Whether you are looking for excellent outdoor patio dining or just want an incredible view while you eat, the Lake Hefner restaurants in Oklahoma City offer quite the unique experience. The sun setting over the water, its vibrant colors touching the tips of sailboats, is a picturesque scene. And fortunately, the restaurants themselves are very good as well, offering varied food choices and atmospheres.
Though Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner was built in 1947, a city reservoir, it was not until the 1990's that the commercial portion of the East Wharf came to be. Located at Britton Road on the east side of the lake near the well-known Lake Hefner lighthouse, the area includes offices and several restaurants. Here are all the details on the Lake Hefner restaurants in OKC. With just one exception, they are part of the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, a Norman-based operator behind such popular spots as Charleston's, The Garage Burgers and Toby Keith's in Bricktown.
For a long time, this Lake Hefner location housed the Caribbean chain restaurant Bahama Breeze. Though it always seemed busy, it closed in April of 2007 along with several other locations around the country. It took a good while, but the space was eventually remodeled. Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen opened in 2009.
The Tex-Mex restaurant is perhaps a little more expensive than other metro places to serve similar cuisine; however, you're paying in part for the setting. The patio offers an excellent view, and there's also a semi-enclosed space that provides the best of both worlds when the weather isn't as cooperative as one would like. That said, you're not likely to be disappointed by the food either. There are many flavorful options with quality ingredients.
Louie's Grill and Bar on the Lake
Just about anywhere you live around the metro, from Norman and Moore up to Edmond or out to Yukon, there's a Louie's nearby; heck, there are several in the Tulsa area as well. It's the local chain version of a friendly neighborhood pub and restaurant. The location on Lake Hefner's East Wharf is fairly small but still has all the requisite televisions and plenty of comfortable booth or bar seating. The menu features just what you would expect, everything from burgers and wings to tasty pizzas and deli sandwiches, and there are a number of interesting, specialty cocktails.
Louie's is situated a bit further back from the lake than some of the others on this list, but that doesn't impact the view at all. The straight-on view of the lighthouse is beautiful, and the atmosphere is always lively. Folks out for a walk, with or without the family dog, can take a nice break on the western facing covered patio, provided there's a table open.
Redrock Canyon Grill
Redrock Canyon Grill also has locations in Tulsa, Wichita and Southlake, Texas, but the others just can't quite duplicate Oklahoma City's lakeside version. Still casual but more upscale than Louie's or Mama Roja, Redrock focuses on Southwest American cuisine. The wood fire-roasted rotisserie chicken is the standout, but the menu also features other quality meat dishes such as meatloaf, steak and pork chops as well as barbecue ribs and salmon.
As much as the food, though, Redrock is defined by the atmosphere. Each night at sunset, the bell rings in celebration, and the outside patio area features live entertainment and a festive spirit, a wonderful place to relax even during the cold months when the fire pit is roaring.
Formerly known as Pearl's Lakeside Grill, Hefner Grill works well for both casual meals and special occasions. Though like most places these days you'll find televisions, the overall atmosphere is quiet. The menu is focused on seafood, but there are also some good pastas and steaks. The wine list is fairly large, and the Sunday brunches are a highlight thanks to the food and the live jazz music.
One of the great things about Hefner Grill is that you don't have to be on the patio to enjoy the incredible vistas. Whereas one can sit in a viewless booth or table in some other Lake Hefner restaurants, it feels like every seat is a good seat here, thanks to the wide open interior and large lakeside windows.
Lake Hefner Golf Club Restaurant
Located at one of the metro's more popular public golf courses, the Golf Club Restaurant is the only one on this list not on the East Wharf and the only one not managed by the Hal Smith Group. Instead, it's on the southwest side of the lake, just off Northwest Expressway, and serves golfers before, during and after a enjoyable round, as well as runners and bikers fresh off the Hefner trails.
Though you don't get wait service like you would at one of the other Lake Hefner restaurants, the Golf Club spot is actually more than the mere snack bar many might expect. Tables offer a nice view of the course and the lake through the large windows, and the menu features a full slate of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner choices. Of course you can grab a soda or a bag of chips for a quick bite, but you can also settle in for a hearty meal such as "Biscuit Debris," sausage and ham gravy poured over biscuits and smothered with cheddar cheese and home fries. Burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, freshly-baked desserts and more are available, and they even accept to-go orders.