Best of Tulsa 2017

Who da best? You voted and here are your winners. Presenting the 2017 Best of Tulsa - determined by The Tulsa Voice readers.

Check out your 2016 winners here. For more from the The Tulsa Voice, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Food and Drink

Best Japanese / Sushi


Since it took up residence in the old Tsunami Sushi location in the Blue Dome District in 2009, Yokozuna has been the hot spot for swanky sushi birthday celebrations, happy hour meet-ups, and home to some of the most talented sushi chefs in town. The menu has a roster of awesome rolls, some of which have been Oklahoma-fied, like the Tenderloin Roll. They also have a great selection of rosy-pink and pearly-white sashimi. If you really want your mind blown, order the Chef’s Selection and you’ll understand why Yokozuna was voted Best of Tulsa.

FINALISTS: In The Raw, Sushi Hana

  • Best Breakfast Brookside By Day

    Dilly Diner, Tally’s Good Food Cafe

  • Best Restaurant for Locally Sourced Ingredients Tallgrass

    Elote Café and Catering, Juniper Restaurant

  • Best Coffeehouse Coffee House on Cherry Street

    The Gypsy Coffee House, Shades of Brown

  • Best sandwich Phat Philly – Phat Philly’s

    Banh Mi – Lone Wolf, Po’ Boy – Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli

Best Bakery Antoinette Baking Co.

The team of pastry magicians at Antoinette Baking Co. create some of the most whimsically decadent baked goods in the country, and have been recognized nationally. Antoinette taught Tulsa the difference between “macarons” and “macaroons,” and that pastries don’t always have to be sweet (hello, pimento cheese bacon Danish). Each day they fill their glorious dessert case with imaginative treats—savory goat cheese, ham-and-chive scones or sparkly rainbow-marbled unicorn donuts, homemade Nutella pop tarts or lemon raspberry cream puffs. Their Pie Night on Fridays and Saturdays feature a changing pie line-up each week with classics like banana cream pie or their sultry signature Guilt Pie. Who knew potato chips belong on a pie? The crew at Antoinette, that’s who.

Finalists: Ann’s Bakery, Merritt’s Bakery
Best Deli Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli

From the moment it opened in that 6th and Boston location—which oversaw the last rites of La Boca Loca and Zorba’s Greek Grill—Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli seemed like a risk. Yet, they persevered among downtown’s business lunch crowd with their attention to Acadian authenticity and quickly became the talk of the town.

Now they’ve upgraded locations to a bigger space at 15 W. 5th St., and they’ve added alcohol to the menu. Try anything—it’s all amazing. We prefer the shrimp po’ boy with a side of red beans and rice, consumed with some fine local brews.

Finalists: Jason’s Deli, Lambrusco’z

Best Brunch

SMOKE. On Cherry Street

The name “Smoke” alludes to both how dishes are prepared (slow-smoked or grilled over a real fire) and their cigar lounge. Brunch options include playful takes on traditional American fare, like pulled pork and cornbread waffles, all made from locally sourced ingredients. Everything pairs well with a mimosa, to which you should definitely add a shot of pineapple-infused vodka.

FINALISTS: Brookside By Day, Dilly Diner

Best Seafood

White River Fish Market

Hailed by Gourmet Magazine and The Splendid Table, White River Fish Market, tucked away in a rusty shopping mall on North Sheridan (with a second location in Broken Arrow), is the populist answer to quality seafood. You’re as likely to find yourself sitting next to a table of day laborers as you are a coven of BMW-driving suits ordering lobster tails.

FINALISTS: Bodean Restaurant & Market, Doc’s Wine & Food

  • Best Patio Blue Rose Cafe

    El Guapo’s Cantina, East Village Bohemian Pizzeria

  • Best Chicken Fried Steak Brothers Houligan

    The Brook, Tally’s Good Food Cafe

  • Best Barbecue Burn Co Barbecue

    Albert G’s Bar-B-Q, Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue

  • Best Vegetarian / Healthy Zoë’s Kitchen

    Chimera, Whole Foods Market

  • Best Italian Ti Amo

    Dalesandro’s, Mondo’s Ristorante Italiano

Best Taco Tacos Don Francisco

As more Tulsans embrace the hidden eateries around town, Tacos Don Francisco only becomes more popular. It’s been around for years, serving classics like gorditas, tamales, tortas, and enchiladas—but it’s the tacos they named themselves for, and it’s the tacos they do best. Corn tortillas are warmed on the flattop and then filled with your choice of meat—carnitas, chorizo, pastor, asada, lengua, barbacoa, among others—then finished with cilantro and onions. Simple, classic, delicious.

Finalists: Elote Café & Catering, El Guapo’s Cantina

Best New Restaurant


Tulsa is having a brewpub moment, and this new contender has quickly gained a following among beer nerds and foodies alike. Roosevelt’s beautiful interior is only outdone by its stunning patio. If the ambiance isn’t enough, how about 79 taps flowing with craft beers from around the world and from right here in Oklahoma?

FINALISTS: Bread and Butter Kitchen + Bakery, Prairie Brewpub


The Brook

This Tulsa comfort food classic is the not-so-greasy-spoon diner of our dreams. Burgers, chicken fried steak, buffalo tenders, and the ultimate mac and cheese feature on a menu that keeps both kids and grown-ups smiling. Fresh salads and wraps mean you can have a healthier dining experience, too—if you must.

FINALISTS: Charleston’s, Hideaway Pizza

Best Local Brewery

Marshall Brewing Co.

Tulsa will soon be home to three (!) new brewpubs, but TTV readers went with time-tested tradition. Marshall was the first brewery on the ground floor of Tulsa’s craft beer boom, started in 2008 by Eric Marshall, who studied the art of brewing in Munich. His skill and love for beer is apparent in his product.

FINALISTS: Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing, Prairie Artisan Ales

Andolini’s Pizzeria

  • best Pizza

    FINALISTS: Hideaway Pizza, East Village Bohemian Pizzeria

  • best Takeout Pizza

    FINALISTS: Hideaway Pizza, Pie Hole Pizzeria

  • Best BARISTA
    Finalists: Matthew Craddock – Hodges Bend,
    Andrew Jolly – DoubleShot Coffee Company

What do you think makes you the best barista in Tulsa? I have so much passion for giving people what they want to taste. You can do your Starbucks, that’s quick and easy, but here we take a lot of pride in our organic, locally sourced coffee beans. My number one goal is satisfying my customers and getting to know them on a personal basis.

What’s special about 918 Coffee? First off, our owners, Annie and Morad El-Raheb. They are so devoted… such humble people, and they try to help whoever they can… And our employees. We only hire employees who are going to be passionate about our customers, who want to learn about coffee. Ya know, people spend a lot of money on this stuff, and we want to make it as perfect as we can for them.

Do you ever struggle to reconcile customer satisfaction with the integrity of your drinks? A lot of people don’t know what they actually want. I try to get people to explain what they’re asking for, and then figure out how to make it better.

What’s your favorite drink? Our vanilla chai—it’s steamed milk with our chai blend—it’s so creamy and soothing.

Other than the sound of milk screaming from across the room, what annoys you about other baristas? Customer service. I appreciate how everyone makes their coffee; I like to learn and expand. But for a barista not to answer a question or know about a certain coffee? –KATHRYN PARKMAN

  • Best Indian India Palace

    Desi Wok, Himalayas Aroma of India

  • Best Thai Lanna Thai

    Bamboo Thai Bistro, My Thai Kitchen

  • Best CHINESE P.F. Chang’s

    Golden Gate, Pei Wei

  • Best Burger Fat Guy’s Burger Bar

    Brownie’s Hamburgers, Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili

  • Best Grocery Store Reasor’s Foods

    Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s

Lone Wolf
  • Best food truck
    Finalists: Andolini’s Pizzeria, Mr. Nice Guys
  • Best KOREAN
    Finalists: Gogi Gui Korean Grill, Korean Garden
  • Best Vietnamese
    Finalists: Pho Da Cao, Ri Le’s
An interview with co-owner Philip Phillips

This is the third year in a row that you’ve won best food truck. But the food truck is not as active as it used to be, correct? Now that we are moving into restaurants, it’s being used for festivals, big concerts coming to town, catering events and weddings is essentially what we’re using it for now. The seven-day-a-week food truck operation is a very grueling operation, and it’s so temperamental to weather… I can’t even think of how many days we were closed when we were just a food truck.

Lone Wolf has a large, devoted group of fans, which I think is evident in the fact that you won Best Vietnamese over, say, Ri Le’s, and Best Korean over Korean Garden. What do you contribute that to? We’ve definitely taken a lot of time to build a culture around Lone Wolf… I’m incredibly humbled to be voted both best Vietnamese and best Korean on top of places that are run by 100-percent Korean families and Vietnamese families that have been doing this for their entire lives, and they’re doing wonderful things—I’m humbled to even be in a category with them. I’m definitely humbled to have been chosen to win. Do I think that that means I make better food than them? No. I think that I’m lucky.

How did the planned Archer center restaurant in the Brady Arts District (opening later this year) come about? In securing this contract with the George Kaiser Foundation, we instantly knew, like OK this is incredible because we’ve just secured the best landlord that you could ever possibly hope to secure in Tulsa. He’s brought an unbelievable amount to this community. So to simply get to be a part of this project that was coming from George Kaiser was incredibly humbling, and we had the confidence of having a strong landlord and support team like GKFF behind us. –JOSHUA KLINE

Best bartender

Noah Bush Hodges Bend, Saturn Room,
Torero Bar and Kitchen, Open Container

FINALISTS: Katy Bates – Yellow Brick Road
T. Read Richards – Valkyrie

The Tavern, The Lounge (aka The Bull in the Alley) Ben Alexander
  • Best Chef
    Finalists: Trevor Tack – McNellie’s Group, Michelle Donaldson

How do you stay inspired in the kitchen, day after day? I do this mainly because it provides for my family, which is my number one passion in life. To have job security, you have to stay on top of the trends and be a trendsetter. Plus, food’s fun. It’s endless.

What’s it like opening and operating a “secret” restaurant? It was fun and a lot of hard work. We have a very straightforward menu, so we can’t hide behind any of the details back there. We do all we can to make sure our cooks execute everything perfectly, every time. Oh, and people still can’t find the door to the entrance.

What was the best time you’ve had cooking outside of The Tavern or The Lounge? It was while I was in the Navy, actually. When we cooked, it was our downtime. We’d mostly do backyard barbecue stuff. We’d make feasts and have lots of drinks.

The Tulsa chef community seems to be close-knit. Is this unique in your experience? It’s unique to Tulsa and OKC as well—bar owners, restaurateurs—we’re all friends. It was cutthroat in Arizona where I started cooking, so surviving out there is hard. But it’s not different than surviving here. We have to still gain the trust of the guests. I love to see the comradery here, and it is incomparable to any place I’ve ever cooked.

On the occasion you go for date night, where do you go? Our running anniversary and birthday spot for me and my wife is Buffalo Wild Wings. That’s not a lie. I go there because I know exactly what I’m going to get. It’s going to be some real shitty wings, some real shitty Coors Light that’s probably flat. I don’t care. We’re having fun, we’re talking, by ourselves.

How does it feel to beat your boss, 2015 Best Chef Winner Trevor Tack? It’s amazing. I also beat him in the Elgin Park pizza throw-down competition. So, he’s been beaten twice by me this year. Sorry, Trevor. (Author’s note: He’s not sorry.) –ANGELA EVANS

Kilkenny’s Irish Pub

  • best bloody mary

    FINALISTS: James E. McNellie’s Public House, SMOKE. on Cherry Street

  • best Takeout service

    FINALISTS: Charleston’s, The Tavern


    FINALISTS: Tacos Don Francisco, Phat Philly’s

James E. McNellie’s Public House
  • Best FOOT
    Finalists: The Color Run, Tulsa Run
  • Best Bar Food
    Finalists: The Brook, Fassler Hall
  • Best Spot for Day Drinking
    Finalists: Fassler Hall, R Bar & Grill
    Finalists: Prairie Brewpub, Roosevelt’s

Love shin splints and beer? Then McNellie’s Pub Run is the event for you. Winding four miles through the Brady and Blue Dome districts, among other scenic downtown locales, this footrace is set apart by its Guinness challenge—runners have the option of downing three pints of beer before the finish line. Day-drinking spectators cheer the runners/chuggers on, turning the whole neighborhood into a street party.

Best Place to
Watch the Big Game

Bricktown Brewery

Big beers, basketball, baseball, and something called the “Truckburger”—these are some of the larger-than-life delights you can find at either the Brookside or Woodland Hills locations of Bricktown Brewery. As a bonus, the menu reads like a “Things Guy Fieri yells during night terrors” Jeopardy! category: “What are Nachosaurus, Boom Boom Shrimp, and Bonuts?”’

FINALISTS: Elgin Park, Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Liquor Store

Parkhill Liquor & Wine

In business for over 40 years, Parkhill’s staff knows their wine—all 3,500 bottles. And the daunting selection of spirits (seriously, it’s a lot) is made even more alluring by the prices, which are among the lowest in town.

FINALISTS: Deep Discount Wine & Liquor, Ranch Acres Wine and Spirits


Prairie Brewpub

Under founder Chase Healy’s leadership, Prairie Artisan Ales delivered Oklahoma beer to the world (Prairie is now sold to acclaim on five continents). Recently bought out by Krebs Brewing Co., Prairie’s new owner, Zach Prichard, used the acquisition to open Prairie Brewpub with the team behind R Bar and Roosevelt’s, marking the first time the venerable Choc-meisters have produced anything away from their namesake hometown. The menu is limited—the pristine space, and 20 taps flowing with great local beers from a gigantic vintage foeder, are the real draw.

FINALISTS: Roosevelt’s, The Beehive Lounge

El Tequila
FINALISTS: El Guapo’s Cantina,
El Rio Verde

El Tequila walks a steady line between proper, authentic Mexican food and basic Tex-Mex, taking the best of both worlds to make a consistently pleasing menu that appeals to purists and casual fans alike. There’s something for everyone—from the classics (tacos, enchiladas, tamales, etc.) to steaks and seafood dishes (the ceviche is killer) and plenty of kid-friendly options, plus a badass marg menu. With four locations across the metro area stretching from Owasso to Broken Arrow, perhaps the best thing about El Tequila is that no matter what part of Tulsa County you’re in, El Tequila is always just 10 minutes away.


Mahogany Prime Steakhouse

Tulsa has no shortage of high-end steak joints, but the choice for Best Steak is a tried-and-true favorite. Tulsans flock to Mahogany for butchered hunks of prime beef. Each cut is aged and then given a little time in a 900-degree broiler, which creates the perfect crust and seals in the sumptuous juice.

FINALISTS: PRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse


Best LGBT Bar/Club

FINALISTS: New Age Renegade, Yellow Brick Road

Best Night Club

FINALISTS: Legends Dance Hall, Soundpony

Best Wine list

Vintage 1740

Intimate and easygoing, luxurious and cozy, this tiny jewel on South Boston boasts a thoughtfully curated selection of whites and reds from well-known winemakers and boutique vineyards from around the world. The unpretentious atmosphere and hospitable bartenders make seasoned oenophiles and casual drinkers alike feel at ease. You can taste before you choose from the 60-plus wine list.

FINALISTS: Doc’s Wine & Food, Polo Grill

Cherry Street Farmers Market

  • best Farmers Market

    FINALISTS: Brookside Farmers Market, Rose District Farmers Market

  • best Place to Shop Green

    FINALISTS: Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s

Tally’s Good Food Cafe
  • Best DINER
    Finalists: Dilly Diner, Freeway Cafe
Interview with Tally Alame, owner

Important things first. Why are the cinnamon rolls so gigantic? I want people to look at it and say, “Wow.” Not only is it big, it’s really good. People are like, “Are you serious?” Of course! I want it to be the symbol.

Tell me about the free Thanksgiving meal you serve each year. When I opened in 1987, I wanted to open my door for everyone who wants or needs a free Thanksgiving meal. We do between 1,100–1,200 people every year.

What was your first job? When I came here in 1979, I worked at Jamil’s Steakhouse. Jamil is my cousin. I got off the plane at 2:30 and at 5 p.m. I was bussing tables. I was 19 years old.

Where are you originally from? I came from Lebanon; I left during the civil war. I couldn’t get any education over there. When I worked at Jamil’s I was going to TU’s English Institute. Then I got a double major in business management and marketing from OSU in Stillwater. I worked here Friday, Saturday, Sunday, then drove back Sunday night to take my classes.

How many employees do you have and who is your longest running? Twenty-eight employees. The longest is my best friend. He’s the baker who makes the cinnamon rolls. George Younes. He also came from Lebanon. We were roommates in Tulsa in 1979.

Tally’s feels like a true melting pot. Yep, this place draws a lot of people. You can sit at the bar and not feel alone or bored. There are lawyers and judges and low-income people and tourists from Europe traveling Route 66. I love my corner here. –LIZ BLOOD

best Bar for Smokers
Arnie’s Bar
FINALISTS: Caz’s Pub, Yeti

Smoking indoors is an increasingly rarefied hobby (case in point: last year’s winner of this award has since gone smoke-free), but smokers still have Arnie’s, the storied Tulsa pub that’s one of the last smoker-friendly holdouts in the downtown area. With its mix of neighborhood- and- service-industry regulars and downtown tourists, plus the legendarily grumpy bartender, Kenneth (OK, he’s not really that grumpy, but he sure puts on a good show), Arnie’s is also one of the liveliest bars in town. With an emphasis on all things Irish, they offer a worthy selection of beers and whiskeys, and their canopied patio makes the watering hole an ideal hangout for both smokers and their non-smoking friends and lovers.

Arts and Entertainment


The Gypsy Coffee House

There’s something about the Gypsy that encourages people to open up. This century-old bohemian building on the edge of the Brady Arts District hosts Tulsa’s longest-running open mic each Tuesday, where folks can sign up for a slot to share poetry, music, comedy, or whatever else they’ve been creating. What makes the Gypsy’s event unique is that all material presented must be original (no covers). The feeling of bravery and exhilaration in the room, set after set, is palpable.

