Ricardo’s–Warr Acres, OK

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen (Closed)
5801 N.W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 470-8700
Ricardo's

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen


Update Sep. 2016: Ricardo’s was one of the shortest lived restaurants I have ever seen, but it now has a new owner and is called Gloria Mexican Kitchen (Gloria has the same phone number as Ricardo’s). The gentleman who was the cook at Ricardo’s is still the cook, and is one of the owners of the new restaurant. They told me the food was the same, and from my sampling I think it might be even better. The menu has changed, and they will no longer be offering Oaxacan style dishes. There are now fewer choices on the menu, but the items that were there before are still being offered at the same price. The bottom line is that this is still one of the best places in OKC to come for Mexican food.


The complexity of Mexican food makes it one of the most interesting to explore, but also one of the hardest to categorize. In Mexico, restaurants are divided somewhat along the line of “alta cocina” versus “street food,” with a somewhat limited third category in the middle that would correspond to our “family restaurants” with moderate prices.

In Mexico there is also a separate cuisine for each state, although many individual dishes tend to be regional or even national. It is much the same as food being very similar in Oklahoma as in the adjoining states, with marked differences being found in specific items such as barbecue.

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen is a new restaurant in Warr Acres, and although it joins a long list of Mexican restaurants in the Oklahoma City area, this one is a little different. The owner is from Oaxaca, a Mexican state renowned for its cuisine and used by Rick Bayless as the template for much of the food served in his Chicago restaurants. The now closed Adobe Grill in Oklahoma City also served this type of food.

Ricardo’s serves few of the dishes that were available at Adobe Grill, but I believe it is still in the early stages of rolling out its menu. For instance, the owner serves mole on weekends, but when I went on a Saturday with the hopes of ordering it, he said it is only available “sometimes.” I got the impression that there will be more of this type of food, though, as the restaurant picks up more customers.

Although Ricardo’s is still a little short on exotic dishes from southern Mexico that are hard to pronounce, it still has very impressive food that tends very much toward upscale (“alta cocina”) cooking. At the same time, this is done with family restaurant prices (the bang for the buck is one of my biggest reasons for recommending this restaurant).

Another very major reason I like Ricardo’s is the consistency of the food. Everything I have tried has been flavorful and high quality. Ricardo’s holds a tenet that I think all Mexican restaurants should follow–high quality should apply as much to the chips, salsa, beans, and rice as it does to the featured main dishes on the menu.

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Enchiladas with ranchero sauce

My first sampling of Ricardo’s food was with the Red Enchiladas (technically, enchiladas with ranchero sauce). There are two parts to the menu, and this is one of the items from the first part (the less expensive items that do not contain as much meat).

I do not think these were actually the best enchiladas I have had in Oklahoma City. However, it was very refreshing that the only choices available are authentic Mexican style enchiladas (I think they also have ones with green sauce). It is very hard to find this type of enchilada with red sauce, and I found the ones here to be very enjoyable.

The beans, rice, and salad were also the real deal, although after a couple of visits I have found the beans to be better than the rice.

Quesadilla
On the same visit I sampled an item that has turned out to be one of my favorites–the Quesadilla. This is a large tortillas with meat items and cheese, like other restaurants prepare. The one here, though, had more flavor and tasted fresher than many of the others.

Pollo Costeño

Pollo costeño

Pollo costeño

The Pollo Costeño was from the second portion of the menu that supposedly gives you a more substantial meal (I say “supposedly” because I think the enchiladas from the first part of the menu were just about as filling). The pollo costeño had very good chicken and real Mexican cheese. The sauce was listed as a “tomato” sauce, but I will tell readers that it was also very spicy (with about four out of five chiles on my “chile scale”). The dish had a smokey flavor that tasted very Mexican (but this was not my favorite flavor). One thing I can say about the dish is that I think it was totally authentic, and not Americanized.

