Eischen’s: Famous Fried Chicken
You’ve probably heard of Eischen’s. If you haven’t, you need to know about it. After all, hundreds of thousands of people travel from across the country and even around the world to Okarche, just outside Oklahoma City’s metro, to experience the famous fried chicken at Eishen’s Bar. They’ve been featured regularly in food publications including the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Yes, Eischen’s has brought a bit of fame to OKC that is worthy of attention.
Set in the oldest continuously-operating bar in Oklahoma (since 1896), Eischen’s added fried chicken to its menu in the 1960s and, well, the rest is history. Eating fried chicken here is an experience that includes marveling at the mysterious green dust on the floor, searching for an open table, and finally biting into that much-awaited piece of fried chicken goodness.
There are only eight items on the menu which is printed on the side of each napkin dispenser and on a big board overhead. The chicken is obviously the star and it doesn’t disappoint. You can only order it as a whole chicken, cut into pieces, for $13. It’s fried to a golden, crispy perfection and accompanied by sweet and dill pickles, fresh cut white onions and white bread. Be careful — that beautiful pile of chicken you just ordered is served right out of the fryer. It’s hot! The crispy exterior seals in juices and steam which both come pouring out on your first bite.
Other items on the menu include fried okra ($6), cheese nachos ($6), chili cheese nachos ($8), and beef sandwiches. The okra is sized to share, very fresh, and perfectly fried. The other items are good but fairly standard. You can order them as appetizers if you wish to curb your hunger as you wait for your chicken (which can take a while depending on the crowd).
Although it is a bar, it really has evolved into a family-friendly restaurant. The interior is expansive with small and large booths and tables to accommodate any size group. There’s even a game room to enjoy while you wait. Oh, and the only beverages served here are water, soft drinks, and beer.
Eischen’s doesn’t have any plates or silverware. Instead, you get sheets of wax paper to serve as the base for your piles of food. If you need to take something to go, they’ll usually be happy to bring you a couple of sheets of aluminum foil to wrap it up. I think you get the picture — no frills here, but it’s all part of the experience.
Tim told me that Eischen’s fourth-generation owner claimed to run 2,000 people through the restaurant most every Saturday. Pretty amazing considering the entire town of Okarche only has 1,200 residents. Needless to say, Eischen’s can be quite crowded, especially on the weekend evenings. Be prepared to scout for an open table and, once your order is placed, to wait a good long time for some famous fried chicken. The servers might be a bit rushed as the crowds keep them moving and, yes, they might need a reminder about your drink preference. On the other hand, Tim went early on a Saturday once for lunch and said that was a great time to avoid the crowds.
Crowds or no crowds, Eischen’s should definitely be on your list to try. It’s an Oklahoma icon that’s pretty convenient especially for those on the northwest side. I know it’s hyped up, and sometimes that can work against a place, but in my opinion (and Tim’s), Eischen’s is well deserving of their fame. Oh, and remember to grab some cash before you head out, because Eischen’s doesn’t take plastic.
Have you been to Eischen’s? Let us know what you think in the comments below.