FINALISTS: The Colony, Comedy Parlor

Tyler Thrasher
    Finalists: John Hammer, Chris Mantle

Tyler Thrasher makes crystallized dead things. And drawings. And photographs. And electronic music. At 24, by following a seemingly boundless curiosity about nature, he’s making a living as a full-time artist. He moved home to Tulsa two years ago after graduating from Missouri State.

You have a background in chemistry and went to school for computer animation? What the heck happened? [Laughs] I got into caving. I remember crawling in through a skylight surrounded by some of the oldest crystal formations, surrounded by bats, and instantly fell in love. Afterwards I was drawing a skull with crystals on it and I was like, wait, I know how to grow crystals, I know how to get skulls… it just melded together and I started experimenting. All these things I’m curious about are connected. I think I’ve made a thing where they’re all self-feeding.

Is there a clear structure to your work schedule? It’s so chaotic. I’ll spend one day making crystals, then I have three days where I’m like am I going to make music? Draw? Some days nothing works so I’ll go on a hike and get inspiration. I space out a lot. My subconscious makes more art than I do.

You lost pretty much everything in a house fire recently. What’s changed for you? I can be a pessimist, but I don’t find myself doing that now. There’s a lot more human forms in my nature drawings and photographs. Part of me has always thought, “nature without people is amazing.” But when something happens to you and people you’ve never met go, “We’re going to care for you,” you find yourself respecting humanity where it belongs in nature—the cyclical pattern, the nurturing.

What’s next? I’m working on an art book about alchemy called “The Wisdom of the Furnace.” Next year I hope to have a show overseas. But the longest term goal is: I really want to own a cave. –Alicia Chesser


Linde Oktoberfest

The first-ever chicken dance on American soil occurred in Tulsa at this very festival in 1981. The tradition has continued since, with all the bratwurst, beer, and music one can handle. For a celebration of Bavarian culture, Linde Oktoberfest is delightfully un-Herzogian—almost nobody talks about the chaotic godlessness of nature, unless they get too contemplative about the chicken dance.

FINALISTS: Blue Dome Arts Festival, Mayfest


Starship Records & Tapes

Recently Tulsa’s vinyl culture has experienced some major upheaval. But while Holy Mountain closed its doors (RIP) and two out-of-state shops announced imminent moves to Tulsa, perennial favorite Starship remained steadfast. With its large new-and-used vinyl selection, novelty gifts and apparel, and an adjoining head shop, we don’t see this Tulsa institution going anywhere anytime soon.

FINALISTS: Ida Red, Vintage Stock

  • Best CASINO Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

    Osage Casino, River Spirit Casino

  • Best Karaoke The Warehouse Bar & Grill

    Elote Café and Catering, New Age Renegade

  • Best Movie Theater Broken Arrow Warren Theatre

    AMC Southroads 20, Circle Cinema

  • Best Small Music Venue Vanguard Music Hall

    Mercury Lounge, Soundpony

  • Best PARTY OF THE YEAR Cry Baby Hill

    80s Prom, Linde Oktoberfest

Best place to have a laugh Loony Bin Comedy Club

Tulsa comedy is blowing up. People have been saying that since… well, since Tulsa comedy started blowing up around 2010, but it’s demonstrably true. One metric of this truth is the abundance of places to catch standup in town. Though there are innumerable open mic nights and platforms for the funnies, the Loony Bin offers a true comedy club experience: a great stage, comfortable seating, and table service for drinks and food throughout the show. Also, there are jalapeño poppers. Fun fact: it’s also the birthplace of Evan Hughes, Tulsa’s sexiest celebrity since Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Finalists: Comedy Parlor, Soundpony Comedy Hour

Guthrie Green

  • Best Place to Strike a (Yoga) Pose

    FINALISTS: Be Love Yoga Studio, SALT Yoga

  • best Free Entertainment

    FINALISTS: The Brady Arts District’s First Friday Art Crawl, Walmart

  • Best GALLERY Living Arts

    108 Contemporary, Hardesty Arts Center

  • Best MUSEUM Philbrook Museum of Art

    Gilcrease Museum, Woody Guthrie Center

  • Best public art Woody Guthrie Center Mural

    Día de los Muertos Murals, “Artificial Cloud” at The Center of the Universe

  • Best Performing Arts Company Tulsa Ballet

    Theatre Tulsa, Tulsa Symphony

  • Best Performing Arts Space Tulsa Performing Arts Center

    Guthrie Green, Hardesty Arts Center

Trivia with Jack at Soundpony
    Finalists: Live Event Trivia at The Pint, Saturn Room
Four questions with Jack Wood

What’s the best trivia team name you’ve ever heard? I hate to say it but usually it’s the team who dares to name themselves after some recently tragic event and the whole bar goes, “Ooohhh, too soon!” I can’t think of any examples right now, though.

How do you come up with fresh questions for every week? I usually just kind of stream-of-conscious my way through making up questions, then mix them all around and kick some questions to next week and hold on to others so they all seem random.

Any fond memories of booting people for yelling out answers? We’ve never kicked anyone out for yelling out answers, but we’ve certainly made them feel uncomfortable enough to not want to be there any longer. There’s been a few times when people have done it, and I told them to stop, and they did it again... I waited until that person got married and came and ruined their entire ceremony.

What trivia question are you most proud of? My favorite trivia question ever is: “Name two movies where a mass amount of people chant, ‘Fireball, fireball, fireball.’ The answer is “Revenge of The Nerds,” and “The Running Man.” This is also a question I never should’ve asked, because no one got it right. –MITCH GILLIAM


  • Best DIVE BAR

    FINALISTS: Arnie’s Bar, Caz’s Pub

  • best BATHROOM Graffiti

    FINALISTS: Caz’s Pub, Mercury Lounge

Best Local Album of 2016 Lonesome Goldmine – Annie Ellicott

When Amanda Ruyle profiled Annie Ellicott for a recent issue of TTV (Feb. 15, Vol. 4 No. 5), she used the word “ethereal” to describe Lonesome Goldmine. She was right. Selections of this album could be presented as audio representations under the “ethereal” Wikipedia entry. The album, which was written and recorded while Ellicott observed her mother’s battle with cancer, is a shimmering fever dream of tinkling bells, warbling saws, and melancholy jazz piano. These textures bubble up and vaporize in a kaleidoscope of layered lullaby vocal harmonies. It kind of sounds like that scene in “Labyrinth” where Sarah chases Bowie around the masquerade before smashing a mirror and making everyone float.

