A grateful tip of the hat to tiki and to Howard Baratz, who both recommended we stop at the White River Fish Market while traveling through Oklahoma. Howard described it at an “old-time Tulsa classic,” in business since 1932. This well-worn combination raw fish market and semi-cafeteria style restaurant northeast of downtown is a Roadfood gem.
When you enter, step up to a counter where all sorts of raw fish are displayed. Place your order based not only on a posted menu, but on what you see in the case. Pay the man behind the cash register and find a seat at booth or table in the big, open dining room. Soon, your meal will be brought to the table by a member of the staff.
Fried seafood is what the place is best known for: gorgeous whole flounders, catfish, perch, etc. The menu also lists broiled seafood, grilled seafood, a couple of seafood salads and a fish sandwich, boiled shrimp by the pound and raw oysters by the dozen. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, one very meaty lobster tail is available for about $20. All dinners include a couple of crusty, pepper-laced hushpuppies and a choice of such side dishes as onion rings (excellent!), pinto beans, cole slaw (sparkling!), spiced rice, and baked potato.
We started our meals with a cup of gumbo and a bowl of red beans and rice, the latter actually two dishes, one with soulful pinto beans, the other with sausage, beef, onions, and rice in a spicy Cajun sauce.
We love the room tone in this rollicking lunch room (open for dinner, too). It’s clearly the place where all sorts of Tulsa citizens feel right at home. Prices are low, the fish is impeccable, and all the side dishes are very soulful. That’s a combination that adds up to a necessary stop for anyone with an appetite traveling along I-44.