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Beyond Burgers and Beer

With an aesthetic that straddles comfy pub and buzzy brasserie, The Tavern pays serious attention to its bar menu while satisfying cravings for seasonal plates and inventive casual eats alike.

Donna Leahey
Sarah Eliza Roberts
June 28, 2019

Imagine yourself on a day trip with friends. One of those wonderfully lazy days where you explore, maybe do a little antiquing or take in some art. When you’re ready for a meal, you happen across the most delightful and charming little tavern. A place with character. Its unique personality. And there you enjoy a meal of unique and delicious recipes accompanied by the perfect beverage, surrounded by photos and memorabilia. Sure sounds like heaven.

That charming little tavern exists, right in the Tulsa Arts District. It is The Tavern.

“The Tavern is a lot of things to a lot of people,” says manager Scott Zeier. “We’re a chef-driven restaurant in a comfortable setting. On any night, we might have a group of business people, a girls’ night, or people just out exploring. We’re a tavern, but upscale.

“When we started, there was not a lot of life in downtown outside of concerts. Now this corner [Main Street and M.B. Brady Street] of the Arts District is an institution.”

Angry Mac and Cheese (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Angry Mac and Cheese (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

The decor at The Tavern is classy, laid-back, and features dark wood, eclectic art, books, and older pictures of Tulsa. “It makes people comfortable. Older couples like to get up and look around,” says Zeier. It feels a bit like grandma’s formal dining room, with decades of memorabilia and memories. Exposed brick peeks from behind the wood and old pictures, while natural light floods in through the large windows in front.

Zeier takes a lot of pride in The Tavern’s selection of beer and wines, and for a good reason. The extensive wine list offers some of the best wines from across the globe. Their beer list includes local breweries like Elgin, Marshall, Dead Armadillo, and more on tap. For the whiskey lover, The Tavern has a selection of more than 40 bourbons, ryes, and scotches, including several single malts. Let their bar staff treat you to an expertly poured classic cocktail, or one of their unique creations.

The Tavern’s menu changes seasonally. Whatever the season, however, there are some favorites you can count on.

The extensive wine list offers some of the best wines from across the globe. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
The extensive wine list offers some of the best wines from across the globe. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“The Tavern Burger is a real staple,” says Zeier. “We change it up seasonally, but whatever the season, our regulars say this is their favorite by far on the menu.” The Tavern burger is an impressively thick beef patty, cooked perfectly to order and served on a challah bun. This is a seriously good burger, served with equally delicious fries. The Tavern’s fries are thin cut and fried tasty and crispy. They are the perfect accompaniment to the burger. Or one of The Tavern’s tempting sandwiches like the club or pastrami.

Another perennial favorite is the chicken roulade: a thick chicken breast rolled up snugly with prosciutto, seasonal vegetables, parmesan broth, and basil gel. The presentation is lovely and the flavor is even better. The outside of the roulade is browned and crispy, the inside is juicy and savory. This dish is a treat not to be missed.

If you prefer pork, consider the porkchop. “It’s always a house favorite,” says Zeier. The pork comes fresh from Prairie Creek Farms in Kellyville, Oklahoma. It’s perfectly seasoned and cooked and comes to you with seasonal vegetables, a beautiful choice on a menu of great options.

To start your meal off right, take a look at the bar snacks and small plates menu. A unique and delicious must-try is the bacon popcorn. “The popcorn is popped in bacon fat and served with maple butter and bacon pieces,” says Zeier. Popcorn, maple, butter, and bacon? What could be better? Another genuinely unique starter is the Deviled Egg Trifecta: a beautiful plate of deviled eggs prepared three ways. There’s the simple classic preparation, the elegant smoked salmon, and—the egg that bites back—the sriracha egg. The Angry Mac and Cheese is a rich and creamy bowl of comfort food that’s got a spicy kick from sambal chili paste. Be sure to check out the Tater Tot poutine. The Tavern makes this Canadian-style treat its own by adding short rib and salsa verde to the cheese curds and brown gravy. Zeier also recommends the cheese and charcuterie. “You choose your cheese,” he explains. “Get a bottle of wine with it. I love it.”

What about dessert, you ask? “We have a pastry chef who makes wonderful, delicious, creative desserts,” says Zeier. There are lavender and blackberry macarons or wonderfully creamy malted milk ice cream served with a waffle cone and macadamia nuts. Be sure to consider the lemon and honey lemon bar. “It’s nice and light after a meal,” he says.

The Tavern offers several specials. That Tavern Burger is half price after 9 p.m. Every Wednesday is Winesday with every bottle of wine offered at half price. Sunday night is family style fried chicken. “It’s make-grandma-jealous homestyle,” says Zeier.

On a lazy weekend morning, stop for their brunch offering. You can enjoy a savory breakfast like pastrami Benedict or a red carnitas burrito, or a sweet one like buttermilk pancakes or brioche French toast served with Earl Grey ice cream. There’s a beautiful huevos rancheros or a simple, comforting grilled cheese. And you can enjoy $3 mimosas with your breakfast, too.

The Tavern
201 N. Main St. | Tulsa
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.