A Walking Tour of Midtown–Oklahoma City, OK

A view of Midtown

From N. Walker Ave. looking south toward St. Anthony’s Hospital

Midtown Oklahoma City, centered around N.W. 10th Street and Walker Avenue, has one of the greatest concentrations of quality restaurants in the city. This is based both on experience (from some past and present restaurants) and the reviews I have read about all the restaurants in the area.

In conjunction with visiting a medical office in the area I was able to conduct a brief walking tour to scout out many of the restaurants I have read about. The purpose of this article is to pass along information I have gleaned from the Internet as well as what I found on my tour. There are only a couple of restaurants listed with which I have first hand experience, but practically all of them are on my “want to try” list.

Stella
1201 N. Walker Ave.

Stella in Midtown

Stella Modern Italian Cuisine

Stella is known as “Modern Italian,” and according to reviews is not the typical red sauce type of restaurant. It has good reviews, is upscale, and is a place you would want to go for a leisurely meal (it is not outrageously priced, but you do want to spend time enjoying what you are paying for).

1492
1207 N. Walker Ave.

1492 in Midtown

1492 New World Latin Cuisine

This upscale Mexican restaurant is located next door to Stella, and it looks as if the biggest issue here is where to find parking. I think they have their own parking lot but it may get full at times.

I recently ate at the new 1492 at Casady Square, and based on this I can give a very good review of the food. This was very good upscale Mexican cuisine, and I consider it to be a type of food that Oklahoma City really needs.

Cafe do Brasil
440 N.W. 11th St.

Cafe do Brasil

Cafe do Brasil

Although I did not eat here on this particular walking tour, this is still my favorite Latin American restaurant in Oklahoma City. I was very impressed with not only the flavor of the food but also with the choices. There is ample parking here, and the prices are very good. It is not quite what I would call an upscale restaurant but the food is what I would call upscale for Latin American cuisine.

Brown’s Bakery
1100 N. Walker Ave.

Brown's Bakery

Brown’s Bakery

My next stop was at Brown’s Bakery, which is an institution both in Oklahoma City and with my family. I didn’t pick up any of their goodies, but I know that this is a good place for it.

This particular day part of the area was blocked off for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and one of the musical groups was practicing in Brown’s parking lot. There was still parking for those who wanted to go to Brown’s, and on a normal day there would be more than enough parking for anyone who was thinking about coming here.

Fassler Hall
421 N.W. 10th St.

North entrance to Fassler Hall

North entrance to Fassler Hall (from Park Pl.)

Just east of Brown’s Bakery is a relatively new bowling alley, and above the bowling alley on the second floor is Fassler Hall, a restaurant fashioned after a Bavarian beer hall. The main dining area is an outdoor patio with picnic tables, although you can get out of the elements if necessary.

Fassler Hall's outdoor patio

Fassler Hall’s outdoor patio

The menu at Fassler Hall is pretty simple. It specializes in bratwurst and sausages (according to one of the employees who explained the menu to me). There is somewhat of a variety of dishes, including schnitzel and a vegetarian sausage (which I understand is made of falafel). Of course all of these items go well with beer (at least this seems to be the consensus of the diners here).

From Tenth Street the restaurant is located up a flight of stairs, but it is at street level from Park Place (the street that runs between 10th and 11th). There is also parking off of Park Place, including several handicapped spaces.

Bleu Garten
301 N.W. 10th St.

Bleu Garten is Oklahoma City’s first food truck court, with a rotating schedule of food trucks that come daily (see their web site for the schedule).

Bleu Garten entrance

Bleu Garten entrance

The official entrance to Bleu Garten is on Tenth Street, but parking is located in the back.  There are covered areas to sit near the entrance, but they are not enclosed.  The trucks are out in the open.  There is a drink bar with restrooms operated by the food court (all of this is covered).  Thus you can eat in a covered open air area, but the trucks themselves are not covered.

Some of the trucks at Bleu Garten

St. Paddy Cakes and Snow S’more trucks

I saw five trucks, and from their web site this seemed to be about the usual number that were parked here. I thought the St. Paddy Cakes truck was a special one for St. Patrick’s Day (when I went), but it turned out to be one in their regular rotation.

I did not see any Asian food here (something I was somewhat expecting), and I was a little surprised that there were only five in total. There are actually a lot more that come here but the schedule is rotating.

Note: The Bleu Garten web site indicates that as of July 2016 they have made some changes. I now see a lunch schedule only on Friday through Sunday, and dinner is Tuesday through Saturday.

Packard’s New American Kitchen
201 N.W. 10th St.

Packard's

Packard’s New American Kitchen

One block east of Bleu Garten is Packard’s New American Kitchen, an upscale restaurant popular for its steaks and other (New) American dishes. Some say it has the best rooftop dining in town. It seems to be considered as one of the city’s better restaurants.

Tamashii Ramen
321 N.W. 8th St.

Tamashii Ramen in Oklahoma City

Tamashii Ramen in Oklahoma City

Tamashii, located in an almost abandoned neighborhood a couple of blocks from Midtown’s main drag, is the restaurant where I wish I could have eaten but I did not have time on this trip. I have heard excellent things about their ramen, and a restaurant like this is one sure sign that OKC has arrived as a “foodie” city.

Reviews indicated that a special spicy ramen is the best item if you like spicy food.  Otherwise, the tonkatsu is very good.

The restaurant is small, and is a place you come for the food and not the atmosphere. Since the area is largely vacant I think this will make it fairly easy to come here and be able to find parking.

The hours posted on the door are as follows:

Tue 11-2 and 5-9
Wed 11-2 and 5-9
Thu 11-2 and 5-9
Fri 11-2 and 5-10:30
Sat 11-2 and 5-10:30
Sun 11-3

Gigglez
1016 N. Walker Ave.

Gigglez

Gigglez

Returning to the northwest, I passed by this rather unusual restaurant and comedy club (although in the daytime it is simply a restaurant). It actually has a highly regarded chef who brought an Asian twist to the food, although the menu is largely American. This looks like a place that would be interesting to try.

Gogo Sushi Express
432 N.W. 10th St.

Gogo Sushi Express

Gogo Sushi Express and Grill

This restaurant is right next door to Gigglez, and it offers Bento boxes in addition to sushi. Most reviewers say it is a bargain, with good Japanese food at reasonable prices (at least at lunch). According to Yelp it is open 11 am to 9 pm Mon-Thu, open until 10 pm on Fri, and closed Sat & Sun.

McNellie’s Public House
1100 Classen Dr.

On the opposite side of the traffic circle from Gogo Sushi is where Classen Drive angles to the northwest. On the east side of Classen Dr. is the old Plaza Shopping Center that is now a “restaurant row.” At the south end of the center is McNellie’s Public House.  Being St. Patrick’s Day when I visited, McNellie’s seemed to be the number one hot spot near downtown Oklahoma City. The concept here is an Irish pub, and I have to say that this is another place I would like to try if I get the chance.

Other Restaurants

Traffic circle at N.W. 10th and Walker

View to the east from the traffic circle

Also in this complex is the Prairie Thunder Baking Company (1114 Classen Dr.) and Irma’s Burger Shack (1120 Classen Dr.). Most of the restaurants listed here (and several others) are within a short walking distance from each other, and provide an excellent choice of cuisines, price points, and choice of fast lunch spots or more leisurely restaurants. Bleu Garten and Packard’s are the outliers, being located closer to Broadway than to Walker. Still, though, they are within a half mile of Saint Anthony’s Hospital (the largest building in the Midtown area).

Midtown has seen a dramatic increase of restaurants and other businesses in the past few years. I give credit to Brown’s Bakery (and others) for sticking it out through the good and the bad times, and I am sorry that Boulevard Cafeteria is no longer there, but the restaurants that have moved in have been a definite improvement to the area.

Filipino Food Revisited

In my previous post Filipino Food in Oklahoma City I asked a question that had been discussed on the Chowhound web site: “Why are there so few Filipino restaurants in the United States” (and at the time there were none in Oklahoma City).

