Southern Belle Restaurant
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Eleanor Robson Belmont once said, in what I imagine was her very British accent, "A private railroad car is not an acquired taste. One takes to it immediately."
At the Southern Belle Restaurant in Heavener, Oklahoma, you'll be as delighted with this charming little diner as Ms. Belmont was with being treated worthy of her class. The Belle’s notoriously notable menu, hosts an array of southern comfort food worthy of my dining hero, Guy Fieri’s Triple D, Diner’s, Dive’s and Drive-Ins.
The Southern Belle, once a luxury passenger train on the Kansas City Southern Railway came whistling into Heavener for the first time in 1896
Kenneth and Debbie Crabtree are now the modern day conductors of the Southern Belle and have a first rate crew aboard. Debbie and her son Danny do most of the cooking in the kitchen, as the waitresses cook up impeccable service for the customers while sporting their striped railroader hats and bandanas.
Although no longer riding the rails, this iron southern beauty may appear to rest as lazily as Scarlett O’Hara on a fainting couch in the southern summer heat, but things are rolling in the Belle’s kitchen as fast as a diesel locomotive.
The passenger car restaurant sits on Highway 59 North in Heavener, close enough to the Kansas City Southern tracks and depot so that the Crabtree’s don’t have to pipe in special sound effects. In fact, if you’re lucky, on occasion you’ll hear the low earthquake grumbling of a slow moving train nearing the depot or the lonesome squeal of the iron wheels as the ground crew is switching cars. The sound is far more entertaining than distracting and you’ll feel as if you are in a 3D movie at Disney World.
The main misconception for the passenger car restaurant is that you’ll have to walk sideways to fit down the aisle. Surprisingly, the railcar is roomy and can sit 52 passengers/diners quite comfortably
Most days Debbie and Danny’s kitchen hosts a mouthwatering lunch special and my personal favorite is their Thursday, Fry Bread Indian Taco. Let me tell you friends, this Belle specialty is the Rhett Butler of all Indian Tacos. Fluffy homemade Indian fry bread whipped up from scratch and made with southern love. This mile high taco is topped with seasoned beef, pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and sour cream.
If you can’t make it to the Belle on a Thursday, their famous Southern Belle Chicken strips are the best I’ve had by a barefoot mile. These strips of boneless chicken breast, specially marinated, battered and deep-fried will melt in your mouth. Served with their signature Southern Belle dipping sauce, this chicken’s got more flavor stuck to it than shrimp on grits, and will have your locomotive headlights shining on high-beam.
They also serve T-Bones, Rib-Eyes and Sirloins as well as farm raised catfish, shrimp, a delicious burger that big city folks would call gourmet, smooth and creamy soups, and so much more
Happy’s rule is: I’m never too full for dessert! If our apples fall from the same tree, you won’t want to miss Debbie’s super scrumptious strawberry pie. And if cheesecake’s more your style, Danny’s got more candied cheesecakes than sweet tea in Alabama.
The distant locomotive whistle echoing from days gone by will resound in your memory while the crew from the Southern Belle welcomes you aboard. One sample of the Belle’s offerings will remove any desire you have to 'deadhead home’.
Debbie’s Delicious Broccoli Salad
1 pkg Broccoli cut up small
1 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Red Onions
1 Cup Almonds
1 lb Bacon cooked & Cut up
1 Cup Mayonnaise
½ Cup Sugar
2 T. Vinegar
Mix ingredients and it’s done!