Let me cut to the chase. One of the main reasons people visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Okla., is to eat. Sure, there are colorful serving bowls to admire, plates to purchase, and recipe books to thumb through. But for me (and I suspect many others) the main draw is the food.
When my wife, Ann, our daughter, Meghan, and I visited The Merc a few weeks ago, we wanted to try rich, buttery, delicious foods from across the menu — but not for our own enjoyment. No, we made that sacrifice for you, our loyal readers. That’s just the selfless kind of people we are.
Our first meal in Pawhuska was an early supper. Being travel bloggers conducting “official research,” we felt it best to start with drinks and an appetizer. We ordered fruit infused tea and lemonade and quickly gulped down the blackberry iced tea that was served in a Mason jar. They even make it with that good pellet ice.
We’d heard good things about the queso dip while in line outside so we decided to give it a try. In all reality, it gave me mixed emotions. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the spicy, creamy cheese dip served piping hot in a mini cast iron skillet with just the right amount of crispiness on the top of the cheese. On the other, I can’t get it anywhere else so I’m left to savor it in my memory and look forward to the day when we return to Pawhuska. Seriously, it is the kind of dip you just want to eat with a spoon.
After our appetizer, our main courses arrived. Ann was tempted by the chicken parmesan, but since we were in cattle country, she opted for the popular Marlboro Man sandwich. A beef and onion sandwich with lots of tangy flavor, it is served on a hoagie roll and comes with a side of crispy homemade potato chips.
Meghan chose the PW lasagna. It was a huge portion of ground beef with fresh herbs, tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, and the amount of cheesy goodness you’d expect from Ree Drummond’s kitchen.
I had the chicken fried steak. This was an actual ribeye steak, fork-tender, thinly sliced, breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown. Served with mashed potatoes, the whole dish was covered in a creamy country gravy that nearly overflowed the plate. Hands down, this was the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever had. And trust me, I’ve had a lot of chicken fried steaks. If you go to The Mercantile,
someone in your group you should order this.
While we’d ordered plenty of food to eat with just our meal, in the interest of our “research” we felt it best to order a couple of the sides, as well. Ann makes a great twice-baked potato and we wanted to see how hers stacked up against the potato at The Merc. In all honesty, the potato in the deli had great flavor and was well-prepared, but I have to say, I still like Ann’s better. We also tried a side order of mac & cheese. This bowl of cheesy awesomeness certainly satisfied and is the perfect dish for anyone craving carbs. And who doesn’t crave carbs?
The next morning, we headed back to The Mercantile. Having had a sit-down meal in the deli the night before, we skipped the full breakfast menu and opted to head upstairs to the bakery for coffee and a pastry.
Once there, we purposefully avoided looking for any calorie content information and focused our attention instead on the vast variety of baked goods in the case. Meghan had a cream cheese something-or-other that she absolutely loved. Ann ordered a maple nut scone, and I had the cinnamon rolls (which are served in a single-use metal pan). Typing this post is honestly a little difficult because it makes me remember all the sweet goodness from those rolls. Those warm, gooey, bites of deliciousness … back to my post.
It’s worth noting that when you order something in the bakery, should you want, they will heat it up for you. Trust me, you want. While most places would toss your rolls into a microwave, in The Pioneer Woman’s bakery, they pay attention to details and heat the pastries in an oven using a mini cast iron skillet and conventional heat. This way, you have cinnamon rolls that are not just warm and gooey, but also have a crispy, caramelized sugar edge all the way around them. I promise, you’ll daydream about these cinnamon rolls for weeks.
We all ordered the signature cowboy coffee, which is served “shot in the dark” style, infused with Sasparillia and topped with frothed milk. A strong coffee, Ann absolutely loved it and has said that if we lived in Pawhuska, she’d be in line every morning for a cup. That would be fine with me as I would then be able to justify a daily order of cinnamon rolls. Seriously, I just can’t stop dreaming about them.
Now completely full and feeling a sugar high coming on, we agreed to resist the temptation for more. Then, about five seconds later, we reminded ourselves that we had a responsibility to our readers, so we did get an order of pecan sticky rolls to go, a recipe we’d seen Ree make on her show the night before. On the show she’d said that those sticky rolls are Ladd’s favorite. After trying them, I know why. I’m not sure exactly what kind of delicious magic Ree has them mix in to the caramel and pecan goo on top, though I suspect it might be pure butter and sugar.
Also upstairs on the second floor is an adorable candy section with lots of old-fashioned sweet treats you can purchase. While my eyes went right to the sugary sweets, Ann said she loved the crisp, white subway tile and the beautiful light fixtures. Go figure.
Just beyond the candy shop, we wandered past the counter and walked down a short hallway to look at the kitchen where all the baking witchcraft happens. Peering through the windows, we watched a worker drizzle about a gallon of white chocolate on a pan of thick Rice Krispie treats. We also saw huge mixers churning away on dough for some other wonderful treat. If you’re in The Merc, take a minute and go watch. It’s an impressive operation and the workers look like they truly care about what they are doing.
We left to go tour the lodge where the shows are filmed, and returned to The Mercantile in time for lunch. Seeing a long line for seating in the deli, we chose to go inside to the Grab & Go counter – a great option if you’re in a hurry as there was virtually no wait.
Because we were heading out from Pawhuska that day, we chose meals that we could take with us in the cooler in the car. I had the turkey sandwich meal, while Ann and Meghan had Asian steak salads. I know you think that all turkey sandwiches are created equal, but that isn’t true. This one was excellent as it actually had an appropriate amount (lots) of turkey piled on it – far more than on any other turkey sandwich I’ve had that was made anywhere outside of my kitchen. Ann and Meghan liked their salads, which were made with a variety of fresh greens and Asian flavored dressing. The steak on the salad looked to be perfectly prepared, as well.
If you aren’t taking your meal with you down the road like we did, there are some hot options on the Grab & Go menu, and tables and chairs right outside The Merc where you can sit and eat. Offerings the day we were there included a hot meatball dinner, pot roast, and chicken spaghetti. Sorry, we weren’t able to snag a photo of the spaghetti but it did look amazing.
If you go to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, come hungry and plan to eat as many meals there as you can. The menu [CLICK HERE] is loaded with delectible dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and don’t forget to grab something for the road.
Have you been to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska? What items on the menu did you enjoy most?