Cafe 7–Oklahoma City, OK

Cafe 7
14101 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 748-3354
Cafe 7

Cafe 7 on North May Ave.


Special Notice for Summer 2017:

I have had the Hatch green chile mac and cheese twice this year (from the summer seasonal menu), and I would really recommend trying this while it is available. They have had this dish for about two or three years in a row, and will likely serve it again, but only in the summer.

The original idea of Cafe 7 was that you could eat a meal for seven dollars and the food is ready in less than seven minutes. I think the price has risen somewhat since the restaurant’s opening, but you should still expect to spend less than at comparable restaurants.

Cafe 7 has four menus (all of which offer choices in the same price range): Sandwiches, Pizza, Pasta, and Salads. The pizza is individual sized, and the pasta menu follows the trend of some national chains in offering a variety of dishes along with a “build your own pasta” selection. Cafe 7 is strictly local, though, and I think the real beauty of it is that you get individually prepared items with the type of selection that is normally available mainly in larger restaurants. They can meet all kinds of dietary needs, such as serving vegetarian and gluten free dishes, and the source of the food seems to be largely local. More than anything else I am impressed with the quality of the food.

Seasonal menus offer additional choices, some of which are higher priced. Most of my favorite items are from the regular menu, but there have been some standouts from the seasonal menu.

The dining room

Cafe 7’s interior

Some of my personal feelings about Cafe 7 are that I like the dining room, I like their tea, and I think the prices are reasonable. I sometimes find it a problem that they close at 8:00 P.M., but they do not seem to mind if customers stay after this time. I thought they had the best cupcakes in Oklahoma City, but they are no longer available and the staff tells me there is nowhere else that I can buy them (meaning that they did not come from one of the local cupcake restaurants). It is not really necessary to order a dessert here, though, since the meals are filling enough.

When customers enter the restaurant they pick up one of the order sheets, fill out the choices, and go to the counter to pay. Special orders are also available, but these sometimes have a higher price (I think the soup and sandwich combination I ordered was a dollar extra). I sometimes ask for suggestions from the employees at the counter, and I really have never gone wrong with the sandwiches, pasta, or seasonal specials they recommend. If they are busy, though, I think the system of giving you the menus while you are waiting in line works very well.

Sandwiches

Turkey and guacamole sandwich

Turkey and guacamole sandwich

On my first visit I ordered a special that is not listed on the menu– a half sandwich with soup. The full order of Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich (pictured above) was as good as the first experience, and reinforced my idea that this is a good flavor combination. The turkey seemed to be roasted (not processed), and I think this set it apart from most turkey meat served in restaurants. The bread has changed since my first visit (not better or worse– just something different). The fact that the guacamole blended well with the turkey speaks to the art and thought that went into creating the sandwiches offered here.

Cuban sandwich

The Cuban

The Cuban reinforced my opinion that the sandwiches are top quality. With pulled pork, ham, Cuban relish, onions, pickles, Swiss cheese, and Dijonnaise sauce on a toasted hoagie there was plenty about this sandwich to like. I did not notice any flavors that particularly stood out except the sauce and Swiss cheese, and all the meats were good. The sauce was a little spicy, probably comparable to most of the city’s Mexican restaurants.

Soups

Cream of broccoli soup

Cream of broccoli soup

The Cream of Broccoli Soup sounded very good, but I thought the flavor was a little flat. The most disappointing thing, though, was that it was too salty for me. I thought the soup was fresh and good quality, but I tend to find the best soups at ethnic restaurants rather than ones that are American style.

Tomato basil soup and cobb salad

Tomato basil soup and cobb salad

The Tomato Basil Soup was also one of my favorite items at Cafe 7, although I would not place it in the same category as the soup at some of the city’s better Italian restaurants.

