Lost Restaurants of Tulsa

In 2016, I started a journey back in time.  I’d always heard about iconic places like Pennington’s Drive-In, the Italian Inn, and My Pi Pizza but I never got the chance to experience them.  Thanks to many hours of research and interviews, I have an understanding of the eating places that defined Tulsa for the last few generations.

In 2018, that journey concludes.  In the autumn of 2018, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa will be available on bookshelves! You can follow along on Facebook below, where I am posting occasional photos and updates regarding publication schedule:


Thank you SO MUCH!  This is Tulsa’s story and I can’t wait to share my book with the world.

Penningtons Adm
Pennington’s on Admiral, later Miller’s Drive-In

56 thoughts on “Lost Restaurants of Tulsa

  1. Creech’s was a nice family restaurant on east 11th St, we often went there for a nice family dinner. There were two such restaurants in that area. Therewas a nice restaurant in the place called Western Village (SE corner of Admiral & Garnett – a fascinating old west style town with shops, a motel, golf course and landing strip ). I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, we didn’t go often. (Or, I didn’t! ) I remember it being dimly lit, candles on the tables and fancy napkins. Maybe someone else will recall, but you should do a wholesection on Western Village.
    My favorite restaurant, though, was the Golden Drumstick. I loved the blue glass windows.
    For a good hamburger, we liked Boots Drive-in near 26th & Sheridan, and Norman Angel’s at Admiral & Memorial – it was like the one in Happy Days. But my favorite place for a hamburger was a little place out east on 11th St, near the road to Harvey Young Airport (known as Hoover Street then). It was named The Friendly Cafe, but my mom called it the Greasy Spoon. I didn’t get it, but I sure liked their big burgers – and just 25c with fries.

  2. Joe’s Grill, 49th Place & Peoria (taken down to build the Camelot Inn).
    Borden’s Cafeteria, 51st and Peoria in Brook Plaza Shopping Center.
    The Louisiane, 118 E. 18th St.
    Pennington’s Drive-In, Admiral and Harvard.
    Shadow Mountain Inn, 61st and Sheridan.

  3. Ray’s, at 15th and Peoria, behind where the McDonald’s was built, across 15th from Crosstown Grill, was a classic small diner. It had 8 seats, if I recall correctly. Our parents took us there on payday nights in the 1960s. We walked up from our house at 14th and Owasso. We stood and waited for another diner to finish so we could sit at a stool. The beef stew was wonderful, as were their dinner rolls they baked every morning at 5. Many men still wore hats and hung them on the coat rack.

  4. Reblogged this on Rhys' Pieces and commented:

    I am still researching for this project – please spread the word! I’m interested in stories, photos, and other details from any-and-all Tulsa restaurants that were beloved but are no longer around.

    1. I remember Steven’s Hamburgers. It was on S. Yale right before where the BA expressway crosses. A small burger joint very much like a few other classic places that are still around such as Claud’s with one exception. Really good homemade pie. My mom used to take me there sometimes after school when I’d tell her the school lunch wasn’t so good. Great hamburgers and great pie.
      Another place I liked a lot was called Lum’s. I remember they had hot dogs steamed in beer…..

  5. Martin’s BBQ, used to be on Sheridan just south of Pine. It had a neon donkey on the front and his back legs kicked. Pretty cool for way back when. The building is still there last time I was by.

  6. I know there was a place called Eastside chicken diner. At least that was the place that my grandpa called it. They used to get chicken fried steak and liver and onions there. Their onion rings were famous. I also remember going to the knotty pine quite a bit. I hear they changed into the naughty pig or something like that and that their barbecue is still the same, but is under a different name.

    1. Thanks for this! I understand that the Freeway Cafe in Tulsa has the Onion Ring recipe from the old Eastside Cafe. They’re pretty good, I know that much.

  7. I used to work at Casa Bonita as a bus boy back in the early nineties. I remember the waiters and waitresses “acquiring” tacos and cheese enchiladas for us to snack on during downtime. I remember going and hanging out in the massive walk in cooler to cool down during the hot summers. It smelled of hot sauce. I remember the massive vats of refried beans big enough to be a hot tub. A hot tub of beanie goodness. I remember playing tag with the other bus boys after hours in the caves. I had many birthday dinners there, especially in the waterfall room and after eating we would go to the puppet show to watch Mr. E and the hand. Good times.

    1. Those are wonderful details! Thank you very much for this. I spoke to someone else that spent a little time as Bananas the Monkey. It must’ve been quite the experience.

      1. This was actually the Pancake Place. Pancake House was in the parking lot at Southroads Mall.

  8. ITALIAN INN: The original Italian Inn was on Main St. about 17th (I think) in a white house. That would have been in the 1950’s. Before the original owner returned to Sicily, he sold the restaurant to Don Funston, Sr.
    HUMPHREY’S DINNER HOUSE: Humphrey’s was on 11th St. just west of Yale on the south side of the street. It was owned by Herb and Pearl Clogston. That was in the 1950’s.
    PHILTOWER GRILL: On the ground floor of the Philtower Building at 5th and Boston. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dubin. My father was chef and manager. That was in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
    NORMAN ANGEL’S AUTO CAFE: on the corner of Admiral and Memorial. That was also in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    1. I have a picture of my parents celebrating their 28th Wedding Anniversary at Shadow Mountain Inn 1969.

  9. Powers restaurant 27th and Harvard, 1950’s and 60’s, got pictures for Rhys, Camelot restaurant menu’s I bought at liquidation, Casa Bonita menu’s and the pull flags for refills, post cards, Sambo’s matches, many other items

  10. Ryan’s Grill , 31st & Sheridan. Best Coleslaw in Tulsa. Ate there weekly in mid 70s. Also Kay’s Restaurant around 31st & Harvard. Great Chicken Fried Steaks and Pies.

    1. Kays was located on 31st Street where the Broken Arrow Expressway eastbound exit ramp for 31st/Yale intersects 31st Street (essentially due south of the signal at that intersection). There was a Kays Too Restaurant in the Spectrum shopping center at 69th and Lewis (southwest corner of the shopping center by where Crazy’s (arcade) was located).

  11. The Recovery Room – located on the first floor of the old Utica Square Medical Center. They served breakfast and lunch.

  12. Miichelle’s, followed by Michael’s. Located at 81st Street and Harvard Avenue – Walnut Creek Shopping Center.

  13. Worked at both Admiral and S Peoria. Peoria in ‘55, “setting up trays”. Admiral as a carhop in ‘56. Great experiences and great stories! LOVED Archie-intimidated by Lola! (I was 15 first year-16 the second.) My two older sisters worked for Archie too-one as carhop (Peoria); other sister “ran the register” at both locations. All except basket meals were served on Stoneware. SS utensils, cloth napkins, glass s&p shakers, and iced glasses of water was put on each tray for each customer. THE BLACK-BOTTOM PIE WAS AWESOME.

  14. I have been trying to find out what happened to all the portraits of all the Miss Downtowner’s that were on the wall at The Louisiane restaurant back in the early 50’s. I was Miss Downtowner for July, 1955. I am 83 now and would like to find my portrait to give to my kids and grand-kids. If it is still around some where. Thank you,

  15. We went west across the river on i44. There was ‘the Girly Pankcake House’
    The sign said. The best because their stacked !
    And the ‘chuck wagon’ on 11th st. it was made like a covered wagon and the fries were a brick of greasy goodness.

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