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Travel By Taste

4818 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK   Warr Acres
(405) 787-2969

Travel By Taste Deli & Market

For some time I have had a love for Persian music and Persian cats, and Travel By Taste has convinced me that Persian food should be added to the list. The name "Travel By Taste" may be more than a little bit appropriate since few restaurants contribute as much to expanding the food experience in Oklahoma City as the Persian cuisine served here.

Travel by Taste's "deli" style service makes it look very casual, and I was somewhat surprised by the "fine dining" experience I got from the food. Orders are taken at the cash register (but unlike Nunu's and some other restaurants, you pay for the meal when you are finished eating). It is also not a "fine dining" restaurant in the sense that it closes at 8:00 P.M., so some may find this a bit too early to sit and enjoy a leisurely dinner (although I have felt no pressure to eat quickly and leave so that they could close up and go home). In spite of these constraints, though, Travel by Taste is really one of the places I go for a fine dining experience in OKC, where the food lives up to the expectation.

Travel by Taste's market
Patrons enter through the market, and the dining room is through the door on the left.

The fact that they serve Middle Eastern flavored hot tea is another factor that makes this restaurant one of my favorites. Food is brought to the table, and customers are served just as in any restaurant, but the only difference here is that you place your order at the cash register. I do enjoy browsing the market when I go to order and to pay, and I am sure this is by design.

Travel by Taste serves "halal" meat in the "Specialty Dishes" section of the menu (these are equivalent to kosher meats. Meats include the lamb shish kabob, grilled chicken, kabobs, and ghormeh sabzi. Probably not surprisingly, these are among my favorite items at the restaurant. The rest of the menu is non-Persian and does not include halal meat, but I have found it to be very good as well.

Falafel sandwich
Falafel sandwich

The non-Persian portion of the menu is also less expensive. One of the best items I have found is the Falafel Sandwich, which by itself makes a very substantial meal. The freshness, texture, and flavor of the falafel are its most notable features, and this is definitely one of the best in town. The bread was very fresh with a traditional pita flavor, but was large and thin like a wrap. I liked the fact that the bread did not fall apart when it was saturated by the sauce as is frequently the case with with this type of sandwich.

The Hummus was another standout item from the "regular menu," placing it in contention for being the best in OKC. The hummus and other appetizers here come in fairly large servings, and may be better shared than for just one person.

Persian salad
Persian salad

The Persian Salad had a dressing that for me was a little disappointing, but the salad itself was quite good. I really thought the Greek Salad was more enjoyable in terms of flavor, but the one I tried had only one olive that I could find and very little feta. These salads did not reach the point of being a "disappointment," but I think they are better at other restaurants.

Shish kabob
Shish kabob

The Shish Kabob was not one of the restaurant's "Specialty Dishes," but I think it is probably one of their best items. This was made with filet mignon, and it was like eating steak in a high end steak house only with a flavor from being marinated that makes it better than the typical steak.

One feature that put the shish kabob among the top ones I have tried was the Saffron Rice served underneath the meat and vegetables. This was very fresh and delicious, and the rice was something I would enjoy eating by itself.

The Lamb Kabob is one of the restaurant's "Specialty Dishes," and I would say is equally as enjoyable as the beef version (although I would not say this about all the lamb dishes I have tried in various restaurants). Some people would like the lamb better, and I would say that both are good.

Grilled chicken with Turkish salsa
Grilled chicken with Turkish salsa

Grilled Chicken with Turkish Salsa has been my favorite item since I first tried it, but with the new menu in 2014 it is no longer served. The good news is that customers can still get the same thing by ordering two dishes: the chicken kabob and what is now called "Turkish salad" (formerly Turkish salsa). The bad news is that there is about a fifty percent higher price tag ordering it this way (but I think it comes with a larger serving).

The Chicken Kabob accomplishes a very hard feat by making the chicken as flavorful and tender as the beef. The seasoning is a major part of the meat's appeal, and of course coming from the "halal" section of the menu, this is undoubetly some of the best meat available.

The Turkish Salad is made with tomatoes, onion, parsley, pomegranate sauce, chile peppers, and walnuts for a taste that is a little bit like tabouli (but sweet with pomegranate and crunchy with walnuts). This was quite a unique combination that I have not found in other Middle Eastern restaurants.

Ghormeh sabzi
Ghormeh sabzi

Ghormeh Sabzi was one of the Specialties I was hesitant to try because I had a rather disappointing one in El Paso (at the now closed Shiraz Restaurant). Travel by Taste, though, knows how to do it right (at least it was right for my taste buds). The flavor and color seems to come mostly from shredded parsley, but Travel by Taste has mixed in enough kidney beans, dried lime, stewed beef, and green onions to give it quite a delicious flavor.

Gheimeh with potatoes
Gheimeh with potatoes

Gheimeh with Potatoes is a mild dish with tomato sauce, covered with French fries. None of the items at Travel By Taste are spicy (even the possibly mislabeled "Turkish salsa"), but this dish is mild in terms of not having as many spices as some of the others.

Persian ice cream
Persian ice cream

Travel By Taste has a limited dessert menu, but the Persian Ice Cream was one item I had not seen elsewhere. This was home made ice cream with pistachios and rose water. Rose water is a prominent flavor in Iranian cuisine, and I think it is worth splurging a little bit to try this ice cream (normally in restaurants I go for cake or baked goods).

So far almost everything I have tried has gone on the "best items" list, and I think this is truly a sign of a consistently excellent rerstaurant. Of course my view of the restaurant may be skewed because of ordering mainly the most expensive items, but even so this is one of the least expensive restaurants in town which I consider to have "fine dining" type of food. The falafel sandwich is certainly more casual than other dishes, though, and in some situations can be just as satisfying (and there are still many items from the menu I have not yet tried).

I thought the Iranian music played over the speakers was very enjoyable, and the dining room was very comfortable. The back of the dining room looked like a place where people could sit around, enjoy a drink, and plug in a computer.

The "market" is very good for imported goods and some Middle Eastern style food produced in the United States. I have already found some very good cookies, pistachios, and trail mix at the market, and there is still much more to explore.

DISCONTINUED DISHES

Khoresh bademjan
Khoresh bademjan

Khoresh Bademjan was a beef and eggplant stew listed under "Specialty Dishes." Like a couple of other items from this section, I think Travel By Taste was the only restaurant in OKC that served it. On paper it looked very much like the eggplant casserole served at Nunu's as a special every other Thursday. I did think it was probably as good as Nunu's in terms of quality (especially because the meat was very good), but the flavor was not something I would especially seek out as I do with Nunu's version. The khoresh bademjan did contain more meat than Nunu's equivalent dish, though.

My Comments in a Nutshell
What I like most:
  • Some of my favorite food in OKC
  • One of my top 3 or 4 favorite Middle Eastern restaurants in OKC--this one specializes in Persian food (the others are Lebanese and Moroccan)
Disappointments:
  • No disappointments in the restaurant--only be aware that it closes at 8 PM
Things to know:
  • At first it's hard to find--to get there go to the traffic signal at N.W. 49th & MacArthur, turn east into the shopping center parking lot, and the restaurant is on the south side.
  • Deli style--you order at the cash register and then find a table.
  • Serves Persian cuisine--these are in the "Specialty Dishes" section of the menu.
  • Everything I have tried has been good (including the non-Persian dishes). However, my favorite items have been the Persian "Specialty Dishes."
  • The hot tea is good--I always order it with the meal.
  • Next to the cash register is an assortment of dried fruits, nuts, and snacks. These are excellent, and I always buy some to take home.
  • The handicapped parking is a few feet east of the restaurant (and can be hard to see when you pull into the parking lot).

RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 24

Cuisine: Middle Eastern Persian
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.-Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: No
Special Features: "Specialty Dishes" are halal

Most Recent Visit
Oct. 30, 2014

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Ghormeh Sabzi, Shish Kabob, Lamb Kabob, Chicken Kabob, Turkish Salad, Hummus, Saffron Rice, Persian Ice Cream

Special Ratings
Shish Kabob: filet mignon
Lamb Kabob:
Chicken Kabob:
Ghormeh Sabzi:
Falafel Sandwich:
Turkish Salad:
Greek Salad:
Persian Salad:
Hummus:
Saffron Rice:
Persian Ice Cream:

Discontinued Items
Khoresh Bademjan:
Grilled Chicken with Turkish Salsa:

Restaurant Menu
Travel By Taste



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