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Dipping into the Mediterranean

Cozy vibes, faultless service, family recipes, and terrific food seal the deal at the intimate, yet inviting, Famous Steakhouse inspired by the fragrant spices and smoky grills of Lebanese cooking.

Gina Conroy
Sarah Eliza Roberts
January 28, 2020

The minute you walk through the door of Famous Steakhouse, you’ll understand where it got its name. Photos of famous places and people from old Hollywood to modern blockbusters line the burgundy and mustard-colored walls next to moguls on and off the court. But you don’t have to be famous to be treated like a celebrity.

At Famous Steakhouse, everyone experiences fine dining: choice cuisine, superb wines, and outstanding service, all without the hefty price tag.

Once home to a wine-bar, located near the corner of 91st Street and Memorial Drive, the first thing that stands out about the Famous Steakhouse is the beautiful brick patio with two flat-screen TVs reminiscent of the Brookside or Utica areas. Inside, soft music from the Rat Pack era plays loudly enough to melt away the stress of the day, but softly enough so you can enjoy the conversation at your white linen draped table, topped with candles and black cloth napkins.

Romantic enough for an intimate Valentine’s date and inviting enough to dine solo at the full bar or with the family close to the big screen TV, Famous Steakhouse welcomes all.

“I want everyone to experience it and be able to afford it,” says Sam Mouchantaf. “That’s why steak like the filet is under $30, and everywhere else, it’s $40.” Sam, who was in the restaurant business for 20 years before switching to the car industry (Suzuki of Tulsa), knows his steak.

Though his motorcycle and car business keep him busy during the day, Sam has always loved the food industry and dreamed of one day having a family-operated business. When his wife, Rita, said she wanted to do something at night, opening a family-run restaurant seemed like the perfect idea.

Both Lebanese, Sam and Rita wanted to bring the flavors of their beloved cuisine back to south Tulsa since not many restaurants offered Mediterranean dishes any more. With Sam’s experience in the ‘90s operating Mayberry Diner and owning King’s Palace Steak House in 2009, they thought a steakhouse that combined their passion for food and love of their Lebanese cuisine seemed like the perfect recipe for success.

Lamb Chops (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Lamb Chops (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Sky West, who’s worked in the food industry before, joined the Famous Steakhouse “family” two weeks after they opened and says the hands-on, friendly service makes a difference not only for the staff but the customers.

“Anytime we’re loaded with people, Sam will come out, make sure you’re doing fine, and if not, he will fix it 100%,” says West.

Customers leave having had such an enjoyable experience, they want to come back and bring their friends.

“We care, and we make sure everyone is happy,” says Sam. “That’s what makes a difference when you have a family that cares about the business, not an employee that’s just waiting for his paycheck.”

It’s not just the service that brings back diners, but the food.

“The food is amazing,” says West, who was reluctant to try Lebanese food at first but loves the baklava and cabbage rolls. “We get a lot of compliments on our food.”

Rita’s love for Mediterranean cooking started as a little girl with her mother and grandmother. At Famous Steakhouse, she uses family recipes and makes the food from scratch daily.

“You grow up with cooking around you, especially on holidays with all the recipes and pastries,” says Rita. “I still cook sometimes with my mom, but my grandmother gave me a lot of recipes. She taught me how to do the grape leaves and cabbage rolls, the Lebanese way with garlic and mint, not tomato sauce.”

While Rita is preparing the Mediterranean dishes in the kitchen like hummus, cabbage rolls, and Lebanese tabouli with an abundance of parsley and tomatoes, you can find Sam at the grill.

At Famous Steakhouse, everyone experiences fine dining: choice cuisine, superb wines, and outstanding service, all without the hefty price tag. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
At Famous Steakhouse, everyone experiences fine dining: choice cuisine, superb wines, and outstanding service, all without the hefty price tag. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“Sam loves to be back with the chefs cooking up the steaks or whatever he needs to help with,” says West.

Add Rita’s father, Joseph Habib (the executive chef who used to own restaurants back home in Lebanon) doing a little of everything in the kitchen, and it is a family affair.

And just like you’d get at a Lebanese family dinner, the portion sizes are generous, and two sides are always included with each entrée. Customers truly experience fine dining with superior hospitality, all at a price that won’t break the bank.

