James Tunnell, Staff Writer
Okay, so you’re an out of state freshman at SNU and after your first semester of college, you’re ready to stretch your wings a bit and explore a little deeper into the heart of Oklahoma City. I myself am a transplanted Texan, having moved to OKC when I was around 13, and I know if you don’t ever get out of Bethany that living in the OKC metro can seem kind of boring if you haven’t done a bit of exploring. So, if you’ll allow me to share some of my favorite parts of the city, I think you’ll find that you’re actually just minutes away from a ton of interesting people, places, and things to do other than going to Dunkin Donuts.
One of my very favorite parts of OKC is the Plaza District, located on 16th street between Classen and Penn. There are a ton of fun little shops in this area, selling everything from local Thunder t-shirts to actual pieces of art by local artists. The Plaza is also one of the more exciting culinary strips in the city. The Mule, a restaurant specializing in artisanal grilled cheeses located on the east end of the strip, has quickly become a favorite amongst locals. Items on their menu like the Macaroni Pony, made with jalapeno cornbread, chipotle BBQ pulled pork, 3 cheese mac and cheese, and a pickle, really make for some outlandishly good dining.
Another favorite Plaza restaurant of mine is a pizza joint called Empire Slice House. From the moment you pass by the giant pink elephant stationed outside of the building, you know there’s something special about Empire. The inside is plastered with concert flyers, posters, comic books, and just plain silly things that really help create a youthful, fun atmosphere. The pizza also happens to be fantastic and can either be bought by the slice or as a whole pie. But perhaps the best part about Empire is that it stays open until 2am every night. OKC is sorely in need of more places that are open late into the night, and for the money, Empire is definitely the best late night alternative to Taco Bell.
Something that often gets overlooked in OKC is our music scene. One of the best places to see local bands and small to mid-range acts is to take a short trip down to The Conservatory, located on 89th and Western. While it’s not the prettiest venue in town, many of my fondest memories of local concerts are at The Conservatory. It’s basically a right of passage as a local act to play at least one show there, and the list of larger bands to have graced its stage before they got their big break is shocking (Arcade Fire, Jesse Lacey, are you kidding me??). Friday, January 15th, local pop-punk outfit Tiger Lily (which contains several former SNU students) put on a show in support of their recent EP.
Other areas of the city to check out are the Paseo, located at 28th and Walker to 30th and North Dewey, and Midtown, located on the north side of downtown OKC. Both of these areas have much of the same appeal that the Plaza has, though each has a little something unique to offer. Plus, these areas of town are easily accessible by bike!
While I haven’t gone into detail about Bricktown in this article, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bunch of cool stuff to do there. I thought it would be more helpful to suggest parts of the city that don’t get quite the same attention that Bricktown does but definitely explore the downtown scene too!
OKC really does have a lot to offer, you just have to get out there and find whatever it is that you’re looking for. Get out there and start exploring!