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Crossing the country on five Tulsa patios

DoubleShot at the Rookery

Greg Bollinger

Looking for a way to maximize your vacation days this summer without the heartburn of air travel? Don’t let flight delays, lost luggage or traffic jams leave you wishing you’d never left. If the objective is getting outdoors and changing the scenery, try leaving your bags at home.
To help you get away without getting away, here are five Tulsa patios for a lighthearted escape that won’t leave you frazzled.

Portland, OR: DoubleShot at the Rookery

1633 S. Boulder Ave.
Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m.;
Sun., 8 a.m.–noon

DoubleShot’s striking new location on Boulder Avenue is one way to escape from the grind, if you will. With its soaring wall of steel-framed windows and upcycled barn wood facade, the building—while actually transported from the Hoosier State—will transport you to the trendy and eco-conscious Pacific Northwest faster than they’ll kick you out for ordering decaf.

It’s peak Portland, where passionate people take recycling classes, protest oil dependency by riding bikes naked and care an awful lot about coffee culture. In fact, DoubleShot’s tongue-in-cheek “Rules While Ordering” list, which was once affixed to the espresso machine at their old Boston Avenue location, served as inspiration for a “Coffee Shop Manifesto” sketch on Portlandia. (Brooding baristas arrange an underground meeting in which frustrations are channeled into a list of rules, such as “No chatting at counter” and “No questions.”)

Of course, regulars know DoubleShot’s friendly staff has Oklahoma hospitality in spades, and you won’t find any “rules” on the wall of the new elegant modern interior. What you’ll find is a coffee program that would impress even the most discerning Portlander, and a bustling patio where you can enjoy a cappuccino and a cranberry English muffin breakfast sandwich in true PNW style.

NYC: Duet Restaurant + Jazz Club

108 N. Detroit Ave.
Restaurant: Daily, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Jazz Club: Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.–11 p.m.

You’ll definitely want to stay longer than a New York minute on Duet’s patio—especially when the garage door is up and a live band is bringing the heat. Located in the bustling Tulsa Arts District, the place is dripping with culture. You’d be forgiven for thinking MoMA and Blue Note were just around the corner.

Though Executive Chef Nico Albert is “usually passing through with armloads of groceries,” the patio is one of her favorite things about the space. “The music kinds of wafts in, even to the kitchen,” Albert said. “It’s just a really nice environment to be in.” David Horne and guests play every weekend during brunch, and special patio wine dinners are in the works.

The playful Sullystring barn door mural complements Albert’s artful cuisine, such as the new poke tostadas—raw tuna marinated with soy sauce, ginger, lime juice and rice wine vinegar. She suggests that you pair it with Duet’s most popular drink, the Love for Sale. It’s a play on the French 75, made with their house draught prosecco (snaps to that) and crème de rose, a rose-scented liquor.

If that cocktail has you humming “La Vie en Rose,” catch a jazz set at the lower-level club, where local and national touring musicians do their thing in one of the best listening rooms in Tulsa. The chill yet focused ambiance of Duet’s intimate jazz club takes me back to the summer I lived in NYC, which had an indelible effect on my love for the genre. Suffice to say, Duet always has me “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Fuel 66

Austin: Fuel 66

2439 E. 11th St.
Mon.–Fri., 3 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m.–2 a.m.

The Texas hill country is calling at Fuel 66. The vibe of this roadhouse-style beer garden is low-key and distinctly unbuttoned—perfect for those looking for a little taste of Austin on the Mother Road. The outdoor space is an oasis of food trucks, yard games and craft beer that will have you singing: “The stars at night are big and bright—deep in the heart of [Tulsa].”

Libations abound at the indoor bar. You’ll find plenty of beers from local breweries like Cabin Boys and Heirloom Rustic Ales, served in un-fussy plastic cups, along with a handful of refreshing cocktails scrawled on the chalkboard menu, and even blue and orange Jell-O “shots” (in actual syringes) in the fridge. Throwing caution to the wind, I chose the slushy frosé—yes, frozen rosé—which was undulating in the see-through beverage machine behind the counter. Drink in hand, and with Willie Nelson on the digital jukebox, I sauntered outside, feeling distinctly Texan.

The generous patio and beer garden are surrounded by five food trucks and trailers, including no fewer than two Airstreams. After making my selections at the MASA food truck, it just felt good to sit down and stay a while. In fact, as it’s complete with a small dog park, fire pits, and a nightly closing time of 2 a.m., Fuel 66 might just become your new home away from home. It’s Austin without the superiority complex, an unpretentious watering hole and food truck park inviting you to kick up your boots in an authentically “weird” city—where you can still afford rent.

Pearl Beach Brew Pub

SoCal​: Pearl Beach Brew Pub

418 S. Peoria Ave.
Tues.–Thus., 4 p.m.–10 p.m.; Fri., 4 p.m.–11 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sun., 12 p.m.–10 p.m.

While Tulsa sunworshippers rejoice in American Airlines joining Allegiant in providing a nonstop to LAX, it still takes more than six hours roundtrip to soak up those rays on the Best Coast. Why waste precious travel time when you can hit the beach right here in the Pearl District? My top choice for a Santa Monica-esque getaway, the new Pearl Beach Brew Pub—the former site of Willows Family Ales—is virtually smog-, traffic- and vanity-free. (I wouldn’t be from NorCal if I didn’t play up the rivalry.)

Pearl Beach features a picturesque back patio, complete with sand volleyball courts filled with recreational players bumping, setting and spiking against a backdrop of the downtown skyline. Co-owner Julian Morgan encourages all levels to play; some folks are “just trying to not get hit in the face” while others “can really put the ball away.”

Whatever your level of coordination, consider joining in a round of Spikeball, which you can almost play with a Pearl Beach pale ale in hand. Morgan’s husband, fellow co-owner, and self-professed AVP geek, Josh Ritchey, taught my family and me when we visited and it was some of the best impromptu fun we’d had in a long while.

If you’re more of a spectator, there’s plenty of shaded space for you. The most beautiful seating is under the twisting arms of a resilient old hackberry which has thrived despite sitting atop an old pipe. Morgan had the patio built around the tree: “We hope to make that bad boy’s life better from now on and have hired an arborist to help.” (The Sierra Club would be proud.) Morgan recommends that you pull up a chair under its graceful shade, sip on their brewer Larry’s Mexican Lager with Lime, and order the mango salsa-topped fish tacos from Mr. Nice Guys—it’s, like, so SoCal.

Mother Road Market

Tulsa: Mother Road Market

1124 S. Lewis Ave.
Closed Mon.; 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri. and Sat.; other days 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

However blissful the vacation, coming home is always a relief. Be a tourist in your own town at Mother Road Market, a distinctly Tulsa spot with one of the largest and most innovative covered patios you’ll find anywhere. The word “covered” cannot be overemphasized, considering Oklahoma’s unpredictable weather, which will be no match for this thoughtful space.

Developed by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation with everyone in mind, Mother Road Market’s patio throbs with energy. Elizabeth Frame Ellison, president and CEO of the foundation, enjoys observing the variety of activity: “Kids rolling on the turf, yoga classes, families playing Route 66-themed mini golf, different bands playing live music, friends gathered on the couches laughing and coworkers eating together in the dining area.” It really is magical, people.

Showcasing around 20 local restaurant and retail shops under one roof, the food hall is packed with local flavor. Stop by the WEL Bar and grab Ellison’s favorite cocktail, the Son of a Booch (made with Cult Kombucha, a graduate of the Launch Program at Kitchen 66, another Lobeck Taylor development) and a scoop of Yuzu ice cream from Big Dipper Creamery—whose fresh-made waffle cones are irresistible.

Outside, settle into a bright yellow patio chair below the web of string lights and soak in some of the best in cuisine and ambiance that your own stomping ground has to offer.  After all that “travel,” it’s good to be home.

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