Your guide to eating out from a vegetarian who doesn’t want to cook.
Hanging out with friends at a local establishment while enjoying a delicious beer is tough to beat. Pair it with fantastic vegetarian food, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. Oklahoma’s craft beer scene is expanding, and there are numerous locales that offer generous beer selections, and great food. Here are three of my faves that keep us veggies in mind.
As former and current Normanites can attest, the Library is one of the best local bars in Norman. Established in 1920, it’s a cozy place where college kids as well as alums of all ages can enjoy a beer along with terrific food. It’s also a place where vegetarians have consistently been able to find something to savor. I’ve always been a fan of the Library’s pizza, and they have several from which we can choose. Whether you go with the Four Cheese, the Veggie, or my favorite, the Tomato, Basil, and Garlic, you are guaranteed a great pie. Other meat-free options include veggie nachos, a cheese/cracker/tapenade tray (the smoked Gouda is fantastic), or their hot pretzels, offering your choice of a pepper and salt Bavarian pretzel, or a stuffed jalapeno and jack cheese pretzel. I suggest you play it safe and get both. Enjoy your choice inside this quaint establishment, or outside on the wraparound patio with one of their local beers, and you are set.
Uptown has become one of the trendiest areas to enjoy the night life in OKC, and the funky, casual atmosphere of The Pump makes it one of the hottest spots in town. The Pump has a fantastic patio, typically full of well-behaved dogs, but minus children. Yes, inside or out, thanks to their minimum age of 21, adults can enjoy a night out sans kids. Even those of us with small children (especially those of us with small children) enjoy having a night out where we can just relax; so anytime we have a sitter, The Pump is at the top of our list. Former Kitchen Manager and now General Manager, Joel Caram, has been a vegetarian for 10 years. As The Pump kitchen staff works together to create vegetarian dishes, Joel tries them before they make it to the menu or on the specials board. Thankfully, he understands we want options other than salad. I suggest you start with either the pimento cheese ball, which is great for sharing, or the tater tots that contain a secret ingredient making them the best I’ve had. Follow it up with a unique grilled cheese with pimento, Havarti and roasted tomatoes alongside a tomato bisque for dipping; or if you are lucky enough to go when their special is vegetarian, give that a shot. They are creating a new nacho dish that can be served vegetarian, which I look forward to trying (along with an IPA) on my next kid-free night at The Pump.
James E. McNellie’s Public House
One of the cornerstones of the Midtown revival is definitely McNellie’s Pub. It was the first local bar/restaurant to kick off what has been an amazing comeback for one of my favorite areas of town. The improvements in Midtown have led to a similar rally in Uptown and other areas, and I truly believe McNellie’s deserves credit for helping jumpstart the positive changes to our fair city. McNellie’s has great appetizer options for vegetarians, and I’ve been known to order one and refuse to share. Whether it’s the delicious artichoke dip and pita chips, cheese quesadillas (to which you can add onions, avocado or mushrooms), or their chips and white queso (which I find particularly difficult to share), you can fill up on just an appetizer. In the mood for something more? Try the Hosty Black Bean Burger, which is named for a terrific local musician, and includes a homemade patty with a mixture of black beans and plantains. You can also go with Jimbo’s Grilled Cheese on Texas toast, or try the artichoke and spinach Pomodoro pasta if you are in the mood for something other than bar food. Upstairs welcomes families while the casual pub atmosphere of the first floor is limited to those over 21. With such a large beer selection, everyone is sure to find one they adore.
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