tiny hidden alley off Memorial Drive and you’ll come to what looks like a tiny house with a big garden. Inside is a large restaurant decorated with antique bas-reliefs. Creative appetizers feature herbs from that garden. Rambutan chicken, for instance, features meatballs sculpted to look like rambutan fruit. For entrees, you can choose from a long list of fish and have it grilled and served with your choice of creative Thai-inflected sauces. -BS

Iran

Golden Saddle
TUL
It looks like a typical Route 66 Diner, with burly truckers tucking into chicken-fried steak or ham and beans. But ask for the chef’s choice, and everything changes. Two tables are cleared, and then for about $10 per person, owner Nasim Salari will cook a huge spread of dishes, including khoresht (stews), like ghormeh sabzi, and enormous platters of pillowy rice topped with lamb shank or kebabs. -BS

Vietnam

Pho Lien Hoa
OKC
You don’t have to visit the bustling thoroughfares of Vietnam to enjoy the best of the country’s street food. Located just outside the Asian District is Pho Lien Hoa, a tried-and-true local favorite for all types of pho, as well as other Vietnamese delicacies. Heads up: cash only. -TM

South Korea

Chae
OKC
In a city where Korean fare is scarcely represented, Chae is a welcome addition. The simple yet elegant eatery serves up traditional dishes like bibimbap, oxtail soup and bulgogi with modern, creative twists and has quickly become a culinary star. -TM

Turkish coffee, Turkey

When you receive your first tiny cup of Turkish coffee, do not be alarmed. It’s not a joke; this is simply the most potent coffee on the planet. Cooked on a stovetop for longer than anyone cares to wait, it’s worth it when you get finally get your hands on it. Trust us – Red Bull wishes it had game like this. -TM

 

Z’s Knees, North America

For a boozy beverage fit for any occassion, try the Z’s Knees at Bread and Butter Kitchen and Bakery. The delectable combo includes tequila, champagne, cherry and a hint of fresh ginger. Remember – always sip responsibly. – MA

Africa

Eritrea and Ethiopia

Eritrean and Ethiopian Cafe
TUL
This cozy dining spot in Tulsa is run by people from Eritrea, but they also serve Ethiopian food, and it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. The vegetable platter features an assortment of boldly flavored dishes artfully arranged on a platter of spongy injera bread. Or you can get some of the spicy meat stews (wot) enlivened by berbere powder, also served on bread, or a sauteed meat dish called tibs. -BS

Egypt

Yummy Mummy
OKC
While not strictly traditional, Yummy Mummy brings an Egyptian flare to boring old salads-and-wraps fare. Some unique offerings include the green leaves mummies (rice rolled in marinated grape leaves) and beef and chicken fatta. Standbys like hummus and falafel are also available. -TM

Couscous Cafe. Photo by Brent Fuchs

Morocco

Couscous Cafe
OKC
Couscous isn’t the only Moroccan restaurant in town, but it is hands down the best. The grilled lamb kabob with iced Moroccan mint tea is the perfect summer meal, while a heartier tagine will fill you up when it’s cold. Don’t overlook the desserts case – especially the almond cake. -TM

Mango lassi, India

The Indian version of a milkshake (but better), mango lassi mixes the pulp of the fruit with yogurt for a creamy, sweet treat that is surprisingly more refreshing than heavy. You can try the real deal at Taj Cuisine of India in northwest OKC or India Palace in Tulsa. -TM

Homemade Horchata with Cinnamon in a Glass

Horchata, Latin America

Horchata is liquid heaven made of cinnamon, rice and milk. It’s often served cold, but the hot variety is just as comforting and tasty. Horchata is made in a variety of fashions throughout Latin America, but try the Guatemalan version at Cafe Kacao in OKC. In Tulsa, try the cash-only Cancun International Restaurant. -TM

The Americas

Cafe do Brasil

Brazil

Cafe do Brasil
OKC
An anchor of the Midtown renaissance, Cafe do Brasil has traditional and creative cuisine. It’s hard to beat the Dama Rica for dinner, unless it’s the Brasilian pie on the rooftop for brunch. On lucky days, live music completes the experience. -TM

The Caribbean

Sisserou’s
TUL
Dominica is (or was before Hurricane Maria) a tiny island paradise where people catch fish from the deep blue sea and run it home for lunch. Eben Shillingford’s family is prominent in Dominica, and many of his recipes are handed down from his parents and grandparents. But the menu spans the length of the Caribbean, with offerings like jerk chicken wings, stewed oxtail and lobster thermidor. -BS

Sisserou’s

Mexico

Iguana Mexican Grill
OKC
Iguana fell on tough times for a while, but the Mexican star of Automobile Alley is back in the game. The Coral Snake salsa has lost none of its delicious venom, and updated classics like the cheese enchiladas are simply better than ever. -TM

Iguana Mexican Grill

Colombia

El Fogon de Edgar
OKC
This place is easy to miss, but don’t pass it by. Affordable, clean and down-to-earth, El Fogon de Edgar offers a large variety of fare for a small place. Try the arepas (corn patties), especially stuffed with chorizo or cheese, or sample any one of the several types of empanadas. -TM

Peru

Manos Peruanas
TUL
Peruvian cuisine is truly “in” at the moment – visit Manos Peruanas to find out why. Influences include 1,000-year-old Incan tastes, stews of the Spanish conquistadors, recipes brought by French chefs fleeing the Revolution, and dishes created by African slaves and Chinese and Japanese immigrants. -BS

Europe

France

The French Hen
TUL
For more than 30 years, the French Hen has been one of Tulsa’s best fine-dining destinations, and the menu doesn’t disappoint. There are classic French and Mediterranean dishes, such as bouillabaisse and osso bucco, and rich and lavish treats like duck breast with cherry-orange glaze, tournedos Rossini and mushroom-crusted rack of lamb. -BS

Belgium

Wirwar
TUL
Many Europeans argue that Belgian beers are the best on the continent. You can decide for yourself with Wirwar’s impressive lineup from the Lowlands. Wirwar calls itself a honky-tonk serving Belgian street food common to both Wallonia (the French-speaking south) and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking north). You can get authentic Liege waffles, a Walloon favorite, or the Flemish poutine, beef stew served over frites and covered with cheese curds. -BW

Italy

Ti Amo
TUL
With two locations, Ti Amo covers just about anyone who wants either a romantic dinner, a quiet place to sample a host of exquisite wines or a large table for a family gathering. Classic Italian dishes abound: from lasagna, baked ziti and eggplant Parmesan to shrimp scampi, lemon chicken and veal Gorgonzola. -BW

Ireland

Saint’s
OKC
Everyone’s got a bit of Irish in them if you eat at Saint’s. Creative pub food is the theme, and Irish eats like bangers and mash or 48-hour sous vide corned beef will go a long way soaking up the effects from their exceptional bar offerings. -TM

Siegi’s

Germany

Siegi’s
TUL
Germans have a special word for a friendly ambiance of warmth and cheer: gemutlichkeit. That’s what you feel when you walk into Siegi’s. It’s like Hollywood’s idea of a rollicking German beer hall, and big platters of standard German fare are served as they should be. Whether you order schnitzel, holzfeller, spatzle or kassler rippchen, you’ll get a meal worthy of a fine-dining establishment. -BS

Zorba’s

Greece

Zorba’s
OKC
A Greek restaurant is more than the sum of its gyros, and Zorba’s is proof. Try some unique dishes instead, like the pomegranate salmon or the lamb ossobucco. It’s also tempting just to make a meal from appetizers like the hummus trio or the dolmas and falafel duo. Come on the weekends to enjoy live bellydancing. -TM

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