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad

Chicken salad

Once again one of my favorite dishes here turned out to be one that I only sampled, but this time I got a photo of it. The Chicken Salad is much more than its name implies–it has large pieces of chicken with cheese and guacamole on a tortilla. The chicken was the same as on the pollo costeño, but I liked the seasoning better on this one. This dish was also a little bit spicy (as contrasted by the quesadilla, which is a good choice if you do not like things spicy).

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Both the chips and salsa were very noteworthy for being the type of quality that would be found in Mexico or along the border. The red colored salsa and the guacamole were both spicy, while the darker one was mild (and all were good). I think the cheese sauce is an accommodation to Oklahoma tastes, and is not authentic, but it was very good as well.

The chips were excellent, and I think they are prepared the way chips should be.

Some Other Notes
There was conflicting information posted about the hours, but apparently they recently began closing on Wednesday evenings.

It does not seem to be particularly strong on Mexican drinks, as Abel’s across the street is, but I think they do have horchata. I tried the iced tea, and it was good.

Abel’s is another of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and it may be good to make some comparisons and contrasts between the two. Actually the only comparisons that come to mind are that both restaurants are very good and both pay attention to details such as the chips, salsa, rice, beans, etc.

One contrast is that Abel’s specializes in food from southwestern Mexico while Ricardo’s has food from the southeast (although both seem to have dishes from all over Mexico). Abel’s is quite large with an extensive menu, while Ricardo’s is a small operation and has fewer items available. Abel’s has Americanized dishes in addition to the authentic ones. At Ricardo’s I would say they have Americanized some of the presentation of the food, but not the flavors or ingredients as Abel’s has done (for instance, Ricardo’s only uses Mexican style cheese).

Ricardo’s serves street tacos, but mostly has plate dinners with rice, beans, or other extras such as salad. So far I would say Abel’s is better for street tacos simply because they have a much larger selection, but also because they have the best tacos al pastor I have found in the city. I would also say I have been more pleased with the plate dinners at Ricardo’s than at Abel’s. In short, both restaurants have different things, but both restaurants do them very well.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open daily except Wed. evening & Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 30,2016

Number of Visits: 2

Best Items: Quesadillas, Chicken Salad

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Chicken Salad
star 5 Pollo Costeño
star 5 Quesadillas
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Jerusalem–Edmond, OK

Jerusalem Mediterranean Cuisine
38 E. 15th St.
Edmond, OK
(405) 285-0025
Jerusalem Mediterranean Cuisine

Jerusalem Mediterranean Cuisine


I made my first visit to Jerusalem Restaurant in July 2016, but I was already very familiar with the food served here. This is because the owner Alex was formerly the chef at Camilya’s in Oklahoma City, probably my favorite restaurant in OKC specializing in Lebanese style cuisine. I started seeing consistently excellent reviews of Jerusalem, and now I know that there is good reason for people’s high opinions.

The menu at Jerusalem looked exactly the same as the one at Camilya’s (because I think it is the same). Jerusalem has added some items that are not on the menu such as a couple of kinds of special Middle Eastern style lemonade. In fact, the “bar” area is devoted to preparing the special drinks including a mint tea that I think is a step above the tea I get at Camilya’s.

Jerusalem follows the custom of many Middle Eastern restaurants by serving Halal meat and no alcohol (I know that Camilya’s allows customers to bring their own wine, but I do not know the policy at Jerusalem). For those who are not familiar with Halal, you should think of it as being similar to Kosher (it is not only acceptable to many people’s religious practices, but it also gives a more flavorful and better quality meat in my opinion).

I thought the hummous was better than at Camilya’s (although the one at Camilya’s was already very good), and so far it appears that Jerusalem is like eating at Camilya’s, only better.

Chicken Tawook

Chicken tawook

Chicken tawook

Chicken Tawook is the name used for the grilled chicken (this is cooked like a shish kabob with vegetables cooked on the grill along with the meat). I am very impressed with the flavor of the chicken tawook, and they manage to cook the meat well without cooking the juices out of it. This was my favorite meat item at Camiya’s, and I was glad to find out that at Jerusalem it tastes the same.

