Starting about two years ago, exactly like clockwork, I would turn on Food Network at the start of my working-from-home 1pm lunch hour (I like lunching late) because The Pioneer Woman was on. Ree uses so much butter and sugar, how can her recipes not be enticing! I love baked goods so much and her show just called my name. Every day at 1pm it called my name. Since Brian works from home too, he would often overhear the show whether he wanted to or not (more often not). When we decided to drive through Oklahoma on our road trip, Brian suggested we take a trip to visit her Mercantile. Since he was the one who brought it up, I figured I should oblige. 😉
We drove from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska (never thought I’d be destination-driving to a tiny town in Oklahoma!). It took about 2.5 hours. On the way, we saw lots of farmland. Lots of farmland. Lots and lots and lots of farmland. It was a fun surprise when I looked up at a ranch and it read “Drummond Ranch”—our first Pioneer Woman scene sighting!
We arrived in Pawhuska around 11am. As we drove past the Merc, it seemed fairly quiet from the outside. A huge contrast to reviews describing hours-long wait lines for the restaurant. We found street parking just down the street from the Mercantile. Then we walked inside.
It was a mad house!
Brian was giddy! He found it so much bigger, better, and busier than he ever expected and ran around taking video like a kid in a candy store. We both found it fascinating that this middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma town could draw throngs of people. Literally, throngs. I later read in this Eater article, that the restaurant regularly serves 6,000 people a day (and up to 15,000). That’s not even visitors to the store—that’s just the restaurant. Pawhuska only has a population of 3,600 people! Is your mind blown? Mine sure is.
When you walk in, you are greeted by the general store. It’s merchandised really well and it’s a really fun space to explore: things stacked beautifully on tables, under tables, in drawers, and on shelves. The vibe is like Anthropologie meets Cowboy meets hipster Brooklynite. There’s dishware, Oklahoma-themed stuff, man stuff, clothing, jewelry, kitchen wares, candles, lotions, books…and probably more stuff that I didn’t set eyes on!
There is also gift wrapping available and of course, bathrooms! This also isn’t your typical “general store” square footage. It is ginormous!
Also on the main floor is what Ree calls the Deli. This is a sit-down restaurant with well-priced dishes—nothing is over $17, but averages between $10 and $12. There is also a takeaway counter, but with one caveat: it’s a different and smaller menu. Alas, we did not eat here. Why? Because the line to get into the Deli was over 2 hours long!
The takeaway line was only about 15 minutes, but the smaller menu didn’t appeal to us, so, we opted for some cookies from the Bakery instead. It came with its own wait of 40 minutes (speediness is not a forte at the Merc), but it meant we’d be rewarded with a buttery, sugary treat, and my sweet tooth was totally down for this.
The Bakery is upstairs where there are more bathrooms and ample room to sit. Combined with the bakery is a candy shop, which has a cute old-timey vibe with candy in big, glass jars.
As I mentioned earlier, the line didn’t move fast. It wasn’t until about 25 minutes in when we had a prime viewing spot for what was in the case. What was in the case did not disappoint—they were mouthwatering—and waiting in line likely made these new views significantly more rewarding! They were filled with cinnamon rolls, blueberry crumble croissants, a large strawberry rhubarb tart, at least six different types of truffles, browned butter blondies, pineapple upside down cornmeal cakes, rice crispy treats, brownies, and I shouldn’t forget to mention the HUGE slices of chocolate and pecan pie!
Brian opted for a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chunks and M&M’s. I went for that browned butter blondie.
Confession: I’ve never made a Pioneer Woman recipe. That means that this was our first taste of a Ree Drummond recipe. I’m a harsh critic of anything with browned butter because often, the flavor isn’t all too strong in baked goods. At least not as strong as I’d like it to be. This was so not the case with the browned butter blondie! It had so much flavor, a crunchy top, and a to-die-for amazingly chewy inside. Brian’s cookie was great too—it tasted like a brownie, but with a cookie texture. The M&M’s added a great crunch. The white chocolate was sparse, but that’s ok with us! The cherry on top was that it was only $6 total. $2 for the cookie, $4 for the blondie. We’re used to paying $4 a cookie for our NYC fav. Oh, and I shouldn’t fail to mention that our expectation of our treats being buttery and sugary was fulfilled! Both were quite decadent and rich which isn’t a bad thing! Brian and I both ate half midday and then finished the other half after dinner for a wonderful treat to end the day.
Stay tuned over on YouTube for a video of our visit!
Did you visit the Merc? I’m so curious about the food at the Deli! Tell me about your experience in the comments below.