Taste Of Oklahoma: Painted Horse Combines Classic Oklahoma Features With Flavors From Around The World

A restaurant in downtown Bartlesville is offering classic Oklahoma features but combining them with flavors from around the world with local meat from a ranch 25 miles away.

Wednesday, July 10th 2024, 4:09 pm



A restaurant in downtown Bartlesville is offering classic Oklahoma features but combining them with flavors from around the world with local meat from a ranch 25 miles away.

Mark and Kelly Spencer opened Painted Horse in 2013 and own a few other restaurants. They say the restaurant biz is all about service, compassion, and delicious food.

Colorful, vibrant paintings of horses, rustic cowhide, and a full U-shaped bar—the restaurant's centerpiece—greet customers, new and old, at Painted Horse.

The historic building has original floors and ceilings from 1904.

“People ask me, how did I get started in the restaurant business, and I tell them, poor choices,” Mark said.

Mark and Kelly Spencer own the restaurant and have a few more around town and in Arkansas.

Painted Horse opened 11 years ago, but the owners have been together and in the restaurant business for much longer.

“We’ve done it together for 40 years,” said Kelly. “I’m the back of the house. He's the visionary, I’m the glueifier.”

The menu has something for everyone: from the classics, like burgers and steaks, to more unique options like their Asian-inspired salmon, salads, and mac and cheese of all kinds.

“I wanted to offer things that a lot of people would enjoy and things I enjoy cooking,” Mark said.

The best part is that most of the meat is farm-to-table. Mark is a fifth-generation rancher, and he and Kelly own Wolf Creek Ranch in Pawhuska, where they raise horses and cattle.

“We will sell hamburgers from our ranch, the steaks and roasts and things like that here at the restaurant, a real ranch-to-table,” he said.

Back in the bustling kitchen, chefs tend to steaks of all cuts and press down burgers on the grill.

The ribeye steak gets a lot of seasoning and is seared and served at a beautiful medium rare alongside roasted Brussels sprouts and parm potato wedges.

One bite melts in your mouth, and it’s even better with the compound butter. The Brussels sprouts are tangy and have a charred bite to them.

The grilled salmon is a change of pace from the hearty ribeye. After chefs sauté a medley of veggies and get the salmon seasoned and grilled, the fish gets served on top of a bed of rice and is topped with a hibachi sauce and spicy slaw.

It’s spicy, sweet, and fresh.

Mac and cheese isn't a side dish here—it’s a main course. They call this the Cluck and Squeal; hot noodles are covered in a five-cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs, chicken, bacon, and green onion.

“All of our mac is really, really good,” Kelly said. “Pork, beef, shrimp, chicken.”

All that cheese would make anyone a little thirsty. That’s why the bar has something for anyone.

“This is Travis, our bartender,” Mark said. “My oldest son also.”

Painted Horse is a family affair, with their daughter Hannah as the GM and Travis behind the bar.

He’s shaking up a summer drink, the coconut margarita.

“You could be on a tropical beach or you could be in Osage County,” said Mark.

This drink gets a coconut flake rim, and Travis combines tequila with triple sec, pineapple juice, coconut, and fresh lime—dangerously good.

The Painted Horse is named in honor of Mark’s great-grandmother, a full-blood Cherokee who painted a paint-by-number horse when Mark was a kid.

“The painted horse began one day I'll have a restaurant and name it for my great grandma, the painted horse,” he said.

Mark and Kelly say the secret sauce to their success is kindness and consistency in their staff and their service. They get to know their customers, and the friendship makes people want to come back for more.

“If you can work on food and make it really good and have a great atmosphere, you have a chance, but then you gotta put the work in,” Mark said.

Painted Horse is located at 110 SW Frank Phillips Blvd, Bartlesville, OK 74003.

Email Kristen.Weaver@griffin.news for recommendations.


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