If you want to learn about a culture or its people, a great way to do so is by exploring its cuisine. In the heart of the Chickasaw Nation, Aaimpa’ Cafè offers an authentic taste of Native American cooking.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center located in Sulphur is dedicated to preserving, promoting and celebrating Chickasaw culture. Its on-site restaurant, Aaimpa’ Cafè (aaimpa’ meaning ‘a place to eat’), has been an integral part of that mission. Not only does it provide sustenance to visitors, but also serves as a gateway to learn more about the Chickasaw tribe.

In February 2023, the restaurant, led by executive chef Josh Faulkner, re-opened its doors after an extensive renovation, replete with a new menu. Traditional dishes still have a special place – with options like grape dumplings, the buffalo burger, and pashofa (a soupy dish made from cracked white corn), served with fry bread. The Three Sisters Salad returns as well, combining corn, beans and squash in an arrangement inspired by the traditional planting method.

However, the new additions to the restaurant’s fare bring a fresh twist to traditional Chickasaw flavors. Enjoy venison stew, made with a hearty blend of sweet potatoes, tomatoes and spices. Or bite into a delicious charbroiled elk burger, served on a brioche bun from the newly expanded grill offerings. The menu is diverse – offering options for vegetarians, meat lovers and everyone in between.

Aaimpa’ Cafè is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cookies and beverages are served until 4 p.m.

867 Charles Cooper Memorial Rd., Sulphur; chickasawculturalcenter.com; photos courtesy Chickasaw Cultural Center

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