If you know the right secret passageway and are looking for an urban lunchtime adventure during the workweek, downtown Tulsa beckons. The New Atlas Grill is one of those hidden gems that is well known by regular downtowners for its sandwiches with signature downtown style.
The Atlas Grill is nestled in the Atlas Life Building, recognized by the iconic neon outline of the Greek titan, Atlas power-lifting the heavens. Recently the building has transformed from its 80-year-old role as an office building to a Courtyard Hotel. As a previous downtown office aficionado, I was concerned that the Atlas Grill would be changed from the place I knew and loved, with its sandwiches named after the streets that criss-cross downtown and unmatchable ambience, would succumb to modernity. I was happy to find on a recent business lunch with the gals that the New Atlas Grill kept its unconventional menu and historic down tempo feel.
Sandwiches hit just the right spot for lunch, and Atlas delivers a great lineup, from its namesake burger, The Atlas ($5.50) to The Frisco ($7.50), a grilled tuna steak with orange-tomato mayonnaise. Daily specials deliver comfort blue plate meals like chicken fried steak and meat loaf and soups, including Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup served with a dry biscuit ($4.50) -- it's like a warm delicious hug in a bowl.
My ladies and I perused the menu and were each attracted to something different. My fearless intern called dibs on The Houston, a grilled chicken breast and apple-smoked bacon with a basil-tomato mayonnaise on a toasted bun. The chicken was a nice sized by not cumbersome, unlike many grilled chicken sandwiches that become a fiasco to eat minus a fork and knife. She commented that all the flavors really complemented each other, but was really impressed with the bread, which was light, flaky and buttery, yet turgid enough to stand up to all the toppings of the sandwich.
My other dining companion opted for the The Boulder ($6.50), a grilled portabella mushroom with boursin cheese, grilled peppers and onions on a toasted bun. The portabella was a nice, meaty texture with good flavor, and the boursin cheese sort of melted into a masterpiece of mushroom, peppers and onions. The only thing holding this sandwich back was how it held together. The bread wasn't quite able to stand up to the moisture of the portabella mushroom, which is common among these sandwiches. I'm sure heartier bread could be substituted to make The Boulder even bolder. The potato salad was chosen as the side and as a picky potato salad customer, the proof of how delicious my companion thought it was could be found at the bottom of the empty bowl. Fresh and delicious with a perfect hint of dill, it was worth the $1.00 upgrade. Sandwiches come with tortilla chips and a jalapeno pickle, but potato salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, fries and sweet potato fries can be substituted.
Myth and Legend.
Being a sucker for a good veggi-burger, I ordered up the homemade black bean veggi burger ($6.50) and sweet potato fries. This black bean burger could make a regular hamburger self-conscious. Nicely dense and flavorful, a light dunk in panko breading gave the burger a delightfully crunchy texture matching well with the spicy aioli sauce and veggie toppings. I was so enrapt with the burger that I gave my sweet potato fries little attention, which had good flavor, but were a bit on the limp side.
The New Atlas Grill also has a nice selection of salads, so we sampled the spinach and strawberry salad ($7.99). Grilled chicken can be added for an additional charge. This seemingly simple combination of ingredients packed a flavorful punch, with a tart-yet-sweet poppy seed dressing that beautifully married the strawberries, spinach and a light smattering of red onion. After playing it 'healthy', we sampled their chocolate cake balls, which proved to be the perfect last bite before retiring back to the grind.
The New Atlas Grill is open Monday-Friday from 11am-3pm, but serves breakfast each day from 7am-9:30am. If you are looking to take the sting out of those working lunches, The New Atlas Grill offers an extensive menu and even offers delivery in the downtown area.
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