Ms. Vickie’s Chips used to be served with all sandwiches, but they later dropped this in favor of the much better all natural Popchips potato chips. As of 2015 they seem to have changed the chips again, but in any case they are better than the original Ms. Vickie’s (but customers can still get Ms. Vickie’s for an additional cost if they want).

Salads
The Cobb Salad tasted very good when I sampled it, but I think it would not be filling enough to order as a meal (even though the regular salad is twice the size of the one shown in the picture). The honey mustard dressing was one of the highlights of it, after trying several less flavorful versions at other restaurants (such as Interurban).

Pasta

Rigatoni Sorrentino

Rigatoni Sorrentino

Wanting to try items from the pasta section, I chose the Rigatoni Sorrentino because it sounded good from the menu. It also tasted good with a very good seasoning that I thought was not overpowered by Italian spices (one of my pet peeves in Italian restaurants). This dish contains grilled chicken, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes, all of which I thought were very good. The tomato cream sauce was also better than I thought it would be (I am not a big fan of cream sauces). This isn’t the kind of Italian food you get at Vito’s, but I thought it was very good and I enjoyed it.

Pasta maggio

Pasta maggio

Pasta Maggio was recommended by an employee at the counter, and was also very good. This had a creamy pesto sauce that I thought was not as good as the one with the rigatoni sorrentino, but the ingredients made up for it with chicken, mushrooms, and artichokes. Overall I would have to say this was the best pasta dish I have tried.

Pasta primavera

Pasta primavera

The Pasta Primavera is the one that I consider “my other favorite” (along with pasta maggio). This has a lemon flavor, and the banana peppers give it somewhat of a kick (in a good way that is not too spicy). I also like the vegetables in this one.

Pizza

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Several types of pizza are served, including a “Build your own pizza” that comes with sauce, cheese, and up to three meat toppings. Margherita Pizza was one of the specialty pizzas offered (all pizzas are the same price unless you get more than three toppings). I thought the Margherita pizza was a little disappointing in the flavor of the pizza and texture of the crust. It had standard tomatoes instead of the sun dried tomatoes served in most Italian restaurants, and the flavor of the cheese was rather overwhelming compared to my perception of the way a Margherita pizza should be. The ingredients were fresh and good quality, but this was not my favorite pizza in terms of flavor.

Seasonal Menus

Fettuccine bona

Fettuccine bona

Cafe 7 provides more variety by offering seasonal menus of different types of items. For instance, in Summer 2013 the Fettuccine Bona was an item I found very refreshing with green and red olives and a flavorful pesto seasoning. Another good item was the Muffaletta, which I thought was well made (with good sauce, meat, and bread). Other choices from the menu were a sirloin salad, salmon salad (both of which cost more than the standard menu items), two wraps, and an ultimate margherita pizza.

Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie

The Chicken Pot Pie on the Fall 2016 menu was an excellent version of a dish I usually order at any restaurant which has it on the menu. In case they have it in the future you may like to know that the crust and gravy were both good, it had large chunks of white meat chicken, there were plenty of potatoes, but I would say it was short of the other vegetables I usually like in a pot pie. It met my standard of not being too salty, and overall I liked it very much.

Green chile mac and cheese

Hatch green chile mac & cheese

The Hatch Green Chile Mac & Cheese has evolved over a couple of years to the point that this is perhaps my favorite seasonal dish served. The cheese is thin and fully melted, and along with the fresh green chile I think this is what makes it special to me. On the heat scale the chile is about four out of five (not as spicy as they usually serve in New Mexico but spicy enough to really bring out the flavor).

Desserts

Red velvet cookie

Red velvet cookie

Some of their desserts have been wonderful, such as the Chocolate Mousse and the Cupcakes. However, they keep changing the desserts all the time, and I know the cupcakes are no longer available. I am not sure what is good at the moment, or if the Red Velvet Cookies, which I liked, are still available.

Additional Comments
Customers fill up their own drink cups, and there is a choice of three kinds of iced tea: black, green, and white.

