Griggs Restaurant–El Paso, TX

Griggs Restaurant (Closed)
5800 Doniphan Dr.
El Paso, TX
Griggs Restaurant on Doniphan

Griggs Restaurant on Doniphan

Griggs Restaurant is probably my all time favorite restaurant in El Paso, but I say this with qualifications.  Today I do not eat as much Mexican food as before, so I would regard it as more of a “special treat” restaurant.  Another qualification is that the quality was not consistent.  I could always count on Mr. and Mrs. Griggs producing top notch food, but when they retired the restaurant closed and then reopened with the younger generation managing it.  Also there was another Griggs Restaurant in East El Paso that was sold to another owner.  The end result is that I have the best memories of the original restaurant on Doniphan.  The others were good as well, and occasionally as good as the original.

I know that there is a somewhat sizeable group of people who remember the restaurant fondly and miss it, but what I want to do here is explain the food rather than just do an article on El Paso nostalgia.  I have a copy of the Griggs family cookbook with recipes used in the restaurant, but rather than try to post the recipes I will include a link to a blog that has already done so: Won’t Read Directions

Mrs. Griggs cookbook

Mrs. Griggs cookbook published in 1968

One thing to understand is that Mr. Griggs grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the restaurant served New Mexico style Mexican food.  More specifically, it came from the recipes developed by his mother Josephine Griggs.  Her children operated some very well known New Mexican restaurants in 1968 when the cookbook was published–Griggs Restaurant in El Paso (Edgar), La Posta in Mesilla, NM (operated by Katherine and her family but founded by Katy’s uncle, George Griggs), and El Pinto in Albuquerque (operated by Consuelo, another daughter, along with her husband and six children).  The other daughter operated a restaurant in Rancho Cordova, California named La Posta de Rancho Cordova.

I have come to the following conclusions about the Griggs family recipes and this restaurant “empire”: (1) each of these restaurants developed its own modifications to these recipes, (2) most people who try to cook these recipes find that they are very hard to cook without making some modifications, and (3) if you follow the recipes the food does not taste the same as the food served in any of these restaurants.  I do not know why this is the case, but it really does not matter to me–I had no intention of actually trying to cook the dishes, I only wanted to enjoy the food at the various restaurants.

I have always thought that Griggs Restaurant was more “authentic” New Mexican than either La Posta or El Pinto (and I have been to both of these restaurants multiple times).  One reason I say this is that Griggs used fairly spicy chiles while La Posta is very much on the tame side (I have heard that El Pinto has some very spicy chile but that you have to get this by special request).

The “original” Griggs Restaurant (operated by Edgar and Rita) closed before I started writing reviews, so I do not have a review of the restaurant to include in this article.  Instead, I have various write-ups and bits of information that I can piece together to give a picture of the original Griggs Restaurant (in west El Paso) and the east side Griggs.

Review of the original Griggs Restaurant written 2005 (my last visit to the restaurant was in 2003)

The Griggs family reopened this restaurant with the original recipes, and it has the best New Mexico style food in town. I like the red and green enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and stuffed sopaipillas (I order them with the red chile used on enchiladas). The Griggs extended family originated La Posta in Mesilla and El Pinto in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For some reason, though, only this restaurant seems to provide the rich flavors and spiciness that I think accurately represent the original family recipes. Salsa is the one example of food here that is not very spicy, and probably out of the mainstream of New Mexico style food preparation. This is a minor detail, though, compared to the overall excellent meals that are served.

Review of the East Side Griggs (after my last visit on Nov. 30, 2006)

A restaurant that has been around as long as Griggs runs the risk of falling off the radar screen, especially when it is set back from Montana Avenue and only a non-lighted sign is visible from the street. It has also been through quite a few bumps with the closing of its Mesa Hills location and the on-again, off-again saga of the original Doniphan location (the original restaurant closed, then the children of the owners opened it as Griggs Family Restaurant, then it became became Dos Señoritas under different ownership, and finally a branch of Sombras del Pasado before it closed for good).

