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As Good As It Once Was: A Return to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill

8:51 AM EST on January 6, 2022

One of the first food reviews I ever wrote for the Lost Ogle was based around the somewhat legendary Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, 310 Johnny Bench Dr. in Bricktown. As I reread the piece, I was forced to remember how much I liked the Fried Bologna Sandwich but, as you can imagine, had a problem with the jingoistic view of Americana.

But, as I had been on the search for good hamburgers in Oklahoma City, I remembered liking their burger just fine, and, since I had an hour to kill before a screening of American Underdogreview here—I decided to stop in as the temperatures in Oklahoma City plummeted comically fast.

Even though there are American flags and other forms of silly patriotism all about, I’m happy to say that it’s all a false marketing scheme, because so many of the employees there are, thankfully, of Latino descent, many of them speaking Spanish to one another, obviously pissing off some white dudes at the bar.

That’s good enough for me!

As I found a seat, I felt like I was at a theme restaurant somewhere near a border town in Texas, one that served the vaqueros, the cowboys, the shitkickers and, of course, the dolled-up wannabes that seem to overrun those places. I took off my winter hat and gloves and, after momentarily warming up, gave the menu a requisite glance.

Of course, I already knew what I wanted for an appetizer—or, what the place nonsensically calls “The Winners”—a heaping bowl of Calf Fries ($11.99), one of my favorite Oklahoma foods, if not the favorite.

Ostensibly cow testicles, here they mix them in a bowl with some French fries and throw down a couple of cups of spicy horseradish cocktail sauce and, less exciting, non-spicy white cream gravy.

Like I said, I’m a fan of this supposed cowboy treat, and thoroughly love the taste of balls in my mouth. Coated in a rough and tumble outside, each bite just pops with pride when you chomp down on it, with the French fries acting as a bit of a comedown.

You know, I’ve had these a few places around town, but have to admit…they do them the pretty good here.

And while that was nice trip down memory lane, I was here for the engorged burger; to be specific, the All-American Cheeseburger ($11.99) because no commies here, motherfucker! As my pro-Uncle Sam sandwich was delivered to me by the Latina server, I gave it the once over—cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and red onion, as well as a half-pound patty—and nodded in my approval.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! It still is one of the tastiest—if not the tastiest—paeans to our freedom in the form of a charred meat patty. Thick enough and moderately juicy, it’s my second favorite item on the menu and, as I gobbled up every bite—saving room for my fried okra, of course—I decided that, whenever I saw a movie next-door, it was my duty to say “Hola!” to my hermanos y hermanas that toil behind the grill of Toby Keith’s.

That being said, next time I’m here, I’m getting the Fried Baloney sandwich.

_

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

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