Side dishes are somewhat limited, but I liked the Potato Salad (and I would have liked it even better if it were not made with mayonnaise).

When Saturn Grill had a location on Memorial Road I was able to compare a number of items there and at Cafe 7. My conclusions were that Saturn Grill had better vegetarian sandwiches overall, but that the turkey and guacamole and Cuban sandwiches at Cafe 7 were better than any of the meat versions served at Saturn Grill. I liked the pasta dishes better at Cafe 7, but overall I thought the seasonal menu was much better at Saturn Grill. I never really formed an opinion about who had better soup.

Cafe 7 has now opened a restaurant in downtown OKC, and the large number of customers on North May attests to its continued popularity. People know good food when they taste it, though, and this is certainly among my favorite places.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Deli
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine
Additional Location: 100 W. Main St.

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 28, 2017
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich, Cuban, Tomato Basil Soup, Pasta Maggio, Pasta Primavera, Chicken Pot Pie (seasonal menu), Hatch Green Chile Mac & Cheese (seasonal menu)

Special Ratings
star 5 Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich
star 5 Cuban
star 5 Pastrami Reuben
star 5 Pasta Maggio
star 5 Pasta Primavera
star 5 Rigatoni Sorrentino
star 3 Margherita Pizza
star 5 Tomato Basil Soup
star 4 Cream of Broccoli Soup
star 4 Signature Salad
star 5 Cobb Salad
star 4 Potato Salad
Seasonal Menu
star 4 Fettuccine Bona (Summer)
star 4 Muffaletta (Summer)
star 5 Green Chile Mac & Cheese (Summer)
star 5 Chicken Pot Pie (Fall)

Menu (Jun. 2017):

 

Braum’s Ice Cream (Rockwell Ave.)–Oklahoma City, OK

Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Store
10920 N. Rockwell Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 722-8126
Braum's at Rockwell & Hefner

Braum’s in northwest Oklahoma City


Many people who live in the area where there is a Braum’s remember the television commercials featuring Ernest, a character who was not entirely aware of his surroundings or how he should act towards other people, but who had enough savvy to recognize the excellent ice cream that was served. I do not think many people needed to be reminded that a Braum’s store was located in just about every town and neighborhood throughout Oklahoma and surrounding areas, but even those who did not have ice cream on their shopping list might remember how much they enjoyed some of the other items sold in the store or served from the grills found at each location.

Based in Tuttle, Oklahoma, Braum’s is probably as well known for its hamburgers as its dairy products. The milk, eggs, and other dairy products are produced on its farm, and the beef used in the hamburgers comes from the farm as well. Some items sold do not have the Braum’s label, but most are produced by the company and sold exclusively in its stores.

The company has built other stores in about a 300 mile radius from central Oklahoma, ensuring that everything sold has the same standard of freshness and quality. I have purchased items in several Braum’s locations in western Oklahoma and Texas, and I believe that there is really no difference in the stores regardless of where they are located.

With such a wide variety of items produced, there will of course be both hits and misses. I think some of the best items in the store are the ice cream, milk, butter, bread, and pimiento cheese spread. The misses involve some of the ice cream flavors, some types of bread, and definitely some of the grilled items from the restaurant. I do not expect everyone to have the same tastes as I do, but I will provide my experiences with the items I have tried.

The Restaurant
The location at Rockwell and Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City was recently rebuilt, with the new store and restaurant opening in 2017. The old one had been there at least since the 1980’s and was probably in need of upgrading (the major problem I saw was that it was too small to stock some of the items I found at other Braum’s locations).

The former building

The old Braum’s before it was remodeled

While the consistency maintained by Braum’s is definitely a good factor for the stores, it may or may not be a positive where the restaurant is concerned. You know what you are going to get at their grill (which I think barely qualifies as a fast food restaurant). On the other hand, there is no room for local stores to add items or change the menu in any way.