The east side Griggs Restaurant dining room

Griggs’ dining rooms greet visitors with several pianos and antique furniture

I have felt that the food quality has also been on a roller-coaster ride with the different owners, managers, and cooks. Anyone who knew the Griggs family cannot help associate the friendly smiles they would get and the home cooked style food that was served with the restaurants bearing their name. Of late, though, this has seemed a distant memory as the food seems to get more anglosized, or tourist oriented (as I feel that it always has been) but without the special touches I thought the food always demonstrated when the Griggs family was in charge of the kitchen. A chilehead could overlook the wimpy salsa and mild chiles because of the quality of the food, but it does not seem to have the same quality at the Montana location.

Green enchilada, rolled taco, chile relleno, chile con carne

From front to back: Green enchilada, rolled taco, chile relleno, and chile con carne

Certain items at the Montana location (and at the other locations when they were open) always seem to hit the spot regardless of the cooks that are in the kitchen. One is the New Mexico style Chile Relleno, a Mesilla Valley chile surrounded by an egg batter, with no sauce on top. At times the relleno has been beyond greasy (this has been rare, though). It has only been less than enjoyable, though, when the cheese inside the relleno failed to melt (this has been quite rare indeed). I normally order combination dinners at Griggs, but with any dinner ordered I would recommend the inclusion of a relleno.

Green Enchiladas are another standout item, and are rarely less than perfect. Of course, perfection depends on the standard being used. The green chile used is not the spicy variety served at Chope’s in La Mesa, New Mexico, or a number of other New Mexican style restaurants. The one at Griggs is a mild version that even people not used to eating any kind of chiles would enjoy, yet I think the flavor rivals just about any enchilada served in the Land of Enchantment.

The Red Enchiladas have never been one of the outstanding items at Griggs. They were excellent at the Doniphan location, however.

Chile colorado, known as Chile con Carne at Griggs had a superior New Mexico style chile at the original Griggs on Doniphan. The one served at the Montana location, though, seems to lack the flavor that made the other one so good. Likewise the roast pork does not taste like anything special, while the meat at the original Griggs seemed to embody the essence of New Mexico style pork that made eating this dish seem like a special experience.

The slaw is outstanding, and I like the fact that whole beans are served rather than refried.

I do not know whether Griggs’ tortillas are home made, but they certainly taste as if they are. I always found this to be a much more pleasant way to fill up on carbohydrates than trying to down the usually stale chips with the practically chile-less salsa.

The food at Griggs may be familiar to those who have eaten at La Posta in Mesilla, New Mexico or El Pinto in Albuquerque. The Griggs family were early settlers in Mesilla, and various family members founded these three restaurants (all of which are still in business, but with different owners). While the current owners of the New Mexico restaurants have made them “touristy” on purpose, Griggs in El Paso has retained the original Griggs family recipes fairly well (they used to publish a recipe book that has some fairly authentic dishes). I cannot say the Griggs Restaurant serves totally authentic New Mexican cuisine, but it is one of the closest experiences El Pasoans can find to the type of food that would be served in Las Cruces or Albuquerque.

Peppe’s Restaurant
6761 Doniphan Dr.
Canutillo, TX
(915) 877-2152

The latest development in the Griggs Restaurant saga is the opening of Peppe’s Restaurant in Canutillo, Texas by a former cook at the original Griggs Restaurant.  I have enjoyed the food here very much, although I think the menu is a little abbreviated from the original Griggs menu.  I have heard that the owners of Peppe’s would like to publish their own version of the Griggs recipes that will be closer to the food served in the restaurant.  I don’t know the progress on this, but maybe if there is a large demand for it, it will happen.  In any case, if you liked Griggs Restaurant, go to Peppe’s (my sentiments are the same as many of the Yelp reviewers on this point).

I do want to stress to readers that the Griggs food is still available at Peppe’s, and for my taste it is still much better than La Posta or El Pinto in New Mexico.  I would probably like Peppe’s to expand its menu, but as long as I can get the green enchiladas, chile relleno, and chile con carne I think I will be pretty happy.

Information for Griggs Restaurant on Doniphan:


(today I would probably give it 25, but 24 is what I gave it at the time)

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Alcohol: Home of the “Juan and Only” Margarita

Chile Index: chile 4

Most Recent Visit

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Green Enchiladas, Chile Relleno, Chicken Sopa, Slaw, Chile con Carne, Tostada Compuesta

Special Ratings

star 5 Green Enchiladas
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Tostada Compuesta
star 5 Slaw

Hacienda Mexicana–El Paso, TX

Hacienda Mexicana (Closed)
5800 Doniphan Dr.
El Paso, TX
Hacienda Mexicana

Hacienda Mexicana

Date of Review:
Mar. 2010

History:  Hacienda Mexicana opened in the building that used to be Griggs Restaurant, a long time El Paso institution.  Really nothing could replace Griggs, but Hacienda Mexicana served very high quality food (that unfortunately, few customers seemed to discover before the restaurant closed).

The photos in this article show the classic El Paso style Mexican food, and I think the rich colors of the food give a good indication of the rich flavors they contained.

In addition, though, the photo of the front of the restaurant is the best picture I have of the way the original Griggs Restaurant looked from the outside.

The old Griggs Restaurant on Doniphan Drive was such a special restaurant that I think it is only appropriate that another high quality Mexican restaurant take its place, and this is what has now happened with the opening of Hacienda Mexicana in 2010. The building resembles a hacienda, with several large dining rooms, outdoor gardens, and a peaceful setting away from other buildings. It is not located in the country as it was when Griggs opened, but it still seems that way.

Although I loved the food at Griggs, Hacienda Mexicana has made a change from Griggs’ menu and now serves a large variety of El Paso style Mexican food. I was impressed with the number of items on the menu that included such things as chicken mole (and other dishes that Griggs did not serve). I should point out that the former chef at Griggs has opened Peppe’s in Canutillo (6761 Doniphan Dr.) where the former Griggs recipes are now served. Griggs (and now Peppe’s) is New Mexico style food, while Hacienda Mexicana follows the tradition of high quality flavorful El Paso style food that I regularly experienced in the 1980’s but now I find in fewer and fewer restaurants.

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Although the chips and salsa are not the most important part of most meals, they can detract from it if they are not good. The Chips here, though, were the first sign that it was a good restaurant. These were thick and well toasted, as they should be.

The Red Salsa was thick with a strong chile flavor, made in a typical Mexican style. Of the two salsas this was my favorite.

The Green Salsa was more spicy, but more runny and hard to put on the chips. The fact that they served more than one salsa was a definite plus for the restaurant, allowing a variety of flavors.

Combination plate

Combo plate with rice, chicken taco, flautas, chile relleno, red enchilada, beans, and salad

When I asked for suggestions about what to order, the waiter suggested a combination plate. This reassured me because on my first visit to a Mexican restaurant I like to try as many items as possible. However, this was still not an easy choice because they serve about six different combo plates, and each can be modified through substitutions. Thus the one I got was more or less my choice for the items I would like to try.

The Chile Relleno turned out to be much like the one Griggs used to serve, with an excellent batter and no sauce on top. It was stuffed with Muenster cheese, and had a little cheese on top, but to me was the utlimate chile relleno in El Paso for its simplicity and goodness. I want to start a list of “best individual items” at restaurants, and I know of no chile relleno in El Paso that could top the one at Hacienda Mexicana (in fact, it rivals the one at Chope’s in New Mexico).

I probably could never pick the best Red Enchilada in El Paso, but the one at Hacienda Mexicana was close. This was made the classic El Paso style, with a flavorful red chile that was not too spicy. I do not like a lot of additives such as cumin, and this was one where the chile flavor was left to stand on its own with only a little help from additional ingredients (in other words, just right).

The Flautas were served in the style of the “Mexican flag” with red chile, white sour cream, and a green guacamole sauce for color (the guacamole was a thin, pureed sauce). Although I thought the sauce was good, the flautas themselves were somewhat thin and dry (but not unusual for El Paso).

The Chicken Taco had the same meat as the flautas, which I thought was rather unflavorful. I ordered the taco with a soft shell (normally it comes fried), but it seemed that the restaurant was really not expert at making flavorful soft tacos as some of the more authentic Mexican restaurants are. Probably when it comes to El Paso style Mexican food the crispy tacos are best (and probably beef should be ordered instead of chicken).

The Rice was very flavorful and not dry. It tasted fresh, and not as if it had been sitting around for a while.

The Beans pointed out the main problem I had with some of the food–they had a definite salty flavor. In fact, this one thing pointed out the main difference to me between Hacinda Mexicana being a very good El Paso style Mexican restaurant (which it is) and possibly being one of the best (such as Casa Jurado). I thought the chile relleno and possibly the red enchilada here were better than at Casa Jurado, and some of the other food could be equally good if they cut down on the amount of salt used.

Hacienda Mexicana serves home made Agua Fresca drinks, including horchata and canteloupe (melón), but they said the lemonade comes from a mix.

Overall it was a very good expeience. The price was very reasonable, and the service was good. The restaurant closes at 9 p.m., so I did not have to feel rushed in trying to get there early as I do at many restaurants. This was truly a worthy replacement for Griggs, especially since I feel they are serving the same chiles rellenos that Griggs used to have.


Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Alcohol: Applied for License

Chile Index: chile 4

Most Recent Visit
Mar. 30, 2010

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items
Chiles Rellenos, Red Enchiladas

Special Ratings

star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Chiles Rellenos
star 4 Chicken Taco
star 5 Flautas
star 5 Rice
star 4 Beans
star 4 Flour Tortillas
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 4 Melón

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò–Oklahoma City, OK

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò (Closed)
2524 N. Military Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Bánh Cuón Tây Hò

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò in Oklahoma City

Date of Review: Jun. 2008

Note: Bánh Cuón Tây Hò closed sometime around 2009 or 2010, but until that time was one of the more authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the Asian District. It was part of a California chain of restaurants, and has a good reputation from the reviews I have seen. My review mentions that it changed owners, and I think I had better luck with the first ones (as someone who does not speak Vietnamese and was trying to understand the menu). The best dish I tried was Bánh Cuón (rice sheet wraps), the restaurant’s specialty. Lang’s Bakery, two doors down from the former Bánh Cuón Tây Hò, says they have a similar rice sheet wrap dish (No. 19 on the menu, described as “Slice Vietnamese Ham & Bean Sprouts over White Rice Noodle Sheets”).

It may be easy to miss Bánh Cuón Tây Hò. Located behind the larger Lido Restaurant in the same shopping center, patrons may be misled into the belief that Lido has the larger selection of authentic Vietnamese food, when in fact the menu at Tây Hò is probably just as extensive.

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò is actually “Restaurant #5,” something I discovered by picking up the take-home menu. The one in Oklahoma City is the only non-California location of this chain, and I got the impression that this food is good enough quality to be successful in California’s “Little Saigon” districts.

On my first trip I ordered the Bún, or vermicelli with vegetable dish, but it lacked the flavor I have experienced at Lido and other Vietnamese restaurants.

On a subsequent visit, however, I asked about the recommended dishes, and was told that Bánh Cuón (rice sheet wraps) was a good choice. I figured this must be their speciality, so I tried it. I had not seen rice sheet wraps in any other Vietnamese restaurant, and it was delicious because of the vegetables and sauces that came with it. You actually create your own sauce by adding the desired quantities of fish sauce, chile, and peanuts from containers on the table. Several meats and tofu toppings are available. Recently they began adding yams in a tempura breading to the dish, and I now like it even better than before.

Yam sticks

Yam sticks

The “Yam Sticks” (I don’t know their proper name) can be ordered as a stand-alone order (as shown in the photo above), but I did not care for them this way (I only ordered them because I misunderstood the menu, and thought they were a vegetarian version of the rice wraps).

