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Monday, September 08, 2008

Eatin' in Tulsa

I was down in Tulsa for a week in early August when it was over 100° every single day but I found some decent food which made up for it. At first glance, Tulsa appeared to me as Omaha with a slight twang and a nicer airport, where the money flows from oil instead of insurance.

Tulsa has a few things you can't get in Nebraska although there's no reason for it. First, Tulsa has a Brazilian steakhouse. I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this but if Tulsa can have an all-you-can-eat grilled meat emporium, why can't Lincoln or Omaha? The one in Tulsa was called the Gaucho and seemed to be an independent operation which was interesting since if you find a Brazilian steakhouse it'll usually be one of the two chains, Texas de Brazil or Fogo de Chao.

The grilled meats were just as good at The Gaucho as they are at either of the chains and the parmesan chicken, a staple, was better than I've had at the other places. What sets the chains apart from The Gaucho is the salad bar. At Texas de Brazil or Fogo even a devoted carnivore can get a full and satisfying meal without even eating the meats brought around on swords. The salad bar at The Gaucho was just a salad bar.

I had a couple off lunches at a place called Sushi Train which is a sushi place with a big train with about 30 flatbed cars that goes round and round the sushi bar in the middle of the restaurant. The cars are loaded with color-coded by price plates of nigiri, rolls, salads, desserts. It's a familiar concept as there are many places like this around the country although usually the transportation is boats in a moat. I think I ate three squid salads for lunch one day topped off with some flying fish roe and toro.

I also visited the new Whole Foods in Tulsa during its grand opening week. What was interesting about it was that it was not a gigantic fortress of fine food like the Omaha Whole Foods but a smaller store in an old strip mall. It would be like if Whole Foods moved into the space occupied by Sun Mart at 48th & Van Dorn or the old Russ's space in Bishop Heights. There was plenty of everything there but it wasn't overwhelming. I wonder if this is a new Whole Foods strategy to cut costs and combat their most famous nickname by leasing smaller, older spaces and reaching more markets.

Tulsa: like Omaha but richer and meatier.


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