FROM WICHITA TO CHUGWATER & FROM PANHANDLE TO COLBY, THESE FOOD FAVOURITES SHOULDN'T BE MISSED
1. Pearl’s Crabtown, Bricktown, Oklahoma City OK
A few days before my first ever trip to OKC and Tornado Alley, my mom texted me and said I know where you have to eat when you get there. She’d been researching Bricktown and decided that Pearl’s Crabtown was the place. She was right. We drank too many margaritas and Shiner Bocks, then ate baskets of fried alligator and broiler buckets of king crab, sausages, corn-on-the-cob and potatoes. It was a meal I’ll never forget, and not just because I refresh my memory with a visit every time I’m back in OKC! It’s messy but delicious, and though you may not believe it, the seafood at Pearl’s rivals any by the beach. Give it a shot – the only thing you’ll regret is your belt.
2. Twisters Bar and Grill, Colby KS
How could this one not be on any storm chaser’s list? Pop into Twisters on a down day to eat, drink and rehash the latest and greatest storm while surrounded by photos from legendary chasers. Don’t expect fancy; this is a straight up authentic, Western Kansas saloon and grill. If you’re playing it safe, go for a burger and fries. Want to live a little? Try the rocky mountain oysters. Wash it down with a bottle of Storm Chaser and buy a Twisters ball cap on the way out.
3. The Westside Local, Kansas City MO
No matter whether you’ve already got days of chasing under your belt or you’ve got your whole trip ahead of you, go for fresh and healthy food whenever you get the chance. If you find yourself in the KC area, Westside Local can do you one better. Sit outside on their pretty patio for well-made cocktails and light meals made from locally-grown produce. Farm-to-table restaurants that seem decidedly cosmopolitan are few and far between on the Plains, so be sure not to miss this one before you’re back to the cycle of Braums and DQs, Braums and DQs, Braums and DQs...
4. Nissis Café, Panhandle TX
You’ll love Nessis because a) it is as real-Mexican-hole-in-the-wall as it gets and you’re here for authentic, or b) you’re not yet to Amarillo, there’s not another building (let alone restaurant) in sight, and in the words of Dusty, you crave sustenance. The tables are nylon, the servers are friendly and the food does the trick. Stuff yourself with nachos and quesos to start, then go for the fajitas or quesadillas. Note: if you’re table is by the window, locals might come up to place their order; don’t be shy, say hello, find out what they want, and pass it along to Nissis.
5. The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo TX
This is a Republican food-circus. To get here have your hotel call for a complimentary ride in their steer horn-mounted limousine… Your experience has begun. When you arrive, there will be colours and lights, a bull the size of a school bus, shoot-em-up games and a whole lot of taxidermy. Beers come in huge frosty steins, and you can choose cuts of beef anywhere from 6oz to 96oz. If you opt for the latter, they put you on center-stage, livestream your foodquest, and comp your meal if you come up victorious. The Big Texan is part horrifying and audacious, part mesmerizing and endearing, and 100% not to be missed.
6. Rattlers Grill, Medicine Lodge KS
Rattlers is adorable. From the sidewalk it looks like something out of a John Wayne movie; inside it is a tidy old diner with little vases of flowers and tables filled with locals. The sandwiches are the way to go, they taste like they’ve been lovingly made by your mother. You also can’t go wrong with a burger. Wash it down with a tall chocolate milk or a pop and you’ll feel like a kid again. It’s worth noting that Rattlers comes by its name honestly, so watch your step if you’re shooting photos in the grass once your afternoon chase gets underway!
7. Plank Seafood and Provisions, Omaha NE
Plank is in the old warehouse district of Omaha, so before dinner stroll around the little book shops and galleries; the neighbourhood is cultural and charming. When you’re ready to eat, Plank is another great seafood fix on the Plains. However, unlike Pearl’s (dump your boiler bucket on the table, eat with your hands), this restaurant is refined. Sit on the patio, order a dirty martini and some oysters with mignonette sauce and you’ll think you’re at buck-a-shuck in the Lower East Side. But you’re not. You’re in Tornado Alley. So much better.
8. Public at the Brickyard, Wichita KS
In truth, this one wouldn’t have made the list if Hungry Heart hadn’t closed shop. But Hungry Heart did throw up the shutters, so Public is a solid alternative when in Wichita - not so much for its food but because of its setting. Sit outside under the trees in the big brick courtyard and listen to live music, usually a jazz or country band. You can’t go wrong with any of the food, though it is unremarkable. Nevertheless, Public is a great spot to sit, relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon or evening in the springtime in Wichita.
9. Chugwater Soda Fountain, Chugwater WY
This little spot’s namesake claim to fame is that it is the proud home of America’s oldest soda fountain. And just as this joint is famous for its fountain, Chugwater is famous for its chili. The sandwiches are tasty, but when in Rome (Chugwater), you’ve got to try the chili. Be sure to leave room for a float or a milkshake afterwards and you’ll be happy that you came.
Email or fill in a form to submit your favourite place to eat as you roam Tornado Alley!