Just about every Saturday in the fall, the population of Norman, Oklahoma, practically doubles, and it doesn’t have anything to do with a land run. Dusky (or not so dusky; some are unbearably hot) fall Saturdays are when Sooner fans return to their Mecca: Owen Field inside the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (though many of us Sooners prefer to leave off the Gaylord part).
But maybe you’re not a Sooner fan. In fact, maybe you’re just a visiting fan from a Big 12 school or from even farther away—an out of conference fan. One of the biggest questions you may have when you come to Oklahoma’s most charming little college town is probably this:
Where are you going to eat?
Have no fear. You don’t have to spend your hard saved travel money on McDonald’s or Olive Garden. You needn’t waste your time with Burger King or On the Border or any other chain because Norman, like most college towns, has a plethora of tasty little local eateries you won’t want to miss.
The Greek House is probably the best Greek food you can get outside of Greece, mainly because of the fact that the restaurant is owned by a Greek family. Now, I heard a horrible rumor last year that the restaurant had closed because the owners had decided to retire and return to Greece, but this turned out to either be not true or they reopened because the Greek House remains. The atmosphere is quaint: red and white checked table cloths pair nicely with the rotating racks of lamb meat behind the counter. Admittedly, after you eat there you spend the rest of the day smelling like the aforementioned meat, but your taste buds will thank you even if your friends’ nostrils won’t. And it’s right near campus, so you can walk there from the stadium after getting up early to try to get on GameDay.
Suggested Meal: Adult Plate
Location: 768 Jenkins Ave, Norman, OK
Victoria’s Pasta Shop is a little Italian restaurant also quite near campus. In fact, it’s located in Norman’s famous Campus Corner. If you’re in the mood for something a little fancier than what comes off the grill before or after the big game, Victoria’s is a good choice for you. It has an intimate and cozy atmosphere, and the service is always good. Local artists’ work is featured on the walls, and the menu has a lot of great offerings, including a variety of wines. It can get a little crowded at rush times, but it’s worth a little wait for some really good food.
Suggested Meal: Spinach Tortellini with Alfredo or Marinara
Location: 327 White Street, Norman, OK
TEA Café is Norman’s favorite Asian restaurant. In fact, TEA Café stands for The East Asia Café. They have a variety of meals to choose from, and you can also get orders to go. In addition to food, they have teas galore: hot, cold, sweet, milk, specialty, you name it. They have as many beverages to offer as they do meal choices. Though the location is not quite as near campus as the first two eateries mentioned, it’s just down 12th Street and is easy to find because it’s located right next to Homeland (former Albertson’s). The atmosphere, like Victoria’s, is very cozy with low lighting, deep red walls, and a couch and coffee table in the waiting area. Just be sure to get there early; like I said, TEA Café is one of Norman’s favorites, and that place gets busy fast.
Suggested Meal: TEA Café House Special
Location: 1241 Alameda St, Norman, OK
Coach’s Restaurant and Brewery is a sports bar located in downtown Norman. It’s one of two places where people go when they can’t get into the game. There are televisions everywhere, and on a fall Saturday, there’s only one thing anybody’s going to be watching: Sooner football. Coach’s actually has a lot to offer, but unfortunately on game days they serve an abbreviated menu. Ever so, it’s worth stopping by no matter what day it is. It’s all classic American food and munchies: beer battered cheese fries, burgers, spuds, and pizza. The name also implies that there’s beer involved, and there is. The usuals are on tap, and Coach’s also features a variety of specialty brews made right there in the restaurant. In addition to all this, there’s also a pool hall attached, and you can get your food there if you like.
Suggested Meal: Beef Brisket Spud or Cheese Fries with Ranch
Location: 102 W Main St, Norman, OK
The Library Bar and Grill, as you might expect, gets a lot of jokes around Norman. After all, it’s a bar called the Library. When people say they’re going to study at the Library on Boyd Street, you know they really mean they’re going to drink. The Library also offers a small menu of bread bowls, pizzas, and other meals, and all of their food is really good. A few problems are associated with the Library though. It’s a tight fit, for sure, with minimal seating both inside and out. The booths are a little small for a larger person, and it also tends to be a place where law students hang out and talk juris doctorate. Even so, it’s worth braving all these just to try the pizza.
Suggest Meal: Chicken Alfredo Pizza
Location: 607 W Boyd St, Norman, OK
O’Connell’s Pub and Grille is the other place people go on game day if they can’t actually be in the stadium, and it’s also probably one of Norman’s most famous restaurants. It’s been in Norman since 1968, and my dad’s been going there since he was a freshman in 1969. Honestly, their food isn’t the reason you go to O’Connell’s. While it is good, O’Connell’s is really known for their atmosphere. Students and alumni alike flock to O’Connell’s for drink specials, game day rituals, and beer towers, not to mention karaoke and game nights and other events (like their annual St. Patrick’s Day shindig). It really is a must see for any true Sooner fan or anybody looking for a good time in Norman.
Suggested Meal: Boneless Wings
Location: Currently they have the original location at 120 E Lindsey Street and a new Campus Corner location on Asp Avenue, Norman, OK
Classic 50’s is the place to go if you’re not looking for sit-down. Classic 50’s is a locally owned drive-in that still competes with Sonic everyday of the week, probably because it has a wider selection of better foods and drinks. From piccolos (fried pickles) and Cajun fries to burgers, shakes, and slushes, Classic 50’s does it well. For those over 21, they even offer alcoholic slushes. Everything Classic 50’s has to offer is made to order and hand delivered by friendly carhops. If you’re in Norman or just passing through, this is a must eat. It’s just a few miles down Lindsey from I-35.
Suggested Meal: burgers, piccolos, jalapeno poppers, shakes, the list goes on….
Location: 1521 W Lindsey St, Norman, OK
Really, this is just a sampling of all that Norman has to offer to eat. There’s also Louie’s (owned by Bob Stoops himself), Othello’s, and Café Plaid, to name a few. If you’re ever in Norman, no matter your reasons for traveling there, or even just passing through on your way along I-35, be sure to take a little detour and check out any or all of these fine local restaurants. Not only will you help support Norman eateries, but you’ll also get an extremely delicious meal.