Grilled chicken with green chile

Grilled chicken with green chile was a special Braum’s was offering

Knowing that all stores serve the same food, though, I can say that the best item I have found is the Grilled Chicken. From time to time they have offered it with green chile, which makes it even better, but I do think the chicken sandwich is fairly good in itself. I did not care for the one that was battered (Crispy Chicken Sandwich), and I do not recommend this one.

Crispy chicken sandwich

Crispy chicken sandwich

It has been a number of years since I tried the hamburgers at Braum’s. I used to like them (compared to many I have had in other areas of the country), but for Oklahoma I do not think they are in the top tier.

The French Fries are fairly good, and I do not think there is anything that especially distinguishes them as being especially good or bad.

Chicken salad

Apple cranberry walnut chicken salad

I took a picture of the Apple Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad. The person who ordered it did not think it was especially good, but I cannot say from personal experience.

Drinks
I used to be a big fan of the Limeade made at the fountain, but the ones lately have seemed to be lacking the flavor they should have.

Limeade

Limeade

What I would recommend in terms of flavor is the Milk Shake, although I have found better ones at other restaurants.

Ice Cream

One of Braum's many ice cream flavors

Pumpkin ice cream is sold seasonally

There are two ways to get ice cream at Braum’s. Cartons are available in the store to take home, or you can order individual scoops from the counter. The majority of flavors are rotated either seasonally (such as the pumpkin) or at a seemingly random schedule throughout the year. The most popular flavors (vanilla, chocolate, lime sherbet, etc.) are available all the time. I have quite a few favorite flavors, but when ordering individual scoops I like to get the combination of chocolate and orange sherbet.

Hot fudge sundae

Hot fudge sundae

Some fancier ice cream desserts are available from the counter, such as sundaes and the banana split. The Hot Fudge Sundae is a customer favorite that I also think is very good.

Brownie fudge sundae

Brownie fudge sundae

The Brownie Fudge Sundae, though is my personal favorite. The brownie on the bottom makes it taste somewhat like an ice cream cake, except the chocolate flavor makes it better than most.

Molten lava cake

Molten lava cake

The Molten Lava Cake is a “double dip” sundae, like the brownie fudge sundae (with two scoops of ice cream), so like the brownie fudge it might be something that would be best to share (I would either do this or plan to take some of it home).

Strawberry mix

Strawberry mix in vanilla yogurt

The Mix is prepared somewhat like a milk shake, except that it is meant to be eaten as a dessert. You can get a choice of drinks (such as ice cream or yogurt in various flavors) with various ingredients added (anything from strawberry to Oreo cookies). I like these best either when freshly served or when they are just barely thawing out after being stored in the freezer at home (in other words, cold to partially frozen).

The Store
While the sundaes are treats that I am able to enjoy occasionally, items from the store are part of my daily menu, at least while I am within 300 miles of Braum’s farm in Tuttle, Oklahoma. Although I am not sure if Braum’s makes their own bread, the Braum’s stores are the only place I can buy it. My favorite is Braum’s Raisin Bread, which is usually part of my breakfast. When compared to other raisin breads sold in stores, this is by far the best I have found. There used to be a better one at Sun Harvest in El Paso, but apparently it is no longer available at Sprouts (the store that bought out Sun Harvest), and in any case I am very happy with Braum’s raisin bread.

Nine Grain Bread

Nine Grain Bread

I do not have quite as much of a glowing review of the Nine Grain Bread, but it is equally a part of my grocery shopping since I find it to be a good bread for most sandwiches. I do find better bread in stores such as Sprouts, but these tend to have a short shelf life while the nine grain from Braum’s lasts long enough that I can usually use most of the loaf.

For a while Braum’s discontinued the nine grain bread along with a couple of others and introduced some new breads to replace them. I never became a fan of the new breads, and after a while they started selling the old ones again (fortunately the raisin bread was not one that they discontinued, but I am always on the lookout for others I can use as a substitute).

