The 10 Best Restaurants In Norman, Oklahoma

Lucy Freeland

Developed around the Santa Fe railroad, Norman is a bustling, diverse social hub full of galleries and cultural goings on. Having been recognised as one of the most progressive cities in the state of Oklahoma, Norman retains a fantastic reputation as a cultural, sophisticated hotspot brimming with cafes and elegant bistro restaurants. This update to our existing dining guide looks at the 10 best venues in Norman to try today.

Benvenuti’s exterior

1. Benvenuti’s

Bistro, Restaurant, Italian, Seafood

Courtesy of Ray's Smokehouse BBQ
Dining at Benvenuti’s is a cultural experience in itself, as the venue is decorated akin to a beautiful French bistro. Chef Anthony Compagni works tirelessly, as he himself professes, to awaken the senses of his diners by adapting the menu to reflect seasonal ingredients both locally and internationally, sourcing the very best, and predominantly organic, ingredients. Begin with imported fresh black Italian summer truffle and ricotta ravioli in a rich sauce of brown butter, parmigiano-reggiano spume and shaved fresh truffles, followed by chilli-garlic-rubbed wild king salmon served with organic mixed greens, artichoke hearts, purple onions and a pile of fluffy couscous. Each course can be matched with a fitting wine chosen by the in-house sommelier, making the evening a truly unique gastronomic experience.

2. Ray’s Smokehouse

Restaurant, Bar, Diner, American, BBQ

Rays BBQ
Courtesy of Full Moon Sushi
Ray’s Smokehouse BBQ is a true American classic. In the convivial, family-run restaurant space, complete with charmingly shabby-chic interior, high levels of customer satisfaction make for a wonderfully relaxed, laidback atmosphere. Enjoy a basket of their smoked meats, complete with melt-in-the-mouth brisket and bologna, or a traditional, succulent burger with shredded cheddar, crispy bacon and BBQ sauce. For something a little lighter, go for a fluffy jacket potato, cooked to perfection, and filled with butter, sour cream and cheese as well as your choice of meat, or perhaps a garden salad, loaded with brisket, red cabbage, shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

3. Full Moon Sushi

Restaurant, Sushi

Full Moon Sushi and Bistro
Image Courtesy of Whispering Pines Inn Restaurant
Full Moon Sushi is much loved in the local community for serving authentic, beautifully seasoned sushi. The simple décor of the restaurant allows the food and service to speak for themselves. Full Moon Sushi is considered one of the foremost venues in Oklahoma to enjoy Japanese cuisine. The melt-in-the-mouth dumplings are a great place to start, perfect with the crunch of the complimentary edamame peas. Progress to cooked rolls that are a far cry from the imitation California rolls, or perhaps the perfectly fried spicy scallops, fresh shrimp, crab with rice or freshly sliced sashimi.

4. The Whispering Pines Inn Restaurant

Restaurant, American

Chips N Ale
Courtesy Chips N Ale
The Whispering Pines Inn, built in 1994, hosts the ambient The Whispering Pines Inn Restaurant. The building evokes the feel of a turn-of-the-century mansion, with a grand staircase and enveloping porch. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes influenced by international and continental flavours, made exceptional by homemade touches, such as freshly baked bread served whilst still warm, or swirls of rich homemade soup cleansed by tart spoonfuls of freshly made sorbet. Begin with three-cheese tortellini served with toasted pine nuts and tomato-basil sauce, before choosing between the delicate flavour of the herb- and potato-crusted salmon fillet with champagne cream sauce, or the grilled New York strip steak with rosemary demi-glaze.

5. Chips N Ale

Bar, Pub, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub

Chips N Ale, the English-style pub inside the Riverwind Casino complex, offers English pub classics fused with all-American flavours. Enjoy a light Alaskan cod with hand cut chips, or go for something slightly heartier,in the form of a chicken pot pie, hand-battered chicken, or a juicy burger. The restaurant space itself is wonderfully accented with sensitive under-lighting, giving the dining room an authentic pub feel, emphasised through its pieces of exposed brickwork. Enjoy a plate of their delicious desserts to finish your meal, or perhaps stick by the bar, sampling a truly English pint of Boddingtons.

6. Blackbird Gastropub

Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, American

The Blackbird Gastropub, located on the famous Campus Corner’s Western Edge in Norman, is committed to providing a continually changing menu and a dynamic bar space, offering first-class food in an upbeat, contemporary space. Begin with pulled-chicken nachos with blue corn chips, serrano pico de gallo and house salsa, or a small bowl of macaroni and cheese with cheddar, gorgonzola, nutmeg, cream and a ciabatta crumb, before sampling individually baked beef meat loaves, with a spicy pepper glaze and served with fried onions, bacon & apple Brussels sprouts, and black truffle oil mashed new potatoes.

7. The Earth Café and Deli

Cafe, Deli, Vegetarian, American

Spectacular vegetarian eatery The Earth Café and Deli is a popular local favourite. The wonderfully vibrant colour of the exterior promises flavoursome treats within. The outside deck, with its cheery, bright patterned tables overlooking the verdant parkland, is the perfect place to enjoy a slice of organic strawberry cake, alongside a cold pressed coffee. For brunch, enjoy a delicious tofu scramble, or strawberry pancakes with a thick, nutritious fruit smoothie, whilst soaking up the calm of the surrounding trees and drinking in the clean air. Pop in a little later to enjoy their extensive lunch menu, from a range of delicious sandwiches, quiches and salads, to plump grilled and stuffed portobello mushrooms.

8. Thai Sweet Basil

Restaurant, Thai

Regularly voted the best Thai restaurant in Norman and, according to the Oklahoma Gazette in the whole of Oklahoma, Thai Sweet Basil offers delicious cuisine within its warmly coloured restaurant space, complete with intimate booths and well-chosen gold artwork. The red curry is a particular favourite, as is the pad Thai and pra ram, promising unrivalled flavour and texture combinations. The dragon eggs are also particularly popular, consisting of fried-dough sweet-potato eggs on a honey- glazed fried-egg noodle nest drizzled with coconut milk. If seeking something a little lighter, try a Buddha lettuce wrap with pork or fried tofu, or perhaps sample the yakisoba egg noodle stir-fry, featuring shrimp, mussels and squid, stir-fried with yellow and green onions, egg, garlic, broccoli, carrots, black pepper, and egg noodles, tossed with sesame oil and a Thai yakisoba sauce.

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