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TLO Restaurant Review: Ozzie’s Diner

A few weeks ago, TLO editor Patrick sent me a feverish text-message that Ozzie’s Diner, 1700 Lexington Ave. in Norman, had Indian Tacos, knowing full-well this invigorating news would arouse my Choctaw blood that almost continually craves beans and frybread, regardless of how many culinary revisionists tell me to feel otherwise.

The problem, as I soon found out, is that Ozzie’s only serves them on Monday and I, unfortunately, went on a Thursday.

Goshdarnit. Even though I whole-heartedly knew I wouldn’t be getting to experience their take on the Indian Taco today, I was still craving, at the very least, a rather large bowl of still-hot pinto beans and a few pieces of cornbread, if possible. That seems like a somewhat doable diner classic, right?

Finding a seat next to the fully-exposed window, there didn’t seem to be any planes flying or even taxiing to the runway today. Inside however, Ozzie’s was more than half-full, with a smiling contingency made up of mostly elderly retirees; they hung out in their probable regular sections, making somewhat suggestive comments to the waitress as the table laughed while she collected their breakfast dishes.

Meaningfully sipping my cup of coffee, I looked over the menu for one hot minute; their breakfast—which I hear is pretty good, natch—was long past. The lunch crowd was starting to shuffle in; it looked like they were loading up on noon-time eats like the Ozzie’s Burger—which contained a grilled frank—and the Roadhouse Chicken Fry—with plenty of gravy—to get them on through to the rest of their day.

But I knew what I wanted, and there it was, in a whimsical-enough font under the heading “Soup, Stew & Chili”: Beans and Cornbread ($4.69). Placing myself a frybread-less order, out of curiosity I also put in a request for a small side of their Fried Cabbage ($1.79), a heretofore unheard of, by me at least, style of cooking  up the leafy green specialty—it’s gotta be a Southern thing, right?

Eagerly watching the runway, waiting for the roar of a small-engine Cessna (I’ll admit it—I know nothing about planes) to go by, instead all I saw was a group of well-dressed people walk by my window, obviously on some sort of guided tour, collegiate maybe. The waitress poured me a refill of coffee as she brought me my helping of beans, along with a couple of firm cornbread muffins.

Solidly pinto and simmered in its own juices, the bowl was accompanied with a secondary smaller bowl, full of onions and jalapenos, which I promptly mixed into the beans, stirring it around with my spoon for a thicker consistency. After taking a test-bite out of one of the homemade corn muffins, I crushed them delicately in my fist and gently sprinkled the refuse on top of the beans, something my father used to do and, so, now I do.

With every large spoonful of that notorious elixir, the unfettered heat of the jalapenos and full-bodied brazenness of the white onions perfectly complimented the rich slow-cooked vibrato of the pintos, living up to every mental expectation that had been rolling around in my Indigenous mind since this morning, absolutely satiating the want and need I’ve had for slow-cooked beans.

Additionally, it was kind of captivating how the ol’ flat-top in back really brought out the greasy earthiness of the cabbage. The drippings from the day’s breakfast meats were basted directly into the soggy leaves, judiciously creating an obnoxiously wonderful way to eat this vegetable and plenty of it. While I truly hope that the South in itself will never rise again, hopefully Southern cooking will continue to reign supreme for many years to come.

And while I didn’t see a single plane the whole time I was at Ozzie’s Diner—that’s 0 for 2 with me and runway diners—this frijole-fortified lunch was more than enough rarified Mexican jet-fuel to fulfill my somewhat erotic desire for an Indian Taco, at least for a few more weeks worth of dietary abstainment. Cómpralo ya!


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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