Editor’s Note: If this post is not as shiny and happy as you’re used to getting from me, it’s because WordPress ate the first version, which I started two hours ago. And it’s Friday. But enough about my first-world problems. Let’s talk local food.
I’ve struck gold on consecutive trips to new local Oklahoma City eateries. Earlier this week it was Ice House, today it was Empire Slice House. One is a burger shack, the other a pizzeria but both are immediately on the short list for “best of” lists in the prospective categories.
Empire Slice House, 1734 NW 16 St., is the brainchild of chef Avery Cannon and veteran operator Rachel Cope. Since my teenagers are on fall break, they were with me and after a couple of bites visions of repeat visits danced in our heads. As I was typing this information the first time, my son came by and said, “I can’t wait to go back to Empire Slice House.” (Ah, the good ol’ days). We tried slices of Foghorn Leghorn (chicken, jalapenos, onions, sriracha), Rocksteady (bacon, red onion, capicola, gorgonzola, balsamic reduction) and Pepperoni (seriously?).
All three version rocked like the pop stars plastered across the walls. I had a much more adjective-heavy description on the first go, but the smell of the first chili of the season has me dizzy. Bottom line: the crunchtastic crust punches you in the palate and makes pepperoni stars circle your head. The crust is so good I’m pretty sure you could pave it with plaster and sprinkle it was parmesan and call it good. Wow. If on my second visit the crust isn’t exactly the same, I might have to drink someone’s milkshake.
And how can you not love a place that celebrates pop culture so thoroughly? Gomez, Chainsaw Kittens, Black Keys, Farrah Fawcett, “X-Files,” The Allman Brothers, Jane’s Addiction, Boz Scaggs are just a few of the names represented on the walls of montage. And then there’s the restrooms, which are marked by Ernest Borgnine in full “McHale’s Navy” regalia and Bea Arthur depicting Maude. If you’re interested, get to Empire quick because it feels like a place where seats will become increasingly scarce.
Dude, Let’s Meet Up
I’ve got a couple of events coming up in the next couple of weeks. First up, I’ll be competing in VI Marketing and Branding’s annual Carpe Diem Chili Cookoff on Friday. More than 50 amateurs will compete against each other while I take on a dozen local restaurants for chili supremacy. Last year, Bruce Rinehart took home the gold but any repeat will have to be done by crossing my cold, dead, chili-stained carcass. Flavor bullets will be scattered along the 100 block of Park Avenue, which will be closed off from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to handle the foot traffic. A $10 donation to the United Way buys you three bowls of chili and all the soda and water you can drink. The InteliGents will unleash a Liverpudlian assault on your ears, likely making it impossible not to shake your moneymaker. Come on out Friday and say hello to me, and the best chili you will ever eat.
On Monday Oct. 28, I will host a Bedlam Tailgate at American Propane, 7401 N Broadway Ext. Kurt Fleischfresser, The Big Kahuna, will lead a team of Oklahoma State-inspired chefs against “Top Chef” star chef Josh Valentine, who will lead the crimson and cream. Come out and root for your favorite team and learn how the pros like to tailgate. We will film the event for an upcoming Bedlam edition of my “Open Flame” video series. For tickets, call American Propane at 843-6868.
From the Crumb Catcher
Speaking of pizza, the Hideaway on N. Western Avenue reopened one year and five days after it burned down, which would’ve been late September of 2012. Nichols Hills and Chesapeake may now return to its spring 2012 dining schedule. … A Good Egg Dining Group president Keith Paul recently told a group of local downtown businesses that the group’s wildly successful Kitchen No. 324 will soon add dinner service. I will have more details soon, but I’m told it will happen by the end of November. … Taste of Western is back for its 11th incarnation. The annual event that raises money for the beautification of Western Avenue between NW 36th Street and Wilshere Boulevard. The event is this Thursday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Will Rogers Theater, 4322 N Western Ave. The event promises, as usual, plenty of food from local restaurants and wine. Purchase your tickets here. .