Every First Friday night from 6 pm to 9 pm, the Paseo District in OKC turns into a magical art and food showcase. Locals line the streets with their cars to walk the vibrant neighborhood and support the small businesses and blooming artists. Being an artist myself, this is a great opportunity to be inspired and support those who are following their dreams and passions. The Paseo District, with its rich, Spanish architectural influence, is a trendy, chic neighborhood. It is made up of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and hip bars. The homes that surround this district are historically Craftsman-style, well-kept, and a highly desirable place to live.
August is my birthday month, so I thought diving deep into food and art on the first Friday would be a great way to kick off my month-long celebration! My boyfriend and I have been working overtime building our businesses and needed a date night too, so this gave us another excuse to get out! We got all dolled up, put on extra deodorant, and wore our cutest moisture-wicking clothes since it was 104 degrees at 6pm. Just a normal OKC summer night. The sun was perched in its westerly golden spot, peppering the ground with rays of molten lava heat through the shade of large, mature trees. Cautiously, we parallel-parked on one of the crowded neighborhood streets and walked down to the already-bustling district.
Our first stop in our romantic date night adventure was a newer restaurant called Frida Southwest. I had been salivating over their Instagram pictures for a while now and had never made it in to taste their eyegasmic entrees. Walking in, we were greeted with a positive vibe that only a summer Friday night could bring. A sexy mix of hunger and excitement radiated from the happy patrons. Savory smells seduced our stomachs and we knew there was no turning back. The restaurant was full but there was immediate seating on the patio, so we took it. Cozy benches, patio fans, and warm breezes invited us to relax and unwind.
To start off, we ordered a Millions of Peaches cocktail and the Short Rib Empanadas to share. The cocktail was refreshing and delicious, but I did not get any buzz from it. Maybe my alcohol tolerance has increased? The empanadas were heavenly. The light, crisp, and mildly sweet pastry coddled rich, tender short rib. The delicious ancho chile sauce they were laying on was the perfect sauce to swirl your bite into. For our entrees, I ordered the Wild Isle Salmon and my boyfriend Phong ordered the Creekwood Short Rib. The salmon was topped with a fresh chimichurri and hardwood grilled to the perfect medium temperature, tender, buttery, and dreamy on the palate. The salmon was nestled on top of a rich lobster-corn risotto and paired with a magical broccolini. Honestly, the broccolini stole the show for me. I don’t know how they marinated it, but it was sweet and rich and I am still dreaming about it. Phong’s Creekwood Short Rib was tender, savory, and topped with a charred poblano chimichurri. It rested upon velvety cheese grits with crispy onions. For dessert, we chose the August Chef Special dessert, the Ruby Chocolate Pistachio cake. This piece of cake was absolutely monstrous in size. We could only eat a few bites and had to take the rest home. It was served cold, but when we ate it at home, we warmed it up in the microwave. It was so much better warmed as the frosting and the cake was softer and more succulent.
After we filled our bellies with deliciousness, we began our waddle around the Paseo District seeking out new arts and inspiration. First, we wandered next door to a large multi-plex building with several little businesses in it. There was a great shop called Valerie Gallerie that was open with jewelry, fun art, and other awesome gifts. I really loved the mixed media. This older building had a lot of character and charm. I can’t wait to take some friends back to buy some unique gifts. We then adventured to various other galleries along Paseo. Paseo Gallery One was a great space filled with local artists and their work! I spoke with a few artists there and discovered that you can rent out one of the walls to display and sell your own artwork. I was quite intrigued as I didn’t know that was an option anywhere. Maybe I will put some of my own art for display and sell one day. From gallery to gallery, there was a great comradery with the local artists and the patrons who visited them. Creativity, new ideas, spontaneous buys, and inspiration was bubbling over in the crowded suites spilling out onto the now streetlamp lit sidewalks. In the center island of the street was a small 4-piece band playing a sultry blend of jazz.
Before we knew it, 9 o’ clock had hit and we were exhausted. The heat and delicious food had drained us of all energy, but the night was just getting started for many of the local bars and restaurants. Exiting gallery patrons energized by the art appetizers were in full-on celebration mode and walking to The Other Room, Flamingo-Tiki, and Scratch for post-art cocktails. This is definitely a great place to go out with some friends for a nice celebration.
If you have never been to a First Friday Gallery Walk in the Paseo, you must put it on your calendar. There are new things each month in the various galleries and boutiques. Be sure to get there early for good parking. If you plan on dining at one of the excellent restaurants, I recommend making a reservation for that Friday as the wait times may be long.
Do you love the Paseo? What is your favorite gallery or boutique? Is there a restaurant you love? Please comment below and give us all your feedback!
Until next time, keep life zesty!