First Blog since my International Dining Goal was achieved!
So, until I discover more ethnic restaurants in Houston, I'll concentrate on some Regional Dining Adventures!
Good place to start...Route 66 in Oklahoma!
Hard to find an open restaurant on Sunday!
The Milk Bottle Landmark in Oklahoma City was closed. This tiny triangular island in a sea of traffic, now holds a Vietnamese Bakery. That would have been a good treat at 9 am!
We traveled west on 66 and took a detour north on the Chisholm Trail to find Eischen's also closed. We missed out on the best fried chicken in Oklahoma...served in the oldest bar in Oklahoma!
Hit the Jack Pot in El Reno, Oklahoma!
Robert's Grill has been serving Route 66 customers since the road opened in 1926!
Onion Fried Burgers and Chili Dogs with Slaw!
The tangy, grilled slaw gave this Coney dog big bonus points! Nearby customers helped us along, reminding us that additional cheese would drown out the flavors in both specialties.
The Grill is Key!
This old griddle may look like a sloppy mess, but it is the key to the mingling flavors of the onion fried burgers. After swift and aggressive griddle scraping, globs of beef were slammed down on the hot grill along with onions. Linda, on the stool next to me, said they had tried to open another Robert's elsewhere, but the restaurant couldn't create the same burger flavors without the 86 year old griddle.
The only seating at Robert's is at the counter. When we arrived, everyone looked up and began scooting around the 14 stools to give us two seats together. The act of accommodating us, seemed to create a family table atmosphere, with the whole restaurant sharing the same conversation.
Stories and Suggestions
Don and I were the only tourists. Everyone seemed pleased to fill us in on the diner and town history. Mike and Linda, a 50ish couple, told us their parents used to come to Robert's as teenagers. Kenny was enjoying lunch with his daughters. Besides giving us suggestions of sights to see, Kenny told us interesting stories about his work as a US Sheriff Marshall. Trinity was very curious about my camera and suggested a few shots...including the one of her at the front door!
Down the Mother Road to POPS!
I usually avoid the new tourist traps, but who can resist a 66 foot high soda bottle and bizarrely modern gas and grill... with a display of 12,000 pop bottles! We didn't eat, but we purchased some oddly flavored pop... like pumpkin pie and buffalo wing!
Old Cafe, Old Sign, Old Car!
Further east on 66 in Stroud, we lunched at Rock Cafe, which opened in 1939. (rebuilt after a major fire) This fine Packard (I'm guessing) pulled up after we arrived. A man from Portland, OR, was traveling the whole route, from LA to Chicago. That gave us something to ponder.
The cozy paneled interior was the perfect atmosphere for alligator burger. (well, they were out actually) But the Reuben sandwich was outstanding...along with 2 fried green tomatoes!
Main Street Diner in Chelsea, OK
This tiny diner north of Tulsa was here 3 decades before Route 66 was completed. I have a feeling they were serving the same specials back then. I had meatloaf, beans and mashed potatoes. Don had navy beans with ham and fried potatoes. Our bill came to less than 12 dollars.
The Locals Dine Early
Earlier in the evening, I poked my head in to see a menu. About 25 heads looked up and stared from booths and tables. I had the feeling they hadn't seen an outsider in a while. When we returned at 8, the stools and chairs were empty, but the waitress was chatty. And the owners came in for their nightly dinner before closing up.
Tulsa Dining on Route 66
Route 66 (or 11th street) in Tulsa was once bustling with motels, diners, motor courts and gas stations. Down near Hank's, there are more tire shops and boarded up buildings than anything. But we saw a lot of cars squeezed in the lot and decided it was worth a visit. Since 1949 Hank's has been grilling Okie Burgers and whipping up Real Malts. We shared a burger and malt inside, with about 8 other customers. I don't think there was room for more.
El Rancho Grande
After days of burgers, we were beginning to miss the Mexican food we eat regularly back in Texas. This big brick building on 11th Street has been serving the same recipes since 1950. Our "snack" of beef tacos along with our shared burger at Hanks, allowed us a good sampling before dinner.
A change in style for our Tulsa dinner!