The Chowhound site I referenced asked whether Filipino food was embarrassing (in other words, Filipino people might be more interested in blending into American culture and eating other people’s foods than in opening restaurants serving their own food). The article rightly asserted that Filipino food is very good, and that there should be more Filipino restaurants in the cities that have a large Filipino ethnic population (which are most cities in the U.S.).

I recently saw a program on Create TV that I believe provides some answers. An episode of Lucky Chow focusing on “Filipino Entrepreneurs” included an interview with P.J. Quesada, founder of the Filipino Food Movement. He agreed that Filipino food has not been as popular in the United States as one would think, and suggested the following as possible reasons:

  1. Filipinos came to the U.S. already speaking English, so they were able to assimilate more easily than other ethnic groups.
  2. Filipinos did not promote their food properly. One aspect of this is that there are a number of regional food styles in the Philippines. Immigrants from one region came to the U.S. and cooked their own style of food, but were not big promoters of  other styles of Filipino food.
  3. Americans are poorly educated about Filipino food. Much of it has to do with Filipino food having Spanish terms that mean something different than in other cuisines. In general it is hard for Americans to understand what the Filipino dishes are.

The first point is actually similar to the theory postulated in the Chowhound article on Filipino restaurants. Filipino immigrants quickly became Americanized, and did not go through the kind of adjustment that other groups had to do.

One of these adjustments might be the ethnic restaurants that serve as meeting places and social gatherings for immigrant groups as much as a place where these people like the food. I am speculating about this, but I will say that the points that Mr. Quesada made sound as plausible as anything I have heard about why there are not more Filipino restaurants.

At the same time, though, some people are trying to change things. The Lucky Chow program visited two restaurants in the Bay Area that prove that Filipino food can be successful in the United States.  One in San Mateo, California called Jeepney serves traditional Filipino food, and like most similar restaurants has customers making a special effort to go there in order to enjoy this type of food.

A second restaurant in San Mateo called Attic has its mission as serving a type of Filipino fusion that would be popular with Americans. It has modernized the food and makes it with local ingredients. The local ingredients in California are different than in the Philippines, but the experience is the same since the Filipino way of cooking uses locally sourced products as much as possible.

I am especially interested in ethnic cuisine, and I think it helps to understand the food when I visit a restaurant. I definitely feel that this episode of Lucky Chow provides some good insight into Filipino food in the U.S.

I believe that the “Filipino Food Movement” is gaining momentum, and will become more and more apparent in areas other than just the San Francisco Bay Area.


Oklahoma City Filipino Food Updates:

Chibugan Filipino Cuisine opened in April 2016, and is the first of what looks like a new trend in Filipino food in the Oklahoma City area.  The address is 4728 S.E. 29th St., Del City, OK. (Open Tue-Sat and lunch on Sunday).

Filipino Fusion food truck started operating in August 2016. The truck goes to various locations in Oklahoma City and Edmond, and may add more locations later.

Maya Latin Cuisine–Bethany, OK

Maya Latin Cuisine (Closed)
3929 N. College Ave.
Bethany, OK
Maya Latin Cuisine

Maya Latin Cuisine


Maya Latin Cuisine opened in the same building that housed Inca Latin Cuisine, and although the Incas and Mayas are from different continents, their food traditions seem to be very similar.

There is still a substantial Maya population in Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and this is the homeland of the restaurant’s owner as well.  Some of the former dishes from Inca Latin Cuisine, representing Peru, are served as well.  In fact, the name “Latin Cuisine” represents what the restaurant is trying to do– offer popular dishes from areas throughout Mexico as well as Central and South America.

The main thing I need to inform readers about is that Maya Latin Cuisine is not open in the evenings (this seems to be the case with many restaurants in Bethany).  It is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily except Sunday, and on Friday it stays open until 8:00 pm.

To me it seemed surprisingly upscale for a lunch place, and while dinners do not come in massive portions, they do consist of high quality meats and side dishes.