Pimiento spread

Pimiento spread

Price’s pimiento spread is very popular in El Paso and became a favorite of mine, but when I am in Braum’s territory I prefer to get their version (one that I think has a better flavor and more “kick” to it from the pimientos).

Tamales

Tamales

The frozen Tamales sold by Braum’s are ones that I would probably describe as average, although I did think the red chile used for flavoring was pretty good. The masa was not soggy and had a good texture. The chile was about 3 out of 5 on my “chile scale.”

Because Braum’s has its own farm this gives me extra confidence to buy their milk, butter, and eggs. I cannot say the flavor is really any better than anyone else’s but I do think it is better to get dairy products (and meat) that does not come out of the standard factory farm and feedlot system.

Braum’s uses its own beef for the hamburgers it serves, but they explained that the beef sold in their market comes from other producers (but they have the same standards Braum’s uses on its farm).

Additional Comments
Although I find ways to live without Braum’s when I am not in Oklahoma, it is certainly something I like to have when I can. Braum’s sells both its own products and ones from other companies in its stores, but Braum’s name brands are the ones that I go out of my way to get. With some items, such as the ice cream, it is just that it is good, convenient, and comes in such a wide variety of flavors that it never gets boring. With other items, such as the raisin bread, I have not found any others that I like as well.

I do have some issues with the Braum’s company (in contrast to its products). For instance, when the Rockwell store was being remodeled the surrounding stores were frequently out of my favorite items (such as the raisin bread). I think the company failed to account for the fact that the customers from the Rockwell store would be shopping at the other stores, and they did not keep a large enough inventory of items. This is speculation, but sometimes I question some of their business decisions (I certainly questioned why they discontinued the nine grain bread for a while).

Now there is a controversy about Braum’s wanting to purchase the old Patio Restaurant at N.W. 50th and Classen Boulevard and tear it down to build one of their new stores. I certainly hope this does not happen, and if it does I will step up my search to find alternatives to Braum’s products I can buy (although this will probably turn out to be as futile as it has been until now).

Overall I would say that there is good reason for Braum’s popularity in Oklahoma, and this is one of my top recommendations for visitors to try. I can think of very few desserts I would rather have than Braum’s brownie fudge sundae, and I really can say the same thing about their ice cream cones.

In doing research for this write-up I found that they probably have more locations in Dallas than in Oklahoma City, and every major city with a Braum’s seems to have multiple locations (check their web site for details).


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Ice Cream/ Sandwiches
Cost: $
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No
Additional Locations: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 29, 2017
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Ice Cream, Sundaes, Raisin Bread, Pimiento Spread

Special Ratings
star 5 Ice Cream
star 4 Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Hatch Green Chile
star 2 Crispy Chicken Sandwich
star 3 Pork Tamales
star 4 French Fries
star 4 Milk Shake
star 5 Brownie Fudge Sundae
star 5 Molten Lava Cake
star 5 Strawberry Mix

Oklahoma Station–Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma Station Bar B Q
4331 N.W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 947-7277
Oklahoma Station BBQ

Oklahoma Station BBQ


Although Oklahoma Station is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in Oklahoma City, a change of ownership in 2015 not only prompted me to start over with a new review but more importantly, I think the food is quite different than before. The menu is the same and on the outside everything looks the same, but I have noticed marked differences in the items I have ordered.

In some cases these differences are good. For instance, the smoked turkey not only seems better than before, it is also my current choice as the best in Oklahoma City (this has been the case the three times I have gone to the new Oklahoma Station, so I don’t think this is likely to change).

The outside smoker

The outside smoker

Some items are about the same as before, and this is a good thing. Included on this list are the okra, sweet beans, creamy cole slaw, and most of all the incomparable banana pudding (at least I have not found any others that match the pudding at Oklahoma Station).

Some other meat items pose quite a mystery to me as to why they could be so good before but so forgettable at the current restaurant (especially when the turkey has been consistently good).

