We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
A restaurant with no customers won’t be a restaurant for long. Even if the food was the best around, without customers, the restaurant would close.
Which is why restaurants need concepts. And it’s part of why Cafe 7 has lots of loyal customers.
The gimmick, if you will, of Cafe 7 is that all of the entrees are $7. And, honestly, that’s what ties everything together. There’s no common thread running through the dishes, no national cuisine they’re presenting or fusing, just the price. Otherwise, it’s just “Cafe.” And who knows if your friends would know where to meet you.
That said, a good concept might get people in the door, but it’s not going to bring them back for more. So what does Cafe 7 give you for $7? Pizza. Sandwiches. Pasta. Salads. Soups aren’t $7, but they’ll sell them to you, anyway.
Not all of the choices are particularly inspiring, but there’s generally something in every category that will appeal to you. OK, I don’t have any idea what you like. I found stuff I like. And I’m one of the most important people in my life, so I’ll just tell you about what I ate.
right, The Signature Chicken Salad
The Cuban sandwich is a highlight. Pulled pork and ham melt with Swiss cheese, while onions, pickles and “Cuban relish” provide cool, crisp flavors. It’s not exactly what you’d find in Miami, but it’s pretty tasty.
The Signature Chicken Salad is sweeter than I usually like — heavy on the mayo — but there’s a lot of chicken and not so much filler, so it might be up your alley. The toasted walnuts and cranberries add some texture, but they’re not overwhelming.
Since I’m a fan of the intersection of macaroni and cheese, I also tried the baked mac and cheese. It’s not super-creamy, but then again, it had bacon and sun-dried tomatoes in it, so it’s not exactly traditional. But it is flavorful.
One thing to watch out for: sometimes the tomatoes and bacon clump together, so be sure you stir it to a more even distribution. Sun-dried tomatoes are great, but I don’t generally love them all in one bite.
If you do like lots of tomato flavor in one bite, however, I suggest you try the tomato-basil soup. (The secret, I think, is all the tomatoes.) The basil is a little muted, but the tomatoes and onions had just enough body to give the soup a nice, thick texture.
I think the best value on the menu are the pizzas. The dough isn’t made in-house, if that matters to you. It’s par-baked, but (as one of the employees told me) that’s how you get a pizza delivered to your table in just a few minutes. For lots of bold flavor, the My Big Fat Greek Pizza will get you there, but not everyone is as fond of feta cheese and garlic as I am.
A little more mellow is the garlic, chicken and basil pie. The “sauce” is olive oil, but with both mozzarella and fontina cheeses, it’s far from dry. There’s chicken, bacon and garlic for flavor, but none of them dominate. It’s not an extra-large pizza, but for $7, it’s still a lot of food.
As a service to you, I also tried some cookies. I didn’t love them. A bit too doughy, but your mileage may vary.
Cafe 7 isn’t rewriting all the rules of restaurant-eating by any means, but they have found a formula that works. With a few standout dishes and an attractive across-the-board $7 price point, it’s no wonder there’s usually a line when I go.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.
Photo by Mark Hancock