Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise
Oklahoma City doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Too many people take it solely on face value – vast flatlands, megachurches, whatever “Sooners” are. Underneath all that, OKC quietly hosts a hip culture on par with anything you’d find along either coast. The main aspects of that might be The Flaming Lips and/or Kevin Durant, but places like the Classen Grill will put midwest diner culture on your radar fast.
The Classen Grill is in an artsy section of OKC called Classen (where Wayne Coyne actually went to high school… probably ate here too). The diner might not look like it belongs in any gallery (an almost cinderblock looking exterior, an inside decorated with trim and lights as if it was December) but the feel is homey as if you’re being welcomed into someone’s kitchen. The space itself is large though so seating shouldn’t be a problem even with limited hours.
The waitstaff was kind enough to serve us even if we pushed the closing time upon entering. Despite that, they were great about explaining some of the menu specialties (a combo of traditional breakfast cuisine and then Tex-Mex breakfast options) that non-locals might not be familiar with. The real staff contribution though would be in the cuisine.
I’ve actually already written about how good the food I had at Classen Grill was. I was introduced to a regional dish called migas – omelette style eggs with onions, peppers, sausage,cheese, etc. served with salsa and tortilla. At Classen Grill, that tortilla/salsa is fresh. It makes such a difference in the flavor.It’s a filling meal but because the traditional breakfast mix goes so well with salsa/tortilla you’ll want to eat well past the point of full. It’s worth every bit of the $6.99 it’ll run you.
Classen Grill is a no fluff diner where food is the sole focus. The hours reinforce breakfast, the lack of decor reinforces the food and the staff leaves you to your meal (that they take the time to produce fresh). Style points may not be a premium despite its artsy neighborhood, but clearly in Classen it’s easier to get creative on a satisfied stomach.
The Final Tab
Pros: Large seating space, extensive menu including regional specials, fresh/flavorful food, MIGAS
Cons: Prices are average, not much decor, only open until 3pm most days
Four out of Five (Pancakes with sides | Some days you’ll seek it out)