okgourmet.com    Home of Steve's Restaurant Reviews
And Other Updates
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Yakimono Japanese Grill Express|
May 4, 2013:
Yakimono Japanese Grill Express
has been open for several years, but I seldom go there because when I am in the area I am
usually headed for Nunu's Mediterranean Cafe next door. I do not want to get off the subject of
talking about Yakimono, but I will say that Nunu's seems to have improved lately with more items
on the menu, better consistency with food quality, added drinks, and changing from paper plates to
real plates and silverware.
Like Nunu's, Yakimono also seems to have some specials that acquire permanent status. One I tried recently was the chicken yakisoba. It seemed a bit less traditional than the food I find at some other Japanese restaurants, but I am glad they are expanding the menu to give customers more choices.
What Yakimono does best, though, seems to be the hibachi grilled items. These are cooked quickly on a hot grill and are much like the dinners served at the various Japanese steak houses, but without the knife throwing show. At Yakimono I find the vegetables to be outstanding, the meat to be good, and the sauces (mustard or ginger sauce) to be somewhat lacking in flavor. Still, the hibachi grill dinners here are very good overall, and it is probably worthwhile to get fried rice to go along with them.
There is one tip I would definitely give readers-- if time is a critical factor it is usually a good bet that Yakimono will serve the food more quickly than Nunu's next door (particulary when Nunu's is very busy).
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Portofino's Italian Restaurant|
Apr. 27, 2013: My page on
Portofino's Italian Restaurant
is partly a review of the food
and partly the news that the second restaurant at N. W. 122nd and Rockwell closed in April 2013, but
the original restaurant at 4700 W. Reno is still open. I have not been to the Reno location, but
after several visits to the Rockwell restaurant I got a good sampling of the food served. The father
and son team who owned the restaurants were rotating back and forth between the two
locations, but now they only have one to operate.
At first I was less than impressed with the restaurant, but it seemed to get better as time went on. The Reno location had been operating before the Rockwell restaurant opened, so I imagine any "growing pains" were at the Rockwell location only. Shortly before the second restaurant closed I thought it was deserving of many more customers than I usually saw eating there. I am not sure if the restaurant improved over time, but my perception of it improved as I was able to try different dishes.
In any case, I think the Reno Avenue location is worth a try, at least for certain items. Recently I have also been pleased with the prices, but I honestly do not know whether they have lowered the prices or whether it is just a case that I found some good deals on my last couple of visits.
The pizza, spaghetti, and other "standard Italian restaurant" items did not really blow me away at Portofino's. Some of the best items, though, are things that most restaurants do not do well, such as the chicken cacciatore. The chicken marsala, although not my favorite, was better than most of the ones I have tried. My tastes are probably not reflective of the majority of the population, but I have seen reviews on Urbanspoon that were generally in line with what I thought about the restaurant.
Portofino's has lunch specials, and overall I thought I got more for my money than at many other restaurants.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Capers Mediterranean Buffet|
Apr. 5, 2013: In making my first post of 2013, the first order of business is to
explain why this site has been inactive for so long. Just after Christmas my computer was hit with a
combination of a virus and damage that apparently came from a lightning storm that ended up
making me unable to post new articles until now. In the meantime there have been quite a few
restaurant changes and closings both in Oklahoma City and El Paso which I hope to incorporate
in my articles as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone who has sent me information, and I will
hopefully make all the necessary updates.
If there was one predominant reason for starting this web site it was to let the public know about "good finds" I had made (or that others had given me tips about), encourage more people to visit these restaurants, and thus to help them stay in business so that I could go back and enjoy the food again. The assumption was that most of these places would be small or local restaurants that could use more publicity, but of course I try to publicize any eating establishment which I think would be of interest to readers.
It is usually not possible to list my favorite restaurants since I am interested in a variety of cuisines (mainly different types of ethnic food) and depending on my mood and degree of appetite anything from a gourmet restaurant to a hole in the wall place may fit the bill for a particular meal.
I think it is possible, though, to list my favorite new restaurant for 2012 (out of the ones that just opened or that I visited for the first time). For me this was Capers Mediterranean Buffet at the corner of N.W. 63rd St. and Meridian Ave.
For now Capers is just a "Buffet" and not a "Bistro," since they do not serve orders from the menu. I was really somewhat skeptical of eating a Mediterranean buffet meal until I returned some time after the restaurant had opened and found the food to still be quite solid. This is probably not the best Mediterranean restaurant in town, and some items such as the falafel are pretty weak. Overall, though, I find that I do not pay more than I do at most restaurants where I order from the menu, and I am quite satisfied with the meal at Capers. So far they have not fallen into the trap I find at most buffets where they raise the prices and lower the quality of the food (usually at the same time). Both times I have visited Capers I have found about 80 to 90 percent of the items to be hot and fresh, and not to suffer from being set out on the buffet for long periods of time.
|TULAROSA, NM--Christmas in Southern New Mexico|
Dec. 15, 2012:
For those who might be in the Alamogordo or Ruidoso area at Christmas, one way
to experience a traditional New Mexico Christmas is to see the luminarias at the Catholic Church
in Tularosa, a historic town about ten miles north of Alamogordo.
It seems that practically the entire town participates in setting up the hundreds of luminarias at the church and along the main street in front of the church. I have seen luminarias in several New Mexico towns, but the ones here are some of the most elaborate.
The church has the typical Spanish style architecture that is found in New Mexico, and this one dates from 1869. Even without Christmas decorations Tularosa is quite photogenic, and is worth a stop if you are in the area.
Of course the tradition of luminarias signifies lighting the way for Mary and Joseph to find their way to the stable where Christ was born. The luminarias are set out on Christmas eve (in Tularosa it is in late afternoon), and after dark they light the way to the manger as well as the mass held in church.
Of course most restaurants are closed late on Christmas eve and on Christmas day, but at other times visitors to Tularosa can enjoy traditional New Mexican cuisine at Casa de Sueños on the south edge of town. I particularly liked the red enchiladas with blue corn tortillas (the blue corn variety is not normally served in southern New Mexico). Casa de Sueños is not particularly spicy, but it is spicy enough to be what I would call "real" New Mexican food that is not dumbed down for tourists. Quite a few tourists stop here, though, because of its reputation for serving delicious New Mexican style food.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Abel's Mexican Restaurant|
Dec. 14, 2012:
in Warr Acres is better than most of the metro's Mexican restaurants, but it is also more
complicated. The regular menu is served until 9:00 p.m., and comes with chips, salsa, queso,
and a sopapilla. The Mexican menu is also available until 9:00 p.m. with the chips and other
set-ups, and offers tacos, tortas, burritos, gorditas, and quesadillas. The Mexican menu is
also served after 9 p.m. at a lower price without the set-ups (but salsa is served with the meal).
The regular menu includes full dinners with side dishes such as rice and beans, as opposed to the a la carte items from the Mexican menu. I am calling them the "regular menu" and "Mexican menu," but these are not their actual names. The truth is that some of the dinners from the regular menu are just as authentically Mexican as the a la carte items, and some of my favorites include enchiladas and seafood dinners.
I think the best items from Abel's are the tacos from the a la carte ("Mexican") menu. The tortas, gorditas, and other items from this menu have the same meat choices, but I like the tacos because of the corn tortillas, condiments, and salsas that come with them. Abel's is probably the best place in town to get tacos al pastor (pork tacos with pineapple). The tacos Calvillo (originating in Calvillo, Aguascalientes) are another specialty.
There are many good items from the regular menu, but to me the chips and sometimes the side dishes are a letdown, so most of the time I stick with the tacos or other items from the a la carte menu.
The aguas frescas drinks are also excellent, with the canteloupe being my favorite.
A second Abel's Restaurant opened fairly recently in south Oklahoma City.
|BETHANY, OK--Ingrid's Pantry|
Dec. 7, 2012:
in Bethany is an excellent source for Christmas cookies, as is the original restaurant,
Ingrid's Kitchen at N.W. 36th and Youngs in Oklahoma City. Many of the cookies shown in
this photo are available all year, but I have only seen the gingerbread boy in December.
Ingrid's also sells gingerbread houses which are quite elaborate, but in a little bit higher
price range than the cookies.
I was also using this opportunity to update the review for Ingrid's Pantry. This is a smaller version of Ingrid's Kitchen, and mainly serves lunch as well as take-out food and pastries. It is open for dinner, but the menu is limited compared to Ingrid's Kitchen.
Maggie's in Bethany used to be an excellent lunch place until it closed, but Ingrid's Pantry can give me my sauerkraut fix (yes, I know that my tastes are different from many people's, but I have to report on what I have had that is good). The turkey reuben sandwich at Ingrid's Pantry covered with sauerkraut was very good, and so far is probably my favorite item here.
For pastries my list of favorites is long, but I think the pies are very worthwhile (you can also buy individual slices) as well as German styled pastries such as the Napoleon.
|EDMOND, OK--Dot Wo Chinese|
Dec. 5, 2012:
in Edmond is one of several locations in the Oklahoma City area, including Fung's Kitchen
on Classen Boulevard which I understand is operated by the same family. According to
the Dot Wo on Portland has now moved to 6161 N. May Avenue. The original restaurant at
3101 N. Portland Avenue is still operating, but apparently with new owners who are not related
to the family that operates the other Dot Wo restaurants. I think this is correct information, but in
any case I recently visited the Edmond restaurant and have tried to update the review based on
my latest meal.
The Edmond Dot Wo has two items I really like. One is the group of clay pot dishes, although the one I tried recently fell far short of a similar dish I had at Grand House in the OKC Asian District. The tofu and vegetables were quite good at Dot Wo, but the sauce and meat were the items that I thought were better at Grand House.
My other favorite item is kung pao tofu, which is not on the menu but was originally offered as a special on the rotating menu. The other Dot Wo restaurants do not offer this dish, and I think it was a creation of Andy, the manager of the Edmond restaurant. I have continued to get this dish as a special order after it was taken off the menu, and although the kung pao chicken is very good, I always thought the tofu was better.
The Edmond Dot Wo has a few other traditional Hong Kong style Chinese dishes, but the other Dot Wo restaurants and Fung's Kitchen have a much greater selection. For kung pao chicken and other spicy dishes, though, I think the Edmond restaurant may be the best of all of them (and I think the kung pao tofu is also worth trying).
I also vote for Dot Wo as having the city's best hot and sour soup, particularly since some of the others I liked were at restaurants that have now closed.
|BETHANY, OK--Chalo's Tacos|
Nov. 29, 2012:
is one of the few Mexican restaurants north of Interstate 40 that I consider to be authentic, and it
is also one of my favorites. Just about every Mexican restaurant in Oklahoma City has added
a "Mexican menu" with authentic items, but Chalo's goes further than most in having a menu
in which everything is ordered a la carte and by not including chips, cheese dip, or other
appetizers with the meal. Most of the smaller restaurants in Mexico specialize in only one or a
very few items, and Chalo's follows this tradition by offering tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas,
and in short different delivery mechanisms all having the same meats (beef, chicken, or pork
One of the few items to break this pattern is the tamales, which are also one of the best items served. In fact, Chalo's may have the best tamales I have had in the OKC area so far.
Of course beer is very popular, but this is one of the few places where the horchata is as good as the better ones served in El Paso (and this is a very good place to try this rice drink).
Although I have listed just about everything the restaurant serves, the small number of choices has not been an issue. The food has all been very good and very inexpensive. Even the quesadilla, which is normally at the bottom of my list of preferences, was quite good here.
|YUKON, OK--Pho Hieu|
Nov. 25, 2012:
is located in the far west suburbs of Oklahoma City at Reno and Mustang Road (just off
Interstate 40), and it joins a growing list of suburban pho restaurants. It is like many others
in offering a more limited menu than is available in the Asian District near N.W. 23rd and
Classen Blvd. The soup served at Pho Hieu, though, seems to be equal in quality to many
of the ones served in the Asian District, at least from the one time I have tried it.
The chicken broth pho was one of the best I have tried, and all the traditional side vegetables were included. The broth was well flavored (especially for restaurants located in the suburbs). The shrimp was especially good, and was one reason I liked the soup so much.
A beef and spring roll vermicelli bowl was listed as a special on the supplemental menu board, but I was glad I tried the soup because it lived up to the reviews I have read about it.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Inca Trail|
Nov. 24, 2012:
is probably my favorite Peruvian restaurant in Oklahoma City overall, with the understanding
that I have not yet been to Mamaveca. Inca Trail has a large menu, and this satisfies my
craving to try new things. Also I think the appetizers served at Inca Trail are more
interesting than the chips and salsa served at some of the other Peruvian restaurants.
Adobo de puerco in my opinion is one of the best dishes at Inca Trail, and is the most recent one I have discovered. This was a very thick and delicious piece of pork chop that was cooked like a steak, and even tasted very much like a steak. The adobo flavoring was great, and the quality of the meat was top notch. I usually like to eat more vegetables than meat, but for a splurge I think this is a great meal.
Some restaurants excel in a particular type of meat, but at Inca Trail I have been very impressed with the pork, beef, fish, and chicken (although I think the dark meat chicken is better than the white meat). The adobo de puerco, though, is one that I consider a must try for meat lovers.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--The Ceviche House|
Nov. 21, 2012:
on N.W. 50th St. in Warr Acres is already becoming well known for its ceviche, and for good
reason. I think the ceviche is so good it is worth taking notice, and if necessary traveling
some distance for it. One thing I really like is the variety that is served, with different flavors
and presentations that are hard to find elsewhere.
Ceviche House is also turning itself into a full-fledged Peruvian restaurant, with a grilled seafood menu as well as meat dishes such as lomito saltado. The chicha morada drink was very interesting (although they make it known that they also have a large selection of beer).
This summer the restaurant was serving Mexican food, but this is no longer the case (except for the excellent chips and salsa that are still served with meals). I think the ceviche is the star here, but they do have other items and they all seem to be good. Peruvian food is not known for being spicy, but a couple of the ceviche choices come with chile if this is what you want.
I mostly avoid fish when I am away from coastal areas, but the ceviche here is something I would recommend to just about anybody.
|EDMOND, OK--Zarate's Latin Mexican Grill|
Nov. 19, 2012:
in Edmond is probably most popular for its Tex-Mex style Mexican food, but for me its real
attraction is the Latin American menu from just about every country south of Mexico. The
Mexican style chips, salsa, and queso are served with every meal, and the menu might make
people think it is primarily a Mexican restaurant. However, I was told that the owners are from
Peru, and Peruvian cuisine is probably the second most extensive type of food on the
I have not had the ceviche at Zarate's, but it is available. Fried plantains and yuca are side dishes served here that some other Peruvian restaurants in the metro do not offer. I wanted to try some Chinese style fried rice with soy sauce, but it was not on the menu and the manager said they do not have it (this is available, though, at some of Oklahoma City's Peruvian restaurants). What I did try, the lomo saltado with chicken instead of beef, was quite good, and is probably something I will order again.
Even though the number of Peruvian dishes is limited compared to other restaurants, there are a number of choices from other Latin American countries and the Caribbean. The price is right for being able to make many return visits to explore different cuisines, and this is the only restaurant I have found with items from so many countries of South and Central America all together on one menu.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Vito's Ristorante|
Nov. 16, 2012:
in my opinion is one of the top Italian restaurants in Oklahoma City, and is one of my "special
occasion" restaurants (even though it really is not terribly expensive). One of the best things
about Vito's is the red sauce, which with a generous amount of fresh basil is so much more
flavorful than most red sauces I'm not sure it should even be put in the same category as the
Nevertheless, this is a "red sauce" restaurant, and even if you get chicken spedini, chicken scalloppine, or another dish without marinara sauce, the red sauce is still served on a side dish of pasta. I like just about everything here that is covered with Cathy's sugo (traditional Italian red sauce), but other items I have tried have been excellent as well. The Italian sausage is unlike any others I have tried, and is quite possibly the best that can be found in the city or even a much larger area.
One interesting feature of the restaurant is the large number of family photos on the wall. I come from the same city as Cathy and her husband Sean (who owns Sean Cummings' Irish Restaurant & Pub next door to Vito's), and many of the scenes in the photos are familar to me. One of the most interesting to me is a large rabbit with one of Cathy's family members standing next to it, and this is the same rabbit shown in the above photo with me when I was slightly younger.
Cathy came from a family in the restaurant business who knows their Italian food, and the dishes at Vito's come from family recipes. It is certainly worth checking out what they have to offer (and of course to look at Cathy's family photos).
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Green & Grilled|
Nov. 14, 2012:
Green & Grilled
has about four main items on the menu (beef, chicken, pork, and tofu), in addition to salads and
a number of soups and side dishes. The food is healthy, and everything I have tried has been
quite flavorful. The adobo flavored meat is quite distinctive, and I really enjoy the high quality
of the food.
The "Green" part of the name refers to the salads, many of which contain fresh fruit and other high quality ingredients that put them almost on the level of the salads at the Museum Cafe, Cheever's, or Boulevard Steakhouse. Each salad at Green & Grilled has its own dressing that is designed to enhance the flavor (although customers can use the dressing from a different salad if desired).
As good as the salads are at Green & Grilled, sometimes I like the soup even better. The restaurant's substitution policy allows customers to get the meat plus a half order of salad and a side dish, or a soup substituted for either the salad or the side dish.
Green & Grilled also has what is probably the best flan I have had this side of El Paso.
The restaurant is casual, where orders are taken at the counter. It is probably designed more as a lunch place, but plates are filling enough to make a good dinner. Salads, soups, and sides can be ordered separately, making it feasible to eat a lighter and less expensive lunch. Kids meals are also available.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Camilya's Mediterranean Cafe|
Nov. 8, 2012:
has been expanding the menu for the last couple of years, and I have found several excellent
new items in addition to the ones I was already enjoying. In fact, I think Camilya's gives me
the greatest enjoyment of any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant in the city in terms of
providing the best combination of good food, a varied menu, and a reasonable price. The
biggest drawback is that it is so small service can be slower when there are a lot of
customers. At the same time, though, the small scale operation is one thing that keeps the
food quality at the top level.
One of the newest dishes I have discovered is the labaneh yogurt appetizer that is very good because of the olive oil and the sesame, thyme, and oregano seasoning mix used for flavoring. If yogurt sounds bland and boring, I find this dish to be far from it.
Another notable side dish is the spinach pie, although I could list several others that are very good.
For meat dishes the chicken tawook seems to be the best in the city, although I would probably also say the same thing about the gyros plate. All the other meats are good enough to provide a good rotation for different visits.
Between the different dishes that are available and substitutions that can be made in the salads, side dishes, meats, and appetizers, I rarely have had the exact same meal twice. All of them, though, have been very good.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Nunu's Mediterranean Cafe|
Nov. 6, 2012:
is one of the top Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants in the city (the recipes are actually
Lebanese), as well as being one of my favorites. Janet ("Nunu") is personally in charge of the
restaurant, giving it the flavor of some of the smaller mom and pop restaurants that I think
generally have the best food. The restaurant is larger, though, than some of the city's other
family run Middle Eastern places, making it more convenient for large groups and reducing
the wait times that I sometimes experience at the smaller restaurants.
One excellent feature of Nunu's is the daily specials, many of which are offered on a rotating basis. From time to time I like to highlight certain meals that stand out as being one of the best from each month, and I am already able to put the eggplant casserole from Nunu's on this list for November. I typically order this several times per year, which sometimes takes advanced planning since it is only offered every other Thursday. I had this last week (Nov. 1), so it should also be available on Nov. 15 and 29 (and at two week intervals after that). Janet says the eggplant is not always available, but she tries to follow this schedule.
There are many other excellent specials that are served, as well as items from the regular menu. This is a casual, reasonably priced restaurant, with orders taken at the counter and food served on paper plates. It has been open until 8:00 p.m. for about a year (but it is closed on Sunday). Nunu's has a deli, all orders are available for take-out, and it does catering.
From the regular menu I like the cabbage rolls, lentil soup, houmos, falafel, fatoosh salad, Greek salad, chicken kabobs, hashwa, and a host of other items. The tabouli is excellent, and the veggie sampler plate is a good way to try a number of excellent vegetables.
Note: This web site is the new version of Steve's Gastronomic Home Page, located at www.eskimo.com/~sockeye/. The old web site is no longer being updated, but the original material remains archived there.