There may be no better way to wake up than with the aroma of freshly prepared bacon in the air. And fortunately for local residents, Tahlequah boasts an array of breakfast options to kick-start the day.
Perhaps chief among the options for out-of-town visitors is Del Rancho, south of town on Muskogee Avenue.
“We float the Illinois River every summer,” said Oklahoma City resident Krystal Bills. “This summer, we actually made three separate trips. All three times, we stopped off at Del Rancho on the way home. Its definitely a tradition.”
Store Manager Jerri McCarter has been with the restaurant for 27 years, and she has noticed the trend, too.
“We have a lot of people who come in from out of town,” she said. “They’ll stop in for breakfast on the way in and tell us, ‘We’ll see you when we get off of the river.’ So we get them on the way in and on the way out.”
McCarter walks the walk, commonly treating herself to a particular menu item.
“I just think we have an awesome breakfast,” she said. “My favorite is the ranch breakfast. It comes with two eggs any way, bacon or sausage, biscuits or toast and gravy, and hashbrowns, all for $4.89. We also have the chicken and steak biscuit, and we can add egg and cheese, as well. It’s very popular.”
As an added benefit, Del Rancho offers an option for diners who may be rushed: a push-button drive-through.
“Its an all-day thing,” said McCarter. “They can also phone it in and we’ll have it ready at the window.”
Locals, further seasoned to the nooks and crannies of Tahlequah, often opt for one of alternative diners along “main street,” Muskogee Avenue.
“[My favorite] is the Hungry House,” said Northeastern State lecturer Tony O’seland. “Good food, great service, veteran-approved.”
Tahlequah resident Linda Merrell agreed.
“[It’s] Hungry House,” she said. “They are always friendly, and the food is always wonderful. It’s the best-kept secret in Tahlequah. The cartoon pancakes are great for kids.”
For Velma Coon-Santos, the breakfast location of choice is River City Cafe, inside of the Cherokee Casino, 16489 U.S. Highway 62.
“You can get two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and a choice of toast or biscuits and gravy, for only $3.71,” she said. “I think it’s my [favorite] because of price and flavor.”
In a poll conducted at tahlequahdailypress.com, 6 percent of voters said they usually eat breakfast at local “sit-down” restaurants. Other popular morning meal destinations, according to a Press Facebook survey, include B&J’s Grill, Iguana Cafée, Boomerang Diner and Restaurant of the Cherokees.
But 48 percent said they simply enjoying breakfast from the comfort of their own homes.
“Rarely do I ever have time to go eat breakfast somewhere,” said NSU graduate student Eric Jay. “My breakfast typically consists of Fruity Pebbles or a NutraGrain bar.”
Another 16 percent of those polled were indifferent to the science behind the notion that breakfast is, in fact, the most important meal of the day.
“I really don’t like breakfast foods, and I never have time to eat, anyway,” said Tahlequah resident Josh McIntosh. “If I don’t have anything going on, I usually don’t wake up before 10 or 11, anyway.”
Many, including Sue Webb Opp, are ready to claim a restaurant that does not yet exist in Tahlequah: the popular national chain, Jimmy’s Egg.
“It will be Jimmy’s Egg when they get done,” said Opp. “But for now, B&J, because I can get eggs and grits.”
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