Oklahoma is home to 39 different Indigenous tribes. Some of those groups have always lived in the region, but others arrived as part of the U.S. government’s deadly displacement campaigns. The First Americans Museum of Oklahoma City honors their resilient history in its exhibitions and performances, and at its on-site restaurant.
The restaurant’s name, Thirty Nine, is a direct nod to the number of Indigenous groups residing in Oklahoma. Its menu was crafted in part by Indigenous chefs Loretta Barrett Oden (Potawatomi Nation) and Matthew Johnson (Cherokee) and highlights the ingredients that have been grown, gathered, and hunted in the area for centuries.
Appetizers at Thirty Nine celebrate the glory of the Three Sisters: a white bean hummus comes with toasted piñons, sumac, and chickweed; butternut squash soup is topped in crisped sage, wild rice crackers, and sage-piñon pesto; and corn ribs are coated in sumac rub, brown butter, smoked jalapeño aioli, and queso fresco.
Meanwhile, the hearty mains emphasize local game, such as a bison burger loaded with pickled red onions, tomato jam, garlic-sage aioli, and squash pickles. And turkey breast—a meat often criticized for having a bland flavor—gets a decadent flavor boost from cornbread dressing, sage chimichurri, green beans, crispy onions, and cranberry gastrique.
Afterward, visitors can walk off their meals by viewing the museum’s priceless cultural materials (many of which were recently returned to tribal governments by the Smithsonian) and audio narratives of oral histories.
Know Before You Go
You can visit Thirty Nine without paying the museum fee. Simply enter through the door near the gift shop.