Here’s some breaking news for you. TLO readers apparently have a heart!
Last week, we informed you that Louis Fowler – our restaurant reviewer and general critic-at-large – suffered a hemorrhagic stroke / aneurism and was hospitalized at the ICU at OU Medical Center. We set up a Go Fund Me to raise funds to help cover Louis’s medical, rehabilitation and living expense, and to date, it’s raised over $6,600! I’ve spoken with Louis’s mom. He’s floored by the response and sends deeply felt thanks and gratitude to everyone for all the support. If you want to contribute, there’s still time. Here’s the link.
Since our last update about Louis, things have been up and down. He was briefly moved out of ICU for a few days last week, but after having some breathing issues, was moved back to ICU and given a tracheostomy to help deliver oxygen to the rest of his body. His condition is still stable, and he’s regained a lot of strength that the stroke took away. Once again, Louis has a long road of recovery ahead, but from what I’ve gathered, there’s lots of optimism he can make a full recovery.
While Louis heals and gets better, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of our favorite restaurant reviews he’s written over the years. In chronological order, here they are:
This was Louis’s first ever-food review for TLO. I love how he described what Grandy’s has now become:
Personally, I never had to go to Grandy’s until I was in college in the 90s, back when they were all over the Metro, as plentiful as any random Denny’s, and they all looked the same inside: imagine if a contractor got half-way through building a fast-food restaurant, said “screw it” and instead of finishing, lined the walls with the type of homemade tchotchkes that you’d find at any rural art and crafts fair held in a local high school gym. Lot of smiling cows and apples with puff-paint lettering, brightly decorated tea kettles and Holly Hobby dish-towels with Bible verses embroidered about them…
Still, I had forgotten all of this as I stepped into said Grandy’s—the closest one to my house—and was shocked at how post-apocalyptic it looked. Trash strewn about the floors and tables, condiment bars that were in desperate need to refilling and a frowning staff that looked like they had been through Hell and back. A crumbling Statue of Liberty would’ve really given the place some much needed charm.
This place is now closed and turned back into an Incredible Pizza. My favorite part was where Louis talks about meeting a girl at the buffet:
Getting up for a second sampling, aiming to try out the baked potato and pasta, I immediately locked eyes with a perfectly nice Latina woman who had a couple of tiger claw tattoos on her ample bosom. As we walked the line together, she started talking about her children, and about how, for single parents, that GattiTown is actually a great value. The conversation, however, took a turn when she asked about my kids, and I replied that not only do I not have any, but that I am just up here, hanging out and enjoying dinner, by myself.
As she glared at me like I was some sort of pervy creep, I immediately realized that I should have made up a story that this was my child’s favorite place in the world, but he died two years ago and today was his birthday.
Sadly, the flag at Pancho’s has been taken down for good. I’m pretty they closed a month or so after Louis waxed nostalgic:
Pancho’s was always something special that the entire familia, extended and otherwise, Mexican and beyond, always enjoyed, eating all that we cared to, raising the flag for more of those tender flautas or wonderfully cheesy enchiladas. It was a love affair that continued up until my family moved to Oklahoma City in 1989, wherein the former location on Northwest Expressway became a regular dining spot for family get-togethers.
From the time that my brother and I had an enchilada eating contest—I won by devouring 24 of those suckers—to the time my dad had a psychotic episode and punched me in the stomach in the parking lot—barfing 24 enchiladas all over on the side of the Delta 88—there are few restaurants I nostalgically hold close to my enlarged heart and systematically identify with like I do Pancho’s.
A buddy and I accompanied Louis to this infamous strip club dive on a sleepy Tuesday afternoon after hearing it dished out one of the best hamburgers in OKC. Sadly, I’ve heard the kitchen has switched things up and no longer serves the juicy fresh burgers that Louis describes so well:
“Finally, the very reason why I even stepped back to this den of groin-grabs and pelvic-poundings, the Mexican Burger. Loaded with a thick all-beef patty, a slice of ham, bacon, grilled onions, avocadoes, jalapenos and the regular supply of burger fixins, this hunk of meat was heavy and high, juice running down my hands and onto my breasts, a slight glistening momentarily blinding the strippers as the fatty streams were caught in the red lights up above.
Hands down, this burger was absolutely fantastic and totally worth wading through a sea of small breasts and big psychoses to put it inside your mouth. Every bite confirmed the presence of a male g-spot as I was instantly pleasured to near-orgasmic delights that led to moans and wet-spots I’m sure confused and aroused those around me.
Nic’s is universally praised as one of the best burger joints in the world. Louis agreed:
I don’t know how to describe each bite of this burger without unleashing a list of superlative hyperbolics, but this is the best burger I’ve ever had that wasn’t in a strip club. For most people, this is a fork burger. It was a test of will to keep it together, as every bite was bigger than I had space in my mouth, but the sheer genius, the audacious crafting that Nic has put into this—the temperance of the onions, the hint of real butter, the sealed-in freshness of the beef and the generous helpings of that cheese, all coming together to create a perfect, museum-quality specimen of a new twist on an Okie classic. It’s truly amazing.
You’re not a real Oklahoman if you haven’t been to at least one buffet in your life for Thanksgiving. Louis shared this nightmarish experience:
Eventually, after about a 30-minute wait, word traveled through the scores of human refuse that most of the Thanksgiving staples had been finally replenished. As if it were being doled out by Immortan Joe himself, a wave of not-yet-filled bellies made their way to the turkey carving station, plates outstretched and just begging for even just a few slices of that expertly cooked and carved bird to baptize their plate and thus start the true holiday portion of their already misbegotten meal.
So there I was, able to scores a couple of chunks of white turkey meat, a scoopful of cornbread dressing, an even bigger scoopful of mashed potatoes and one downpour of giblet gravy to rule them all. In a cruel twist of irony, the pan of cranberry sauce had disappeared, so I had to substitute that with the second best thing, butterfly shrimp.
Located near the State Capitol, this “Is it a Bueno or Tico” Mexican joint stole Louis heart:
With a catchy name highly reminiscent of the late, lamented Taco Tico and a broad, brassy structure and logo that’s quick to draw comparisons to an old-school Taco Bueno, the memorably monikered Taco Rico, from the outside, might give off the idea that it’s just a cheap drugstore knock-off, complete with their very own Prince Akeem mopping the floors. But stepping inside and taking even the most discretionary glance at the immediately hunger-inducing menu will quickly prove otherwise.
This knock-off is truly its own special thing…
The best food in town usually comes where you’d least expect it, like at a small convenience store in NE OKC…
The joint is called the Corner Market, 1800 N. Martin Luther King Ave., and it is the foster home to Leon’s Bar-B-Q, according to the street signage. You can also pay your bills and cash a check or two there, but what I was interested in, at least this visit, was their much mythologized smoked ribs, which, I was assured, were some of the best in the city.
A lofty claim to be sure, as everyone and their mother has that one place that’s got “the best ribs in the city,” but for some reason, this one called out to me more than others. Maybe it’s the fact that it was in a humble little gas station, like the type of BBQ joint one of the disciples of Jesus would write a parable about in the Bible; a quiet neighborhood place that didn’t advertise, brag or consort with down-nosed epicureans or failed gastrocritics.
We sent Louis on a road trip to learn the truth behind the billboards. He liked it:
My usual problem with most run-of-the-mill hams is I have a prickly aversion to the over-brined techniques many brands seem to run to, so I really gotta hand it to Robertson’s, replacing the uber-salty with the delicately sweet, maintaining a welcomed outdoor juiciness that I complimented with some homemade barbecue sauce and a liberal helping of the aforementioned green tomato pickles which, I might add, were a total revelation of down-home flavorings that I didn’t masticate as much as I did inhale, like a lifesaving drug that I was desperate to overdose on.
Who doesn’t like to visit a museum every now and then?
Even though I lived throughout the 90s down the street from the location at 6001 N. May Ave., it took my sister getting a job there for me to even realize it was a place to eat food; with its giant Patrick Nagel-inspired visage of an extra from Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” video emblazoned on the side-wall, I honestly thought it was an Asian nail salon for the longest time.
