Wednesday 23 Jul

Food briefs: You’re toast, er, pretzel

There’s a new food truck on the scene.
07/22/2014 | Comments 0

Upward mobility

Locals can have fresh microgreens and herbs for cooking in a new and convenient way. Microgreens, a chef favorite, are petite vegetable greens that add color, nutrition and flavor to dishes.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Vietnamese comfort food

I’ve always had a love affair with the refreshing, healthy cuisine of Vietnam. I love the fragrances, the fresh herbs, cilantro, basil, mint and other Asian herbs: perilla, Vietnamese coriander and sawtooth cilantro. And I love the contrast and balance in almost every dish: spicy vs. cool, salty vs. sweet and steamed vs. crispy.
07/16/2014 | Comments 0

OKG eat: Cool places, cooler drinks

We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.

— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

New kids on the block

There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.

— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman

07/16/2014 | Comments 0


Ah, the perils of working with special dietary needs. It can make dining out a pain. Luckily, with restaurateurs becoming more savvy to their diners’ needs, there are a bevy of places in OKC to satisfy your craving for the foods you love without losing taste. All choices this week have been road-tested by gluten-sensitive foodies to guarantee satisfaction.
07/09/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Food · Restaurant Reviews · Johnny be good
Restaurant Reviews

Johnny be good

Serving fresh food hot and ready when you walk in the door, Johnny’s Lunch Box has been at the same downtown location for generations

Doug Hill January 26th, 2011

413 W. Sheridan
Owner: Ed Strawn
Date Established: 1946
Food Style: American cafeteria lunch
Average check: $7.25

Currently, many of Johnny’s Lunch Box customers are construction workers from around the country working at the nearby Devon Energy skyscraper project.

“They tell me that coming in here and eating is like having mom’s home cooking, wherever that might be,” owner Ed Strawn said. “That’s a neat deal, being able to please people from all over America.”

To accommodate this hungry crew, Johnny’s has even added Saturdays to the normal, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday hours.

Johnny’s is an unpretentious, onestory building right across the street from Stage Center and next door to the Greyhound Bus Lines depot. Inside, its cafeteria steam tables are polished stainless steel, and the booths are dark mahogany. A collection of handwritten notes and a couple of poster boards serve as the extensive menu.

“We haven’t dropped a single item since 1946,” Strawn said. “We’ve just added things like chicken Caesar ($5.54) and other salads.”

Reading everything on the menu can be a little overwhelming on your first visit.

The Thursday special — a large smoked pork chop with two sides, butter and bread ($6.23) — sounded good. And it was. The chop was thick and delicately smoked. My sides of creamy macaroni and cheese and turnip greens were right up there with the best soul food the metro has to offer.

Drinks are serve-yourself at a fountain near the “board of directors” table set in the middle of the front dining room.

“The board table has been there since day one,” Strawn explained. “There’s a group of around 60 guys who come and go all day long and have lunch together there.”

He said a pair of regulars squabble about who is chairman of the board. “When I first took over this place from Johnny (Papahronis)11 years ago, I had to be careful to have the specials on the right days or they’d be all over me,” he said.

On this afternoon, a trio of welldressed elderly gents, including the original owner Johnny, was holding court over slices of the popular pecan pie ($2.25). Younger people hip to the cafeteria’s good value and generous servings were stopping in as well.

We haven’t dropped a single item since 1946.

—Ed Strawn

“Corned beef that we roast here for sandwiches ($3.92) and dinners ($7.15) is one of our most popular items,” Strawn said. “This may not look like a big cafeteria, but we have 17 other meats, too.”

Strawn was slicing from a gigantic, steaming brisket right at the serving line. The thick-sliced Reuben sandwich ($5.31) was an old-fashioned treat. Johnny’s makes several varieties of pie and bread that are baked in-house, and all vegetables are prepared fresh. Johnny’s sell hundreds of whole pies for carryout during the holidays.

“We whip real Idaho potatoes throughout the day,” he said. “Unlike a lot of cafeterias, we never stop cooking. Some places just cook in the morning and keep food in warmers all day, but not us.”

Side dish veggies I tried, including Brussels sprouts and green beans, were not overcooked. Candied carrots were cut big and ugly, just like at home. Pot roast ($6.23) was so tender it could be eaten with a spoon. A friend had tipped me off to the garlic lemon chicken ($6.23), with its distinctive Mediterranean flavors, and it was a good pick.

It’s unusual to see knockwurst plate ($5.07) or franks and baked beans ($5.07) on a menu, but Johnny’s has them both, along with cottage cheese or tomato and onion salads in tiny cups.

Strawn said tight bus schedules don’t bring in many customers from the Greyhound station next door. But that’s not always the case.

“When we had the ice storm, I wasn’t the only one stuck down here,” he said. “Five buses full of people weren’t going anywhere, so we fed them breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days.”

If you have to be stranded on the road, right next to Johnny’s Lunch Box would be the place to be.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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