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|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--La Baguette|
Oct. 31, 2012:
is probably a fitting restaurant to review on Halloween because some comments on Urbanspoon
indicate that the service can sometimes be rather frightful. I have experienced long wait times
myself when they have been very busy, but the food is always excellent.
In fact, I do not have a favorite dish at La Baguette-- all of them are excellent. The chicken confit is very good if I am in the mood for chicken, and crepes are one of my favorites for a lighter meal. Sandwiches are the main category in which I want to do more exploring. The bakery is one of the main reasons I enjoy La Baguette, and many times it is worth picking up some pastries at the bakery to take home.
The restaurant is small and is quite popular (for good reason). Sometimes I have a long wait, but most of the time it is just long enough to enjoy a pleasant meal.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Szechuan Bistro|
Oct. 30, 2012:
is one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in Oklahoma City, and as far as I know is the only
one that specializes in cuisine from Sichuan. This means that most things are hot and spicy,
but a few are not spicy at all (even some of the Sichuanese style items). I have been very impressed
with Szechuan Bistro, and in a lot of ways it compares with similar restaurants in Seattle.
The dan dan noodles from Szechuan Bistro were one of the top five dishes I ordered during October at any restaurant. These were so spicy I really would not want to eat them every day, but the flavor was quite impressive. In fact, I think this dish demonstrates why I find Szechuan Bistro to be so much better than most Chinese restaurants in the city, and gives a taste of the food that is generally found only in larger cities.
Most items on the Chinese menu at Szechuan Bistro are quite large, and are meant to be served family style. The ideal way to try them is to go with family or a group of friends, but when ordering solo the lighter dishes such as dan dan noodles are an excellent way to go.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Speedy Wok|
Oct. 27, 2012:
is located in the strip shopping center behind Crest at the northeast corner of Rockwell and
Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City. This area of the city now has a number of similar Chinese
restaurants that specialize in delivery and take-out orders, but Speedy Wok has been around
much longer than most of the others. I like the food, the prices, and the people at Speedy
Wok, and there has been little reason to try any of the newer places.
Finding the best dishes has been somewhat by trial and error. The standard dinner I like to order is a large order of wonton soup, and this really makes a much better meal than it might sound. For one with more meat I have found the mu shu chicken to be very good (although I don't care much for the "pancakes" that come with it). I tend to stay away from the spicy items (I think they are too spicy). Noodles, such as lo mein, are very good for a take-home meal. There is much that I have not tried, and I have read on Urbanspoon about many other items that customers like (but very few that they do not).
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Poblano Grill|
Oct. 25, 2012:
took its name from the poblano chiles it uses rather than purporting to serve food from the
Mexican state of Puebla. If I had to classify the cuisine I would say the menu is mostly Tex-Mex
(or Okie-Mex, as I have heard the term in Oklahoma) with a few traditional dishes from northern
Mexico. It is the addition of these traditional dishes that has moved Poblano Grill from one of
my most avoided Oklahoma City mini-chains to one of the ones that I most look forward to visiting.
The street tacos are a traditional Mexican item that can be ordered with a choice of meats, or a combination of them. I think the carnitas pork tacos are especially noteworthy for their flavor, and for the fact that they are better than most carnitas I have had (and this includes both south Oklahoma City and El Paso).
I wish they had home made Mexican drinks to go along with the food, but I still think this is a good choice for authentic Mexican dishes.
There are several locations in the metro, but they seem to open and close pretty frequently. The one at May and Memorial, though, has been going strong for a couple of years since moving from its former location at N.W. 122nd and May.
|EL PASO, TX--Cappetto's Italian Restaurant Closes|
Oct. 20, 2012: Cappetto's Italian Restaurant is the second long time El Paso
restaurant to be reported closed by the
El Paso Times
in less than a week. This is a restaurant that never made it to my list of reviews on Steve's
Gastronomic Home Page because I had not eaten there in years. The problem was that I got a
MSG reaction to the food, and whether they actually used MSG or just something else to which I
was allergic, I am not sure. I had the same reaction from a few other Italian restaurants-- most
notably Olive Garden-- and the result is that I quit visiting these restaurants. The purpose of my
web site is not to accuse restaurants of using MSG, but to share my experiences--both positive
and negative-- at places I have visited. Cappetto's was just a place too far in my past to make
it to the web site.
Cappetto's was part of El Paso history, though, and many of the long time restaurants are disappearing. Cappetto's and Jaxon's (the other restaurant that closed this week) were two of the three restaurants that advertised on television as the "Rio Trio" group (the third was Avila's, which is still open). I really lost most of my interest in Avila's after the east side location closed (which I thought had better food), but the restaurant on Mesa is a place where I have had some good meals and which is one of the few ties we have left to the "old" El Paso restaurants.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Los Amigos|
Oct. 18, 2012:
in Warr Acres (on the west side of Oklahoma City) is one of a group of local restaurants
with a connection to the state of Aguascalientes, Mexico. For a long time I thought of the
restaurant as an Americanized Mexican restaurant with more emphasis on chips, cheese dip,
and refried beans than flavorful food. Recently, though, I have discovered several very good
authentic menu items, and I am still curious about whether I overlooked them in the past or
whether they were only added to the menu recently.
Abels, Birrieria Diaz, Chalo's Tacos, and Diego's (all currently or formerly located in the Bethany and Warr Acres area) have roots in Aguascalientes, and all devote at least a part of the menu to authentic items from Mexico. Los Amigos does not have the most extensive list of authentic dishes, but the ones they have are very well prepared. Even the Americanized items, which I ate for many years, were noteworthy for being better than at many of the city's other restaurants.
I especially like the green chile stew at Los Amigos, but other items from the authentic menu have been very good as well. Out of the "extras" that come with the meal probably the best is the sopapilla. I also like the rice and the charro beans.
|EL PASO, TX--Jaxon's Restaurant Closes|
Oct. 17, 2012: Jaxon's Restaurant in El Paso is reported to be closed
El Paso Times
effectively immediately. This includes both locations that were still operating (on Airway and at
Remcon Circle and Mesa). The restaurant had been operating since 1973, and was known for its
Southwest style food (including a number of Mexican dishes).
My favorite items were always anything with green chile, including the Tampico chicken, Tampico chicken sandwich, and black bean burger with green chile (one that I never tried, though, was the hamburger with green chile). I thought the green chile served at Jaxon's was comparable to the green chile I found on green chile cheeseburgers (GCC) in New Mexico, of which I had quite a good sampling.
Some people thought the tortilla soup was quite good (but for me it was less so). For those who are looking for a good substitute I would suggest Greenery Restaurant in Sunland Park Mall. However, an even better choice may be the Aztec soup at Carnitas Queretaro.
I do not always make mention of restaurant closings, but I had many good experiences at Jaxon's, and at least in the early years I remember it as being a restaurant that lived up to its hype.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Italia Express|
Oct. 16, 2012:
is one of the best places in Oklahoma City for pizza, and it now has three locations (with the
newest one in the old Zorba's building at 4621 N. May Ave.). I usually list Flip's and Humble
Pie as my favorite pizzas, but Italia Express is not far behind (and it is very reasonably priced
The margharita pizza is quite good, and is a "build your own pizza" order that is not listed on the menu. Italia Express will do the same for any type of pizza for which they have the ingredients. As I try to get more and more toward healthy eating and away from junk food, there are too many pizzas that I regret ordering because they do not give my body the pick-me-up that I should get from meals. Italia Express is one, though, that I believe is balanced more on the healthy side, and I find that along with a salad makes a good meal. In any case, it is certainly an enjoyable one.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Papa Dio's|
Oct. 13, 2012:
in The Village has been my favorite Italian restaurant in Oklahoma City for years, and I never
get tired or ordering the same things (spaghetti with cacciatore sauce, chicken parmigiana,
eggplant parmigiana, and Papa's special salad). There are several Italian restaurants in the
city that I have not tried, and all indications are that some of them are very good. Thus I am
not making any statements about which is the best Italian restaurant in the city, but personally
I keep wanting to go back to Papa Dio's for special occasion Italian food.
I thought I knew all the best items at Papa Dio's, but recently I tried the chicken piccata and found it to be excellent. The sauce had an excellent balance of flavors, and the ingredients were all top quality. Papa Dio's red sauce was served on a side dish of spaghetti, so I was able to enjoy two excellent flavors in the same meal.
|BETHANY, OK--Thai Sweet Basil Express|
Oct. 12, 2012:
Thai Sweet Basil Express
in Bethany is one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro, both for lunch and
for dinner. The dinner menu has some very good items that are not available on the lunch menu
(although they can be ordered at lunch). If I do not feel the need to order one of the more exotic
dishes, though, such as the pad ped with sweet Thai peppers, the lunch menu is a good deal.
I almost always upgrade the lunches by adding two appetizers for a dollar extra.
There are two very good dishes I have tried lately, and I have a hard time deciding which one is better. The red curry was excellent, and I think is one of the top curries in Oklahoma City. I am showing the picture of the Thai ginger, though, because this is one of my favorite dishes when it is done well (and Thai Sweet Basil Express does it very well). Tofu is probably not as filling as the meat versions, but this is the one that I think has the best flavor. There are normally no Thai chiles to spice it up, but the ginger gives it plenty of zing.
The restaurant is small, and has a homey atmosphere. There is usually a good Thai music video playing, and I like the fact that I can make special requests for the spiciness or even the ingredients I want in many of the dishes.
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Grand Village|
Oct. 10, 2012:
is one of several Chinese restaurants in Oklahoma City that I think can be justifiably considered
to be west coast quality, but this restaurant seems to largely fall under the radar screen. It is
about a mile west of the main concentration of restaurants in the Asian District, and the exterior
does not really give an indication that the food is more authentic than the average Chinese
restaurants in the city.
No single Chinese restaurant is my "favorite," and all of the ones that serve traditional Chinese food have certain features that I like. The biggest advantage of Grand Village is that all of my experimentation with different dishes has led to me to food that I really enjoyed. I do know to stay away from certain dishes on the Chinese menu, but the biggest help has been the recommendations I have received from staff. One of the reasons I like to come to Grand Village is to try new dishes for the first time, but I think the people here have kept me from going too far out on a limb in my desire to "experiment."
It also seems as if all the food comes straight from the market, and even if I play it safe with what I order, it has an excellent flavor that is the way Chinese food is supposed to be. Grand Village has lunch specials and other ways to save money, but even the larger plates offer a good value for the quality you receive, and many of them are large enough to feed more than one person.
The only negative experience I had with Grand Village was when I tried to come on Christmas day and found it too packed with customers to even deal with trying to order anything (but people do tend to seek out the restaurants with the best food on holidays).
|OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--Ingrid's Kitchen|
Oct. 5, 2012:
is not only one of Oklahoma City's most popular restaurants, but is well known nationally for its
German cuisine. I have not found all the dinner entrees I would like to order, and that are
available at Old Germany in Choctaw or Royal Bavaria in Moore. However, for sandwiches,
desserts, and casual meals at a good price, Ingrid's Kitchen is hard to beat.
Normally I like to use this column to highlight my favorite dishes or ones I have tried recently that are particularly good. At Ingrid's, though, I keep going back to the old standbys such as the reuben or turkey reuben sandwich, Wiener schnitzel, and the chicken jäger schnitzel sandwich served as a special (the most recent information I received is that it is available on Mondays).
The cakes are well known and include some of my favorites such as black forest, but the German pastries such as the cream horn are an equal treat. In fact, the pastry counters are almost overwhelming in their variety (and everything I have tried has been good).
For me the German side dishes are no small part of the reason I enjoy Ingrid's, with the German potato salad being outstanding (but equally enjoyable to me is either the sauerkraut or red cabbage).