There are many pubs around town--serving passable (usually faux Irish) food. There are also bars and dance clubs, where you can drink and dance the night away, but where are you are out of luck if you're hungry.
Red Dirt Dancehall and Saloon has a little bit of both. Best known as one of Tulsa's hottest bars, Red Dirt features rock and red dirt music, a large dance floor, and live acts. It's definitely earned a look from those seeking some old-fashioned red dirt music to spice up their week.
But what people may not know is that Red Dirt has begun to serve full dinners from 3pm until midnight every day. I recently visited to see what Red Dirt's dinner was all about. It's not half bad.
Red Dirt carries quite a variety for bar food. In addition to what you'd expect -- hamburgers and sandwiches -- it serves entrees such as tilapia (which my server recommended).
One surprising aspect was the beer selection. Red Dirt serves nothing on draft and has only bar standards in bottles: Coors, Bud Lite, that sort of thing, along with a few imports. Drinkers in search of local brews like Marshall will be disappointed.
However, this didn't bother me as I was perfectly happy to sit down with bourbon on the rocks and order my dinner. I selected cheese sticks and fried mushrooms for appetizers.
The fried mushrooms in particular were recommended to me. My server told me that Red Dirt makes the breading from scratch and to order. "They're not frozen. ... We make everything in house, even the sauces," she said.
Both of them came out piping hot and fresh. They were well seasoned; the breading was light and flaky. If I hadn't been there for a meal, I would have been happy to munch on the appetizers with my drink.
For my entrée, I ordered fish and chips. The breading on the fish was as flaky as on the appetizers. I don't know if the tartar sauce is homemade or not, but it was heavy on the relish and a delightfully tangy. I enjoyed it very much.
The fish and chips came with cole slaw. I have never liked cole slaw and so I hesitated to try it. But it was probably the best part of my meal. There wasn't too much mayonnaise (a deal breaker for me) and it came with -- this surprised me -- bell peppers, which tasted fresh from the garden.
There are no desserts: "only alcohol," my server said.
The bottom line on Red Dirt's food: the main courses are tasty, but the frills set it apart.
I was greeted promptly when I arrived at Red Dirt and allowed to take any seat I wanted. Red Dirt has a bar (of course) along with a few tables between the pool tables and the dance floor.
I felt like I had one-on-one service. This may be because I was the only customer at 3 o'clock on a Sunday.
In a way, it was the perfect time to eat dinner at a bar. My server told me that most nights -- including Sunday -- Red Dirt attracts a big crowd starting around 8:30pm.
Having the place to myself enabled me to chat with my server a bit, but mostly we just watched a rerun of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which fit well into the theme and Red Dirt (and was hilarious).
I got the impression that Red Dirt's service is friendly and prompt no matter how busy it is. While my server had her shift meal at the same time I ate my dinner, she kept a close eye on me and was quick to offer drink refills and make sure I was having a good time. She also was knowledgeable about what's happening at Red Dirt, answering questions about when it gets crowded and the like.
I don't know what the service is like when Red Dirt is busy, but if it's anything like it is when it's slow, it's good.
The atmosphere was that of a high class honky tonk. Lights shone on the dance floor though no music was yet playing; I watched Blue Collar Comedy on one of the several big screen TVs around the place.
Don't get me wrong: Red Dirt is a bar. It is not primarily a restaurant and -- if you're there in the evening -- it's not a place you want to go for a quiet night out.
In the afternoon though, it's a pretty chill place. I enjoy going somewhere I can chitchat with the server without feeling the need to act like we're going to be friends after I leave.
And if you like country music, this is definitely a place you want to go, whether it's for food, drinks, or just the vibe.
Unlike some bars -- that still slip under the health department's radar -- Red Dirt is a Breathe Easy establishment. While I don't mind the smoky smell of a honky tonk, I did note that Red Dirt smelled especially clean and smoke free. Whether or not that's a good thing, I leave to the reader's individual judgment.
Red Dirt's food was better than I expected -- and in many ways it was very good indeed. The service wasn't bad at all, and the atmosphere was about what one would expect at a country bar. The next time I want to do some bootscootin', I'll order some cheese sticks with my bourbon.
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