4 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — It’s the most stressulous time of the year. Gray days and five o’clock sunsets are starting to crush SAD sufferers, lots of people didn’t heed supply chain-based advice about shopping early and practically everyone is trying not to think about how many items are left on the year’s to-do list versus how few days are left on the calendar. I mean, I presume that’s the case; I know it’s true for me. 

More than a few people are wound pretty tight here in mid-December, which is a reason in its own right to check out Uptown 23rd’s new Unwind Cafe. Fortunately for the rest of the year, it’s far from the only reason to keep coming back.

I admit to missing Scottie’s Deli, which used to occupy this space in the shadow of the iconic Tower Theatre sign, but I would have called it more “bustling” than “relaxing.” It’s amazing what some fairly minor cosmetic changes—more color, more spacing between tables, different seating, a little quiet music—can do for a place’s vibe. Suddenly, this is a spot to hang out for a while over breakfast or lunch rather than gobble some truly excellent pastrami and clear out.

Unwind Cafe
The “Spaniel” breakfast sandwich. (STEVE GILL/Okla City Free Press)

Whatever you order, I have a piece of advice—actually, make that three: 

  • 1. Have some coffee. Fancy options abound from a Cuban cortado to a mochaccino, but even the straight black coffee is a delicious Kona blend and came with a little bite of shortbread, which is a lovely touch.
  • 2. Check out the pastry case. Again, you’ll have possibilities including eclairs and tiramisu and whatever’s in the Love cake; my dark chocolate orange cookie had an almost biscotti-like texture and a nicely subtle, lingering flavor that paired quite nicely with the coffee (see #1).
  • 3. Even if you skip the other two, try the Bacon Diplomatico as an add-on to whatever entree you get. It’s soaked in the namesake rum, honey, and some unspecified spices, though the result is less heat and more savor; it’s the kind of mouthful you’re reluctant to swallow because then it’ll be gone, so you keep moving it around on your tongue and palate and chewing and finding new notes every few seconds. It has a remarkable presence.
Unwind Cafe
Sweet treats await visitors to Unwind Cafe. (STEVE GILL/Okla City Free Press)

The same is true in a more visual sense of the entrees, at least the … well, “sandwiches” is too quotidian a concept—these are more “structures” or “sculptures.” 

Lunch versions include smoked roast beef, chicken salad, or turkey with strawberry jam, while breakfasts add your choice of egg to smoked salmon, portobello mushrooms, or chicken/cranberry sausage and peppers, all on a thick piece of Texas toast. 

My Spaniel off the breakfast menu had a slab of avocado toast as the base for a cylindrical tower of Spanish chorizo, scrambled egg, cheese and roasted peppers topped with crema (and a splash of beet juice for color) and slivers of dried onion. There’s a lot happening on these plates; it took a bit of time and focus to eat, and the investment was amply rewarded.

I think that’s at least partly the point: A little extra craftsmanship goes into the food to encourage diners to really focus on and engage with it. 

Even if the quinoa salad and banana-Nutella pancakes don’t come in towers (and maybe they do!), these are carefully chosen and prepared flavor combinations worth slowing down to savor. What better way to unwind than over something delicious? Tidings of comfort and joy, OKC—and hopefully a few trips to Unwind will stay on my to-do list for next year.

Unwind Cafe

427 NW 23rd, OKC


Tuesday-Sunday 9 am-3 pm

Monday closed

Last Updated December 9, 2021, 2:44 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor