When you think fish, especially a fish market, you don't often think of Tulsa. This transplanted New Englander has often turned her nose up at the idea of eating fish anywhere in Oklahoma, but when I heard that the White River Fish Market was an actual fish market in Tulsa I had to give it a try. My love of specialty seafood such as ahi and mako has time and time again been disappointed in the Tulsa area. But I am so glad that I visited the White River Fish Market. I don't usually rave about restaurants, but the thought of this fish market makes my mouth water.
I entered White River as a skeptical New Englander, but I was determined to give the place a fair shot. In the end, I left schooled! This place could have been one of the shoreline markets I ventured through many times throughout my life.
The swordfish was fresh and juicy. It didn't have the left around fishy taste you often get at places far from the ocean. The fries were crisp, and thankfully not fried with the fish. The mahi-mahi was plump and grilled to perfection. Both the swordfish and the mahi-mahi were lightly seasoned, just a hint to complement the taste of the fish. The veggies in the salad were all fresh and bright, and the tomatoes looked like they were right out of my backyard. One of the things I loved the most was the hush puppies, which I'm embarrassed to admit I've never eaten before. They were dense with a cornbread taste and a hint of red bell pepper and Cajun spices.
There was great bang for the buck as the portion sizes were large, but I was too full to try any of White River's mouthwatering desserts. White River buys their chocolate mousse cake and cheese from elsewhere, but their sweet potato pie and buttermilk pie are made in house.
The allergy lowdown: No peanut products are used on the premises and if you have a question about oils used they are more than happy to check it out for you. There are grilled and broiled items for those with gluten issues, but every meal is served with hush puppies. In addition, there are sides such as salad and coleslaw so gluten isn't an issue in every item. The same is true for egg allergies. Of course, it is a fish market (and they only serve fish) so it's not good for those with seafood allergies!
As for the desserts, they are peanut-free but are not gluten free. If you have a severe peanut allergy, I would suggest asking about the possibility of traces. If you have any other allergies, just feel free to ask the staff. They were very pleasant and looked at packages when I asked about allergies.
The help at the counter was wonderful. I asked a ton of questions and they didn't seem a bit put out. They were knowledgeable and willing to search for the answers when they were unsure. This restaurant does have wait staff, but their role is very limited. You order and pay for your food at the counter and then the wait staff brings your food to you. Surprisingly, they offer you refills.
The staff here truly appeared to love their jobs. Many of them have been at White River for years. This is the sort of place where the staff will greet the regulars, have a chat, and really get to know the clientele. I can only imagine the gossip that goes on at White River when nobody is looking!
Once again, I was shocked by the energetic and exciting atmosphere of this place. White River is set up like a cafeteria, with long tables in the middle of the room where large parties can sit together -- or even sit next to strangers. In other words, everybody sits together. Whether you bring a friend or want to make a friend, White River's atmosphere is perfect.
The venue is separated into a restaurant side and a fish market side with a connecting dining room. This restaurant was very reminiscent of the New England fish markets I remember from years gone by. The furniture isn't beautiful, but it is functional and well-kept. The place is sparsely decorated, but I hardly noticed with the sounds of a working fish market all around me. I was both entertained and intrigued by all of the people lining up at the fish market counter while I ate. It's a great place for people watching.
The location made me leery, but I quickly rethought my feelings as soon as I walked in. It just goes to show you that North Tulsa isn't always what it's made out to be. And those who refuse to frequent the area's excellent restaurants are missing out on some of the city's culinary jewels.
The White River Fish Market offers a large menu with a variety of fish including sea fish and fresh water. It's a little pricy, but it's worth it to know the fish is flown in fresh on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The location is unexpected, but it makes sense for a place that flies the fish in fresh. The food was delicious and the staff was amazingly friendly. This was a wonderful experience that I would recommend for anyone. No matter how far you have to drive, get down to White River for some of the best seafood west of the Mississippi.
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