The Tofu Delight was quite good– comparable to the ones served at some of the better Chinese restaurants. Most Vietnamese restaurants in OKC serve Chinese dishes, but this was one of the few that had a true Chinese flavor.

The special hot tea was really a treat, brewed with loose leaves.

The restaurant has changed somewhat since my first visit in 2005, and seems to have new owners now. For instance, tempura yams have been added to the bánh cuón dishes, and Vietnamese ham is also included. The prices have increased, and some of the dishes seem to have changed. The food is just as good as before, and apparently the “ham and yam” combination is the typical Vietnamese way of serving the dish (although I do not know why it was not served previously).

Hot tea is no longer on the house, and it has not been consistently made with the excellent loose leaves I experienced on my first visit.

On my early visits I did not care much for some of the items other than rice wraps, but that may have changed for the better with the new owners and cooks. I just know that with the exception of some Chinese lunch plates, the restaurant tries to present authentic Vietnamese cooking. I have experimented with a few items, but there is much more available that I have not tried.



Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (loose leaves)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 7, 2008
Number of Visits: 5
Best Items: Bánh Cuón, Hot Tea

Special Ratings
star 5 Bánh Cuón
star 5 Tofu Delight
star 4 Yam Sticks
star 3 Bún (Vermicelli Noodles)

Adobe Grill–Oklahoma City, OK

Adobe Grill Gourmet Mexicano (Closed)
5120 N. Shartel Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Adobe Grill

Adobe Grill

Date of Review: Nov. 2008

Note: Adobe Grill served excellent authentic food from the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico, and I think it serves as a good benchmark for any other restaurants that claim to be authentic.  I did not give the restaurant a rating consistent with this food because I had trouble getting this food.  There were two versions of many items, and depending on who took my order, it either was or was not communicated to the kitchen that I wanted the “authentic” version (I was actually using the names printed on the menu rather than my own somewhat facetious terms).  They would not correct the mistake, and I thought it best to give a rating based on the food I actually got rather than on what I knew they could make but was not always served to me.

When Adobe Grill opened it was not certain that anything other than Tex-Mex would be popular in Oklahoma City, but the authentic food from the interior of Mexico has turned out to be quite a hit with locals. There are a few standard Tex-Mex items added to the menu to appeal to a wider audience such as taco salad, tortilla chips and queso dip. Overall, though, the menu consists of items that would be found in Mexico City or other typical Mexican cities.

Leticia, the owner, has made every effort to provide high quality items as they would be found in Mexico, and she has been quick to point out that the recipes are not hers, but are from her abuelita who comes in every morning to prepare the sauces that will be served that day. I honestly think the level of care taken to provide quality food here is something that will be found in very few Mexican restaurants.

Not all of the food is as spicy as I have indicated on the “chile scale.” Some of the salsas, though, have quite a kick and are comparable to the ones that would be found south of the border. I think one secret to Adobe Grill’s popularity is that it is spicy for those who want it that way, but much of the food has a more moderate heat level that is flavorful without being “dumbed down.”

Queso and salsa

Queso and several types of salsa are served

All the salsas are home made, and of course this is made obvious by the fact that no one else serves the type of salsas that are given to customers here. There is no need to ask for a “spicy” salsa as I do at many restaurants, since several of the ones served are already quite hot. I did not really have a favorite–I enjoyed them all.

Many of the dishes here are typical of the food found in Oaxaca, but I think the emphasis is on the cooking style found throughout the entire southern region of Mexico rather than a single state.

I found the poblano sauce to be the best one served. The name signifies that it is from the state of Puebla, and unlike some other Mexican restaurants that use Mexican place names in their dishes, the recipes at Adobe Grill most likely really originate in the place indicated.

Mole is another sauce that has been consistently good, and while I am impressed by its apparent authenticity, the flavor is not really better than mole from northern Mexico, it is just something different to try that is enjoyable. In any case I do not know of any other restaurant in Oklahoma City that serves mole from the southern part of Mexico, so coming to Adobe Grill will allow diners to judge for themselves whether they prefer this to other styles of mole.

Chipotle is another sauce served at Adobe Grill that is not likely to be found anywhere else. The restaurant provides a free “sampling” plate containing the various sauces so you can decide which one(s) you would like before you order (but I have found that they do not always advise customers that it is available).

Combination plate

“Especial de Corrina” with black beans, tamal, poblano pepper, and taco on a separate plate

Several combination dinners are available that offer a good way to sample the food that is available. The “Especial de Corrina” has the greatest variety of items, and comes with two side dishes. The Chile Relleno (poblano pepper) covers about half the plate by itself, and would make a meal by itself. Since I had help eating this dinner, though, I was able to finish everything that was served, including several items served on separate plates.

The Black Beans on the left of the plate looked enticing, but did not match the ones served at Cafe do Brasil, which are still my favorites. Roasted corn also came with the dinner, and were served on a separate plate.

A Tex-Mex style Tamal was quite good, and in fact was as good as many of the tamales I have eaten in Austin and San Antonio (in the heart of Tex-Mex country). This had a thick and flavorful masa that I thought probably came from a family recipe, and was as carefully prepared as any of the dishes from southern Mexico.

One of the tacos served at Adobe Grill

One of the tacos served at Adobe Grill

I am not sure which version of Tacos was served with the “Especial de Corrina” (shown in the picture above), but this one came with yellow cheese, a crispy shell, and fajita meat. Other tacos are available with soft tortillas and other choices of meat and fillings.

My favorite taco is Tacos de Gilberto, with tortillas dipped in a special sauce, equally good meat, and a garnish of onions, cilantro, lime juice, and sliced avocados. The white cheese sprinkled on top added to the flavor, and I thought this dish alone made it worth going to Adobe Grill. While the other tacos served at Adobe Grill are a step above the ones available at many other restaurants, I thought the tacos de Gilberto were clearly a standout.

Tamal azteca

Tamal azteca wrapped in a banana leaf is the style from southern Mexico

Tamales Aztecas are one of the more authentic dishes served, but I have had mixed results with them. Wrapped in banana leaves and filled with Carne Adobada, I thought the meat was dry and not very flavorful. The masa was good, but I did not like it as much as the Tex-Mex tamales. I think there are so many ways of preparing tamales that there are bound to be some that some people like better than others. I have found all of the ones at Adobe Grill to be as close to the “real thing” (either Mexican or Tex-Mex) as can be found in Oklahoma City.

One of the best features of Adobe Grill has been the service and the home style atmosphere (including hand crafted furniture and decorations). When I made a visit one year on September 16 (one of the most important Mexican national holidays), we were treated to a feast of items that included the ones we ordered and ones that were thrown in free by the owners to help us celebrate the occasion. The Buñuelos given us by the owner made one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time, and was so much more satisfying than the typical sopaipillas served in OKC restaurants that I would have no hesitation paying extra for them in the future. I know the owners try hard to give everyone a great experience so they will tell their friends.

The actual experiences I have had at Adobe Grill have been mixed, in spite of the owners’ best efforts. For instance, the “Especial de Corrina” pictured above came with the generic version of several of the items even though I asked for the “southern Mexico” versions. Adobe Grill has two or more versions of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and other dishes, and one of its best features is being able to try the different styles of food that are available. I discovered firsthand, though, that customer’s requests are not always communicated to the kitchen. Everything at Adobe Grill is good, but if you want it prepared a certain way it might be best to talk directly to the owner or manager.

Even though I did not get the “southern Mexico” version of some of the food, I thought a lot of it was typical of central or northern Mexico. The white cheese, sauces, and chiles used were all high quality ingredients that the Mexican people enjoy without worrying about the region of their origins.

It is well worth seeking out the type of Mexican food served here that is so rarely found in the United States. Even the Tex-Mex versions of the dishes are quite notable, and in some cases have made it worth my trip to Adobe Grill. The interior and southern Mexico style food, though, are always interesting and add variety to Oklahoma City’s Mexican food dining scene.


Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily except Sat. lunch and Sun. dinner
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Sangria

Chile Index: chile 4

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 28, 2008

Number of Visits: 4

Best Items: Tacos de Gilberto, Enchiladas with poblano sauce, Buñuelos

Special Ratings

star 5 Cheese Enchilada Poblano sauce
star 4 Cheese Enchilada Chipotle sauce
star 4 Cheese Enchilada with Mole
star 5 Cheese Enchilada Plain
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Tacos de Gilberto
star 4 Tamales Azteca
star 3 Rice
star 5 Whole Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa several varieties
star 5 Flour Tortillas
star 5 Buñuelos

Sweetery Eatery–Oklahoma City, OK

Sweetery Eatery (Closed)
12301 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Cuisine: Sandwiches
Hours: Lunch only (closed Sun.)

The Sweetery Eatery is a small sandwich and lunch restaurant, but is probably best known for the “sweet” side of the menu. So far the bakery items are the only portion of the restaurant’s offerings I have tried, but I think they are well worth mentioning.

Lemon bar

Lemon bar

The Lemon Bar had just about every feature I could hope for in a good dessert. First of all was the powdered sugar which was satisfying not only in terms of flavor but also because of its texture. The bar had a subtle lemon flavor that seemed more natural than artificially flavored, and all in all this sweet concoction really hit the spot.

Key lime tart

Key lime tart

The Key Lime Tart looked more interesting visually, but I was a little bit less impressed with it in terms of flavor. The lime flavor was possibly a little bit too subtle, and for me it did not come through as much as the lemon flavor had done in the lemon bar. The rest of it, though, was an excellent combination of textures and flavors.

Of course there is much more to sample, but this was a very good start. It seemed that the desserts here were about as good as anywhere I have tried.

Sweetery Eatery is open until 6:00 p.m. weekdays and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, and serves both lunch and brunch. Of course, what I can recommend from first hand experience is some goodies to either eat there or to take home.



Cuisine: Sandwiches
Cost: $

Most Recent Visit: *

Number of Visits: *

Best Items: Desserts

Special Ratings

star 5 Lemon Bar
star 4 Key Lime Tart

Smithsonian Article on Oklahoma City’s Little Saigon

The March 2016 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine has a very interesting article on Oklahoma City’s Vietnamese community, with an emphasis on the Vietnamese food served in Oklahoma City’s “Little Saigon.”  The area around Classen Boulevard between N.W. 23rd Street and N.W. 34th is officially called the Asian District, but the Smithsonian article correctly points out how the Vietnamese refugee community was instrumental in founding it and turning it into the attraction it has become today.

One idea set forth in the article is that the Asian people have a food culture.  A quote in the article by the owner of Super Cao Nguyen Market is illustrative of this point:

We’re all big foodies.  We eat, sleep, dream food.  When some customer comes to us with an idea for some product we should carry, the first thought that pops into our head is, “That sounds delicious.”

In other words, the people behind the good Asian restaurants and supermarkets work hard to make it that way, and this comes from a very strong attention to food that may even range to an obsession with it.

Another very interesting point in the article is how Vietnamese chefs are at the forefront of innovation in developing Asian fusion cuisine and constantly trying to re-invent what Vietnamese cuisine itself should mean, at least as it exists in America.  I had already seen the fusion aspect of it in restaurants like Monsoon in Seattle, and now it is taking hold in Oklahoma City in restaurants such as Guernsey Park.  Chef Vuong Nguyen of Guernsey Park has now moved on to open Bonjour, a restaurant that is not Vietnamese but which obviously has a Vietnamese influence along with the French fusion typically found in it.

I like the direction Vietnamese cuisine is taking, because rather than trying to Americanize the food they are keeping the authentic cuisine and adding fusion concepts to it.  This is in contrast to Chinese food, which was so Americanized when most of us were growing up that I have a hard time every trying to describe to people what authentic Chinese cuisine is supposed to be.  I think Chinese restaurants are now following the Vietnamese pattern though–you can get the authentic version, the Americanized version (there is a little bit of Americanization in some Vietnamese food also), or the fusion version (I have not seen much of this in Chinese food but I know it exists).

I have tried to develop some ideas from the article that I think are important to what I am doing on this blog.  People may or may not want to get a copy of the Smithsonian magazine for the article, but I think it is a good read and worthwhile if you can find the March issue.

One subject mentioned in the article is that some chefs from Oklahoma City are thinking about moving to other cities, and maybe even doing a stint in Vietnam to learn some of the finer points of Vietnamese cuisine.  If (and more probably when) this happens, some cities will likely see major upgrades in the variety and quality of the Vietnamese cuisine being served.

Pasta Cafe–Ruidoso, NM

Pasta Cafe Italian Bistro (Closed)
2331 Sudderth
Ruidoso, NM

Date of Review: Jun. 2004

Note:  This restaurant is closed, but the original Pasta Cafe in Roswell is still open (see their web site).  The address in Roswell is 1208 N. Main St.

There were several things about the restaurant in Ruidoso that caused me to write this “updated” review, with the idea that some readers may wish to check out the restaurant in Roswell, New Mexico.  One, of course, is the food.  I did not have a very good experience with the mushroom marsala (it didn’t make me sick or anything, I just thought it had a strange flavor).  Other items, though were quite notable.  The chicken cacciatore had a sauce that I really enjoyed (although I just sampled a couple of bites of it).  The salad was excellent as well, and overall it seemed to be a very good restaurant.

A couple of other notable things about the restaurant, though, were interrelated.  The service was good in a way that made the meal better, and not in a way that I just thought they were trying to get a good tip.  Pasta Cafe is noted for its wine list, and for us they suggested what I thought was a very special Italian wine at a very special price (being especially low for this type of wine).

Maybe Pasta Cafe now suffers from being in a town that is off the beaten path for tourists (despite the fact that many people want to see the UFO Museum in Roswell).  Even for those just passing through Roswell on the way to somewhere else, though, it might be worthwhile to try the food at Pasta Cafe (and I would suggest the wine also).

Another update: at the time Pasta Cafe was a mini-chain, with restaurants in Roswell, Carlsbad, and Ruidoso.  Now they are just operating the one in Roswell.

I also wish to elaborate on the statement that Pasta Cafe had “average food” by saying that the chicken cacciatore and salad were much better than average.

 Review of the Ruidoso Restaurant:

Pasta Cafe is a New Mexico mini-chain of medium priced and quality Italian food. Actually if you order a salad (and especially if you order wine) it will fall in the expensive category, however these items are some of the best features of the restaurant.

The Salad was fresh with a delicious house dressing. It is actually rather difficult to find decent salads in the Southwest that live up to the quality routinely found in other parts of the country, but the one at Pasta Cafe fit the bill.

Some great wine is also served. The waiter suggested an Italian wine of which they had received a special shipment, and I will have to say that it was a special treat for me. Although it was not cheap, it seemed bargain priced considering its excellent flavor.

I sampled three entrées, with the Chicken Cacciatore being by far the best (and highly recommended).

The Ravioli was about average for good Italian restaurants, with a tomato sauce containing few spices.

My order of Mushroom Marsala was not what I had hoped or expected it to be. It had a strange flavor, and I just did not think it was good like the other two dishes. Since I was unfamiliar with marsala it was not clear how much was attributable to an error in preparation and how much would have occurred with any version of this dish. Other types of food cooked in wine, however, have not been as unappetizing to me as this one.

While the chicken was quite good, the other two entrées made me think that Pasta Cafe was a mid-range Italian restaurant with average food. The salad and wine, however, definitely seem to be worth seeking out. Service was good, and portion sizes were comfortable (not with over the top quantities of food that either make me uncomfortable or lead me to take some of it home as leftovers). I have thought many times about the Italian wine and wished I could find something of equal quality at other Italian restaurants.



Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 2, 2004

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Chicken Cacciatore, Salad, Wine

Special Ratings

star 4 Chicken Cacciatore
star 3 Ravioli
star 1 Mushroom Marsala
star 5 Salad