Even though NE 23rd Street is one of the most historical streets in Oklahoma City, many locals tend to forget that it’s also home to some of the most grassroots and homegrown eateries in town, the best having a specific focus on soul food, barbecue and old-fashioned Southern cooking. NE 23rd Street restaurants are OKC’s culinary history all in a few blocks and really should be revered as such.
Winning big can be hungry, thirsty work. We scoured Oklahoma’s casinos for your best bets on sustenance whether you are on a winning streak, holding, folding, walking away, running, or just down to your last five bucks.
5124 N. Classen Boulevard
What works: chicken-fried steak, orange juice, atmosphere
What needs work: Customers can occasionally get lost in a bustling weekend breakfast service.
Tips: Your entire party needs to be present to be seated.
I saw many sights in Paris — ancient churches and modern art and entire shops that only sold cheese. But one of the best things I did was sit at an outdoor cafe, order a Coke and just watch the world walk by.
Oklahoma City, I tell you now that you don’t need to fly to Europe to enjoy this phenomenon. You don’t even have to travel out of our fair city. Just get up on a Sunday morning and go to Classen Grill and enjoy.
There, you’ll find people all dressed up and ready for church and folks clad in sweats who haven’t left their apartments all weekend. There are one-night stands having a morning-after cup of coffee and people who hit the clubs and are still decked out in sparkly dresses and rumpled suits. It’s glorious.
And while you’re there, it has pretty good food, too.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about Classen Grill, and there need not be. It’s a diner, open for breakfast and lunch, and it does the things diners do exceedingly well. An endless supply of coffee? Please. Big stacks of pancakes? And how.
But the thing everybody gets (and you should, too) is the fresh-squeezed orange juice. It’s really fresh. There is a machine into which bags of oranges are dumped. I get a large carafe ($10.89), and then — if my dining companions are lucky — I share.
Sweet or savory? That’s the challenge at Classen Grill. The pancakes and waffles are great (and from $2.99 to $5.99, pretty cheap). In addition, I was recently turned on to the Memphis French Toast ($5.99), a treat that Elvis would have loved. It’s cinnamon French toast stuffed with peanut butter, bananas and honey. And a side of bacon, of course.
For a Mexican spin on breakfast, I think the migas ($6.99) is pretty good, but I like the taquitos ($6.99) even better. Eggs, sausage, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes all scrambled and rolled up in tortillas and then topped with chile sauce and sour cream? Hola. Hola hard, ese.Still, I’m an Oklahoma boy, so when I see a Fry and Eggs ($7.99), I’m hard-pressed to get anything else.
Classen Grill has one of my favorite chicken-fried steaks around, and getting it all mixed up with a couple of over-easy eggs is a recipe for a good time.
If the mood strikes, however, I think the Chinook Eggs ($7.29) are pretty great. Think of Eggs Benedict, but instead of an English muffin and ham, you get pan-fried salmon patties. Oh, I seem to be drooling. My apologies.
Breakfast is served all day, which I love, but if you go in for lunch, Classen Grill has a new sandwich I quite enjoy. Its roast beef melt ($7.99) is packed full of tender beef, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and a bit of cheese and brown gravy. I hope it sticks around on the menu for a good long while.
It also does burgers and enchiladas. Both are good, but I’ll get breakfast there at just about any time of day if I can.
The Classen Grill isn’t exactly the Paris of Oklahoma, but for a good breakfast and people-watching, it’s hard to beat.