If this is the golden age of Oklahoma City as oklahomariver.com assuredly says, then entertainment districts could be the key to its success. Look at districts in other states that have proved popular. Williamsburg in Brooklyn, The Plaza in Kansas City and Austin's 6th Street, have become Meccas of nightlife and entertainment for those cities.
While Bricktown and The Paseo Arts District were once on the short list to areas to visit, the host of new developments keep OKC entertained. Midtown and Classen Curve are examples of the newbies to the block.
We've compiled a list of entertainment districts, the key destinations, areas and trends as a guide to set you on your journey through OKC nightlife.
Midtown (Plaza Court, Automobile Alley, that general area)
Area: 387-acre area extending from N.W. 13th Street south to 4th Street and from one-half block east of Robinson Avenue west to Classen Boulevard
What's it like:
Recently revitalized, the Midtown District is host to many restaurants, art galleries and small eateries. Its location in Plaza Court has a rich history as being the first home of WKY radio, as well Kaiser's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, which opened in its current location in 1917 and was once the oldest continuous eating establishments in the state. It's still around today as the Grateful Bean Cafe. The restaurants in the Midtown District are diverse, with an Irish pub, Brazilian restaurant, upscale Latino eatery and an old-fashioned hamburger joint to name a few.
Just a few blocks down on Broadway is Automobile Alley, historically home to many automobile dealerships and service companies. Its current architecture is still reminiscent of that time, the brick fronts and big garage doors remain to this day, and is growing with a bicycle store, Coffee Slingers coffee house, Red Prime Steakhouse and a dance studio as well as apartments and a host of other businesses.
Coffee Slingers (coffeeslingers.com), James E. McNellie's Public House (www.mcnelliesokc.com), Cafe Do Brasil (www.cafedobrazilokc.com), Midtown Deli (778-8887), Irma's Burger Shack (www.irmasburgershack.com)
Who goes there:
Diversity fills the Midtown District with the unique local businesses. People looking for a good rooftop bar go to Cafe Do Brasil and beer drinkers choose Mcnellie's for the 350 plus options. An older crowd will choose Grateful Bean in the mornings with breakfast beginning at 7 a.m.
Midtown District's website notes the success of the future will be "the creation of a lively, visually exciting, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use urban environment, offering housing types that will appeal to a variety of lifestyles, ages and income levels. In this new environment, urban living, businesses, and retail services are all located within a comfortable walk of each other." This is evident with three brand-new apartment complexes.
E.K. Gaylord Ave. on the west, Stiles Ave. on the east, Reno Ave. on the south and Main St. on the north
What's it like:
"It's an old restored warehouse district that courtesy of public dollars has become the face of Oklahoma City," said executive director Jim Cowan.
This district is appropriately named, with brick buildings and streets throughout the area. The warehouses were first filled in 1915 after Henry Ford opened an assembly plant, and within the past 20 years it has grown to be the heart of OKC with the Bricktown Canal, Harkins Cinema, AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center, Bass Pro Shops and more than 35 restaurants and bars.
Tapwerks Ale House & Cafe (www.tapwerks.com), Rok Bar (okcrokbar.com), Red Pin Bowling Alley (www.bowlredpin.com), City Walk (www.citybrickwalk.com), Wormy Dog Saloon (wormydog.com), Maker's Cigar and Piano Lounge (www.makersokc.com), Bricktown Brewery (bricktownbrewery.com), SkkyBar Ultra Lounge (405-272-9222), Red Dirt Emporium (www.reddirtemporium.com)
Who goes there:
Depending on the time of the day, the Bricktown audience changes. The young adult crowd flocks to the district around 9 p.m. on a typical Friday and Saturday night. Being event-oriented with the ballpark, movie theater, Ford Center and the Cox Convention Center, different groups and types come out to Bricktown, whether it's a family going to see a baseball or basketball game or a concertgoer coming to the area for Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Tool or the multitude of other upcoming concerts at the Ford Center.
According to Cowan, "significant developments" will come to Bricktown in 2010 both regionally and nationally, and he credits the OKC Thunder as the reason. "The Thunder played the Lakers recently, and Oklahoma City is being talked about in a positive manner," he said. Cowan also says the new rock college ACM@UCO has been a significant development, and you can read the article about the impact on businesses here. (http://www.newsok.com/article/3459240?searched=candy%20co.&custom_click=search). Deep Deuce District and Film Row surround Bricktown creating a wider area for entertainment in the area.
Western/Classen (Classen Curve, Classen Circle, Western bars/restaurants)
NW 37 and Shartel to NW 75th and Western/NW 58 and Classen/NW 58 and N Classen Circle
What's it like:
Out-of-state visitors tend to skip over North OKC, which is a shame because it has so much to offer. The nightlife is booming, and the new openings are getting to be pretty exhausting for the social butterfly. Western Avenue has coffee, pizza, concerts and of course, bars. Classen Circle is all about bars, bars, bars with hands-down staples to the city -- Edna's and HiLo Club. Classen Curve is the latest development brought to you by Chesapeake Development. Designed by Architect Rand Elliot, the modern feel of the 90,000 square foot space delivers a fresh look to the area. Restaurants have already opened up as well as a high-end bar, Republic Gastropub, and it's only a matter of time before a pizzeria and Balliets clothing do, as well.
VZDs Restaurant and Club (www.vzds.com), Cafe Nova (525-6682), Drunken Fry (www.drunkenfry.com), Hi-Lo Club (843-1722), Edna's (www.ednasokc.com), Republic Gastropub (www.republicgastropub.com), Lobby Bar (604-4650), 51st Street Speakeasy (www.51stspeakeasy.com), The Wedge Pizzeria (602-3477), Flip's Wine Bar & Trattoria (www.flipswinebar.com)
Who goes there:
Walking into a bar, you'll find many regulars having a lunchbox at Edna's or drinking a beer at the Speakeasy. Patrons at Classen Curve seem to be a mixture of young professionals and older singles.
The popular retail store, Balliet's, is moving locations for the third time in 74 years to Classen Curve in September. Cafe 501 and Upper Crust plan to open Fall 2010. Also in development at Classen Curve is Metro Shoes, Red Coyote Running and Fitness, and Uptown Kids so this is just the beginning of a blossoming district.