- Shannon Cornman
- Patrons enjoy the outdoors with drinks and food on the rooftop at Cafe do Brasil.Photo/Shannon Cornman
Take a short walk south on Hudson Avenue, pause between 10th and Ninth streets and gaze east. For maximum effect, do this at sundown on a Monday or Tuesday, when people are largely absent. In the foreground, Swansons Tire Co., with its bricked-over windows and salmon-colored coat of paint, stands as one of the last operating automotive businesses in the area.
Beyond that, a small white dozer rests in the midst of fresh earth and parking lot remnants. The landscape rises, and rebuilt lots give way to renovated, redbrick apartments. The focus shifts. A massive gold dome tops what was once the historic First Christian Church, now Frontline Church.
Midtowns balancing act of rebuilding, renovating and repurposing a once-crumbling district has not only been successful, it has become a template for the surrounding area. Where many developing districts have aimed for a singular vibe, Midtown indulges the weird, often contradicting, lifestyles that make OKC well, OKC.
The latest addition to the district, The Bleu Garten, 301 NW 10th St., streamlines the block party experience. Food trucks are set up at this food truck court every day, beginning at 11 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends.
The food truck court has room for six trucks. It features open-air seating for guests, complete with umbrellas for shade, misters and heaters. Bleu Gartens drink pod supplies customers with beer, wine and signature cocktails. For a schedule of participating food trucks, visit www.bleugarten.com.
Repenting in Midtown
If you feel the pressing need to repent after a night of overindulgence, take comfort knowing Frontline Church, 1104 N. Robinson Ave., is only one-tenth of a mile away.
At a time when a third of Americas adults under the age of 30 claim no religious affiliation, according to Pew Research Center, the church defies the odds with a bulk of its membership fitting that demographic.
The congregation meets in the same space First Christian Church met in from 1911, when it was originally constructed, to 1956. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Justin Coffee, the churchs lead pastor, said the church doesnt try to make its own story but is proud to play a part in the districts story.
The church partners with local shops and eateries throughout the district. Recently, Frontline staffed Shop Goods Mustache Bash with 100 volunteers.
We want to serve our friends, our family. Were here with you. Our city matters to us like it matters to you, Coffee said. We want to make a huge city small again.
Frontlines Sunday morning services take place at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
What we do is a very personal, a very intimate thing, Claire Buchanan-Westlund, owner of Revel Eight Salon and Spa, said.
Buchanan-Westlund said her salon, 201 NW 10th St., occupies what was once an automobile showroom 89 years ago. Revel Eight has 14 hairstylists on staff. Buchanan-Westlund speaks at length of her staffs skills and ability to connect and empathize with clients. Shes not only proud of her staff, shes proud of the salons location.
Being in Midtown gives you a sense of place. Young people are moving down here. A lot is going on. You just feel like part of something greater than yourself, Buchanan-Westlund said.
The salon also features work by local artists during H&8th Night Market events.
Get your grub on
Next year, if Oklahoma Gazette adds Most Meticulously Groomed Facial Hair at a Brunch Hotspot to its Best of OKC list of categories, Waffle Champion, 1212 N. Walker Ave., is a shoe-in. Sweet staches aside, Waffle Champion serves a moderate selection of salads and soups. Are they any good? No one knows.
Everyone is too busy making war on the gourmet waffle sandwiches with ingredients so unusual and names so delectable and foreign (Smoked Duck Banh Mi, Migas), youll be reduced to simply pointing at the menu and saying, This one. No worries. These waffles transcend language. Waffle Champion serves wine and beer and coffee from the coffee roasting gurus at Elemental Coffee Roasters. To experience wordless bliss, you should swing by early. The restaurant is open 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Next stop for coffee is the aforementioned Elemental Coffee Roasters, 815 N. Hudson Ave. At Elemental, it pays to be a frequent customer. The shop is constantly switching the brews it has available. This weeks small batch is next weeks staple.
The coffee shops environment open spaces, minimalist design, soft music is conducive to getting things done, a key ingredient in a good coffee joint. Also, if you dont gorge yourself at Waffle Champion, you can find a variety of breakfast and lunch items made with local and fresh ingredients at Elemental. With vegan, gluten-free and traditional options, the food speaks for itself and the baked goods are in a league of their own.
A drink with a view
Two spots in Midtown offer excellent rooftop bars for the drinker who likes a little fresh air with their libations.
Packards New American Kitchen, 201 NW 10th St., and Cafe Do Brasil, 440 NW 11th St., both offer live music, superb cocktails and the reassurance that if things get a little out of hand, youre not far from St. Anthony Hospital.
Bossanova and jazz music take center stage at Cafe Do Brasil, while Packards leans toward more modern music stylings.
If a good beer list is more important than a good view, visit James E. McNellies Public House, 1100 Classen Drive. McNellies OKC location launched in 2008. Since that time, it has become a favorite for people looking for that neighborhood pub vibe. With a beer list rivaled only by TapWerks Ale House downtown, McNellies offers 60 brews on tap and a couple hundred more in bottles.
Stop by on Mondays for Pint Night, beginning at 5 p.m.
One last imperative
Now take a short walk south on Hudson Avenue, past Swansons Tire Co. Do this on a Friday, the last Friday of the month. Join the swelling crowd at H&8th Night Market. Break some pita bread with your brothers in craft beer, sample whacky ramen concoctions and leaning towers of cookie dough ice cream and realize this is exactly how a big city is made small again.
Print headline: Managing Midtown, Check out these places to eat, drink and be merry in one of OKCs most charming districts.