I like big buns and I cannot lie

I like big buns and I cannot lie

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.

Meghan, Steve, and Ann on our first (we know we’ll be back) visit to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile sweet tea with raspberry

They will mix a real fruit puree into your sweet tea at The Merc. This glass had raspberry–and was cold and refreshing on a hot June day.

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.

The Pioneer Woman queso dip was amazing, especially with the toasted cheese on top.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile marlboro man sandwich

The Marlboro Man sandwich is served with a couple of little pickles and 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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile lasagna

Our daughter, Meghan, enjoyed the PW lasagna.

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.

PW Mercantile Country Fried Steak

The chicken fried steak at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile tastes even better than it looks!

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 Pioneer Woman Mercantile mac and cheese

The mac and cheese tasted as rich and creamy as it looks.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile bakery seating area

There is a large seating area upstairs in the bakery at The Merc.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile cream cheese danish

Meghan ordered the cream cheese pastry at the bakery.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile maple scone

Ann said the maple nut scone was delicious.

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.

The Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls which were absolutely drowning in frosting. Yum!

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.

Ann especially enjoyed this coffee that was infused with Sasparilla and topped with frothed milk.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Sticky Bun

The Pioneer Woman knows how to bake, and this pecan sticky bun proves it.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile candy selection

There is a large variety of candies for sale in the bakery at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile taffy

You can also buy chicken and waffle flavored taffy at The Merc.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile bakery kitchen

You are welcome to watch bakers practice their trade in the kitchen upstairs.

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.

The Grab & Go menu at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile included slow braised beef pot roast and comfort meatballs.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Asian steak salad

The Asian steak salad was available at the Grab & Go counter.

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.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile meatball dinner

Comfort meatballs was one of the options at the Grab & Go counter.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile pot roast and tuna salad sandwich

The pot roast dinner and tuna salad sandwich were a couple of the wonderful looking options on the Grab & Go menu.

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? 

As always, thanks for sharing!

Keeping folks in line at The Mercantile

Keeping folks in line at The Mercantile

Within minutes of arriving at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, a young woman with a cheerful smile and a gift for hospitality greeted us. 

Her name was Meg.

Meg Kane hands out cold bottles of water and umbrellas to people in line at The Mercantile.

Meg’s job is to welcome visitors to The Merc and ensure they are as comfortable as possible while waiting in line (sometimes for hours) to taste Ree Drummond’s recipes.

It was obvious to us that Meg loved her summer job and that she was just the right person to welcome people to Pawhuska and make them forget how long they’d been waiting in that line for a chicken fried steak.

I asked her how she got this gig, suspecting she’d stopped by a job fair or applied online. Nope. Ree texted her. Turns out, Meg is Meg Kane. Daughter of Hyacinth Kane – who, if you’ve watched Food Network’s The Pioneer Woman at all, you know is Ree’s BFF.

“My family is good friends with the Drummonds and Ree just texted me and asked if I needed a job for the summer,” Meg said. “I told her, ‘sure.’ I could talk to people all day.”

And that’s exactly what she does.

We returned to The Merc our second day in Pawhuska to find Meg walking up and down the line of visitors, handing out icy cold popsicles and sidewalk chalk and answering questions.

We loved the sidewalk chalk that they handed out to people in line at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Her younger brother, Phillip, sometimes hangs out in the line with her, giving people complimentary bottled water or passing out umbrellas to help block the blazing Oklahoma sun. Can you believe the hospitality at this place? Who does this?

Meg’s brother Phillip sometimes hangs out with her as she tends to people in line at The Mercantile.

They also do what they can to keep people occupied and focused on something other than the homemade cinnamon rolls waiting for them inside.

The Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls which were absolutely drowning in frosting. Yum!

They lead Pioneer Woman trivia contests and play minute-to-win-it challenges with people who have traveled from near and far. And if you’re wondering if the winners get to advance in line, the answer is no.  Everyone’s a VIP here.

The line for lunch at the deli at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

I was curious about the questions Meg gets asked each day and sure enough, she was kind enough to share them with us. Here are the nine questions she said she gets asked the most, along with her typical answers.

Q: What’s this line for? (Meg says this is the #1 most-asked question, by far)

A: The line is for people waiting to be seated for a meal inside The Pioneer Woman Mercantile deli.

Steve visiting with Meg Kane while waiting in line at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Q: Is Ree here?

A: Depends on the day but she’s usually here every two or three days when she’s in town.

Q: How long is the wait?

A: The wait can be anywhere from a few minutes to four hours. We measure the length of the wait by looking at the lines in between buildings on the block. Sometimes when I tell people it might be three hours I’m shocked at how nice they are and how willing they are to wait. You’d think they’d be throwing a fit, but they don’t.

The Grab and Go menu at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile included slow braised beef pot roast and comfort meatballs.

[Note: The line seemed to move very quickly at the “grab and go” counter where you can purchase prepared hot or cold meals like Ree’s chicken spaghetti, a turkey sandwich, or her Asian beef salad.  Just before noon, we were able to get through the line with our “grab and go” purchases in about 10 minutes.]

Q: What’s that building across the street?

A: It’s called the Triangle Building and it has been around since 1913. During Osage County’s oil boom, it is said to have housed offices for as many as 180 lawyers.  It is currently under renovation.

The Triangle Building across the street from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Q: What are your favorite items on the menu?

A: I love the queso dip and the chicken parm is amazing.  

The Pioneer Woman queso dip was amazing, especially with the charred cheese on top.

Q: Do they enforce the two-hour parking out front?

A: I probably shouldn’t say this, but not really.

We were so excited to snag a great parking spot right in front of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile. And there were no parking fees!

Q: Are you from Pawhuska?

A: Yes, I was born and raised in Pawhuska. In fact, I’m one of the very last babies born in the Pawhuska Hospital. There is still a hospital here, but they don’t deliver babies anymore.

Q: Where’s the bathroom?

A: There is one on the first floor of the Merc near the gift-wrap counter and one on the second floor near the bakery.

One of the beautifully decorated bathrooms at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Q: Is there a bar in town?

A: Yes, but don’t go in there wearing your Chacos.

Q: Is Bre here?

A: Do you even know where you are?

Meg told us at the end of the summer, she plans to return to the University of Oklahoma where she is studying to be a nurse. As for summer jobs, she was quick to say this has been her best job ever. 

“I used to work across the street at the Prairie Dog (a local hot dog shop),” Meg said. “It was a good job but my mom always went around town calling me the wiener girl.  I’d say, ‘really, mom?”

So, for now, Meg will keep answering questions, handing out water, and meeting new people from all over the world, who might never have come to Pawhuska, if not for The Pioneer Woman. “I meet the most incredible people in this line,” she said. “The people who are from here and the people who come here are just real genuine. “

And as far as we can tell, Meg is as genuine as they come.


Note: Thank you, Meg Kane, for taking the time to visit with us and for allowing us to publish your comments. YOU ROCK!

As always, thanks for sharing (and Pinning)!