Pollo Asado
The owner is from Guatemala, and I asked if the server could point out the menu items that were Guatemalan.  It turned out to be about 20 percent of the menu– not a large number, but it points out the fact that this is a Latin American restaurant and not strictly one that is Guatemalan.

Pollo asado chapin

Pollo asado chapin

I ordered the Pollo Asado Chapin, which was one of the Guatemalan choices.  This was a marinated chicken breast with a Guatemalan style salsa coban.  I thought the flavoring was good, but the most impressive part was the quality of the chicken.

As much as I appreciate good chicken, though, the best part of the plate was probably the Plantains, which brought out the flavor that I always thought plantains could have.

The Black Beans were equally good, although this is something that is more readily available at other restaurants.

The Russian Salad was something that I could easily skip, although I did enjoy it.

Enchiladas Mexicanas

Enchiladas mexicanas

Enchiladas mexicanas

Shown in this photo is a item I sampled– the Enchiladas Mexicanas with a beef, chicken, and cheese enchilada.  I had a bite of all three, but I thought the chicken was best.

These enchiladas were not spicy, and had onions and cilantro on top.  I think they were supposed to be Yucatan style enchiladas (the area where the Mayas live), but I don’t have the experience to tell whether they were authentic or not.  They seemed to be good gourmet style enchiladas for those who do not want them very spicy.

A Preliminary Assessment

I have been to Guatemala, and I would not rate this restaurant as being very high on the authenticity scale.  In the first place, when I was there people could not afford much meat, and they certainly would not be eating the type of meat I had in the pollo asado chapin.  However, I am always willing for restaurants to provide something better than would probably be served in their home country, and this dish quite possibly meets this criterion.

I still think, though, that Chiltepes (and other restaurants in town) have more of an authentic Guatemalan flavor.  I do not say necessarily that they are better restaurants, because the chicken here was top notch.  I just think that Chiltepes is more authentic.

On the Mexican food, I was a little disappointed that it did not have the flavors of the old Adobe Grill, but I need to try some more items and make some more comparisons.

The thing to remember, though, is that this is not a Guatemalan restaurant or a Mexican restaurant, but one which serves Latin American food (including Peruvian).  I still need to try some more items.

I will say, though, that it is definitely worthwhile getting the plantains.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Latin American
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. (closes at 8 pm Fri–6 pm other days)
Accessible: Yes (but parking is off site)
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: May 20,2016

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Pollo Asado Chapin, Plantains

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pollo Asado Chapin
star 5 Enchiladas Mexicanas
star 5 Plantains
star 4 Russian Salad

Casa de Sueños–Tularosa, NM

Casa de Sueños
35 St. Francis Dr.
Tularosa, NM
(575) 585-3494
Casa de Sueños

Casa de Sueños Restaurant in Tularosa


The city of Tularosa, a few miles north of Alamogordo, is not only one of the most beautiful towns in New Mexico, but it is one of the best examples of the unique culture and architecture generally associated with the Land of Enchantment. After being in Tularosa by chance on a Christmas eve and seeing the church lit up with luminarias and the celebrations of the parishoners, I now make it a point whenever possible to relive the experience if I can be in the area during the holidays.

Despite all the historical and cultural attractions of the area, though, there are surprisingly few places in this or any of the nearby towns to enjoy New Mexican cuisine. Casa de Sueños, judging from the cars in the parking lot and the mention it receives on the Internet and in travel publications, is the most popular and well known New Mexican restaurant in Otero County (with Alamogordo and Tularosa being the two major towns). By saying it is “New Mexican,” this really means that most food is served with either red or green New Mexican chiles, and it follows the standard menu found throughout the state.

Parking Lot

The sprawling parking lot of Casa de Sueños

Casa de Sueños is open daily, and seems to sponsor a number of banquets, private parties, and meetings of civic groups. Do not worry, though, because the restaurant is large enough to handle customers during the peak periods as well as any special parties that are booked.

