Basil Mediterranean Cafe
211 NW 23rd St.
Heading west on NW 23rd Street, its not hard to miss the green building that looks ever so much like an old KFC and Long John Silver’s. Try Mediterranean favorites like hummus or dolmas, or dig into a gyro platter. Perhaps you might want to treat yourself to the pasta pancetta with a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and bacon topped with diced roma tomatoes and fresh — you guessed it — basil.
Back Door Barbecue
315 NW 23rd St.
Keep heading west from Basil and look for Back Door Barbecue. You can enter from NW 23rd Street, or be an insider and come in through the back door, hence the name. Chris Lower and the team behind Big Truck Tacos (we’ll get to that in a minute) opened Back Door a few months ago, and the response has been great. Customers line up for slow-smoked meats and sides that are so tasty that one could make a meal out of those alone. Don’t miss the fatty brisket.
Tucker’s Onion Burgers
324 NW 23rd St.
Leave the scent of barbecue behind at Back Door, but less than a block away, get ready for the smell of onions cooking at Tucker’s Onion Burgers. The brainchild of Keith and Heather Paul (of Cheever’s fame), this was the first Tucker’s, and it keeps customers coming back with those delicious onion burgers, fries and handdipped shakes. It offers onion burgers with a strong Oklahoma pedigree and a nod to El Reno, which is widely considered to have the best onion burger joints anywhere.
500 NW 23rd St.
Sitting on the southwest corner of NW 23rd Street and N. Walker Avenue is an unassuming building with some top-notch Thai food inside. Hit the lunch buffet, or peruse the menu for an abundance of curries, rice dishes, seafood and favorites like pad thai. Seafood options are plentiful, and each dish can be made to meet your spice needs. Even if you’re not vegetarian, the clay pot tofu can’t be beat.
600 NW 23rd St.
What would any strip of road with great restaurants be without pizza? Thankfully, nobody on NW 23rd Street has to worry. Pizza 23 serves up pies with a sinfully good buttery crust and build your own pizza options, or try one of the shop’s creations like the Mediterranean with house oil and garlic sauce, mozzarella, spinach, grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Or try the bleu burger. That creation has house marinara, mozzarella, hamburger, bacon, red onion, blue cheese and avocado.
Big Truck Tacos
530 NW 23rd St.
Big Truck took NW 23rd Street by storm when it opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2009. The chefs make breakfast tacos like those found in Austin and fish tacos, which are ubiquitous in Southern California. When it comes to guacamole, Big Truck has no equal. With inventive tacos all over the menu, there is even the 5th Amendment taco for the brave. What’s in the 5th Amendment? Who knows? But Big Truck is sure you’re going to love it.
715 NW 23rd St.
What do you do when your favorite restaurant closes? If you’re Mike and Marvin Tharasena, you talk to the owner and get him to open in a space you own. The Tharasenas renovated a strip of old houses into retail and office space near NW 23rd Street and N. Shartel Avenue and had the perfect spot for Bubba’s. (Bubba’s was in Bethany for years but closed in 2009.) Grab ribs and brisket, and then wander a few doors down for a dessert at Cuppies and Joe.
— by Kelley Chambers, photos by Mark Hancock