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Gratifying Grill

From the confines of a nearly 100-year-old landmark, the Atlas Grill honors downtown Tulsa’s rich heritage with blue-plate specials, comfort food and catering meals that have stood the test of time.

Rob Harmon
Marc Rains
February 1, 2017

“It’s fun being a part of downtown Tulsa history,” says Jake Robinson, the owner and chef of Atlas Grill. After falling in love with the place as an employee, he took the reins of the Grill by purchasing it in 2005. He appreciates how it’s surrounded by historical landmarks. Atlas Grill is located in the 12-story Atlas Life building, which was built in 1922 and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

A statue of Atlas, the Titan of ancient Greek mythology, is on top of the building’s façade, and the most notable feature is on the front of the building: a four-story neon sign installed in the 1940s.

“It’s pretty cool, all the history and everything that surrounds the building,” he says. “It’s between the Mid-Continent and Philtower. They constructed the tunnels between them and other buildings during Prohibition and the days of wealthy oilmen worried about their children being kidnapped. Most of them are blocked off now, but some are still around.”

The Boulder
The Boulder (Photo: Marc Rains)

The Grill, originally the Atlas Coffee Shop, still has remnants of its original character, like the rest of the Atlas Life building. Much of the enormous crown molding ceiling throughout the building and its original fixtures still exist, even though it has had multiple renovations through its nearly 100-year history.

Robinson says the Grill is proud to make much of what they serve from scratch. “We make our own pesto. We make a lot in-house,” he says. “Our Monday through Friday lunch blue-plate specials incorporate a lot of our original ideas. Our Wednesday special uses a full New York strip, trimmed down and cooked in a chicken-fried steak style. We serve it with cream gravy, Yukon mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. Friday, for example, we do something special with hand-cut fries and fried catfish with coleslaw.”

People also come in for their most popular dish, the Atlas Burger — a simple burger between two pieces of toasted bread. What keeps people ordering it, time and time again, is the amazingly delicious fried onions and spicy Dijon spread. “When people first made hamburgers back in the day,” Robinson explains, “it was on bread, not a bun. It just had meat, mustard, onions and bread. So, that’s why we keep it simple today.”

Atlas Grill is proud of the freshness and quality of the food, but most proud of the awesome staff and how they are conscious of every customer’s need. Whether it be the downtown office worker trying to catch a quick bite before making it back to the grind, or tourists visiting the historical building for the first time, Robinson says that the staff does everything possible to meet the needs and wants of the customer.

“We cater to every customer as best as we can,” he says. “We have a black bean veggie burger, which is awesome. Vegetarian customers come in here specifically for that, and it draws in a lot of people for that reason.”

Their salads are also a big reason why people see them as a great choice for lunch downtown.

His favorite sandwich is the Boulder, a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich with Boursin cheese, grilled peppers and onions, all between two amazing toasted buns. A secret tip from the owner: although it is a very tasty vegetarian sandwich, if requested, adding bacon to it makes it, in his words, “phenomenal.”

The menu at the grill is tweaked from time to time, but the regulars would tell you that it’s basically the same menu since before Robinson started and that’s the way they like it. During the summertime, homemade ice cream can be expected, as well as more cakes, pies and cookies.

Although the Atlas Grill has historically been a Monday through Friday, breakfast and lunch establishment, it has become one of Tulsa’s go-to brunch locations in the Inner Dispersal Loop on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Atlas Grill
415 S. Boston Ave. | Tulsa
Monday-Friday: 7-9:30 a.m.; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.