I love travel vlogs and food shows. Travel vlogs with food are even better. One of my favourite food shows is Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives. Guy’s excitement for food makes me happy, as I love food too. Don’t we all? My favourite episodes of DDD is when Guy’s son is with him, as watching them both share a passion for food, and they way they tease each other is heartwarming. I think it’s always made me so happy as I would watch DDD with my daughter. During covid lockdown in early 2020, in Brisbane, Australia, we sat on the lounge and binge watched them. We’d plan all the different diners we’d try once covid restrictions lifted and we could travel again.
I moved to Texas a few weeks ago and after days of unpacking and settling in, right before Jim was due to start his new job, I suggested a day out was in order. Something fun to get out of the moving and unpacking cycle. It felt as though all we’d talked about and done for six weeks was the move. One of the many great things about where we live in Texas, is the accessibility to other states. We are not too far from Oklahoma and Arkansas. As we’d recently driven across the entire state of Arkansas to move to Texas, I suggested a trip to Oklahoma, but just to a border town. With a little bit of a Google search, we decided to drive to Durant in Oklahoma. Jim was born and raised in Oklahoma, but I’d never been — I was incredibly excited.
We looked for reviews for places to eat, and via FaceTime, my clever and beautiful daughter informed me that Guy Fieri has one of his own diners in the Choctaw Casino near Durant! I almost fell over with excitement. It was settled — Choctaw, here we come!
The drive to Durant was pretty. A vastly different landscape from the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina that we’d moved from, but I like to see beauty in every landscape. Once we’d driven across the border we stopped at the information centre to look around and use the restrooms. It’s beautifully set up and worth the stop. A lot of state information to pick up and a really pretty rest stop. From there it was full steam ahead to Durant.
Now I don’t want to be harsh, but Durant was incredibly underwhelming. It was very run down and looked sad, but the Choctaw Casino (which was actually in Broken Bow) was absolutely enormous and you could tell that a lot of money has gone into it. It also has a resort attached so it has lovely gardens and pools, and excellent parking. I’m not into gambling at all, but despite that, and having to walk through a smoky haze to get to Guy Fieri’s diner, nothing could dampen my spirits.
The casino itself was actually really well finished. Flashing lights and loud music, lots of eateries and some little boutiques, and loads of really well maintained restrooms. They really managed to make it upbeat, and the staff were friendly and helpful — nothing seedy which surprised me.
We wound through a maze of poker machines and bars, and there in front of us (thankfully in the non-smoking area) was Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar. It was ridiculous how excited I was. Jim and I were given a table by the window, so we had a great view of the palm trees and resort pool. I looked at the menu, then became utterly overwhelmed and burst into tears. It’s going to sound stupid, but the memories of sitting on the lounge in Brisbane city, my daughter and I joyfully planning our next overseas trip, and then all hopes being dashed when the lockdowns kept going and going with borders still closed, and no end in sight, became too much. Despite all the craziness of the world, I was sitting in a Guy Fieri diner in Oklahoma, with my husband, and I was so happy I couldn’t contain it. I felt really stupid being so emotional, but Jim held my hand, and reassured me that I was not even slightly stupid. It was a moment of pure joy and gratitude. Despite the lockdowns and craziness, I was still experiencing new places and new foods and new experiences. I was still travelling, and that blew my mind!
The lunch menu wasn’t huge but it was good. Jim encouraged me to order for both of us as this was ‘my thing.’ He’s such a sweetheart. I ordered a Farm Stand Salad, Queso Dip with pita chips, and Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ chicken wings, to share. As expected, the servings were enormous, and they were starters. The queso dip was next level delicious. Hot and cheesy, spicy and creamy, with hand made pita chips. Some were crispy and some were slightly chewy, and all seasoned perfectly. We couldn’t get enough of it. The wings were good but nothing came close to the queso. It was so decadent. The salad was huge, and really fresh. It had avocado, tomato, chick peas and a load more. So tasty. We couldn’t finish everything so we took half the salad and a few chicken wings home.
On the way out Jim bought me an autographed copy of one of Guy Fieri’s new recipe books, and the waiter gave me some decals. It was such a great experience and so unexpected. It reminded me again, of how wonderful local travel is. There’s always something to see and do. I have so much to see here in Texas, and a weekend trip to Oklahoma City is also being planned. We are hoping to also get to Eureka Springs in Arkansas soon but for the moment, I’ll keep settling into my local area and discover all the hidden treasures around me.