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:


If you have your own stories or photos you’d like to share, write me here! I love hearing more about these places from those that knew them best.

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

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
This entry was posted in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Lost Restaurants of Tulsa

  1. Kim mauck says:

    Saratoga on 11th street across from the police station! They had the biggest and best biscuits.

  2. Elmo’s Grill 15th/Yale
    Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips
    Little Lanny’s Submsrine Ssndwiches
    Pizza Inn
    Zeider Zee 27th/Memorial

  3. Michael Sanditen says:

    villa venice was tops

  4. gplady says:

    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.

  5. Sean says:

    Kodiak at Woodland Hills Mall. First place I ever went to that had alligator as an appetizer.

  6. terryyoungonline says:

    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.

  7. Cole Haney says:

    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.

  8. Joe Cervantez says:

    Bells, on 3rd street downtown.
    Savoy downtown

  9. Pingback: Throwback Article – Claud’s Hamburgers | Rhys' Pieces

  10. rhysfunk says:

    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.

    • Blair says:

      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…..

  11. Tina says:

    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.

  12. Jeremy says:

    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.

  13. Jeremy says:

    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.

    • rhysfunk says:

      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.

  14. Bob Collum says:

    The Ranch House off of 3rd and Utica

  15. Joe Sides says:

    The Pancake House at 11th and South Utica…Across the street from Rainbow Bread and Hillcrest Hospital

  16. brucedelay says:

    My Pi Pizza on S Lewis
    Took my wife there on 1st date 1977

  17. FernFern says:

    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.

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  19. Marie says:

    Shadow Mountain Inn at 61st and Sheridan.

  20. John Quinn says:

    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

  21. K.T. says:

    Casa Laredo, Old Village Center, 41st and Peoria.

    Sleepy Hollow, 6605 South Lewis

  22. Ron says:

    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.

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