Located within the First Americans Museum (FAM) in Oklahoma City, which opened in September 2021, Thirty Nine is a must-visit dining destination in the Southwest. The restaurant, which serves what it calls modern Indigenous cuisine, earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2022 for its impressive wine list.
Thirty Nine’s name refers to the number of First American tribal nations in Oklahoma today. Before the 19th century, only a few First American groups were indigenous to the state. With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the U.S. government forcibly moved tens of thousands of Indigenous people, representing many tribes, from their ancestral lands in the eastern part of the country to what would become Oklahoma. (Many scholars today define it as an act of ethnic cleansing or genocide.)
Chef Brad Harris created Thirty Nine’s menu in consultation with Chef Loretta Barrett Oden, member of the Potawatomi Nation and respected figure in Native American cuisine. The dishes are rich with the flavors of the Southwest and local ingredients traditionally used by the First Americans, such as amaranth, piñon, age, sumac, turkey and wild onions. Offerings include hominy hummus with frybread, a grain bowl packed with the Three Sisters (a traditional combination of yellow squash, roasted corn and Anasazi beans) and bison burgers topped with garlic-sage aioli and pickled squash.
Wine director David Taylor’s value-driven list features more than 90 bottles, all produced in the Americas. Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendoza are just a few of the prominent regions in the program, with highlights such as Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Grace Vineyard 2017, Orin Swift Papillon Napa Valley 2018 and Gloria Ferrer Brut Carneros Anniversary Cuvée 2010 from Carneros.
FAM is devoted to educating people about the histories and diverse cultures of the 39 tribal nations that currently live in Oklahoma. Current museum exhibits include “Voices from the Drum,” showcasing the drums of the Osage Nation, and “21st-Century Mound Builders,” an outdoor exhibit honoring the cultures that built such earthworks from ancient times into the English colonial era. The museum also offers walking tours, film screenings, solstice celebrations and much more. Admission to the museum is not needed to dine at Thirty Nine, though the restaurant is only open for brunch and lunch service Wednesday through Sunday.