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Pepe's Mexican Restaurant (Closed)

1701 S. Broadway
Edmond, OK

Owned by the former manager of one of the El Charrito restaurants, Pepe's carries on the tradition of the recipes that made Tex-Mex food popular in Oklahoma. Of course, the Tex-Mex food served in the Heartland has little relationship to authentic dishes served south of the border, but it is a genre of Mexican food in its own right. Many restaurants serve their own style of Tex-Mex, but Pepe's is one of the few that has a true connection with the original El Charrito recipes.

Pepe's may be better than most Tex-Mex restaurants due to the fact that it prepares much of the food from scratch, including the tortillas, and it is not part of a chain where food is typically shipped in. I did find some areas in which Pepe's seems to match the food at the now defunct El Charrito, but others in which I was disappointed. Even though some of the flavors might not match up, though, it is hard to dispute the quality of the food served.

Cheese Tacos seem to have been an Oklahoma invention, and are part of my "comfort foods" when I eat at Tex-Mex restaurants. Since El Charrito either invented this dish or made it popular in OKC, it would be natural that the people at Pepe's know how to do it right. This is basically a corn tortilla with melted queso on top-- not the Mexican style queso, but more like Velveeta with a few mild peppers mixed in. The one at Pepe's uses a higher quality cheese than Velveeta-- it is definitely gloppy, but tastes the way I like it. Cheese tacos will never be gourmet Mexican food, but I usually like them as part of any combination dinner.

I can be pretty picky about Cheese Enchiladas, and the one here seemed rather dull and greasy. For some reason Tex-Mex restaurants in Oklahoma cannot seem to make enchiladas as good as the ones in San Antonio and Austin, and Pepe's seems to be no exception.

Tacos al carbon
Tacos al carbon is one of the best dishes

When I branched out from the traditional Tex-Mex menu to Tacos al Carbon, I thought the results were a lot better. The years that I purposely tried to avoid eating meat dishes kept me trying the gloppy cheese enchilada dishes around Oklahoma, but this is at best an Americanized version of a dish that had its roots in Mexico (and Pepe's did not do it as well as other restaurants). With the more authentic style meat dishes, though, I think Pepe's does a good job, and in fact better than many other places. The meat here was cooked well and had a good flavor and quality. The guacamole and pico de gallo toppings added good flavor, and a ranchero sauce came in a crispy shell on the side to add (I thought this was better than the restaurants that serve sour cream as a topping). The main disappointment came when I asked for corn tortillas so I could try the tacos the way I have usually found them farther south, but they were not as good as the flour tortillas, and I ended up sticking with the flour. Overall, though, these tacos were very good, and I think suggest that other meat dishes should be explored.

The Guacamole was very good. It seemed to be a relatively unprocessed avocado with some chiles added. Although I did not try the taco salad, I suspect items made with lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream here would be pretty good.

The Chips were surprisingly greasy for ones that are home made. Samples I had from one basket, though, were better than ones from another. The Salsa was surprisingly good for Tex-Mex restaurants. It had a rich flavor and was spicy enough to at least give it more than a tomato base. Small bowls of Queso are complimentary, so it probably does not matter that they were barely worth sampling.

Pepe's serves Mexican Cokes and other soft drinks made with sugar instead of corn syrup. These might be worth a try if you are into such things.

It is worth mentioning that while Pepe's is not as cheap as the average mom and pop Mexican restaurants in Texas and around the country, it is more reasonable than most of the Tex-Mex restaurants in Oklahoma.

While the Mexican style tacos were good, the main drawback to me is that the side dishes are Tex-Mex style that I think are too far from the authentic Mexican style. The chips, salsa, queso, beans, and tortillas all seemed below average to me, and there was little left to supplement the meal except the flour tortillas (that were better than the corn) and the rice (which did not come with the taco plate, but is served on other plates).

I may try Pepe's again to see if I can find something that reminds me of the old El Charrito restaurant, but I think it is by going for the more authentic dishes that the best food can be found.



Cuisine: Mexican Tex-Mex
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Sep. 16, 2008

Number of Visits: 2

Best Items
Tacos al Carbon, Guacamole

Special Ratings
Tacos al Carbon:
Cheese Enchilada:
Cheese Taco:
Tortillas: corn