Tulsa’s Kendall Whittier business district, situated along the original alignment of Route 66, was once the city’s first suburban shopping district, with high-end shops lining Lewis Avenue and Admiral Boulevard. The area eventually fell into disrepair and, in the 1980s, was better known for the adult businesses that operated in the area.
But in the last several years, Kendall Whittier has experienced a cultural and economic rejuvenation, blossoming into an arts district with galleries, retailers, cafes and restaurants setting up shop in the district. In fact, the neighborhood has grown so much, you could spend an entire day and not see, do or eat everything it has to offer. But you can try.
Fair Fellow Coffee, 1 N. Lewis Ave.
Start your day with a cup of coffee roasted and brewed inside Fair Fellow’s sunny shop at the corner of Admiral and Lewis. The menu is simple and straightforward, and the coffee is exquisitely crafted. We recommend a pour-over or the nitrous cold brew. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try the affogato: freshly brewed espresso poured over a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.
Ziegler Art & Frame, 6 N. Lewis Ave.
Ziegler isn’t just Tulsa’s favorite place to have art framed; the expansive shop also boasts walls of original and local art, housewares, gifts, jewelry and Tulsa memorabilia. You can also find art supplies or take classes from some of Tulsa’s best local artists.
Jo and June, 2313 E. Admiral Blvd.
This small vintage furniture and collectibles shop occupies a storefront inside Ziegler Art & Frame. You can access it from inside the larger shop or from the front door on Admiral Boulevard. Once inside, browse a curated collection of vintage furniture, art, housewares and handmade jewelry, as well as some special items, like lamps crafted out of vintage cameras by the store’s owners.
Tulsa Girls Art School, 2202 E. Admiral Blvd.
This special little school provides free arts education to underserved girls after school and throughout the summer. And like any art gallery, TGAS hosts regular exhibitions of its young artists’ work, with the proceeds benefiting the girls’ education, whether it be continued training in the arts or a savings account earmarked for college.
The Floral Bar by Ever Something, 2306 E. Admiral Blvd.
Order up a unique bouquet of flowers at The Floral Bar by Ever Something. Pull up a seat at the bar, select your favorite blooms and greenery, and watch as Taylor and Katie craft a one-of-a-kind arrangement. You can also pick up candles, tableware and other special event needs, or you can enlist the gals to style your upcoming event.
Urban Furnishings, 2312 E. Admiral Blvd.
Rebecca Joskey’s shop, formerly located on Brookside, has been Tulsa’s go-to for modern furniture for 20 years. Now open in Kendall Whittier, the store still boasts its wide selection of Natuzzi Italia furniture, as well as gallery space where Rebecca hangs work by many of Tulsa’s most talented artists.
Calaveras Mexican Grill, 2326 E. Admiral Blvd.
Ready to break for lunch? Try Calaveras, Kendall Whittier’s newest restaurant, which serves up authentic Mexican dishes you won’t find on a menu anywhere else—like El Bracero Ranchero, an assortment of grilled meats, potatoes and pickled cactus, served atop a small charcoal grill. And don’t miss the salsa bar!
Pollo Al Carbon, 2405 ½ E. Admiral Blvd.
Another lunchtime option is Pollo Al Carbon, a taco truck parked behind Hoot Owl Coffee Co. The truck is tucked out of view, but its many loyal fans know exactly where to find it. In addition to the tacos, must-try menu items include the torta (we like it with chorizo or pastor) and the platillo de pollo, a hearty helping of grilled chicken, rice and beans, and tortillas.
Pancho Anaya Bakery, 2420 E. Admiral Blvd.
Craving something sweet? Pancho Anaya Bakery boasts dozens of pan dulce, traditional Mexican pastries, or “sweet bread,” baked fresh every day. The family brought the business and their generations-old recipes to Tulsa from Mexico almost 20 years ago. Grab a tray and a pair of tongs and help yourself to the bakery cases that line the far wall. Don’t be afraid to indulge; most of the pan dulce costs only 64 cents per piece. Might we recommend the concha, a fluffy bread with a conch-shaped sugar paste on top, or the empanadas, hand pies filled with either Bavarian cream, pineapple or pumpkin.
Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave.
Circle Cinema is the place in Tulsa to take in independent, foreign and local films. After more than 10 years of construction, the cinema’s largest theater is complete and even features the Circle’s original pipe organ, fully restored. Before or after your film, be sure to browse the theater’s art gallery, which features new work every month.
Fab Lab Tulsa, 710 S. Lewis Ave.
Fab Lab Tulsa, a fabrication laboratory, is a community center where makers, tinkerers, engineers and artists can realize their creative dreams by utilizing professional equipment to complete projects big and small. If you’ve never been, you should take them up on their standing Saturday afternoon tour invitation; then, decide if you’d like to become a member and utilize the facility’s tools, equipment and expertise on a regular basis.
Perry’s Food Store, 1005 S. Lewis Ave.
Perry’s Food Store has the distinction of being Kendall Whittier’s oldest continuously operating business (it’s been here since 1940) as well as being the best place in the neighborhood to get a great cut of beef. In addition to its extensive meat offerings, the store also accommodates shoppers’ basic grocery needs—and they’ll whip you up a box lunch if you ask.
Gaslite Liquor Store, 202 S. Lewis Ave.
Gaslite Liquor Store has been open since 1959, when Oklahoma repealed Prohibition, and it’s still one of the best shops in town to pick up a six-pack or a bottle of wine. These folks make a point of carrying locally brewed beer, and they’re always adding new selections to their shelves. Just look for the coolest neon sign in the neighborhood.
Cancun International Restaurant, 705 S. Lewis Ave.
For dinner, try Cancun International Restaurant, another authentic Mexican eatery whose specialties include fish, shrimp and other seafood dishes. Our favorite is the Shrimp Salad, which is listed on the appetizer menu but is large enough to order as a meal. Cancun also serves the best homemade horchata in town. Warning: they only accept cash.
Freddie’s Hamburgers, 802. S. Lewis Ave.
Not in the mood for Mexican food twice in one day? Grab your dinner from the grill at Freddie’s, a classic hamburger stand that’s been around since 1954. Their hamburgers, served the old-fashioned way with mustard, onions and pickles, melt in your mouth, and you can’t beat the friendly service. Get there early; they close at 7 p.m.
Marshall Brewing Company, 618 S. Wheeling Ave.
Thanks to a recent change in state law, these local craft beer brewers can now offer brewery tours that include a sample of their product, served from the taps in the brewery's intimate tasting room. It's also a cozy spot for a Friday afternoon happy hour. Because the brewers are so busy making the beer, tasting room hours are limited, for now, to Fridays and Saturdays.
Holly Wall is a freelance writer and a native Tulsan who loves ethnic cuisine, live theatre, road trips, and running. Curious with a penchant for the quirky, she's always on the lookout for something new to try and a good story to tell.