Clanton’s does not look like a Route 66 landmark because it was gutted by fire in 1999 and totally rebuilt. The original version was one of the first restaurants to open along the Oklahoma stretch of “America’s Main Street.”
When Sweet Tater Clanton christened his restaurant in 1927, most of the new road was not yet paved, and it said that to attract customers he used to walk out the front door and bang a pot and pan together when he spied someone about to drive past. Today, Sweet Tater’s great granddaughter, Melissa, and her husband, Dennis Patrick, run the place as a town cafe where locals gather and sightseers along the old Mother Road are welcome.
Lunch specials include ham & beans on Wednesday and catfish every Friday, and the every day menu lists pot roast, calf fries and grilled pork chops as “customer favorites.” We found this place many years ago when hunting for Route 66’s best chicken fried steak.
Clanton’s chicken fried steak starts with what the Patricks call an “extra tenderized” cube steak they get from Tulsa. The beef patty is dipped in a mixture of egg and buttermilk, then dredged once in seasoned flour. “If you double-dip,” Patrick says, referring to a common practice of repeating this process a second time, “you will get a steak that looks bigger. But it takes you farther away from the flavor of the beef.” The steak is cooked on a flat griddle in vegetable oil until the blood starts rising up through the flour, then flipped and finished. The edge of a fork effortlessly will sever it into a bite-size triangle with beefy, crisp-crusted luxury that is all the better when it’s pushed through mashed potatoes and peppery cream gravy.