I have said that there are many food establishments in Lawton/Fort Sill Oklahoma. However I also said there were many many maintaining below average reviews on Yelp. It seems that consistency here is the killer. Consistently below-average food and service in the many opportunities here in Lawton/Fort Sill. In my book, a Yelp average is 4 stars for an average place like Denny’s normally. You know that the quality is normally there, and normally Yelpers would find anything above expectations to be minimal. Yelp reviews also need to be taken with a grain of salt . . . how many reviewers are there? Ok, that’s my Yelp standard; because I find more and more I am in a place that is void of CritDicks like me. What the hell am I doing here in Lawton/Fort Sill Oklahoma? I hate Yelp!
Lawton/Fort Sill was great adventure. Having only minimally traveled to any of the mid-west. We found ourselves immersed in understanding just where we were about to go . . . and once there, who are all these people we’re meeting and enjoying their stories from other parts of the nation. I found myself talking about all kinds of different things . . . with all kinds of different people. But what I did find was an abundance of Miller Light, albeit in 8-oz cans (cute little buggers), hot-wings and Sonic. Just a lot of places that are only mainstream Midwest. I had difficulty at first obtaining craft beer, hell any beer above 3.2 abv. Then if I wanted liquor, I had to find a “liquor” store. Then BAM, there it was . . . the craft beer that had normal ABV’s like Lagunitas. I inquired about Stone. They said they were next on the distribution. Whatever that means.
Having to book a room in Lawton/Fort Sill area was somewhat challenging. There were no hotels above a 3.5 star rating on the various travel booking websites. I had booked a 4 night stay at the Best Western Plus. I figured Best Western had a mediocre standard that I believed would keep my discomforts at minimums. And they did; just the staff made it worth a four-star rating in my book. The bar area inside the Best Western is small but has very pleasant cocktail servers and staff that were very open to helping us learn about Lawton/Fort Sill. The outside pool area at the Best Western is in need of some repair but is somewhat comfortable under some very large trees. There’s even an area that you can kook up some of your own steaks; as one kook, all by himself, did all while reading a book, blending margaritas, blaring a talk-show from a cheap clock-radio and lounging in the cabana chairs that sit at the tip of one of the three pools, one of which is indoor. It’s evidenced that this is a very old hotel because of the very very small elevator in the front of the original entrance. Yes there have been many additions to this hotel over the years. Could even be some ghosts.
The hotel is right next to a casino and there’s another casino within a 5 minute drive just down the road a piece. The hotel had complimentary breakfast hailed to be of the best here in Lawton/Fort Sill. It wasn’t too bad. The staff were eager to assist the busy-morning service-seeking patrons staying here these “graduation” weekends (defined Wednesday thru Sunday) that typically peak on Friday. Friday in Lawton/Fort Sill is the actual graduation day from which the Army’s newest soldiers take the oath once again having just completed basic training (Boot Camp). Friday happens every week of the year . . . perhaps not during the Christmas holiday season. But the hotels and restaurants plan on Fridays. The breakfast at Best western rotated menu items slightly each day. The only thing I found slightly wrong with the breakfast service was the staff’s attention to some of the service items like napkins and little syrup cups at one station, and the earlier-than-breakfast coffee in the lobby was not ready for me at 5-5:30 am. I think if your have coffee available in the lobby, it should be available for arriving/departing/strolling guests around the clock.
Most of the eating establishments here in Lawton Fort/Sill were very average . . . to below that . . . to poor, as evidenced by numerous food establishment locations being available for lease or purchase (looks like lots try, but can’t hang) and the lack of patrons at many of the others. The demographic in the Lawton/Fort Sill area does not necessarily allow for many finer dining establishments. Although I did learn of a small eatery after the fact that could have had great cuisine, but had below average marks for service. I have to believe there is not much of a labor pool to pick from here in Lawton/Fort Sill . . . if you know what I mean. There are also not a lot of Yelp reviews.
We did eat at places like Texas Roadhouse with a group of graduating Soldiers and their families. And the wife just had to try Cracker Barrel, commonly given “really good” appraisals from travelers and friends alike. “Yikes”. I had eaten at one of those several years ago. I warned my wife just before going into Cracker Barrel that it’s not what she thinks. I even ordered the special Chicken Fried Steak with green beans and mashed potatoes. I ordered the green beans for the sole purpose of showing my wife that I had expected canned green beans . . . and the S&M Brand one-gallon-size can of canned beans is what I got. Yum. But Cracker Barrel and Texas Roadhouse were spoken of rather highly of these visitors because it doesn’t resemble “road food”. That being said, many of the visitors we ran into had driven in some 20+ hours from areas like Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia. Their road food was defined as burgers (i.e. McDonalds). I really don’t know the demographic of the Army enlistees, but I believe it to be Eastern and Midwest areas of the United States. During graduation, very few soldiers were hailing from areas along the Western United States. So, eateries like Whataburger, quite similar to Sonic, were a real treat to an anticipating newly released Soldier and some of their weary families. These establishments more or less just filled a void. Really nothing to compare against likes of In-N-Out, 5 Guys, The Habit, Smash Burger, And don’t event think yet about seeing a Burger Lounge. Unfortunately places like Whataburger are spoken highly of as being some of the better restaurants in Lawton/Fort sill. Scary.
Even renting a rental car was mediocre . . . and we seemed very lucky to get one since reserving a rental car was the least of my worries of this travel, thinking, “I’ll just grab one at the airport”. NOT thinking this was a regional airport that services just these so travelers. All the cars were gone except one. We ended up with a Dodge Journey, and not cheap either @$104 per day. We were quickly realizing there was nothing cheap about traveling to Lawton/Fort Sill, OK. And everything was just mediocre by our standards. Except for the audio system in that Dodge Journey. My Son, having been without music, yes he’s loves music too, was treated to a very decent sound system in that Dodge for which he could plug his IPhone (yes he had his cell phone, but use was very limited in boot camp) and listen to his tunes on other than a .135″ speaker contained in the phone. He enjoyed the sound in this rental.
Lawton/Fort Sill was an adventure. The graduation ceremony was held at one of the conference rooms available in Lawton/Fort Sill. The largest room available for this purpose was at the Hilton Garden Inn. The facility kept its door closed just before the event in the ballroom, and had a waiting line that honestly went the entire distance around the hotel and parking lot area. The walk was long from the back of the line, but swiftly moved as it filed into the facility once the doors were opened.. It was only moments before we saw our Soldier.
I have said it before and I’ll probably say it again. Having not traveled much to the Midwest of the United States and not paying much attention growing up through grade school, I have learned a new appreciation for the Lawton/Fort Sill area. There is a lot of history and almost all of that history revolves around the Army. I am very proud to have a Soldier Son. I am very proud that he is accomplishing what he has been hoping for. I am also glad that I was able to visit Lawton/Fort Sill. The folks are genuine and they are from all over. Mostly Lawton/Fort Sill is proud of their warriors.
So this story gets the “bad” part of the story . . . just because it wasn’t the “good” and certainly not the “ugly”. As this story was about mediocrity, this was very hard to write . . . just a whole bunch of no-excitement . . . except for the history.