Walking inside of that eatery for the first time in almost 20 years, however, it’s amazing how it still looks like the set of a canceled Nickelodeon game show, but instead of kids running around getting slimed this go ‘round, the crowd seems to be made up mostly of elderly men, complaining about the amount of pickles (or lack thereof) on their admittedly seductive Triple-Decker Club Sandwiches. It’s an ultimately jarring juxtaposition for such a formerly cool, hip place.
The headline says this list has 10 of our favorite reviews, but screw it, let’s continue…
Walking into the Earth immediately transported me back to the Fort, from the recycled décor to that immediately distinctive…organic…scent that usually occupies dorm rooms with Bob Marley posters or the holistic health area of a Sprouts, rock crystal deodorants and Dr. Bronner’s shampoos sharing the same counterspace the way God intended. It’s a smell I’ve missed and a smell that gave me the immediate munchies, memories of contact highs from too many bluegrass jam sessions causing a hollow rumble in my soul and a true need to feed.
While I was both the squarest and roundest person in a room full of mostly thin free-spirits, the free-range dove of culinary rebellion and healthful counterculture was thoroughly in my mind as my third eye scanned the menu. While my first choice, the tempeh tacos, were sold out for the day, I felt that their organic blue corn nachos would substitute nicely for these here purposes. The quiche, a personal love I don’t get enough of was a solid second selection, with their highly recommended tuna fish sandwich rounding out the bill for this long, strange trip.
Built a little over 25 years ago on the ashes of the old Doc Severinsen’s jazz and dinner club—yes, that was a thing—the old west, or, at the very least, a maniacally recollected thumbing through of Time-Life’s leather-bound The Old West collection, comes alive at Cimarron, with oversized antlers and unpolished saddles lining the neon strewn wall as elderly patrons who just figured out Groupon enjoy their meals in quiet desperation.
Moseyin’ on in there for relatively early dinner last week, the space is quite expansive, even more so with only a small handful of patrons peppered about the edifice. Still, nothing can beat the Texas-fueled scent of that charred mesquite wood wafting through the rafters like a smoky tumbleweed rollin’ right pass me as the breeze of the air conditioner catches just right like an El Paso sirocco.
Recommended to me by a similarly catastrophic soul, it’s damn hard to find a joint like the Canton Restaurant in this town anymore. Pushing almost 40 years in its mini-mall location at 2908 N. MacArthur Blvd., this place is beyond old-school. It was old-school before there was even an old-school which, in a time when everything old is torn down and rebuilt without a thought, makes this eatery a dine-in work of lost culinary art, with more character than any showy glass and neon food-tomb over in Downtown, Midtown and any town in-between.
The faded murals and windowless frontage give way to an elderly hostess seating famished passengers in a darkened dining area where cedar lattice and wood paneling are about as quote-unquote authentic as the décor gets. It sets the tone for the 70s-esque meal willingly, a classically singular and dutifully simple Chinese plate without the flash and flair, the fusion and the fuss that is typically masqueraded forth when true kitchen skills aren’t available
The barely legal foodstuffs at Feast aren’t much better and seem to inspire a special kind of blasé “eating just for eating’s sake” atmosphere that is barely sentient even for Warr Acres’ famed Buffet Row; featuring entrées and dishes from across a flattened globe, to pile up an adult’s plate ($12.99) is like an around the world celebration in absolute mediocrity; a passionless, flavorless global tour where quantity is king and the slightest hint of quality doesn’t come in to play at any time.
While the more authentic taquerias are further up the street—and mas power to them—Tacoville has specialized in the unappreciated art of borderland-based fast food for over 50 years, proudly cooking up pots of ground beef and refried beans and steadily simmered nacho cheese every day as shredded lettuce, grated cheese and sliced jalapenos wait to be anonymously bedded like an airbrushed puta on the side of mi primo’s custom van.
As my stomach rumbled, so did my loins.
I hope you enjoyed this smorgasbord trip down memory lane. If so, please send some good vibes and thoughts Louis’s way, and if you can, please donate to his Go Fund Me.