Fine dining, in recent years, has fallen on hard times in Lawton. The days of Martin’s, Mr. Z’s, and the Officers Club are gone forever, and attempts in recent years to create fine food, at right prices, have fallen short of expectations. The Lawton Country Club, the Silver Spoon and Luigi’s, for my two cents, fit the bill but the options and opportunities in Oklahoma City, from time to time, are well worth it for a great evening of good food. Here are my favorites.

1. Patrono. Downtown. Rustic; imported wine and great Italian cuisine including grilled octopus appetizers, ink pasta and carefully prepared scallops. Terrific.

2. Mahogany Prime Steakhouse. There are two, the best of which is on Sheridan near Chesapeake Arena. Great for steak but lobster a big hit as well. For fine dining, a very relaxed and casual atmosphere. If you’re a Thunder groupie, this is the place to dine after games, as this is where the players often go.

3. The Mantel Wine Bar and Bistro. Right across from the ballpark, this place is truly gourmet. Duck Breast, Tomahawk Pork Chop, Rack of Lamb, Blackened Halibut and Seafood Stew make it great. Intimate and cozy.

4. The Whiskey Café Kitchen and Bar. In Penn Square parking lot, this place bustles from brunch til evening. Features include bacon – jalapeno drop biscuits with gravy starters, vegan burgers or chicken and waffles for lunch and lamb T-bones, garlic grilled ribeye or pork brisket. The menu changes daily and it’s always terrific.

5. Mickey Mantles. Famous for steaks and its cocktails and wine, this is my favorite place in Oklahoma City for, of all things, seafood. The seafood tower is dinner in itself, and the sea bass and cedar plank salmon are above reproach. And the steaks? Like the seafood, the best in the City. Best in town for birthdays and anniversaries; service is outstanding.

6. Stella’s Modern Italian. Another favorite Italian spot with brick over pizza, innovative pastas and entrees like Chicken Scallopini, Butternut Squash Tortellini and Wild Boar Bolognese makes this spot unique and wonderful. Near the National Memorial downtown.

7. The Boulevard. You must go to Edmond for this one, but well worth the trip north. Tuxedoed waitresses, this is a prime dining experience where streaks are king. Comes with attached cocktail lounge, the filets are hand cut, the ribeye’s are dry aged, and as big as 22 ounces. They also do a steak and lobster surf and turf that’s hard to beat. Business casual attire.

8. Cheever’s. Southern and southwestern cuisine in a bistro which is both elegant and friendly. Our favorite here is brunch with dishes like Cowboy Rubbed Salmon Salad, Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Fried Steak and Cowgirl Benedict. Located in an old flower shop, Cheever’s has been around, since, well, forever.

9. Kitchen 324. Fabulous downtown breakfast where the locally sourced food is always fresh. Located in the old Braniff building, green eggs and ham, the scratch biscuit with chorizo gravy and the giant buttermilk pancake will go great with the French press coffee and squeezed orange juice. It’s always busy.

10. Bravo Cucina. Upscale but casual Italian. It’s a chain, but a really good one with grilled dishes, different pastas, great service, at reasonable prices.

The good news? There are easily 25 more; this is no place to diet regardless of what you crave.

Lee Baxter is a former commanding general of Fort Sill.

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