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Fresh Perspective

The Germans might have invented the deli but McAlister's Deli has made the concept its own with sandwiches and wraps overstuffed with choice cuts, iconic ice tea, next-level spuds, and a brookie.

Donna Leahey
Sarah Eliza Roberts
December 28, 2019

Something amazing happened in Oklahoma some 30 years ago. A restaurant opened in Owasso that offered food made fresh to order with less processed ingredients than fast food places but without the price tag of a more formal restaurant. The menu included sandwiches made by hand, salads chock full of fresh ingredients, giant loaded potatoes, and hearty, delicious soups.

Since that first McAlister’s Deli opened in Owasso, Green Country has welcomed five additional locations — three in Tulsa, one in Broken Arrow, and one in Bartlesville. At all six locations, you can count on a great meal in a family-friendly atmosphere.

McAlister’s Delis are bright and open spaces with homey details and family seating. The design is flooded with natural light from the copious windows.

Chicken Berry Salad (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Chicken Berry Salad (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

Bobby Martinez is the general manager of the McAlister’s Deli at 21st Street and Yale Avenue. He’s been with the company for 11 years and worked his way up the ladder and through most of the stores in the Tulsa area. “We’re a family-based restaurant,” he says. “Come here and eat with the family. ‘People first” is one of our mottos.”

That motto shows in everything McAlister’s Deli does. It’s not just in the friendly customer service; it’s in the dedication to flavorful, fresh, made-to-order food. “We do fresh prep every day,” says Martinez. It’s a commitment that shows in the fresh taste of everything McAlister’s Deli serves.

Of course, McAlister’s is famous for its sweet ice tea. “We have some people who stop by two to four times a day just to refill their tea,” says Martinez. McAlister’s tea is a special blend from Lipton made just for McAlister’s. “We brew it at a secret temperature. Then we mix in the sugar, and it caramelizes.”

McAlister’s tea is a special blend from Lipton made just for McAlister’s. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
McAlister’s tea is a special blend from Lipton made just for McAlister’s. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

One of the ways McAlister’s makes it easy for families to enjoy eating out is with their kids’ meals. Choices range from mac and cheese and French bread pizza to a toasted cheese sandwich and garden salad. Just like the adult meals, they’re customizable and made fresh to order. Whichever your child chooses, it’s $0.99 when you dine in, making it not just delicious but affordable to take the whole family out.

McAlister’s Deli has a dizzying array of sandwich options helpfully divided into categories: Clubs, Fresh Favorites, Savory and Spicy, Craveable Classics, and Big and Bold.

Martinez says the McAlister’s Club is one of the top-selling options. It’s beautifully layered with smoked turkey, Black Forest ham, bacon, sharp cheddar and Swiss on wheat. When you bite into it, you’re struck by the crispy bread and savory meat and cheese flavors, but there’s a surprising hint of sweetness that comes from McAlister’s sweet and tangy honey mustard. Or for a unique option, try the orange cranberry club, which replaces the honey mustard with a bright and fresh orange cranberry sauce.

Another popular sandwich choice can be found under the Savory and Spicy category. The smoky pepper jack turkey sandwich is a peppery smoked turkey festival of a sandwich served on toasted ciabatta bread. The savory bacon and a swish of that honey mustard round out this party perfectly.

McAlister’s spuds aren’t just big; they’re giant. And once they’re split open and loaded with toppings, they’re enough hearty comfort food for anyone. You can get your spud covered in Angus beef and cheddar cheese, or grilled chicken, bacon, and pepper jack with a flavorful chipotle ranch. The Spud Max is loaded with ham, turkey, bacon, cheddar-jack, green onion, black olives, and sour cream.

Ranging from a tomato bisque to rich and meaty chili, McAlister’s has the goods when it comes to soups. Their roasted mushroom is a creamy, savory delight, while the broccoli cheddar is cheesy and loaded with chunks of broccoli.

When you’re done with your meal, McAlister’s has freshly baked cookies, brownies, and brookies. The brookie is a rich, chocolatey, fudgy brownie topped with a layer of chocolate chip cookie. The textures and flavors blend into a sweet and chocolaty whole that makes you wonder why you ever ate just a brownie or a cookie when you could have been having both.

What if you don’t have to feed a family, but you do have to feed an office? “We do lots of catering,” says Martinez. “It’s a daily thing for us. We have lots of corporate accounts.” You don’t have to have a conference room full of executives to take advantage of McAlister’s catering. You can order sandwich boxes, wrap boxes, dessert trays, and gallon jugs of that famous tea, sweet and tangy lemonade, or breakfast beverages like coffee and orange juice.  

McAlister’s Deli
Monday-Sunday: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

4951 E. 21st St. | Tulsa

8102-B S. Lewis Ave. | Tulsa

8955 S. Memorial Dr., Ste. B | Tulsa

720 N. Aspen | Broken Arrow

8529 N. 129th E. Ave. | Owasso

2330 S. E. Washington Blvd. | Bartlesville

April 2020 Cover