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas with blue corn tortillas and an egg on top

Casa de Sueños stays true to the tradition of New Mexican cuisine by offering enchiladas served flat, with blue corn tortillas (optional), and a fried egg on top (this is also optional). Red Enchiladas are usually my preference, and that is how I ordered them here. The red chile contained spices and other ingredients that I call “adulterated” red sauce, but it was pretty typical of the type of red enchiladas I have found in southeast New Mexico.

What was not typical for the southern part of the state was the fact that blue corn tortillas were served in the enchiladas (these cost a dollar extra), making them close to the northern New Mexico version. They were served flat by default (usually I have to request them this way in the southern part of the state), so overall they were very good compared to other New Mexican restaurants in the region. Flat enchiladas are my preference because they seem to absorb more of the sauce and thus more of the flavor than ones served with rolled tortillas.

I was hoping for a red sauce that used a more pure red chile, but there was enough red chile to give it a good flavor. Everything else in the enchiladas was good (including the cheese), so I would have to say these were a good example of New Mexico enchiladas.

Stuffed Sopapillas

Stuffed sopapilla

Stuffed sopapilla with green chile

Stuffed Sopapillas are something I greatly enjoy when they are done well, but I was somewhat disappointed by the one at Casa de Sueños. The sopapilla had a good flavor, as evidenced by the plain sopapilla served as a dessert (although I think most restaurants would not serve a sopapilla for dessert after it had been eaten as a meal). A choice of fillings was available, and I thought the whole beans I ordered were good (whole beans were also served on the side). It comes with red or green chile, and the green chile I ordered was spicier than the red, but just as diluted with additives as the red chile had been. The sopapilla’s texture, though, was too heavy and not fluffy enough.

After trying both the red and green sauce I preferred the red, and I think I would have enjoyed the stuffed sopapilla more with the red sauce.

Rice
The Rice was mixed with corn and other vegetables, and was a little bit unusual for New Mexican restaurants.

Salsa
The Salsa was a high point, with it being spicy but not tongue-numbing. It tasted as if it were made with fresh chiles. The chips were thick and good.


RATING: 22

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Lunch buffet (Mon.-Fri.), Sunday brunch

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 20, 2009
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Enchiladas, Salsa

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 4 Stuffed Sopapilla
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 4 Sopapillas

Related Article:

Christmas in Southern New Mexico–Tularosa, NM


Some Colorado Springs Suggestions

Recently some friends of mine went to Colorado Springs for a vacation, and brought back a number of photos and good reports about the things to see there (many of which I have seen on my own trips there).

My friends also have very good credentials when it comes to reporting on food, so I asked them if they would give me some information to share with readers.  I am glad to do this for the benefit of anyone else who may be going there to visit.  Some of the restaurants mentioned are not very good everyday choices, but they are very good “splurge” restaurants to visit while on vacation.

I believe my friends are very good judges of food, and in most cases are more critical than I am when it comes to giving restaurant recommendations.  It turned out that in about a four day visit there were three restaurants that they recommended, which are listed below:

 

Garden of the Gods Gourmet
410 S. 26th St.
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 471-2799

Garden of the Gods Gourmet

Garden of the Gods Gourmet

This is a popular restaurant any time of day, but my friends went for brunch.  The big drawing card was that they had an outdoor patio (which they wanted so that they could bring their dog).  They said, though, that it had excellent food, and was the best restaurant they tried in the breakfast or lunch category.

Outdoor patio where pets are allowed

Outdoor patio at Garden of the Gods Gourmet

This is also the only one of the three restaurants that falls in the “moderately priced” category (although I don’t know what they ordered).

Garden of the Gods Gourmet is open for breakfast and lunch daily, and serves early dinner (until 7:30 pm) Tuesday through Saturday (according to Yelp).

 

Miramont Castle
9 Capitol Hill Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO
(719) 685-1011

Miramont Castle is actually in a large castle (at least large by American standards) and serves English high tea.  They serve three courses, and patrons have the option of ordering individual courses or all three.

First course of tea

First course of tea

One of the best features of this restaurant is the variety of teas that are available, and my friends thought all of them were good (each person chooses one kind of tea, but apparently it is fine to share with others so that you can sample the different varieties).

