The Mayo Hotel has been a notable presence in downtown Tulsa since 1925, when it opened as a 600-room hotel and the tallest building in Oklahoma. The onetime home of J. Paul Getty and the accommodations of choice of Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Babe Ruth, John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Bob Hope when they were in town (attracted, no doubt, by ceiling fans in each room and the city’s first running ice water) almost met an ignominious end when it closed in 1981—and remained abandoned for the next 20 years. Purchased for a measly $250,000 in 2001, the new owners poured more than $40 million into renovations that restored the hotel’s glory. Reopened in 2009 as a combination hotel and loft apartments, the Mayo is once again attracting high-profile names, particularly from the music industry: Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac, Josh Groban, Bob Seger, and Britney Spears have all stayed here.
Just off the lobby of the hotel, with its double staircase and coffered ceiling, The Boiler Room was devoid of celebrities when I entered, but I was really there for the food and the ambiance anyway. I walked past the bar, which displays pieces of the hotel’s original steel boiler that once was housed in the penthouse, and down a couple of steps into the dining room. I grabbed a table at the windows, in between the two-story Doric columns, and checked out my surroundings, noting the tile floor and the art deco touches in the chandeliers and the table edges. Then it was time to see what the executive chef had prepared.
Try This: Keep the spirit of autumn alive with an appetizer of stuffed risotto balls with fall cheeses and spicy sage butter. Then move on to an entrée like the halibut over pea puree with toasted asparagus and cumin foam, or perhaps the pork loin stuffed with caramelized onions, garlic prunes, and fresh herbs, served on a stack of root vegetables with risotto and topped with a demi glaze. Every item on the short dessert menu will tempt you: Go with the key lime pie.