Oklahoma has some of the tastiest food in the US. It's not necessarily the healthiest (if something can be deep-fried, it probably has been), but if you like your food hearty, flavorsome, and, where possible, served with a chunk of fresh cornbread and fried okra on the side, this is the state for you. Here are ten of the most famous Oklahoma food dishes you shouldn't miss.
Vegetarians, look away now. If there's one thing Oklahoma natives love almost as much as life itself, it's a big, juicy steak. You won't have to search hard to find a steakhouse, but if you want to enjoy the best of the best, take the advice of over 3000 Trip Advisor reviewers and head for Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, a Stockyards' landmark that's been keeping cowboys, ranchers and even the occasional movie star in red meat and loaded baked potatoes since 1910.
2. Chicken Fried Steak
It's not fried chicken at all, but deceiving name aside, a chicken fried steak is one of the most cherished recipes in Oklahoma. Served smothered with creamy white gravy made from pan drippings and with some buttery mashed potato and green beans on the side, it's finger-licking good. Just don't make the mistake of calling it country fried steak - the two sometimes get lumped in together, but as any good Okie with a frying pan will tell you (or as masterclass.com will if they won't), chicken fried steak has a crispy coating made from flour, eggs, and seasoning and is served with white gravy, whereas country fried steak is made with a simpler, softer breading and is served with brown gravy.
3. Fried Catfish
Can you visit Oklahoma without tucking into a dish of fried catfish served with hush puppies and coleslaw on the side? Probably, but why you'd want to when the eating is this good is anyone's guess. According to Only In Your State, the best place to try the state delicacy is Shad’s Catfish Hole, an unassuming little eatery in Sallisaw with no windows, precious little ambiance, but the most heart-stoppingly good fried catfish and hushpuppies in the midwest.
4. Fried Onion Burgers
As Trip Savvy says, fried onion burgers are an absolute must-try item for any visitor to Oklahoma in general and Oklahoma City in particular, especially when you eat them at Tucker’s Onion Burgers or Nic’s Grill. Made from the thinnest slivers of onion pressed into a chunky beef patty and served with your choice of accompaniments in a toasted bun, they're juicy, meaty perfection. If you're free during the first week of May, be sure to pay a visit to El Reno. According to food lore, the very first onion burger was invented in the town in 1926 when the owner of the Hamburger Inn decided that adding cheap onions to his expensive beef patties would help the meat go further. Today, the invention is celebrated every year at the Burger Festival, which includes entertainment, music, and you guessed it, a boatload of burgers.
5. Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies
The only thing better than a pie? A fried pie, or more specifically, an Arbuckle mountain fried pie. Headquartered in Davis, Oklahoma, the company makes pies according to the same time-honored techniques that the people of the Arbuckle Mountains have been using since the late 1800s. Golden, crispy, and filled with every kind of sweet and savory flavoring you can think of (try strawberry, chocolate, buttermilk, or cherry if you have a sweet tooth; Polish sausage and potato if you don't), they're unmissable.
6. Fried Okra
If you go into a restaurant in Oklahoma and can't find fried okra on the menu, check you haven't wandered into a neighboring state by accident. Okies love them some okra, especially when it's been dipped in buttermilk, smothered in cornmeal breading, and fried to a crispy, golden brown in a cast-iron skillet.
7. Indian Tacos
Whether we're talking potlucks, pitch-ins, or state fairs, wherever there's a crowd in Oklahoma, expect there to be some Indian tacos. Made from layers of seasoned meat, beans, veggies, cheese, and salsa on a base of fry bread, they're the best kind of open-faced sandwich you'll ever come across. It's not exactly the healthiest food in the world, but it's worth every lip-smacking, gut-busting calorie. For a special treat, stop by the Chickasaw Special at the Aaimpa Café at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur to enjoy a fully loaded version served with grape dumplings and pashofa ( a traditional Chickasaw and Choctaw Indian soupy dish made from cracked corn and pork) on the side.
8. Calf Fries
Whether you call them calf fries or rocky mountain oysters, this Oklahoma delicacy is a must-try. It might not have the most appetizing ingredient list in the world, but if you can forget what it's made from (bull, pig, or sheep testicles), you'll find it the height of crispy, crunchy, deliciousness... especially when it's dipped in tangy cocktail sauce.
Okies might love their meat, but they can't resist some carbs either, especially of the corn variety. Tender, moist, and quite a bit sweeter than you'll find in other states, cornbread is an Oklahoma stable. Whether you tuck into it as part of a Tamale pie or enjoy a chunk of it loaded with butter and served with some ham and bean soup, it's impossible to visit Oklahoma and not eat it in some shape or form.
10. Sonic Tater Tots
No visit to Oklahoma is complete without a visit to a Sonic Drive-In and no visit to a Sonic Drive-In is complete without trying some of its legendary tater tots. For the full Oklahoma fast food experience, be sure to order with a Pickle-O or two (batter-fried pickles with a dipping sauce) and a cherry limeade to wash it all down with.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn