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If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you’re probably at least familiar with Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. Actually, I admire her a lot. She started a blog in 2006 and turned it into an amazing empire–cookbooks, a cooking show, merchandise, a boutique hotel, a magazine, and the Mercantile, a store with a restaurant and bakery located in the small town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, near her husband’s ranch. Just imagine being able to showcase your life and turn it into a lucrative career; it’s every blogger’s dream!
That’s why when my family had the opportunity to stop by The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, I jumped at the chance. And it wasn’t just because I was a blogger. The food sounded amazing, and getting a chance to see the beautiful items for sale in the store was too hard to resist. So one summer afternoon, we stopped in for an early dinner and a chance to explore.
A Little About Pawhuska
When we visited, I didn’t know very much about Pawhuska. This spring, I discovered that a movie was being filmed there based on the book The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It’s quite a major production; the film stars Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lily Gladstone and is directed by Martin Scorsese. The book is set in Pawhuska during the 1920s, so what better way to tell the story on film than to convert current-day Pawhuska into the Pawhuska of a hundred years ago? Yep. That’s exactly what the production crew did.
Naturally, I was curious, so I bought the book.
It’s pretty eye-opening about an event that I had no idea had happened, and I spent my elementary school years in Oklahoma. But perhaps this isn’t a story for children.
Pawhuska is the capital of Osage Nation. When the Osage were moved, yet again in 1872, this area in Oklahoma became their reservation. When oil was discovered in the 1890s, things began to change. Somehow, the Osage were able to negotiate the collection of some royalties, known as headrights.
Meanwhile in 1916, drilling opened up after the initial lease expired, and oilmen, like Frank Phillips, came to Pawhuska to acquire land for drilling through public lease auctions. (Read about Frank Phillips’s Woolaroc here.) The Osage still collected money from the headrights as the oil companies drilled on land throughout Osage County. This money the Osage earned supported individual families in the area. It also made them a target.
Without giving too much away, the story begins when several Osage people turn up murdered. After several dead ends in the cases, J. Edgar Hoover himself gets involved as he creates the FBI. The story is heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time; I’m looking forward to the movie.
Pawhuska is also the county seat of Osage County. Besides The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, you can tour the Lodge on the Drummond Ranch where her cooking show is filmed. You can also stay a night at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House, but reservations are difficult to score since the hotel only has eight rooms. The Osage Nation Museum is also in Pawhuska. The city has some great murals, and just outside of town, you can visit Tallgrass Prairie Preserve which is home to a bison herd.
Arriving at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is pretty easy to find; it’s downtown on Kihekah Street. You’ll probably also see this red truck known as the Drummond Ranch Power Wagon.
Sometimes this place is busy, and you may see a line out the door. We were pretty lucky during our visit, but then again, it was later in the afternoon when most people aren’t eating. We were able to leave our name with the hostess and start shopping.
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile: Shopping
If you don’t want to have a meal at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, it’s no problem. Stopping by for shopping is worth the time.
The space is lovely, and I had fun looking at all the odds and ends.
I loved looking at all the displays.
There is so much to see!
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile: The Bakery
If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, it’s worth noting that there is a bakery upstairs with yummy treats. Even if you are planning to eat at the restaurant, you should get some goodies for later.
I picked out my treat for later.
And Kristin picked out hers for “now.” Oh well. It’s okay to have dessert first sometimes, right?
At the time of our visit, there was complimentary water upstairs. If you’re thirsty, head on up.
There’s also some seating upstairs so you can relax a bit with your goodies if you wish.
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Restaurant
It wasn’t too long before it was time to eat! The dining area is kind of L-shaped; you can see this part of the restaurant from the front door.
We sat in the back.
The rustic details in the decor are nice.
We went with some traditional down-home type of entrees. First, we had some homemade biscuits and jam.
Then salad. By the way, I loved the dishes.
Kristin had a kids’ chicken strip meal. It’s her go-to.
I had a pork chop with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Jeff had chicken fried steak. As you can see, he has already peppered it.
Everything was really yummy and completely filling. It was certainly worth waiting for a late afternoon lunch!
After were thoroughly stuffed ourselves, we decided to take a drive out on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. More on that coming soon!
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is a fun place to check out. When the Killers of the Flower Moon film comes out, I think even more people may be interested in visiting Pawhuska. As far as small towns go, Pawhuska already has some great attractions to explore. I’m excited to see what’s in Pawhuska’s future!
Other fun Oklahoma places to visit: