• UO Guide: Tulsa, Oklahoma


    Tulsa, OK: UO is headed your way! Our first Oklahoma store opens in Tulsa on February 19 (3340 S. Peoria Ave.), and in honor of the occasion, we're bringing you a guide to everything awesome in T-Town. The pioneering spirit that once built the boomtown now bleeds over into Tulsa’s local artisanship, DIY innovations, music, and food scenes. From gathering spaces to sandwich shops, murals to city culture, here’s everything you need to take Tulsa by storm. 

    And locals take note! We have two exciting events coming up in town, starting with our opening party on the 19th from 6-8pm, which will have on-site screenprinting by Clean Hands, free food, and drinks from Prairie Artisan Ales. Then next month to keep the fun going we're hosting an in-store concert and vinyl signing with Dan Deacon on March 7! Stay tuned to learn more about what we've got in store for our intro to Tulsa. 
    Photos by Valerie Grant, words by Megan Shepherd

    Above: Cain's Ballroom, Clean Hands Army

    Music, Arts, Culture
    
If there’s one thing to experience in Tulsa, it’s a show at Cain’s Ballroom. What functioned primarily as a country swing dance hall and the adoptive home of the legendary Bob Wills has since evolved into Oklahoma’s most beloved concert venue. With its original dance hall and highly autographed green room walls, a show at Cain’s is like spending an evening with the ghosts of great musicians. 

    
These elusive graffiti-style murals and stickers around town are evidence of a large and active following behind the Clean Hands Army brand. Newly relocated to Cherry Street, Clean Hands illustrates a love and pride for Tulsa through industrial clothing and hand-drawn artwork from local artists. Owner and artist Aaron Whisner mixes elements of Tulsa’s pioneering spirit and culture with a DIY, industrial edge, and also works with local artists interested in contributing their designs. 

    The original estate of oil tycoon Waite Phillips and his family has since become home to the Philbrook museum, an art museum housing world-class collections, flourishing grounds and rose gardens, and regular art exhibits. A product of Tulsa’s game-changing oil boom in the 1920s, we owe Philbrook to the lavish taste of the Phillips family (of Phillips 66 fame), who contracted an architect to build them an Italian Villa in Tulsa. In 1938, they donated it to the city as an arts center, and it’s since become one of the country’s finest museums to date (and home to one of Tulsa’s best Sunday brunches…)


    Above: Circle Cinema

    Situated in bustling downtown across from Guthrie Green, the Woody Guthrie Center serves to teach visitors about the many tunes and tales of Woody Guthrie, the Oklahoma native responsible for some of the greatest folk songs in American history. Stop by during a First Friday Art Crawl in the Brady Arts district, when wine and admission are free. 

    
Visit the Yoga Room to perfect your practice, enjoy some daily meditation, take in a hot yoga session, or work on your foundation training with local instructors. After Shavasana, pop into Nourish Café, a superfood smoothie bar, to refuel with smoothies made from local Oklahoma produce.  

    Never been to a drive in? Tulsa’s got one of the oldest in the U.S., first made famous by “The Outsiders.” The beloved Admiral Twin Drive-In is so treasured by Tulsans that when part of the screen burned down in 2013, the city rebuilt the 64-year-old theatre to restore it to its former glory. 

    Tulsa’s only pre-1960s, nonprofit movie theatre has been showing movies since 1928, and focuses on indie, foreign, and documentary films. The cinema is home to numerous film festivals, and still has its original viewing rooms and storefronts. 
     
    Above: Nourish Cafe, STG Gelateria, Lone Wolf Food Truck

    Food and Drinks
    
For a downtown drink that feels more like New York City than Tulsa, head to Hodge’s Bend. Nestled away in the up-and-coming East Village neighborhood, Hodge’s Bend does double duty as one of Tulsa’s best coffee shops and most innovative cocktail bars. Grab cocktails like the Impresario (gin, cynar, fernet-vallet, vermouth) after work, or the Wake Up Call (rum, chocolate bitters, orange, espresso) to start your night out. 


    
After a round or two at Hodge’s, head across the street to the newly opened East Village Bohemian Pizzeria for an updated take on old world pizza. A 900-degree oven imported from Italy guarantees perfectly-cooked pies with toppings like potato, asparagus, and over easy eggs. 

    Looking for a dive bar with live music? Soundpony’s your spot. This bike-themed dive bar in the Brady District pays homage to Tulsa’s famed annual bike race, Tulsa Tough, with bike seat seats, jerseys from its team decorating the walls, and medals from past bike races. Is it a little seedy? Yes. Is it completely awesome? Yes. Besides, where else can you dance to funk music, then finish it off with a free hot dog? 


    Tulsa’s prized food truck fuses Vietnamese and French cuisine to make dishes like bahn mi, beignets, and their famous kimchi fries. Most of their dishes are large enough to share, though we doubt you’ll want to. Catch the truck at bars around town, after shows at Cain’s, or at Food Truck Wednesdays at Guthrie Green. 


    Above: Prairie Artisan Ales, Trencher's Deli, Bramble, The Tavern, Chimera Cafe, Fassler Hall

    In just over a year, Tulsa’s little craft brewery that could has turned out some of the most sought-after brews on the market today, including the BOMB!, an imperial stout brewed with local Nordaggio’s espresso beans, chocolate, and chili peppers, and the JFJO Jazz Millions, a citrusy farmhouse IPA brewed in tribute to Tulsa’s own Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. 


    Hipster-crowded coffee shop serving some of the finest pour overs in town, along with arguably the most delicious locally-sourced, environmentally-conscious breakfast and lunch offerings (vegan, too!) Tulsa has to offer. 

    If you’re searching for a swanky brunch, head to the Tavern in the historic old Fox Hotel, which serves top shelf whiskeys, a carefully curated cheese board, and a delicious Winter Breakfast of strip steak, eggs, potato hash, and biscuits and gravy. 


    For one of Tulsa’s widest craft and seasonal beer selections, check out Fassler Hall. Natural light flooding in from the garage doors, wide wood tables, live music, and amazing duck fat fries.

    
Named for the thick wooden boards their sandwiches are served on, Trencher’s specializes in delicious deli offerings made in house and from scratch every day. Try the chicken Tawook (garlic marinated grilled chicken, tomatoes, wild pickles, and garlic puree on flatbread) or the Trencher (wine-braised pork shoulder, grain mustard, Italian bread).

    Tulsa’s first ‘farm-to-bar’ serves fancy cocktails made with produce sourced from local Oklahoma farms. Order the Mad T’s Feast Flight, a set of three spheroid jello shots modeled after a Thanksgiving dinner. 

    Above: View of the city from the Summit Club, Studio Soul mural, Guthrie Green

    Outdoor Spaces
    
On nice days, Tulsans head to the “land made for you and me,” better known as the spacious Guthrie Green for outdoor concerts, picnics, free Wi-Fi, and Food Truck Wednesdays, when roving restaurants in the area circle their wagons for hungry lunch-breakers. Spread out a blanket, grab some friends, and take advantage of free yoga, outdoor concerts, and Tulsa's best people watching. 

    
No trip to Tulsa is complete without a visit to The Center of the Universe. Head downtown to 20 E. Archer, walk past the iron tower, stand in the middle of the stone circle, and yell. You’ll hear your own voice echoed back to you (and only that). Why? It’s a modern mystery, but one Tulsan’s are pretty proud of. 

    This colorful mural offers Route 66 drivers a uniquely beautiful rendering of Tulsa history. The painting immortalizes the already unforgettable JJ Cale, one of Tulsa’s most prolific native musicians and songwriters (he penned hits like Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine,” and was largely responsible for the creation of the Tulsa Sound). The building housing the artwork is Studio Soul, and inside, Kevin and Amy Smith’s hub for Tulsa art and design bubbles with creativity. Local and globally made Fair Trade artwork is available for purchase inside the studio, and the “Groove Garden” out back is the perfect venue for art classes, yoga, exhibitions, and live music. 


    Above: Art deco architecture downtown

    
Run, walk, bike, or skate your way along the Arkansas River for one of the best sunset views in town, or to fit in a summer morning workout before the day gets too muggy out to sweat on purpose. In the next few years, a new section will open called the Gathering Place for Tulsa, a city park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, the architect responsible for Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Gathering Place is set to include miles of recreational attractions, green space, and community gardens. 

    With buildings like the iconic Philtower and Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, Tulsa features some of the most breathtaking art deco architecture found in the US. Tulsa’s boom came at the hand of art deco’s own takeoff, and the builders of the city incorporated it into many nooks and crannies of downtown. The Tulsa skyline is riddled with regal scepters, lavish details, and bold design elements in what Tulsans now call the "Deco District." 


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