After about a year of semi-sickness and impudent strife, I took a break from my enforced solitude and, finally, took a trip up to Tulsa one sunny afternoon—great strides, I know.
After record-shopping at the indomitable Josey Records and before a lengthy excursion to the Bob Dylan Center, I decided on lunch at Ike’s Chili, 1503 E 11th St., which my friend suggested.
While I have emptied many pots of chili over the course of my life, one of the most meaty remembrances I have was a steaming vat in Cincinnati, Ohio. As part of the supposed “chili belt” that helped keep my pants up, it was a truly remarkable meal.
I was looking to recreate that experience when I went to Ike's, and I have to admit, I think they can stand toe-to-toe.
After I took a seat, Ike's cauldrons of chili were immediately speaking to me, serenading my nose with aromatic notes of savory meats and chili powders.
The menu at Ike's is simple and I started with, what else, chili. Specifically, the Chili and Spaghetti ($8.79) special – a rust-belt inspired pile of warm pasta topped with heaps of smoldering chili.
This chili wasn’t from a Williams packet. Instead, it was full-bodied, red-blooded, totally American chili, made from the hard-working artisans of spices and seasonings, giving it a full-fledged taste off the charts.
Downing the plate, I desperately wanted another helping, but knew I had to wait.
As I was metaphorically licking the plate clean, my dinner companion tried the "Mex Tex" Taco Salad ($9.05). It was its own genre – stabbed with tortilla chips, it contained mixed greens, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, and jalapenos layered atop a bed of chili and beans.
While beef chili and a vegetable salad make might for odd bedfellows, here, they are perfect. The cold and crisp toppings pairing with the beef were a fusion of temperatures and textures, and work pefectly when scooped up with a crunchy tortilla chip.
Finally, I tried the Ike Burger ($9.75), for giggles.
While it is pretty comparable to an undressed burger – with only lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and of course, the actual burger – I thought it was a very flavorful burger, with the well-worn grill getting a basic workout. Try it!
After I paid the check, my body and brain deeply intoxicated by all the flavorful meat, and my brow moist from the meat sweats, my companion and I packed up leftovers and headed out for the rest of our day.
As we got to the car, I moved a box or two inside the vehicle to make some extra wiggle room, pondering in my mind if Tulsa is officially a chili town. I think it is – at least by the Oklahoma Standard.
I then moved inside, snapped the seat belt and we took off, not realizing the leftovers were left on top of the car. To both Ike's and my stomach, I am truly sorry.