The oldest bar in Oklahoma is Eischen’s Bar which was established in 1896.
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.
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.
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.
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 Bar is set up well to continue to prosper and is definitely a worthy destination on the Bars & Pars Quest.