The Barbecue
The first thing I should point out is that there are more meat items available than are listed in the review, and as is the case with most barbecue restaurants, I have not been able to try them all. You can get a head start, though, with the three meat combination dinner (shown in the next two photos). Both of these served as a meal for two people with leftovers to take home, but your appetite may vary.

Three meat dinner

Brisket, turkey, ribs, creamy cole slaw, Texas toast, okra

The Smoked Turkey has seen a marked improvement over the ones I tried at the “old” restaurant. The gentleman in the serving line included it in his list of recommendations, and based on this I would say asking the employees is a good starting point if you are not sure which items to order.

I thought the turkey had everything required of good barbecue– it was cooked well, it had a good smoky flavor, and the meat was high quality. I recently had the opportunity to order the turkey at Swadley’s (another contender for the best turkey in the city), and I would say Oklahoma Station was the clear winner.

Three meat dinner with pork tenderloin, ham, and turkey

Pork tenderloin, ham, turkey, creamy cole slaw, okra, apple cobbler, sweet beans

The Pork Tenderloin was one of my favorite items before, but the one I had recently was dry. In fact, dry meat was a common theme with many of the meats I have ordered here. The Brisket had the added problem of being tough, but it had a better flavor than many of the others.

The Pork Spare Ribs have been my biggest disappointment at the new restaurant, with the texture and flavor of the meat seeming so wrong I was wondering if they just had a bad day.

Ham is an item I have only tried at the new restaurant, and I thought it had an excellent flavor but was dry. Somewhat inexplicably a piece I took home as a leftover was much better, so based on this I am rating this as one of the better items at the restaurant.

Side Dishes
The creamy Cole Slaw was one of the best in the city at the old restaurant, and I think it is the same now. They have two types of cole slaw, and I have always found it best to stick with the creamy one (rather than the vinegar based version).

The Sweet Beans were excellent.

The fried Okra has been excellent two out of three times, with a good flavor and texture. Like all the side dishes they frequently put out fresh batches, but if you happen to be there when they do not look fresh out of the oven I would advise ordering something else.

Several other vegetables and side dish choices are available, and I think the selection here is unmatched by any other barbecue restaurant in the city. Generally the items are fresh, but in the case of the okra they will tell you if it is not right out of the oven (and therefore you may not want to order it).

Be sure to check the “relish bar” in front of the restaurant for pickles or other appetizers (customers can take whatever they want).

Desserts

Banana pudding and cherry cobbler

Banana pudding and cherry cobbler

The Banana Pudding was my favorite dessert at the old restaurant, and is still available. Somehow they have found the secret to making the best banana pudding I have found anywhere, but I think the secret is just keeping it simple but making sure everything is fresh and follows the recipe correctly.

There was a great variation in the cobbler, though. The Apple Cobbler was excellent, but I thought the Cherry Cobbler was bland.

Additional Comments
I have discovered that high quality iced tea is an integral part to the full enjoyment of a barbecue meal, and the fresh brewed tea here is among the best (sweet tea is also available).

The trouble with the new Oklahoma Station, compared to the old one, is that only a few items have impressed me as being standouts. If you are looking for turkey and banana pudding, I would say this is the best restaurant in town. Some other items are solid, including the ham and several of the side dishes. I had one fairly good experience with the pork tenderloin, but it was not up to the standard I found at the old restaurant. The brisket and ribs are certainly letdowns compared to what the restaurant served before (in my opinion, of course, but I do owe it to readers to give you my best judgment).


RATING: 18

Cuisine: Barbecue
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. Evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 24, 2017
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Turkey, Sweet Beans, Cole Slaw, Banana Pudding

Special Ratings
star 5 Turkey
star 4 Ham
star 4 Pork Tenderloin
star 3 Brisket
star 3 Ribs
star 4 Okra
star 5 Sweet Beans
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 5 Banana Pudding
star 3 Cherry Cobbler