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
Penny Hill Deli & Subs
1424 W. Lindsey, Norman
What worked: In-house preparation of key ingredients makes for incredibly good food.
What needs work: Don’t keep cookies and other desserts a secret. The eatery hides them behind the counter for special customers or something.
The Tip: so much better than national chain sub shops
With two locations in the heart of Sooner football country, its dining room walls are covered with pigskin programs dating back to when the University of Oklahoma had a bedlam rivalry with a school called Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. There are old photos, pennants, ticket stubs and memorabilia all related to Sooner gridiron greatness.
Subsequently, it may also be the only eatery in America with a website tab title, “texass Sucks,” that denigrates an entire state.
The football fanaticism, however, doesn’t extend to the menu. There is no Brian Bosworth bratwurst or Barry Switzer Swiss and turkey.
What it does have are dozens of choices among subs, grilled sandwiches, premium tube steaks, salads, baked potatoes and soups. It’s good food no matter what your university allegiance is.
Penny Hill is a family-run operation. The Graham clan strides the lengths necessary to set them apart from corporate stores. Bread is baked fresh daily at both the W. Lindsey deli and its sister location at 125 Hal Muldrow Drive.
Cherry pepper and muffuletta relishes and salad dressings are concocted in the kitchen. All soups are made in-house. Even croutons for salads are baked from scratch.Sandwiches are well-constructed with generous fillings deftly tucked into delicious bread. The grilled Cubano sandwich ($7.95) piles house-smoked ham, pork, Swiss cheese and thin-sliced kosher dill pickles.
Corned beef is brine-cured on the premises for a monster Reuben called the Reubenator ($11.80). It’s a formidable half-pound of meat and way too much cheese with Thousand Island dressing on marble rye. Put me in, coach, and next time I’ll go for it.
Other selections also tend toward the spectacular. Three Dog Night ($4.75) pulls together a trio of Schwab’s inadequately (regular) sized wieners — along with cheese, chili, onion and mustard — then grills it in a flour tortilla.The menu, completely filling both sides of a legal-size sheet, is a challenge to get through. Frito chili pie supreme ($7.06) gets a big, greasy double thumbs-up for its unusual goodness and scoop of guacamole on top. Salads follow the bigger-is-better philosophy, with most including meat of one kind or another and all tipping in at just under $10. The garden salad ($4.52) is the lone vegan version among them.
Small touches such as the nicely crafted and perfectly piquant muffuletta relish on the New Orleans sub ($8.64) make a massive taste difference.
If you’ve ever suffered through a sloppily slung-together sub at one of those indifferent joints on the interstate, Penny Hill is your remedy.