Okay, so this is not Road Food! But it is in Tulsa, just a few blocks off Route 66. The Chalkboard Restaurant is in the Ambassador Hotel, which opened just a few years after Route 66 was completed. So that can be my excuse for mentioning this restaurant in a road food blog.
Actually, I think Don and I just needed a reward of gnocchi and crab cakes and scallops and beef bourguignon, after days of diner burgers and fries!
Dinner with the Deans and Harts
But really we need no excuse to put this photo in the blog! Our good friends The Harts and The Deans were the motivation for making this crazy journey through Oklahoma. It's been 15 years since our 7 children played on the same street in our neighborhood in South Tulsa. This was our last meal in Oklahoma and I must admit, our best!
I reached my goal!
It is July 4, a year from the day I set my goal, to experience 50 culturally different dining adventures in a year! I wasn't sure I was going to make my goal a couple weeks ago. I had nearly 50 countries on my list, but I had about run out options...unless I was going to get on a plane. Luckily a diner at a Uruguayan restaurant quizzed me about my list and let me know there was a Moroccan restaurant in Houston! 5 bonus points for one dining adventure leading to another!
Not just Moroccan
This funny little place on Richmond Avenue is actually Moroccan and Indonesian. The restaurant is owned by a man from Morocco and his wife from Indonesia.
Lots of restaurants serve 2 kinds of foods, but this is a pretty unusual combination! 5 bonus points for that!
Sigi and Lilian, of The Twits
The Twits is a group I've dined with for years, so no first time in the blog bonus points for them.
However, I must give 2 bonus points for Sigi and Lilian because they joined me on the evening of July 3, so I could reach my goal! (all other Twits seem to be out of the country!) We had a nice toast and Sigi even made me a certificate! I guess we could have celebrated further with a little Hookah fun...but that didn't seem to be happening.
We arrived around 7 and found our little restaurant very quiet. But that makes it easier for exploring and picture taking.
We can't give bonus points for lots of activity or even music. Too bad it wasn't belly dancing night. That could have given us mega points for making our evening memorable! I will however give 10 bonus points for curious items decorating the cozy restaurant! I love the window to the kitchen, with colorful plates and tiles surrounding! And the unusual metal and jewel lamp above! I only wish I could have gotten the stories behind each item. Why didn't I find out which items were from Morocco and which were from Indonesia?
Shelves and mirrors...pots and candle sticks...
There were many intriguing pieces of decor worth photographing. But there were a few things I missed capturing.
Things like window air-conditioning units. I don't think I've ever seen a window unit in a restaurant since I moved to Texas.
1 bonus for that bit of retro! And 1 bonus point for Al Jazeera TV with its soccer matches and Arabic news. I don't actually like TVs in restaurants, but it did add some Middle Eastern flavor.
I've had Indonesian food, but never Moroccan, so I ordered Beef Tangine with peas and artichokes. This stewish dish was served with a choice of rice or bread. I chose bread, since that is most common. But Moroccan bread is hard to duplicate in The States evidently. This pita bread was not worthy of the rich flavored stew.
Sigi ordered the Chicken Couscous with a nice combination of buttery vegetables and grilled onions. I actually liked this better and Sigi liked mine better. 3 bonus points for having friends who like to share!
Lilian ordered 3 of these little round Bergedel appetizers ...which tasted much better than they looked. These potato treats were piping hot and filled with vegetables and minced beef. She also shared some of her Mee Hoon Goreng, which I didn't manage to photograph before we dug in. This Indonesian dish looked like a mountain of rice noodles, stir fried with egg, veggies, seafood and chicken. All 3 of our dishes were fun and different. Great variety and reasonable prices! 5 Points for food at Casablanca.
Rini, was very gracious serving us. She is from Indonesia, which gives us 3 bonus points! She was a bit shy about having her picture taken, but I showed her on the camera and she seemed pleased with the results. I'm pleased because I look taller than 5'3'' in this photo!
Rini was less shy with the family dining beside us with 2 young children. I couldn't understand their language, but it was clear that they were also from Indonesia.
As we departed, we promised Rini we'd be back. And now that I've reached my goal of 50+ different countries, it's time sort out all those good dining memories and revisit my favorite places!
Total of 35 points for Dining at Casablanca!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.