Finalists: Cleveland Summer Nights – Wink Burcham, I Came From Nothing – Kick Tree
Valerie Grant
  • Best Photographer
    Finalists: Western Doughty, David Lackey

Valerie Grant has worked as a professional photographer in Tulsa for five years. Before that, she went to OSU’s Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, where she completed a two-year photography and videography program. She shoots regularly for The Tulsa Voice.

What’s your biggest challenge as a photographer?Portraiture overall is more challenging to me, but also more rewarding. You never know who you’re working with and people are typically not as comfortable in front of a camera, so it’s hard to get a genuine portrait from someone.

What’s been your strangest assignment? What’s funny is I’m going around photographing the Best of Tulsa robot today. That feels pretty goofy. I’m setting up the robot everywhere. People are like, “What is she doing?”

Do you have advice for aspiring photographers? I feel funny answering this because I’m still learning so much. But, just say yes to any opportunity that comes your way. It’s easy to get connected here. Maybe it won’t be the best gig ever, but you learn from each one and then you can find your niche.

Are you an Instagram filter or no filter kind of person? I would say no filter. Not Instagram filters, at least!

Who’s your favorite photographer? I pull from a lot of people. Jeremy Charles is one of my favorites. There’s also a street photographer from New York, her name is Valerie Jardin. But honestly I look at a lot of people’s stuff for inspiration.

What’s your dream assignment? I photographed a 50th anniversary for an Indian family—they were dressed in saris and traditional clothes and did a ceremony where they threw rose petals. I would love to shoot more traditional culture celebrations. That’s unique when someone needs something like that. As a photographer, you get a golden ticket into people’s lives and events to document it. You’re a part of something you’d never be a part of otherwise. –LIZ BLOOD

Cain’s Ballroom
    Finalists: BOK Center, Brady Theater
  • Best All-Ages Music Venue
    Finalists: BOK Center, Guthrie Green
    Finalists: The Colony, Vanguard Music Hall
Hunter Rodgers, co-owner of Cain’s Ballroom

What was the first show you saw at Cain’s? It was either Nappy Roots or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in 2002. I don’t remember which one came first. They were right around the same time. I think it was Nappy Roots, to be honest.

Cain’s has gained some high profile fans, from Jack White and Wilco to Elvis Costello. What do you think it is about Cain’s that musicians respond to? I think it’s the history and it’s just not your typical venue. I don’t want to name any other venues specifically in the state, but some are just like a brick building, you know? I don’t want to say like a warehouse, but there’s just no real character to it. Then they get to Cain’s and they see the history and that it’s well taken care of, and it isn’t corporate either. I don’t know if they realize it’s family-run, but it’s not like they’re walking into Corporate America.

Are there any “white whales” you’re trying to catch—any artist who’s never played Cain’s that you’d love to get? I’ve thought a lot about that, and there’s a ton of artists who haven’t played there, but I think Garth would be the one. He’s from around here, and I think it would be awesome if he ever came and did a benefit show here for somebody or something. And Taylor Swift would be cool. You know, we had a chance to book her before she was anybody. We were like, “We don’t know who she is, she isn’t going to sell any tickets.” A year later and she was the biggest draw in the world.

What are some strange requests you’ve gotten in artists’ riders? Buckethead wanted headcheese. This was back in ’06, maybe ‘07. And we didn’t even really know what the heck that was and we couldn’t find it at the time. Besides that, we don’t really get a lot of weird requests that the BOK Center might get, but we’ve been asked for, like, an ounce of high-grade marijuana, which isn’t that weird, but we obviously didn’t provide it for them.

Who was that? It was G. Love and Special Sauce.

The Tulsa World recently reported that you found a time capsule that had been hidden in Cain’s last time the floor was replaced, and that you were a bit underwhelmed with its contents. What would you have put in a Cain’s time capsule? Well, when we redid the floor back in ’07-’08 when this guy put his in, we actually put one in as well. And they had to dig it back up this time, but we didn’t open it and put it back in. I think it has a Tulsa World, some tickets, a t-shirt, Cain’s memorabilia. We kind of wish we’d done another one this time, but we were under such a time crunch and had to get back open so quickly that we didn’t have the time to plan it. But there’s definitely one down there somewhere.

Speaking of, how’s the new floor feeling? Man, so far so good. I’d say it has as much bounce as the last one, honestly. We were kind of worried, in a sense. There are these neoprene pads in between the sub-floor and concrete, and it really does give it a good feel. It does bounce a lot. We’re pleased.

That’s good. You can’t lose that bounce. We definitely didn’t. –John Langdon

Around Town


Tulsa Zoo

Taking your monkeys to see the monkeys? You’re in for Tulsa’s best day. With 1,500 animals on more than 80 gorgeous acres, exciting educational and interactive exhibits, new wonders like Sea Lion Cove and old favorites like the Zoo Train and the carousel, as well as plenty of snack stops and bathrooms, the Tulsa Zoo makes a trek into the wilderness as easy as water falling off a duck’s back.

FINALISTS: Guthrie Green, Tulsa Drillers Games

  • Best Place to Buy a Local Gift Ida Red

    The Boxyard, Dwelling Spaces

  • Best Salon Ihloff Salon and Day Spa

    The First Ward, Raw Elements

  • Best TATTOO ARTIST Kris “Squiggy” Snead – Black Gold Tattoos & Piercings

    Cale Turpen – Geek Ink Tattoo, Kasey Wolfenkoehler – Black Sheep Tattoo

  • Best clothing store Dillard’s

    Ida Red, Urban Outfitters

  • Best Place to Wait Out Extreme Weather Cellar Dweller

    Hodges Bend, Woodland Hills Mall

Best Vintage Clothing Store


Cheap Thrills is a must-shop for anyone interested in vintage clothing and accessories. Owner Kristen Casey has a real talent for curating historic fashion, like 80s corsets, floral dresses, and Edwardian eyelet camisoles. If you don’t already, you really should follow Cheap Thrills on Instagram to keep tabs on new inventory and half-off specials.

