Pawhuska OK is booming again, thanks to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile. Get here early, to visit the General Store, Candy Shop, Bakery, and Restaurant
In the opening credits of the Pioneer Woman show on The Food Network, Ree Drummond says she lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. I learned that first-hand last week, when April and I made the trip to visit their newest venture, The Mercantile. It opened on Halloween 2016, but I knew there would be a huge initial craze and crush of visitors. So I played it safe and waited. April visited with her parents in January, and when I saw that she went, I immediately told her we had to go back.
The Mercantile is in Pawhuska OK, about 75 minutes NE of Stillwater. There are 2 routes to Pawhuska from Stillwater, either East towards Tulsa or North through Ponca City. We decided to go the Tulsa route on the way there, and return via the Ponca City route. This was my first visit to Pawhuska, and I have to admit I had never heard of the town until I began to watch the show. We saw a sign for the Drummond home on our way there, and of course had to stop and check out the house.
April really likes the stripes, but I can’t decide if I like them or not. It’s a very bold statement, maybe just a little too much for me. On the Ponca City route, you drive right past the Drummond Ranch. You have to know where to look or you will drive right past it. The ranch has a very non-descript entrance, just a small sign that says “Drummond Ranch”. As you drive you can also see the top of their home in the far distance.
Pawhuska is in Osage County Oklahoma, and looks like a “typical” small-town downtown. At one time, Pawhuska was a booming town, full of business and industry, but in the 80’s that all changed. Stores and businesses left, buildings were in a state of disrepair, and there just wasn’t much to bring life to the town. The Mercantile changed all of that, as people come from all over the state, country and even world to visit. Buildings are under renovation, and businesses are returning to Pawhuska.
The Mercantile building was originally the Osage Mercantile in 1910. Ree and her husband Ladd bought the building in 2012, and renovated the space from top to bottom. The building is a huge, gorgeous space that sits on a corner in the center of downtown. The Mercantile is open 6am-6pm Monday-Thursday, and 6am-7pm Friday and Saturday.
I went straight tourist-photo crazy, and took a million pictures. The photos in this post are just a small portion of what The Mercantile has to offer. You really need to visit and see everything for yourself.
The inside is just as gorgeous, and shows the love, time and care that they put into the renovation. Wood floors, exposed brick walls, huge windows, and beautiful chandeliers throughout the space.
We had an hour to kill before lunch, so we began by browsing the general store on the main floor. This shop has everything, including kitchen products, branded clothing, gifts, and cookbooks. As I expected, some of the products are pricey, but that didn’t stop people from buying.
The second floor of the Mercantile began as the ranch offices in 2014, but is now a bakery, confectionary, and additional seating. You can also watch staff prepare baked goods in the back.
The wonderful scent of fresh-baked goods and the vibrant colors of the various candies draw you right over to the counter. They had a few samples of baked goods, so of course I had to try them. And they were delicious. I did well staying away from the baked goods, but I couldn’t resist the caramel popcorn. And then April raved about the chocolate bars. So of course I couldn’t resist getting one of those as well. When I got back home, I planned to have one handful. I devoured half the bag in 10 minutes, then forced myself to put it away until the next day.
The restaurant side of The Mercantile offers both a full-service restaurant that opens at 7am, and a Deli & Bakery that opens at 6am. The restaurant has full-service seating for about 50, including tables and 2 long tall tables. The large, open kitchen is at the back, just beyond the deli counter.
The Deli & Bakery side has grab-and-go meals, made-to-order options, desserts, and a coffee bar.
The restaurant serves breakfast from 7-11am, and lunch from 11am – close. The line for lunch in the restaurant begins at about 10:30. We got into line at 10:45, and the line was only about 20-deep out the door. By the time we got to the door, the line behind us had more than doubled. I’m quite sure that on weekends, the lines are significantly longer. We sat at a table right near the main entrance to The Mercantile. The only down side is that I felt a little chill each time the door opened, but it wasn’t horrible.
The lunch menu features snacks & starters, sandwiches, hearty meals, signature soups, and main dish salads. We decided to start with both the queso and chips, plus the olive cheese bread.
I don’t like olives, but agreed to try it in the spirit of the food blog. I am so glad I was adventurous, because the bread is amazing. The thick, crusty bread and all that melted, gooey cheese is to die for. You can still taste the brininess of the olives, but it is not overwhelming.
The queso is fabulous. It is rich and smoky, with a hint of spice in the background. The light, crispy and salty chips pair perfectly with the queso. I could have devoured the entire skillet myself. When our server asked if we wanted more chips we should have said no. But we didn’t, and continued to munch on them as we waited for our main course
April got the beef brisket Reuben
Corned beef is okay, but not something I would usually order. Even though this Reuben uses brisket, I was still a little hesitant because I don’t think I’ve ever tried a Reuben before. One bite completely changed my tune. The brisket is tender, the slaw has a tart kick, and the grilled bread is the perfect way to finish the sandwich.
I got the Marlboro Man sandwich. I thought this was a burger when I first decided to get it. April pointed out that it was a sandwich, but it’s ribeye. And I love ribeye.
The steak is phenomenal. It is so tender and juicy, and melts in your mouth. I didn’t try the bread, because I knew there was no way I could eat it. And besides, the bread got quite soggy as I ate. I think the steak would be better in a skillet, but that was absolutely the only negative.
The homemade chips are delicious as well. However, by the time I got to the chips I was so full from everything else, that I only ate a few.
As I mentioned earlier, people come from all over to experience The Mercantile. We struck up conversation with the 2 women next to us, who had driven in from Colorado to visit. They raved about their food, and we also discussed food choices with the couple who took over their table while we ate.
After lunch, we walked through the general store again. I originally had no plans to buy anything, but ended up getting a couple of items for food blog photos. By this point, the crowd throughout The Mercantile had grown significantly. We definitely made the right decision to arrive early. Unfortunately we didn’t see Ree on this visit, but I’m keeping hope alive for our next trip.
Of course we’re going to return. We’ve already picked out what we will get to eat!