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Downtown Decadence

Unlike some diners where the aesthetic beauty and tradition come at the expense of food quality, Dilly Diner takes great pride in checking all the boxes.

Donna Leahey
Sarah Eliza Roberts
July 28, 2019

Presiding over the intersection of Second Street and Elgin Avenue is the famous Blue Dome, the iconic 1924 building that gives Tulsa’s Blue Dome District its name. Home to a happening nightlife scene, dining, shopping, and many of Tulsa’s most popular festivals, the Blue Dome District is a great place to visit. Whether you’re looking for someplace to visit before or after a concert, something unique to show your out-of-town guests, or a fun night out on the town with friends, the Blue Dome is one of Tulsa’s best options.

And when you’re ready for a meal, a snack, a drink, or a sweet treat, walk across the street from the Dome into the Dilly Diner.

“We see every version of the Blue Dome,” says Peyton Wilson, Dilly Diner general manager. “I like that we’re a place you can bring family or friends. We’re open late, so we get the post-PAC [Tulsa Performing Arts Center] crowd. We get people for breakfast and happy hour. People love our bakery, so they pop in for a coffee or a treat.”

Dilly Diner looks and feels like a classic diner while offering some modern and trendy touches. “It’s more polished,” says Wilson. “But comfortable and not fussy.”

Chorizo Breakfast Burrito (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

High ceilings with natural wood open up the L-shaped space. An old-fashioned counter with stools angled around the corner on one wall, while booths soak up the natural light from the expansive wall of windows offering a view of the Blue Dome. A neon sign against a back wall proclaims, “Open till late,” just in case you forget.

When the weather allows, check out the patio. “It’s something of a hidden gem,” says Wilson. Besides the comfortable dining space in the open air, there are four adorable playhouses in the enclosed patio. It’s a not-to-be-missed treat for the kids. And parents.

“Being in the heart of the Blue Dome, we’re community focused,” says Wilson. “We’re a consistent place to come for good comfort food. And I think we’ve done a good job of that. Coming here for a meal is not just a transaction. We build a relationship with staff and customers. We relate to people. It’s the difference between just good service and hospitality. We strive for hospitality. Good service should be a given.”

Whenever possible, Dilly Diner chooses local vendors, like Lomah Dairy, Prairie Creek Farms, and Oklahoma Distillery. “We’re Oklahoma and Tulsa through and through,” he says.

Dilly Diner starts its day at 7 a.m. “Breakfast is so personal,” says Wilson. “It’s often the first thing you learn to cook. We get to see our customers before they get their defenses up, before they’ve had their coffee.” Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served all day, so you don’t have to get up with the sun to enjoy their frittata of the day or breakfast burrito. Dilly’s breakfast options cover the entire front page of the menu, so you might want to get up early to be sure you’ve got plenty of time to make what’s sure to be a tough decision.

Griddle Cakes (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Griddle Cakes (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

One of the more popular breakfast options is the Two Eggs Any Style. “It’s so customizable,” says Wilson. It’s two eggs cooked any style, your choice of meat, and toast or biscuits and gravy. Another great option is the breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo from Fassler Hall, scrambled eggs, Monterey Jack cheese, peppers, and onions. It’s topped with cilantro, crema, and avocado. It’s a plate so pretty, it’s a treat for your eyes as well as your mouth.

If you want some savory with your sweet, you must try the chicken and waffles. It’s a beautiful fried-chicken cutlet served atop a fluffy Belgian waffle and topped with black pepper honey butter. The crispy chicken combined with the waffle and sweet, peppery honey butter is like a party in your mouth.

Bring some friends with you to try The Jed, a huge, plate-sized cinnamon roll. It’s made fresh in Dilly’s bakery and topped with your choice of a brown sugar pecan glaze or the traditional whipped cream cheese frosting. Warm, sweet, and rich, this treat is too good, and too big, not to share.

Wilson’s favorite is the bagel and salmon lox. You can get your salmon on a plain or everything bagel, with red onion, capers, cream cheese, and hard-boiled egg. It’s as good as anything a New York deli could put out.

If you’re not in the mood for breakfast, Dilly has their lunch and dinner menus ready for you. There’s plenty of options to satisfy your cravings, but you should consider the chicken-fried steak. “Everybody loves that,” he says. It’s a generous serving of chicken-fried goodness, served crispy and hot with mashed potatoes, seasonal veggies, and black pepper gravy. Dilly Diner does this Oklahoma favorite right.

Or try the French dip, a classic sandwich served on hearty focaccia bread for a modern twist. Roast beef, Swiss cheese, a rich and flavorful garlic aioli with a savory au jus for dipping. The focaccia absorbs so much of that tasty au jus and sets off the whole bite just right.

If you’re looking for something cool to beat the summer heat, check out the salad menu. The GT is an excellent choice with arugula, dried cherries, candied pecans, Neufchatel from Lomah Dairy, and your choice of tuna or curried chicken salad. “GT [Bynum, Tulsa mayor] always gets that when he’s here,” says Wilson.

A recent addition to the Dilly Diner is their wine, mimosas, and cocktails on tap. “I’m pretty excited about that,” says Wilson.

Be sure to check out the full-service bakery on your way out. Or on your way in. The Dilly bakery has a standard list of cookies along with their stunningly good apple pie. They make a fantastic sweet and sour lemon bar and creamy cheesecake swirls. Also, you can custom order cakes, pies, cookies, bread, and more.  

Dilly Diner
402 E. 2nd St. | Tulsa
Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.