FINALISTS: Goodwill, Vintage Vault

Best ANTIQUE Store


Sunlight streams in through big windows onto succulents and air plants, oversized wooden letters, and an impeccably curated mix of midcentury, homespun, and modern furniture, housewares, and art. Co-owners Ashley Daly and Ashley Palmer have created a space where professionalism meets enthusiasm in the service of “life on a beautiful background.” Ask about budget-friendly home styling services while you’re there.

FINALISTS: River City Trading Post, Vintage Vault

The Mayo Hotel

  • Best HOTEL

    FINALISTS: Ambassador Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

  • best View The Penthouse at the Mayo Hotel

    FINALISTS: Blue Rose Cafe, In the Raw On the Hill

  • Best place for a
    tinder date
    Finalists: Hodges Bend, R Bar & Grill
    Finalists: Cosmo Cafe, Hodges Bend

This nationally acclaimed craft cocktail bar in the heart of the Brady Arts District is a spirits geek’s utopia, but it’s also your favorite place to finally meet that Tinder or Bumble match with whom you’ve been flirting the last week. And no wonder—as first impressions go, you can’t do much better than Valkyrie. The drinks are perfect every time. The bartenders are kind, knowledgeable and unpretentious. The aesthetic, with its exposed brick, vaulted ceilings, and shotgun layout, is spacious, comfortable and hip—but not “look how cool we are!” obnoxious. The odds of a love connection are ever in your favor.

best place to learn something new
Central Library
FINALISTS: Philbrook Museum of Art, Woody Guthrie Center

After a three-year renovation, the downtown library re-opened last fall looking less like a 70s newsroom and more like a library of the future. The ingenious design lets users easily find what they need (with the help of superb librarians). There’s something new to discover around every corner: a maker space with a full recording studio and 3D printers, flight simulators and computers built for coding and animation, and plentiful free classes and events. Or just learn about yourself as you take a moment in the garden with a drink from the Starbucks on the ground floor.

Ginney Sweeney | @tulsa_times Tulsa times
    Finalists: City of Tulsa Parking Enforcement, Steve Cluck

Tell us what you cover about Tulsa on your social media accounts and why. I cover people, places, events, products, and other parts of Tulsa culture that would be of particular interest to my generation on my blog, Tulsa Times, and Instagram, @tulsa_times. I figured since I couldn’t find the type of social media account that I was looking to follow, I could just create it myself and people would send in tips about the Tulsa scene, then I could learn stuff that way… and they definitely have! Plus, I have always loved photography and writing.

What made you want to stay in Tulsa instead of heading back to your hometown of Dallas? I really found that I preferred Norman to another big city like Austin on my college visits, and I wanted to do something different than most of my class from home. I am proof that what they are saying is true—a lot of young people are moving to Tulsa just because they decide it seems like a great place to live! Tulsa is very charming.

Where is your favorite place to take out-of-town guests to impress them? I always take them to the Philbrook—It is such a unique museum with a very cool history and a real Tulsa treasure. I have friends and family coming from all over—New York, DC… and all of them have always been blown away by Tulsa once they get here.

What about Tulsa inspires you? The history of Tulsa inspires me, all the deco architecture and everything from the oil boom. It really set the stage for some very artistic people to thrive in Tulsa today. The persistence of Tulsa to continue to grow really inspires me, too. –ANGELA EVANS

Turkey Mountain
BEST place to hike
FINALISTS: Chandler Park, Redbud Valley Nature Preserve
BEST place to go with your dog
FINALISTS: Biscuit Acres Dog Park, River Parks

We’re just glad this one’s still in the running and not a shopping mall. Now that Turkey Mountain is designated by the National Park Service as part of the National Recreation Trail system, the 300 acres of land, which includes over 30 miles of trails, should remain undeveloped. Even if you hate hiking and are allergic to dogs, there might be something of interest for you, especially if you happen to be enthusiastic about fringe theories of pseudo-archaeology: some claim that the petrogylphs you can find close to the river were left by pre-Colombian European travelers.

City of Tulsa Parking Enforcement
  • Best Bullshit Caller
    Finalists: Western Doughty, Barry Friedman
Another interview with LaRoy Parks, incorrigible meter maid

This year you won Best Bullshit Caller, which is the first time someone not named Blake Ewing has won this category. How does it feel to beat him? It’s a well-known fact that Councilor Ewing could easily defeat me physically, his record is 32-0 in our weekly City Hall fight club. It does feel good, however, knowing that I beat an elected official by a democratic process like this one. Don’t be surprised if I file some paperwork at the election board while I have this momentum!

Why do you think you deserve this award over, say, Ziva Branstetter, whose entire job is calling bullshit for the sake of the public good? Ziva Branstetter is a decent journalist, very professional, and also a skilled catfish noodler. But she simply doesn’t have the “It” factor that a man of my caliber possesses. I didn’t get the fancy book learnin’ she had, and I don’t have the corner office and mahogany desk to work from. But the main reason I deserve this award over that hard-working journalist is simple: I’m not a pawn of the liberal media.

What’s the parking scene like in Tulsa these days? Around the presidential election it was much easier to find parking violations, all I had to do was find vehicles with Hillary and Bernie Sanders stickers. But since they’ve scraped those off in shame, I’ve had to be more proactive.

You were an early champion of Donald Trump for president. How do you think he’s doing so far? Trump has delivered on his campaign promise to flood the streets with liberal tears, and some days I have to wear a life jacket. But I’m more proud of getting my boy GT Bynum elected mayor of Tulsa. Our #ScreweyFartlett campaign single-handedly won him that contest, and I’m still waiting on my job offer and gift basket.

Has fame changed you? I never did this for fame, Joshua. I did this to make Tulsa great again, $30 at a time. I wouldn’t even consider myself famous, I haven’t been invited to a single cocaine-fueled orgy since the incident at the last one located at 175 E. 2nd St. Tulsa, OK 74103. –JOSHUA KLINE

Best place to people watch

Tulsa State Fair

FINALISTS: Guthrie Green, Walmart

Best Running / Cycling /
Athletic Store

Fleet Feet Sports

More than just a store, Fleet Feet Sports is a hub for sporty types, especially runners. Whether you’re gearing up for your first 5k or if you’ve taken dozens of victory laps, they can accommodate any level of athlete and pride themselves on their individualized approach to customers.

FINALISTS: Lululemon, Runner’s World

Best Place
for Cycling

River Parks

From Ziegler Park to the Oklahoma Aquarium, Tulsans can cycle, saunter, or climb (once they get to Turkey Mountain) as they weave through 800 acres of riverfront beauty that feature repair stations and bikes for rent, as well as gorgeous public art, playgrounds, and trees that show off Tulsa’s best natural colors.

FINALISTS: Cry Baby Hill, Turkey Mountain

Best Health /
Fitness Center


The Y has been a mainstay of Tulsa fitness and family fun for decades, but with some beautifully renovated locations and the spectacular new Tandy Family Healthy Living Center in Midtown – not to mention it’s affordable memberships and commitment to inclusion – its the new best place to get fit.

FINALISTS: Planet Fitness, Sky Fitness & Wellbeing

Woodward Park

  • Best picnic spot

    FINALISTS: Guthrie Green, River Parks

  • best public park

    FINALISTS: Guthrie Green, River Parks

Best LOCAL Politician


As a testament to his galvanizing popularity, you cynical bastards chose optimism for once, foregoing your usual vote of “None” in this category and instead bestowing the award upon newly elected Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. Is it his boyish good looks? Those red-frame glasses? His data-driven approach to measuring success? Whatever it is, he’s got a lot to live up to. No pressure, mayor.

FINALISTS: John Waldron, None

Best Place to Take
Out of Towners

Downtown Tulsa

These days, our once-ghostly downtown is the most dynamic place in the city for eating, drinking, arts and entertainment, and that most wonderful of all urban pastimes—exploring on foot. The scent of pie and coffee? An outdoor concert? An art installation through a gallery window? A play at the PAC? TTV readers agree: downtown’s all grown up.

FINALISTS: The Brady Arts District, The Center of the Universe

Best Nonprofit

George Kaiser Family Foundation

This nonprofit powerhouse stimulates growth from the ground up. Its initiatives in early childhood education, parent support, small business and neighborhood development, and arts and culture—not to mention the massive Gathering Place, opening soon on Riverside—make Tulsa the nation’s luckiest testing ground for 21st-century thinking on socioeconomic revitalization.

FINALISTS: Poetic Justice of Oklahoma, Youth Services of Tulsa

Thanks for voting!

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Readers’ choice
winners + finalists

