Atlas Hugged

The New Atlas Grill, affording diners a nostalgic glimpse into Tulsa's famous past, is easy to spot in the heart of downtown along the east side of Boston Ave. Look for the building's most recognizable feature: the tall Atlas Life Building neon sign hugging the building.

The New Atlas Grill is located in the opulent art deco lobby on the first floor of the Atlas Life Building. This historic 12-story office building was completed in 1922 and is situated between two other famous landmarks, the Philtower to the south and Mid-Continent building on the north.

Entering the lobby, you'll find The New Atlas Grill is on the far right side, down the hall opposite the famed Tulsa Press Club, home of Urban Tulsa Weekly's Thursday night SoundProof evening of live, acoustic music.

While the Atlas Life Building has been in Tulsa for 85 years, The New Atlas Grill has been serving breakfast and lunch since around 1995, according to Jeremy Geiger, a member of the service staff since 2001.

"This was originally a coffee shop that opened up in the '20s when the Atlas Building was erected," said Geiger. Jacob R. Robinson is the current owner and chef, a graduate of OSU-Okmulgee's Culinary Arts School along with Jeffrey B. Nickel, owner and manager.

Glancing around The New Atlas Grill, diners can't help but get the feel of what it must have been like in years past. The two dining rooms, the small work areas behind the counter service area and the even smaller kitchen area have the 1920s feel to them. While many "face lifts," as Geiger calls them, have altered the looks to the Grill, attention has been taken to keep this nostalgic feel with period wall treatments, lighting and furniture.

"Long-time Tulsans will recognize this place being in the same location," he said.

These same Tulsans will immediately catch on to the naming of the specialty sandwiches, each with a downtown street moniker: The Frisco, The Denver, The Boulder, The Boston, The Houston, The Cincinnati.

Only two sandwiches do not sport the street names, The Atlas, a 1/3-pound fresh ground beef hamburger, (the most popular sandwich, according to Geiger), and The Press Club, a roasted turkey breast sandwich. He adds that many regulars here will only know their sandwich by the street name and not necessarily the ingredients.

"If I say, 'Who has the chicken breast sandwich?' often no one speaks up, except to say 'I had The Houston!'" Geiger said amusingly.

Specialty Sandwiches are served with a jalapeno pickle and thin and crispy homemade tortilla chips. Substitutes for any side are $1 and include Fresh Fruit, Slaw, Potato Salad, Fries and Pasta Salad.

Also featured for lunch are soups, salads and more. Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup with a Dry Biscuit ($3.95) is quite popular. Salads include The Cobb Salad ($6.95), The Atlas Caesar Salad ($4.95, $6.95 with Grilled Chicken), a High Protein Lunch ($6.25--two grilled hamburger patties with melted cheese and served with mixed greens), and Chicken and Pasta ($6.95). Also, there is a Black Bean Veggie Burger ($5.95), and Geiger says he personally makes the patties.

For our lunch, my dining companion and I sampled The Press Club ($6.25) and The Boulder ($5.50).

The Press Club is a solid sandwich of sliced turkey breast with apple-smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato on grilled buttermilk bread. This was a filling and hearty sandwich--I especially enjoyed the bacon which provided some texture and deep, rich flavor to the sandwich's healthy ingredients. The jalapeno pickle that came with the sandwich was a nice surprise from the standard dill most often served with sandwiches. The tortilla chips were light and crispy, both nice complements with the sandwich.

My friend's The Boulder was a hot sandwich of grilled portabella mushroom with Boursin cheese, grilled peppers and onions on a toasted bun. This sandwich was more complex in nature than my turkey breast; the savory mushroom paired with the creamy Boursin cheese together with the peppers and onions was simply delightful and savory. The fresh bun had a tight texture, which helped keep this sandwich together. It was a good choice.

We each also had a cup of the soup of the day, a Cream of Tomato Basil ($3.95), which was rich and smooth, expect for the tiny pieces of fresh garlic scattered about. We both agreed this gave the texture of the soup some gastronomical interest--noticeable and pleasant--adding a pop of flavor.

The New Atlas Grill also has Blue Plate Specials: Monday, Beef Stew; Tuesday, Alice's Homemade Meatloaf; Wednesday, Chicken Fried Strip Steak; Thursday, The Hot Brown; and Friday, Southern Fried Catfish.

And just a few weeks ago, The New Atlas Grill has teamed up with the Tulsa Press Club and Urban Tulsa Weekly to feature SoundProof, an evening of live music and food every Thursday night at the Tulsa Press Club. The Grill serves food from 5-7pm, UTW provides the live music from 6-7pm and the Press Club keeps the drinks flowing.

Some of the foods available during SoundProof include Black Bean Cakes served over Baby Greens with Sherry Cayenne Aioli ($6.50); Cheese Fries served with Ranch Dressing ($5.25); Mozzarella Sticks served with marinara ($6.75); Fried Calamari served with Herb Remolade (a mayo-based sauce)($8.50); Grilled Chicken Sandwich with mayo, romaine, onion, tomato and side of Fries ($7.50); Chicken Strips served with Ranch Dressing ($7.50); Atlas Burger with Fries.

I have sampled the Fried Calamari, the Black Bean Cakes and the Chicken Strips. All are remarkably good, having an original and fresh taste.

The full bar is open at SoundProof; drink specials (during the event only) include $1 domestic beers (Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Light) and $2 imports (Amstel Light and Corona). Long Island Ice Teas are $4. And, the music was hip, very relaxing and entertaining.

After a Thursday evening at SoundProof, The New Atlas Grill opens early on Friday, 7am, to offer breakfast until 9:30am. Omelets, Breakfast Burritos, French Toast, and Oatmeal are just some of the selections.

"Atlas Hugged", written by Katharine Kelly, originally published in the Urban Tulsa Weekly on October 17th, 2007. Click Here to View the Archive.

Atlas Life Building
415 South Boston
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
P: (918) 583-3111

Restaurant Hours:
Monday - Friday  7:00am - 9:30am


Monday - Friday  11:00am - 2:00pm

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