44th Cafe Pancake House: Shady Restaurant of the Month [closed]
44th Cafe Pancake House is located at 2119 Southwest 44th in Oklahoma City (map). You can call them at (405) 686-7702.
Please note: this restaurant is no longer in business.
The goal of every shady pick is to find a tasty bit of food at a location the average person may never have the guts to try on their own. This month’s pick, Macy’s Pancake House, was actually recommended by one of our shady-lovin’ readers. The only thing is, Macy’s Pancake House was sold, and the name changed. It is now 44th Cafe Pancake House. Actually, I think it’s really only called 44th Cafe, but Pancake House still is pasted down the pole so that is what I will call it.
I had been to 44th Cafe about a year ago (when it was Macy’s) and remembered it to be pretty good. I decided to go back and try it again. Sure, it’s pretty shady. You will find 44th Cafe nestled snuggly among a long line of pawn shops and cash advance joints. The pawn shop next door actually outfitted my Volkswagen with a new stereo not too long ago. So, how shady is this stretch of road, you ask? Well, Sydney’s Restaurant, the famed inaugural Shady Restaurant of the Month, chose to move just down the road at SW 44th and May. I will miss the old location with its leaky awning and its requirement of unplugging the fan to plug in the credit card machine, but even places like Sydney’s are looking to advance themselves.
As nearly every shady restaurant does, 44th Cafe likes to proudly put pictures of their food on the sign outside. I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind this is. You would think the words “Cafe” and “Pancake House” would be enough to clue people in that there are delicious greasy morsels inside. Maybe they simply want to be sure that the image of their food can transcend language. Who knows.
Inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the well-lit, air conditioned environment. Smokers are segmented in a separate room and unsurprisingly, that room was full. There was no one in the non-smoking area except for myself and my shady companions. Also, if you were thinking about borrowing the proprietor’s phone for personal reasons, you’d better think again. There is a big sign on the counter plainly stating “No More Personal Phone Calls.” Lucky for me, I had my cell phone for emergencies.
After we looked over our menus, our waitress approached and broke down the options for us. I appreciated her candid honesty. “Breakfast is great!” she said. I asked about the daily specials and she said, “Oh, they are all good!” I asked if that was really the case given that all of the specials were under $5 and she clarified that wasn’t really the case. She said the chicken fried steak is terrible, a frozen parts-is-parts patty. She raved about the spaghetti, though. We all decided to play it safe and order breakfast. I say we played it safe, but a couple of my shady friends ignored my sage advice and ordered the breakfast steaks along with their eggs and home fries. Please, hear my plea — never order a steak that costs less than $10. $4.99 is seductive, but it’s bad news. The breakfast “New York Strip” looked like a thin shave of arm steak, but I could be wrong. Whatever it was, my repentant friend informed me it was terrible and tough. On the other hand, the eggs, home fries, biscuits, gravy, and pancakes were all fantastic — and very affordable. 44the Cafe also offers diner staples like meatloaf, pot roast, beef tips, catfish, and burgers … etc. I think I’ll stick with breakfast, though.
One thing that stood out was the fact that everyone who came into this restaurant was known by name. Clint (who I called “Mr. Suspenders”) came in and ordered while he walked into the smoking chamber. He ordered like this — it was brilliant:
waitress: “Hi Clint, be right there with your coffee and the usual.”
Clint: (nods head and says something unintelligible while pulling on suspenders)
waitress: “Ok, I’ll make that iced tea.”
This was an amazing exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication. I can only hope that one day I can go into a shady diner, mumble and tug on my sagging pants, and find that my waitress hears my message — which will inevitably be “extra gravy and Dr. Pepper please” — loud and clear.
I love ordaining a diner with the shady honor, especially when it is a reader recommendation. 44th Cafe is a particularly shady location with big flavors and personalities inside. One of the waitresses swears that if you come back for dinner and order the ribeye, you won’t be disappointed. She says you can cut it with a butter knife. That proposition is too shady even for me, but if one of you dares to try it and survives, please post your comments. Until next time, keep the shady requests coming, and don’t be afraid to visit some of these places for yourselves.