Along with the tea diners get a scone.  So far it sounds true to the teas in England (traditionally served in mid afternoon, but at Miramont you can get it any time during business hours).

Second course

Second course of tea

The second course consists of finger sandwiches and a piece of bread.  My friends thought the bread was much like dim sum (probably meaning it was not too sweet, but just right).  In any case, reviews elsewhere on the Internet confirm that it is good.

Third course of tea

Third course of tea

The third course is the “dessert” (chocolates and a variety of sweets).  Like the other courses, my friends give a good report of it.

With the sandwiches served in the second course, and the sum total of all the food served, my friends stated that it made an excellent lunch.  It cost $26 per person, but they were glad they had the experience and enjoyed the food.

Hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

 

The Rabbit Hole
101 N. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 203-5072

Located in downtown Colorado Springs, The Rabbit Hole was really the “fine dining” experience out of the three.  Yelp rates the cost as $$ (not terribly expensive), but it depends on what you order.

Food from The Rabbit Hole

Chef’s Butcher Block

The Rabbit Hole serves several kinds of meat, and all of it is good (according to what I hear).  I was told that the lamb was the best, and the striped bass was next (but that all of the meats were good).  The Chef’s Butcher Block gives a sample of several kinds of meat, costs $35, and is enough for two people (the fish is not included on the butcher’s block).

More food from The Rabbit Hole

More food from The Rabbit Hole

This photo includes the shrimp and seafood “nibbles” plate, fitting in with what is generally the small plate concept of the restaurant (unless you get the butcher’s block or one of the meat main dishes).

Hours are 4:00 pm to 1:30 in the morning, and they serve 250 types of wine.

Nina’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Nina’s Family Restaurant
5001 N. Portland Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 604-6866
Nina's

Nina’s Family Restaurant


The old Coit’s Root Beer Stand at Northwest 50th and Portland in Oklahoma City has found a new tenant, Nina’s Family Restaurant. Nina’s does not have the carhops, root beef floats, or some of the other features that made Coit’s famous, but it is bound to create its own following.

In the Southwest the line has become somewhat blurred between Mexican and American food, and in this sense Nina’s is “Southwest.” It does not serve Southwest cuisine such as green chile cheeseburgers or other fusion type dishes, but diners do have a choice between American or Mexican food (I think the menu leans more toward the American dishes, though).

Spanish Omelet

Spanish omelet

Spanish omelet with home fries (topped with bell pepper and onion)

The breakfast pictured in the photo shows how this fusion idea works. The Spanish Omelet was Mexican style with salsa and cheese on top, although I think the idea of an omelette itself is an import to Mexico from the United States (I did not see huevos rancheros or other Mexican style dishes on the menu). The omelette was flavorful and I recommend it, but I just want readers to know that there are not any alternatives to the Spanish omelet if you want a Mexican style breakfast.

The omelette comes with a choice of side items, so I chose the Home Fries. These came with bell pepper and onion (which the waitress suggested they could add), and I thought this was a good touch. Overall this was a very satisfying meal.

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy

Biscuits and gravy

Although my meal was huge, my dining companion was having an even harder time finishing the meal, so I ended up sharing some Biscuits and Gravy. This was an alternative choice to the home fries (all breakfast plates come with a choice of either of these items, grits, or toast). To me the biscuits and gravy were stellar, reminding me of the ones I used to get in central Texas.

Lunch and Dinner
For lunch or dinner there are several Mexican choices, although there does not seem to be the opportunity for a “crossover” of a Mexican main course with American sides (at least from the menu). I think if you really want this, though, they can do it. Since I tried the salsa on the omelette, I at least know that this salsa would be very good on the dinners.

Additional Comments
The cost is really in the $$ category by the time you order a drink, but it is so much lower than other places that I have designated it as $.


RATING: 20

Cuisine: American & Mexican
Cost: $
Hours: Open daily except Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes (I checked the bathroom)
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No
Special Features: Serves Breakfast

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 16, 2015

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item: Biscuits and Gravy

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Spanish Omelet
star 4 Home Fries
star 5 Biscuits and Gravy