What works: Classic gyros and unexpected authentic Iranian cuisine.
What needs work: The dining room could stand being redecorated.
The Tip: Ole Town is fair value for very good food in a simple setting.
Ole Town is accurately named. At Main and Porter, its on one of Normans oldest and busiest street corners.
The building appears to have originally housed a service station, but has been a restaurant for decades. Theres only parking for six vehicles in front, but a window placard by the pink neon light promising gyros advises to head behind the building for more parking.
Inside, seating is limited to 10 tables in the long, narrow dining room. The decor is a multicultural mélange of Southwestern and Middle Eastern themes. A Last Supper depiction on faux animal hide graces one wall next to a shelf with all- American bric-a-brac and a Santa Fe-style print. In the tradition of gyro shops coast to coast, laminated color photos are posted, showing oversized plates of luscious food from the menu, along with prices. Its the kind of place people come for the grub, not white tablecloth atmosphere.
Fabulous; excellent job, a young man said to waiter Hossein Kazemi after polishing off his gyro. Hes a mechanic from a car repair shop down the block.
Many of our customers come from the neighborhood and also OU students, Kazemi said. Downtown business people keep us very busy at lunchtime.
The menus diversity reflects the interior decorating. There are several interesting and unexpected choices. One choice, ghormeh sabzi ($12.99), is an Iranian stew made with parsley, fenugreek leaf, lime, turmeric, kidney beans and beef. Served with basmati rice and a salad, the rich flavors and generous chunks of tender meat were wonderful. Its rare to find this dish offered in Oklahoma, and you can wash it down with made-in-house doogh-e ($2.99), a mint, lemonpepper and yogurt beverage.
If thats too exotic, have a corn dog ($1.99) or chicken tenders and fries ($8.99) and a large Mountain Dew ($2.49). Theres even a Polish sausage on hot pita ($4.99) and fish and chips ($9.99). Scattered among these choices are several authentic Middle Eastern dishes that call to more adventurous palates. Mixed rice ($5.99) is also an Iranian dish with fresh dill and beans topped with saffron.
Ole Town changed ownership a few years ago, and now its somewhat of an Iranian restaurant disguised as a gyro joint. Persian salad ($4.49) is diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions dressed with
olive oil, mint and lemon juice. The crispy fried chickpea patties of
falafel are served as an appetizer ($4.99) with hummus or as a highly
seasoned sandwich ($6.99) on pita bread. An obligatory Greek salad
($3.99) is topped with the familiar feta cheese, ripe olives and herb
We make our sauce, and other gyro places use plain yogurt.
gyro supreme ($7.99) is a honking huge sandwich stuffed with a double
handful of beef and filled with onion, lettuce, tomato and our special
Kazemi, Hosseins son, revealed the skinny about that sauce: We make
our sauce, and other gyro places use plain yogurt, he said. Cucumbers
and spices are what make the difference in ours.
gyro meat is roasted on a vertical spit. Thats the traditional way
and how you get the right taste, he said. If its not roasted right,
it gets very dry. You dont want a crispy gyro.
the meat for 24 hours to make it tender and delicious is another arrow
in his culinary quiver. It hits the bulls eye with sol toni kabob
($19.49), a combination of barbecued chunks and ground beef. In Iran,
this dish is often called a sultans feast. Its expensive, but easily
feeds two or three adults, served on a large bed of saffron basmati
rice with grilled whole tomato, ripe olives, sliced onion and lemon
This is not
fast food, Kazemi said. We make most things from scratch. Its not
just a matter of taking food from the freezer and dumping it in a
only one dessert, baklava ($1.99). With its flaky pastry layers and
honey goodness, its described on the menu as rich and decadent.
Youll get no argument about that here.