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COMMENTARY
Good Gravy Diner
Good Gravy Diner is located at 8014 N. Western Ave., Oklahoma City, OK. (William W. Savage III)

When it comes time to appraise the value of a dish, the accessibility of the American diner becomes a double-edged sword. In diner food’s across-the-board goodness, it’s hard to fault any particular establishment for doing anything wrong — or applaud one for doing something right. The corporate chains mimic the mom and pops with acceptable accuracy, and a lot of hidden taquerias in Oklahoma City have strong breakfast side hustles that would satisfy most.

I was beginning to think the only way for one diner to separate itself from the next is with a gimmick, believing the nuances between each establishment were negligible and would go unnoticed by the average person. I was wrong. Good Gravy in Nichols Hills executes its menu at an entirely different level while adhering to what you might expect from standard breakfast fare. Throw in a plethora of gravy options for good measure, and even the most jaded of breakfast gluttons might leave feeling inspired.

‘That’s what’s up’

I arrived at Good Gravy hungry but with little desire to be there. I had walked to IHOP from the bars the night before and, being perfectly satiated by that experience, having breakfast for lunch less than 10 hours later seemed unappealing. The friends who invited me were late, so I had time to skim through the menu, which didn’t spark my enthusiasm immediately. Outside of offering chorizo, nothing really caught my eye as something I hadn’t tried somewhere else. It was all food I liked arranged in ways I knew worked.

Since nothing seemed to be particularly adventurous, I settled on chicken strips, mashed potatoes, green beans, toast and orange juice. My friends arrived and ordered similarly familiar options: ham sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage patties, biscuits and gravy. In an era of exotic travel documentaries where food is bathed in perfect lighting to be streamed and viewed from all corners of the Internet, I was anticipating a fairly uneventful meal in Oklahoma City with some friends, something boring.

My expectations quickly ascended after the food arrived. The mashed potatoes retained bits of potato skin and possessed a slight firmness as well, which I took as an expression of love. The accompanying gravy was creamy and smooth, which is how it is advertised on the menu (though I wasn’t ready to believe it). The chicken and green beans were cooked nicely, and the crisp, buttery toast was as rich as anything on my plate.

“Oh snap. This ham is legit,” exclaimed my friend after he had taken a bite of his sandwich. “That’s what’s up.”

Upon further inspection, we noticed thick, seemingly hand-cut slices of ham that defied the summer season we were in, instead evoking warm holiday memories of snow and family.

“My gravy is better than yours,” a girl told her boyfriend. “It’s maple gravy. I haven’t tried yours, but there’s no way it’s better than this.”

“This pancake feels like cake,” said another as she plucked a piece of pancake from her plate and rolled it between her finger tips, not unlike a farmer inspecting sod. The purple, wine-colored syrup-soaked blueberries that garnished the top of the cake caught my attention immediately, as did the size of the pancakes themselves.

Not only did everything taste and feel homemade, but all of the portions were gigantic and rich. I would compare it to Cajun King-level richness, which is entirely different comfort food but similarly heavy. After one meal and one drink, my ticket came to about $11.

Good Gravy is only open Tuesdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., so there’s only a small window to get some. It’s definitely worth it. I don’t come to Nichols Hills very often, sticking mostly to the taquerias near the stockyards during work hours, but I wouldn’t mind coming back for some breakfast on the weekend after getting in a light jog in to compensate for the impending calorie bomb on a plate.

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James Nghiem is an Oklahoma-based stand-up comic and drummer who runs Robot Saves City, a local comedy label.