With live music, welcoming patio seating, and an inventively international menu, consummate restaurateur Davina Howie has another hit on her hands with D’vina.
In the hip, happening area of restaurants and shops on Cherry Street, there sits a charming little restaurant that you could easily overlook if you’re not paying attention. But trust us when we say you’ll want to pay close attention to the white, purple, and wood themed restaurant known as D’vina.
Opened less than a year ago, D’vina is already turning heads with its live music, welcoming patio seating, inventively international menu and its new head chef, all of which combine for an experience you can’t afford to miss out on. The restaurant’s owner, Davina Howie, has years of restaurant management under her belt and extensive experience with what makes tastes pop in all sorts of cuisines.
Howie’s connection to Oklahoma runs deep. “I graduated from OSU [Oklahoma State University],” she says, “and I have been running restaurants in Tulsa for about 15 years. My first GM job was Full Moon at the Creek Nation Casino [now River Spirit Casino]. Then I moved onto Wolfgang Puck’s. I opened it up on Brookside, was part of the demo, part of the construction, which was a great experience for D’vina. Then I moved to the Daily Grill. I loved everything about it. I don’t think I ever would have left if it wasn’t for my own [restaurant].”
So, if Howie has deep ties to Oklahoma, how did she come by her internationally inspired menu? “I was born in Sri Lanka,” she says. “I left when I was 4. I had the luxury of living in Africa, England, New Jersey, so I traveled quite a bit. And then I moved to New York when I was 18, so I’ve got this whole experience with a lot of diverse foods with so many beautiful flavors, and I just wanted to bring them to Tulsa.”
One of the best elements of D’vina is, hands down, its menu and its great-tasting dishes. “It’s flavors are from around the world, international cuisine,” says Howie. You’ll find everything from a 14-ounce rib-eye to lamb tagine, from pepper and smoked sugar grilled salmon to chicken tikka masala, from herbed Israeli couscous to D’vina mac and four cheese, and then some. Some of those dishes may sound unfamiliar but don’t let that intimidate you.
Howie is a consummate restaurateur in every way, down to finding the right chef to bring these meals to taste bud delights. Chef Jake Smith has international experience too, working in the Caribbean among other places before coming on board at D’vina. “He has an amazing palate,” says Howie.
Smith, who just came on board recently, collaborates closely with Howie on the menu. One of Smith’s newest creations is about to be added to the menu — a braised short rib that melts in your mouth; it’s made with cabernet demi-glaze and served with garlic mashed potatoes and local grilled vegetables “and a lot of love,” says Howie. More dishes are being added too, with an updated menu debuting this summer.
In addition to fabulous meals — the lamb gyro, bang-bang shrimp, and Romesco dip served with D’vina bread (on a herbed version of naan that is deliciously unique to the restaurant) are all favorites — D’vina also serves many options that are gluten-free or vegan.
“We take pride in nothing being GMO here. Nothing has MSG. And everything, we try to locally source. The beautiful thing right now is we have Cherry Street Farmers Market outside our front doors, so you’ll see us out there getting all our vegetables there. We love to support local,” she says.
D’vina also offers a full bar, helmed by Greg Tackett. “He’s very experienced,” says Howie. “We love him to death.” Tackett brings both a love of mixology and experience from working in Brazil. Be sure to sample one of their many Moscow mules, all of which are made with local honey, the mango caipirinha (mango Patron with muddled mangos and limes), or their farmers market fresh bloody mary, made with locally grown tomatoes and topped with candied D’vina pork belly. You’ll also see many specialty wines that you can’t find elsewhere in Tulsa, as well as locally crafted beers.
Another great feature of the restaurant is their sidewalk patio, which is set apart from the street by a short privacy fence and partially shaded by a pergola. The patio is pet friendly, even offering water bowls for parched pooches. “When you have all those puppies on the patio,” says Howie, “it’s great.” The patio is hung with lights to create a charming outdoor atmosphere during warm weather, and small parties of up to 30 may be accomodated.
If you don’t want your special event on the patio, D’vina has two private dining areas — the larger one seats up to 135, the smaller 35. The private rooms have a separate entrance, and parking is available for D’vina customers in the Marquette School’s parking lot. “We have a wedding coming up in July; we’ve done a tea banquet. BOKF has done parties here.”
D’vina serves lunch and dinner six days a week, as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Happy hour is six days a week from 3-7 p.m., with half price small plates too. “We do live jazz here Friday and Saturday nights, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.,” says Howie. “It’s a lot of fun, a lot of great energy in here. Our clientele loves it.”
1350 E. 15th St. | Tulsa
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
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