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Oldest Bar in Oklahoma: Eischen’s Bar, Okarche

The oldest bar in Oklahoma is Eischen’s Bar which was established in 1896. 

Since 1896, Eischen’s Bar has been slinging beers. First mostly to the local, small community of Okarche. Now, after being world famous, to travelers the world over.

Located in tiny Okarche northwest of Oklahoma City, it is definitely the town’s centerpiece. In fact, being just about 30 minutes from the big city and being world famous for its fried chicken (thanks, New York Times), the place does  brisk business. So brisk, in fact, that Eischen’s fries 4,000 chickens per week!

The fried chicken is the centerpiece of the menu. Well, menu may be overstating things. Eischen’s serves about three or four different items, which are listed on a board above the bar, so it’s not like there’s a whole lot to choose from. Regardless, when you’re internationally renowned for your fried chicken, it’s probably pretty rare to have guests order something else.  

We ordered the fried chicken. It’s a whole chicken that has been cut into its eight parts: two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks, and two wings. The chicken is then fried to crispy perfection and served in a checkered paper basket with pickled vegetables and white bread. It’s good, but I’m not sure it lives up to the hype of being world famous. 

The grocery to the left went out of business in 2003, but the bar took over the space and it now serves as a gift shop and additional dining room.
The grocery as it looked back in 1908.

Historically, Eischen’s was established as a grocery and saloon back in the late 1890s. The grocery was so successful that it became the first IGA store in Oklahoma. 

Okarche is very tiny with a population of just over 400 people. As such, the grocery was the stop for the town until a Walmart opened about 10 minutes away in the early 2000s. At that point the grocery business started to decline and eventually closed in 2003. That left Eischen’s Bar to itself as the only link to Okarche’s past. 

Eischen’s Bar now occupies both the original saloon and grocery. The old grocery now contains a gift shop with all sorts of historical swag. The bar has three dining rooms with the actual bar occupying the middle room. The floors are checkered, the booths are vinyl-covered, and the walls are covered with memorabilia. 

This is the main bar and dining area. A few beers are served but no hard liquor — a tradition that dates back to Oklahoma’s prohibition on spirits.

Unfortunately, the original bar was destroyed in an inferno in the mid-1990s. Thus, the current bar isn’t the original. Only a small portion of the back bar survived and it is enshrined in the front dining area.

The only part of the old bar that survived the unfortunate 1993 inferno. Dang, it would have been cool to see that bar in all of its glory.

Eischen’s does a great job of preserving its history for visiting guests. In the back dining room, there’s a glass case with a bunch of historical artifacts. These includes old pictures, articles, and advertisements from the grocery’s past. 

Eischen’s does a great job of preserving its past and displaying that history to its guests.

Eischen’s Bar is set up well to continue to prosper and is definitely a worthy destination on the Bars & Pars Quest.