If you have been on Sixteenth Street any time in the last few years, you might think that this trendy little spot had been here a while.
The buildings and shops have the feel that they are well settled, even comfortable; but just a short while ago this neighborhood was all but dead.
They like to call the former state of the strip a blight, and I was inclined to agree. A couple of convenience stores, an old coin-op laundromat, and the defunct Plaza Theatre dominated what was otherwise a series of abandoned store fronts.
This area was an urban hub for Oklahoma City dating back to the twenties, but with age, fell from grace. It wasn’t until the late nineties that a group of entrepreneurial spirits joined forces and formed the non-profit Plaza District Association.
It took quite some time for the ball to get rolling on what many thought to be an insurmountable task, but through years of hard work, they gathered the support of their community and brought about cultural renaissance uncharacteristic of such decayed urban landscapes.
Today you will find more than a dozen shops and art galleries, a dance studio, hair salon, tattoo parlor, several restaurants, and the newly renovated Lyric Theater on the Plaza.
From hooligan hang-out to hipster hub, the 16th Street Plaza at Blackwelder has a new face and a new lease on life.
A great place to visit any day of the month, you definitely won’t want to miss their LIVE on the Plaza event which takes place every second Friday of the month.
Every month seems to bring its own theme. From sidewalk chalk murals to summer picnicking, they have been going for more than six months now without missing a second Friday.
A whirlwind of people and activity, prepare for live music both indoors and out, wine tastings at the local winery, Urban Wineworks, art shows and demonstrations, and plenty of food.
The LIVE event brings with it the ever sought after food truck meet-up, a rarity in Oklahoma City.
Expect a showing from one of Big Truck Tacos so-named trucks, as well as many other local favorites.
This month gave me a chance to try out a recent, and delicious, addition to our city’s line-up, Taste of Soul Eggrolls. Homemade egg rolls for every taste, occasion, and time of day.
The Bly family hand-wraps their own egg rolls, making everything from the traditional meat and cabbage to a vegetarian mixed veggie, one stuffed with chicken fried rice, dessert rolls, and though they didn’t have them that evening, be on the lookout for their original breakfast egg rolls (think breakfast burritos in a crispy wrapper).
A great time to come hang out with a good group of locally minded people, it is also a family and pet friendly event. This summer they started scheduling kids activities, such as water balloon tosses, as well.
LIVE on the Plaza is a fantastic showcase for local artists and business owners, showing off art, vintage clothing, hand-made boutique gifts, and more.
The Guatamalan Imports shop has a pretty good food counter in the back of the store, where they will fix you up something traditional.
Saints bar has an amazing menu with authentic Irish food that goes way beyond your typical Irish novelty pub.
Urban Wineworks even has an outdoor patio where they grill up some great food.
Another restaurant is soon to open on the Plaza, a gourmet sandwich shop/hangout spot, known only as The Goat. Scheduled to open in mid-September, the owners have been working furiously to get the place ready. Keep an eye out for open house events.
The 16th Street Plaza is also the home of Keep It Local OKC. If you are a card holder, it can be used at many of the shops here, as well as around the OKC metro. If you aren’t a card holder, then you better get one, because you are missing some of the best deals this city has to offer.
So feel free to pop into the Plaza at NW 16th and Blackwelder any time (I’m sure they will appreciate it), but don’t miss out on LIVE on the Plaza for great food, music, art, and people.
Keep up with LIVE, the Plaza District Association, and all of the events on the Plaza at plazadistrict.org.