Tulsa is a laid-back community, with a growing cadre of top-notch restaurants serving gourmet-level meals in an accessible, relaxed environment. But sometimes, the occasion asks for something more sophisticated, more romantic. A dining destination where tables are draped in crisp white table cloths, plates and proper silverware lined up like infantry, standing at the ready for your arrival. The type of restaurant where the service staff is well-versed on the menu, the wine list and the art of dining etiquette. They have a sense of timing and the ability to be present without interfering while popping a bottle of bubbly tableside.
But for many, the hallmark of a fine dining eating establishment is all about a menu that is filled with creative dishes and classic high-end cuisine, using the finest ingredients prepared by talented chefs. Tulsa has many restaurants that fit the bill for an elevated dining experience, whether looking to have a high-rolling night on the town with friends, or if you want to create an intimate experience with a special someone. Here are a few locations that provide the setting, the service and the chef-inspired menus for a perfect evening.
Pro Tip: Many of these restaurants are also open for breakfast and lunch, or host happy hour with appetizer and bar menu specials. This is a great way to add a little luxury to your day without breaking the bank.
Many of Tulsa’s fine dining establishments have been mainstays for decades, while other newcomers embrace long-held approach to creating the gourmet experience. Here are a few that stand out in a city drizzled in delicious options.
The Lounge (Bull in the Alley) - One of Tulsa’s most exclusive restaurants resides in a nondescript alley in the Brady Arts District. Sometimes referred to as “The Bull,” this newcomer to the high-end steak scene is tucked in the alley on the east side of The Tavern Restaurant, where a metal bull hangs above a green door. Walk through the double doors and be transported far from the concrete and noise outside. The interior is reminiscent of a high-end, 1980s movie about Wall Street mavericks. The marble and mirrors glisten in dim lighting, with high-backed banquettes lining the walls and a gargantuan bar that lavishly spreads through the space. The highlights at this (literally) hidden gem include porterhouse steaks, seafood towers, escargot and a martini cart. Reservations are hard to attain, but not impossible. So when looking to dine in a grandiose manner, simply look for the bull in the alley…
PRHYME - This locally-owned, high-end steak house located in the Brady Arts District takes a little extra time with their steaks. The chefs take painstakingly butchered prime cuts of beef and use dry aging and wet aging to create a denser, more complex flavor. Let’s just say they let their steaks grow gracefully and it creates nuance in flavor and texture. The sleek interior, with walls bedecked in deep mahogany paint and modern art, gives the ambiance of a big city steakhouse along with top-notch service. The wine list is outstanding, and a sommelier is always available to help find the perfect wine for the occasion. For a more relaxed (and less expensive!) experience, visit PRHYME’s fully-stocked bar on Mondays and Tuesdays for their half-price bar menu.
The Chalkboard - Nestled beneath the historic Ambassador Hotel just outside of the hubbub of downtown Tulsa, The Chalkboard has been a go-to for fine dining for decades. The small bistro-style restaurant features a menu of high-end classics like beef Wellington and lamb chops, but the specials are always innovatively delicious. And because it is affiliated with the hotel, this is a fine dining restaurant with robust hours, adding elegance to breakfast, lunch and dinner, often open on holidays.
Polo Grill - Since 1983, the Polo Grill has been the gold-standard for fine dining in Tulsa. Located discretely in Utica Square, the restaurant’s interior is as dark and decadent as the cabs and zins they pour. Their wine list is exemplary, featuring more than a thousand labels and countless bottles in their very own cellar. Classic dinner service is executed beautifully by knowledgeable staff, sommeliers and chefs. Whether looking for a traditional surf and turf meal or innovative chef creations, Polo Grill continues to earn its place among the elite restaurants in the country and remains a relevant culinary treasure in Tulsa.
McGill's - For more than 25 years, McGill’s has been the most accessible fine dining restaurant in Tulsa. Now boasting three locations sprinkled throughout Tulsa (one at 61st and Yale, another near Utica Square and the newest location atop the Hard Rock Casino) McGill’s is a go-to for fine dining aficionados. Guests can expect exotic fine dining fare, like escargot baked in herb butter with puff pastry dovetails, or more traditional dishes, like orange roughy and chicken marsala. A classic surf and turf, white table cloth restaurant, McGill’s is the perfect spot for a no-fuss yet classy first date, and a magnet for regulars who keep coming back for the impeccable service, beautifully prepared meals and a well-stocked bar.
Palace Café - Palace Café is a swanky joint that serves high-end cuisine in a small, intimate setting on Cherry Street. Their menu changes seasonally and always features the best ingredients prepared in surprising ways. Dinner service is thoughtful, with a clever waitstaff who can walk guests through the menu and wine list with ease. The bentos – or starters – are always prepared with a creative touch and are fun to explore. Though lunch and brunch are a bit less formal, they still maintain high standards of service no matter the time of day.
Villa Ravenna - Villa Ravenna is perhaps the most authentic Italian cuisine in Tulsa, and for good reason. The fine dining restaurant located in the Farm Shopping Center is run by an Italian family whose roots run deep in the restaurant business in Italy. The cuisine is reminiscent of the fare found in northern Italy and the hospitality is exactly what one would expect in an Italian eatery. Fresh pasta, seafood and some of the best meatballs on the planet, Villa Ravenna is the perfect place to recreate a “Lady and the Tramp” moment with someone special, canoodling over noodles under the soft glow of candlelight.
Celebrity Restaurant - Back in the day, Sinatra, Sammy and Dino would escape the Las Vegas heat by retreating to dark restaurants and darker bars. Celebrity’s vintage vibe captures the darkened lounge ambience with a climate so cool, a martini will never lose its chill and neither will you. The low lighting, lush red interior and a classic steakhouse menu, replete with shrimp cocktails and table-side Caesar salads, provides delicious fare with a swanky, speakeasy atmosphere.
The French Hen - For three decades, The French Hen has been the place to go for thoughtfully conceived French cuisine. Classic French dishes, like duck liver pate and chicken Dijon, are offered alongside inventive chef’s specials. This award-winning bistro – with its romantic courtyard patio – has been a beloved mainstay for south Tulsans who seek French cuisine presented with sophistication and charm. The wine list is well curated, and the restaurant is host to some fantastic wine dinners featuring renowned vintners and inventive multi-course meals.
Bodean - Serving the freshest seafood in Tulsa for more than 40 years, Bodean is an upscale, seafood-centered restaurant (and market) that flies fish in twice daily to provide the freshest seafood possible in an otherwise landlocked state. The sleek interior of Bodean is elegant and modern, with a colorful lighting scheme that showcases brightly-hued local artwork. The seafood is the real star here, but Bodean is also amply capable of handling legitimate cuts of Kumamoto Wagyu and pan searing foie gras with the same expertise they prepare the Grilled Rainbow Trout Almondine. Their dining room is also a stage for some of Tulsa’s most talented jazz musicians throughout the week, adding another layer of elegance to an already beautiful ambiance.
Angela Evans has been digging deep into the booming restaurant scene of Tulsa since 2009. Her foray into food journalism began with the now-departed Urban Tulsa Weekly, but she continues to write for TulsaPeople,The Tulsa Voice and TulsaFood.com. Her quirky but informative take on cuisine earned her a Tulsa Press Club Newsie for “Best Critic” in 2014. Finding those hidden gems around town is her passion, whether it's locating the best fried chicken or the newest hotspot for upscale cuisine.