Maintaining the ambience of the store, the food is served in the same no-nonsense fashion on plates reminiscent of a cafeteria lunchroom.
July 2017: White River Fish Market is one of those Tulsa staples folks recommend to friends and family when they stop through from out of state. Understated and casual, White River offers patrons the opportunity to dine in their market-style lunchroom, where guests order at a counter and wait to be served. Recently, they added a second location in Broken Arrow.
White River has been the go-to place to pick up fresh fish flown in from the coasts and South America since the 1930s with a reputation so solid local sushi chefs rely on their fare for fresh fish when they can’t wait for a shipment.
The Broken Arrow spot maintains the lowkey vibe of its older sister, giving as close to the feel of a coastal fish market as you’re probably going to get in a landlocked city. Counters of fresh fish line the store on one side, replete with vast offerings: a large, white halibut next to heaps of thick orange roughy, tilapia, frog legs, mahi mahi, sea bass, peeled and deveined shrimp, and the like. Rows of hot sauce and Lee Lover’s Clover Honey line the countertop with no-nonsense signage for pricing above on the wall.
Staff were straight-up; they offered professional, solid service in the same no-frills way they serve their food, which is fine because the food truly speaks for itself. White River portions on the generous side, and all meals come with two sides, so order accordingly.
The Academy Award for best performance on a plate goes to the onion rings. That heaping pile of onion rings was the very definition of food joy. The onions were thickly cut, the batter light and sweet but not too crumbly.
The hush puppies were also top notch. Sweet, crispy, just a little spicy, but moist inside almost the way cake is. In a world of dry hush puppies, White River has achieved texture perfection with theirs. The meal also came with a side of stewed pinto beans, tasty but standard fare.
The grilled halibut was beautiful, perfectly seasoned, served with a side of clarified butter. The seasoning was not too heavy-handed, which is important because the fish quality speaks for itself at the market. The quality was excellent; it was clearly very fresh fish.
Counters of fresh fish line the store on one side, replete with vast offerings: a large, white halibut next to heaps of thick orange roughy, tilapia, frog legs, mahi mahi, sea bass, peeled and deveined shrimp, and the like.
We would be remiss if we did not finish out the meal with a slice of pie and a piping hot cup of coffee. The buttermilk pie is a lemon zest recipe, which was unexpected but extremely tasty, served with a generous heap of whipped cream. The texture was creamier than some. In a town filled with delicious buttermilk pie (Stutt’s and Wilson’s both offer phenomenal recipes), it was nice to taste a recipe that was not a clone but had something different to offer.
At about $16-$20 per person, this destination is all about the food experience. If you consider yourself a foodie or epicure, the best way to experience White River might just be to order several meals and dig in family style. Just don’t forget to order onion rings and possibly write a sonnet about how amazing they are later on.
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