Located off the main trail in the lone town of Weleetka, Oklahoma, sits a moderately busy roadside diner called the Cowpokes Café, 109017 N. 3870 Rd. On the way back to Oklahoma City after a recent trip, there were very few places to pull over, so this restaurant was very much a shining mansion eatery on the hill, inviting us in with a wholly meaty scent that I picked up a mile down the road.
A mixture of cowboy classic and Christian couture, I noticed a prayer request list and a thick guestbook sitting on the glass counter when we walked in. They inspired a small plea to God to let this food be worthy of my praise, gently whispered as we found a place to sit, right next to a Hobby Lobby-esque wall-hanging of a verse from the Book of Joshua.
Our server was delightfully quick with the waters, letting us sip the lemon-infused refreshments as we gave the menu the once over. While Jodie knew she was going to achieve momentary happiness with a 4 oz. Chicken Fried Steak ($8.99), I was actually a bit unsure, deciding between their Beans and Cornbread and, as the menu claims, the “local favorite,” a 10 oz. Hamburger Steak.
When the waitress came back to table, I asked her if the Hamburger Steak was really what the people around here order, to which she replied that just about everyone, for some strange reason, can’t get enough of it. Looking around at the other tables, she was right—most of them had the hunky foodstuff, devouring it with cult-like devotion; I put in an order for the Hamburger Steak ($9.99).
As an added bonus, our meals included a free trip to the soup and salad bar, with varying results; the salad bar was, ironically, a beautifully staged tribute to obesity, with bean salad, potato salad, pasta salad and jello salad, along with a variety of salad dressings. The soup of the day, however, was a remarkably delicious tortilla soup, a spice-heavy outing filled with large chunks of chicken, a few tortilla strips added on top for taste.
Then came the main course...
After a few hearty bites of the Hamburger Steak a few minutes later, I can see why it is a local favorite: a big slab of pounded ground beef, roped and rustled down on the plate and covered in a seeping onion gravy. While I’m not sure if a true cowpoke would down it—they probably would’ve gone straight to the aforementioned beans and cornbread—I would definitely have it again, hombre. Good choice, Weleetka.
The baked potato, by the way, was fine, despite far too much butter; thankfully they put the useless sour cream on the side. I really did enjoy the zucchini and tomatoes though, with a very garden-fresh flavor that was the perfect counteroffer to the gluttonous salad bar.
A smaller-than-usual portion of that Oklahoma classic, the Chicken Fried Steak, earned a mighty kudos at my table; fully homemade and hand-breaded, the Cowpoke did a rollicking job of frying up that country delicacy, with a good-enough ratio of meat to breading. The fries and the corn, were, for the most part, pedestrian sides served straight out of the freezer and the can, respectively, and stayed mostly untouched on the plate.
Paying the bill, while waiting for my card to clear I almost put the Lost Ogle’s name on the prayer request board, but figured I’d save it for someone on the road who really needs God’s mercy; instead I added it to the guest-book with the hope of extra hits from, at the very least, rural Oklahomans who know what a damn good Hamburger Steak is. Cómpralo ya!