Yes, it gave me palpitations to give it a new look.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
For our Memorial Day weekend celebration we took an adventure to Okarche (pronounced oh-car'-chee), Uglyhoma, to visit the state's oldest bar and to partake in its well-known fried chicken.
As long as we've lived here, which will be four years this summer, we have heard about this infamous saloon. We had heard such mouth-watering stories about 2 hour waits for their coveted fried chicken. We have talked a few times about making the 30-minute trip to sample some history, and had googled a map once or twice, but we had never actually pulled up our boot straps and ventured to find it --- until yesterday.
And so we went. It was a pretty drive. We stopped a few times along the way to take pictures of the landscape.
We pulled up to Eischen's, which from the outside looked like a not-so-historic site. It was brick with high windows with neon bar signs between the glass and the shades. Inside, it was dark like a skating rink. The floor, checkerboard black and white, had some kind of green stuff on it. (We couldn't decide if it was little pieces of felt or eraser rubbings. Either way -- it looked dingy and like it should not have been there, but somehow added to the ambience.) There were several rooms, each with at least one pool table. In the back there were lots of different video games, daring you to be a hero and save the world for a mere quarter.
We sat ourselves and were amused to see that there were only 6 things listed on the menu. We asked for an order of fried chicken and an order of fried okra... and of course I had to drink a beer from the oldest bar in the state! The juke box took us further back in time as we soaked in our surroundings.
Not long after that (and nowhere near 2 hours) we were brought a bucket of fried chicken (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks), a basket of okra, a basket of dill pickles, sweet pickles, and raw sliced onions, a basket of sliced white sandwich bread, and pieces of wax paper to eat on. There were no utensils, but we had plenty of napkins. It was enough food for 5 people, and it was yum.
The Hater and I decided quickly that it was, indeed, the best fried chicken we had ever eaten. The breast meat was juicy and perfect -- and will undoubtedly be the fried chicken that is served in Heaven.
The okra, although tasty and good, was no match for Nana's blue-ribbon competetion.
We ate until we couldn't eat any more, and visited the gift shop before we left. We were expecting the bar to be a time warp, but we had no idea we were actually traveling back to the 90s. We had to buy something to commemorate our trip. I was very intrigued by the t-shirts: my favorite said, "only a rooster will get a better piece of chicken". They also had several styles and colors of Eischen's ball caps, my favorite of which was camouflage with hunter orange lettering. We decided on a red shot glass that boasted Eischen's stamp, and I picked up a short history of the bar as we checked out.
*** The History of Eischen's Bar (as taken from the flyer with the same name)
Eischen's Saloon was established in 1896 by peter Eischen and was opened until statehood and prohibition.
Eischen's Bar opened shortly after the end of prohibition by Nick and Jack Eischen, son and grandson of Peter Eischen. The massive back bar, a vital part of the history of Eischen's, was hand carved in Spain in the early 1800s. During the Gold Rush Days it was shipped to California. It was lost in time until it was brought back to Okarche in 1950 for the enjoyment of all who stopped by Eischen's.
On January 21, 1993, fire destroyed Eischen's and one of the things remaining is a small part of the antique back bar.
The Legend Lives On: On August 9, 1993, Eischen's Bar reopened. The small part of the antique back bar is on display along with several other mementos of the bar salvaged from the fire. ***
We stopped to look at the cases with pre-fire mementos on our way out of the bar. Indeed, a small piece of the charred bar was on display. It proudly watched over the bar from a dark corner.
This ended up being a fantastic adventure. We highly encourage everyone in the area to make a trip back in time to Okarche. It's one of those things you have to do at least once, and you'll be glad you did.