Using top grade Choice Black Angus beef at the prices offered, the Mouchantafs know they will lose money on some plates. “I prefer to give better quality and less profit,” Sam says. The food quality, atmosphere, and service speaks for itself and will have people coming back.

If your mouth isn’t watering yet for this traditional steakhouse cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, here’s a glimpse at what awaits you the next time you dine at Famous Steakhouse.

Although dinner starts at 5 p.m., you and your friends can take advantage of the happy hour menu offered Monday-Thursday from 5-7 p.m. With $2.50 domestic beers, select craft cocktails, including the yummy Butterscotch Old Fashioned, and half-priced select appetizers, including the Famous Sampler Platter, there’s something to keep everyone happy. Just because you arrive early doesn’t mean you have to order off the happy hour menu. Full bar service includes craft cocktails and a variety of wines, including a cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from the Lebanese winery Château Ksara.

Sure, Famous Steakhouse offers traditional steakhouse sides like tender calamari lightly breaded and fried, and chilled shrimp cocktail with sauce as well as fried mushrooms, and Buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing. But when you’re at Famous Steakhouse,  why not try something they’re more “famous” for?

Maybe you’re in the mood for the creamy hummus topped with a drop of olive oil, paprika, and parsley. Or perhaps the carnivore in you will crave kibbeh, the Mediterranean style stuffed meatballs with nuts and spices. Want something more vegetarian-friendly? The stuffed grape leaves will leave you stuffed, and the deep-fried cauliflower served with mild garlic and lemon tahini sauce will have you wondering why you never liked cauliflower before.

Can’t decide? We don’t blame you. You may want to try the Famous Sampler Platter, which includes homemade tabouli, hummus, pita bread, veggies, and olives, or order the thick ground beef filled cabbage rolls.

Aside from the traditional house and Greek salads, people can choose from several salads with a Mediterranean touch. The fattoush salad is topped with baked pita bread and Famous sauce: a vegan and lemon-based dressing. If you’d like to branch out from the typical lettuce salad, the Famous Salad has arugula, sliced mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. In contrast, the panache salad tops a bed of lettuce with asparagus, palm hearts, corn, mushrooms, and vegan dressing.

While most of the salads are vegetarian-friendly, if you want to make yours more of a meal, you can add chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

Are you craving the traditional steakhouse cuisine with a hand-carved steak? From the charbroiled, tender filet to the New York strip, and the bone-in 20-ounce rib-eye to the sirloin, Famous Steakhouse has you covered.

Are you cutting back on red meat? You can’t go wrong with two 7-ounce tender and juicy grilled lamb chops. The mellow lamb flavor pairs perfectly with the slightly sweet dipping sauce. Or perhaps you prefer chicken. Whether grilled, topped with cheese and mushrooms, or Hawaiian style, the poultry selection has a flavor for everyone.

If pasta or fish is more your style, try the chicken or shrimp Alfredo, or shrimp scampi over noodles. Eating light? They have grilled salmon, or perhaps you’ll want the fish of the day, which may include sea bass and mahi-mahi.

What would Famous Steakhouse be without their Mediterranean entrees? Choose from the Famous Kabob, marinated rib-eye or sirloin, with onion, mushroom, and tomato or the kafta kabob, marinated ground beef mixed with onions, parsley, and Mediterranean spices, or the marinated chicken kabob.

“We don’t use the spices we use on the steaks for the kabobs,” Rita says. “People will know the difference.”

Throw in two sides with every entrée, and you’ve got a meal fit for a king.

Got kids or just a finicky adult with a plain palate? Famous Steakhouse has burgers and finger foods.

What would a Mediterranean menu be without baklava? Yes, you can eat it the traditional way, but Famous Steakhouse takes baklava to the next level with their baklava sundae: chewy baklava crumbles topped with ice cream, chocolate syrup, and nuts. Oh yes, it is as good as it sounds. If your taste is a little more vanilla, try the ice cream. You can’t go wrong with the rich and creamy chocolate mousse or the cheesecake, but you might want to pair it with their premium or specialty coffees or organic tea.

Famous Steakhouse
8922 S. Memorial Drive, Ste. C3 | Tulsa
Monday-Saturday: 5-10 p.m.
Sunday: Closed