  • Best Breakfast Brookside By Day Dilly Diner Tally’s Good Food Cafe
  • Best Brunch SMOKE. on Cherry Street Brookside By Day Dilly Diner
  • Best Bloody Mary Kilkenny’s Irish Pub James E. McNellie’s Public House SMOKE. on Cherry Street
  • Best Coffeehouse Coffee House on Cherry Street The Gypsy Coffee House Shades of Brown
  • Best Barista Lauren Burrows – 918 Coffee Matthew Craddock – Hodges Bend Andrew Jolly – DoubleShot Coffee Company
  • Best Bakery Antoinette Baking Co. Ann’s Bakery Merritt’s Bakery
  • Best Farmers Market Cherry Street Farmers Market Brookside Farmers Market Rose District Farmers Market
  • Best Grocery Store Reasor’s Foods Sprouts Farmers Market Trader Joe’s
  • Best Food Truck Lone Wolf Andolini’s Pizzeria Mr. Nice Guys
  • Best Deli Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli Jason’s Deli Lambrusco’z
  • Best Sandwich Phat Philly – Phat Philly’s Banh Mi – Lone Wolf Po’ Boy – Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli
  • Best Diner Tally’s Good Food Cafe Dilly Diner Freeway Cafe
  • Best Burger Fat Guy’s Burger Bar Brownie’s Hamburgers Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili
  • Best Chicken Fried Steak Brothers Houligan The Brook Tally’s Good Food Cafe
  • Best Barbecue Burn Co Barbecue Albert G’s Bar-B-Q Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Cue
  • Best Pizza Andolini’s Pizzeria Hideaway Pizza East Village Bohemian Pizzeria
  • Best Takeout Pizza Andolini’s Pizzeria Hideaway Pizza Pie Hole Pizzeria
  • Best Steak Mahogany Prime Steakhouse PRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse Texas Roadhouse
  • Best Seafood White River Fish Market Bodean Restaurant & Market Doc’s Wine & Food
  • Best Taco Tacos Don Francisco Elote Café & Catering El Guapo’s Cantina
  • Best Chinese P.F. Chang’s Golden Gate Pei Wei
  • Best Indian India Palace Desi Wok Himalayas Aroma of India
  • Best Italian Ti Amo Dalesandro’s Mondo’s Ristorante Italiano
  • Best Japanese/Sushi Yokozuna In The Raw Sushi Hana
  • Best Korean Lone Wolf Gogi Gui Korean Grill Korean Garden
  • Best Mexican El Tequila El Guapo’s Cantina El Rio Verde
  • Best Thai Lanna Thai Bamboo Thai Bistro My Thai Kitchen
  • Best Vietnamese Lone Wolf Pho Da Cao Ri Le’s
  • Best Vegetarian/Healthy Zoë’s Kitchen Chimera Whole Foods Market
  • Best Patio Blue Rose Cafe El Guapo’s Cantina East Village Bohemian Pizzeria
  • Best View The Penthouse Bar at The Mayo Hotel Blue Rose Cafe In the Raw On the Hill
  • Best Family Dining The Brook Charleston’s Hideaway Pizza
  • Best Chef Ben Alexander – The Tavern, Bull in the Alley Michelle Donaldson Trevor Tack – McNellie’s Group
  • Best Service Kilkenny’s Irish Pub Charleston’s The Tavern
  • Best New Restaurant Roosevelt’s Bread and Butter Kitchen + Bakery Prairie Brewpub
  • Best Restaurant for Locally Sourced Ingredients Tallgrass Elote Café and Catering Juniper Restaurant
  • Best Spot for Day Drinking James E. McNellie’s Public House Fassler Hall R Bar & Grill
  • Best Place to Watch the Big Game Bricktown Brewery Elgin Park Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Best Bar Food James E. McNellie’s Public House The Brook Fassler Hall
  • Best Beer Selection James E. McNellie’s Public House Prairie Brewpub Roosevelt’s
  • Best Wine List Vintage 1740 Doc’s Wine & Food Polo Grill
  • Best Cocktails Valkyrie Cosmo Cafe Hodges Bend
  • Best Bartender Noah Bush – Hodges Bend, Saturn Room, Torero Bar and Kitchen, Open Container Katy Bates – Yellow Brick Road T. Read Richards – Valkyrie
  • Best Local Brewery Marshall Brewing Co. Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing Prairie Artisan Ales
  • Best New Bar Prairie Brewpub Roosevelt’s The Beehive Lounge
  • Best Dive Bar Soundpony Arnie’s Bar Caz’s Pub
  • Best LGBT Bar/Club Club Majestic New Age Renegade Yellow Brick Road
  • Best Bar for Smokers Arnie’s Bar Caz’s Pub Yeti
  • Best Liquor Store Parkhill Liquor & Wine Deep Discount Wine & Liquor Ranch Acres Wine and Spirits
  • Best Late Night Dining Kilkenny’s Irish Pub Tacos Don Francisco Phat Philly’s
  • Best Gallery Living Arts 108 Contemporary Hardesty Arts Center
  • Best Museum Philbrook Museum of Art Gilcrease Museum Woody Guthrie Center
  • Best Public Art Woody Guthrie Center Mural Día de los Muertos Murals “Artificial Cloud” at The Center of the Universe
  • Best Visual Artist Tyler Thrasher John Hammer Chris Mantle
  • Best Photographer Valerie Grant Western Doughty David Lackey
  • Best Performing Arts Company Tulsa Ballet Theatre Tulsa Tulsa Symphony
  • Best Performing Arts Space Tulsa Performing Arts Center Guthrie Green Hardesty Arts Center
  • Best Place to Have a Laugh Loony Bin Comedy Club Comedy Parlor Soundpony Comedy Hour
  • Best Free Entertainment Guthrie Green The Brady Arts District’s First Friday Art Crawl Walmart
  • Best All-Ages Music Venue Cain’s Ballroom BOK Center Guthrie Green
  • Best Small Music Venue Vanguard Music Hall Mercury Lounge Soundpony
  • Best Large Music Venue Cain’s Ballroom BOK Center Brady Theater
  • Best Place for Live Local Music Cain’s Ballroom The Colony Vanguard Music Hall
  • Best Open Mic The Gypsy Coffee House The Colony Comedy Parlor
  • Best Record Store Starship Records & Tapes Ida Red Vintage Stock
  • Best Local Album of 2016 Lonesome Goldmine – Annie Ellicott Cleveland Summer Nights – Wink Burcham I Came From Nothing – Kick Tree
  • Best Movie Theater Broken Arrow Warren Theatre AMC Southroads 20 Circle Cinema
  • Best Casino Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Osage Casino River Spirit Casino
  • Best Trivia Night Trivia with Jack at Soundpony Live Event Trivia at The Pint Saturn Room
  • Best Karaoke The Warehouse Bar & Grill Elote Café and Catering New Age Renegade
  • Best Night Club Club Majestic Legends Dance Hall Soundpony
  • Best Annual Festival Linde Oktoberfest Blue Dome Arts Festival Mayfest
  • Best Party of the Year Cry Baby Hill 80s Prom Linde Oktoberfest
  • Best Place to Wait Out Extreme Weather Cellar Dweller Hodges Bend Woodland Hills Mall
  • Best Bathroom Graffiti Soundpony Caz’s Pub Mercury Lounge
  • Best Place for a Tinder Date Valkyrie Hodges Bend R Bar & Grill
  • Best Place to Learn Something New Tulsa City-County Library Philbrook Museum of Art Woody Guthrie Center
  • Best Place to Shop Green Cherry Street Farmers Market Sprouts Farmers Market Trader Joe’s
  • Best Place to Take Out of Towners Downtown Tulsa The Brady Arts District The Center of the Universe
  • Best Health/Fitness Center YMCA Planet Fitness Sky Fitness & Wellbeing
  • Best Place to Strike a (Yoga) Pose Guthrie Green Be Love Yoga Studio SALT Yoga
  • Best Running/Cycling/Athletic Store Fleet Feet Sports Lululemon Runner’s World
  • Best Foot Race/Run McNellie’s Pub Run The Color Run Tulsa Run
  • Best Place for Cycling River Parks Cry Baby Hill Turkey Mountain
  • Best Place to Hike Turkey Mountain Chandler Park Redbud Valley Nature Preserve
  • Best Picnic Spot Woodward Park Guthrie Green River Parks
  • Best Public Park Woodward Park Guthrie Green River Parks
  • Best Family Outing The Tulsa Zoo Guthrie Green Tulsa Drillers Games
  • Best Place to Go with Your Dog Turkey Mountain Biscuit Acres Dog Park River Parks
  • Best Place to People Watch Tulsa State Fair Guthrie Green Walmart
  • Best Hotel The Mayo Hotel Ambassador Hotel Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
  • Best Place to Buy a Local Gift Ida Red The Boxyard Dwelling Spaces
  • Best Salon Ihloff Salon and Day Spa The First Ward Raw Elements
  • Best Clothing Store Dillard’s Ida Red Urban Outfitters
  • Best Vintage Clothing Store Cheap Thrills Goodwill Vintage Vault
  • Best Antique Store Retro Den River City Trading Post Vintage Vault
  • Best Tattoo Artist Kris “Squiggy” Snead – Black Gold Tattoos & Piercings Cale Turpen – Geek Ink Tattoo Kasey Wolfenkoehler – Black Sheep Tattoo
  • Best Local Politician G.T. Bynum John Waldron None
  • Best Bullshit Caller City of Tulsa Parking Enforcement Western Doughty Barry Friedman
  • Best Tulsan to Follow on Social Media Tulsa Times City of Tulsa Parking Enforcement Steve Cluck
  • Best Nonprofit George Kaiser Family Foundation Poetic Justice of Oklahoma Youth Services of Tulsa