Hummous

Hummous

Hummous, salad, and pita

I chose Hummous as a side dish (technically an appetizer), although these should be thought of as “family style” dishes, serving at least two or three people. The hummous here had a better flavor than I have experienced at other restaurants, including Camilya’s, and I thought this was the best I have found in the OKC area. I did mention that it is quite large, meaning be careful of what you order here unless you can share or take home the leftovers.

Lunch
There is no lunch menu at Jerusalem, but they do have several sandwiches that are about the right size and price for most people. At Camilya’s I particularly like the lamb kabob and the falafel sandwiches, and I assume they would be good at Jerusalem as well.

Other Items

There are several other items I would recommend based on my experience at Camilya’s, led by the keftah skewer, gyros, spinach pie, labaneh, and mojadara.

The Salad I tried at Jerusalem was as good as the ones I have had at Camilya’s, and these are among my favorite items as well.

Additional Information
The dining room is a little larger than at Camilya’s, but this is still a fairly small restaurant. It is open daily, and is located in a large strip shopping mall (so there is plenty of parking).


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Halal

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 13, 2016

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Chicken Tawook, Hummous, Salad (and probably several others based on my experience at Camilya’s).

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken Tawook
star 5 Hummous
star 5 Salad

Cattleman’s Steakhouse–Fabens, TX

Cattleman’s Steakhouse
Ranch Road 793
Fabens, TX
(915) 544-3200
Cattleman's Steakhouse

Cattleman’s Steakhouse


Cattleman’s Steakhouse has been known as one of El Paso’s most popular tourist attractions since its opening in 1973, providing both good food and a close-up view of the Old West as it has been romanticized by movie Westerns. Indian Cliffs Ranch was started as a working horse ranch with Cattleman’s Restaurant not becoming an integral part of it until later. Cattleman’s offers attractions such as hay rides and a children’s zoo so that families will not run out of things to see when they make the drive “out in the middle of the desert” (although still within El Paso County). This may be the closest thing El Paso has to a real dude ranch, or at least one that such great numbers of people can experience.

The number of visitors to the restaurant seems to have exceeded expectations, with several expansions taking place since its opening. Word of mouth has been the main means of publicity for the restaurant, with the desert setting surrounded by a backdrop of distant mountains being a scene that becomes etched in people’s memory. Cattleman’s at Indian Cliffs Ranch has not only become famous for its steaks, but has even served as the set for Hollywood movies, likely with the knowledge of the producers that they could get some very good food while shooting the film.

The “Fixings”

The side dishes are one of the best features of the restaurant, and I am always impressed with both the quantity and the flavor of them. The beans and cole slaw are probably my favorite, but everything served is good.

Steaks

New York Strip

New York Strip

Of course steaks are the big attraction at Cattleman’s (although other types of meat are also served). The New York Strip Steak is one that I have found good over the years, and I think is a good compromise between the tenderest meat and the largest steak. The bit of steak I sampled on my last visit, though, did not seem quite as good as in the past.

Fillet

Fillet

The Fillet was very good on my last visit, and is always one of my favorites to order. The quality seemed better the New York Strip, although the flavor was good on both.

I need to make a comment about the steak, however. My family used to go out to Cattleman’s because the beef was raised on the ranch, was grass fed, and was really the best we could find anywhere. I have read that the beef is no longer raised on the ranch, and that it comes from the same source that the steakhouses in El Paso get it. I do not have first hand knowledge about any of this, and I am only raising a question because I have not found the steaks on recent visits to be as good as in the past. I was definitely disappointed on my last visit compared to what I remember in the past.

Cattleman’s Building Complex

Gift Shop

Gift Shop

The restaurant includes a large complex of dining rooms and a gift shop. Cattleman’s gift shop is a good place to load up on El Paso souvenirs. Several large dining rooms are available that can be used for special parties, as well as a barn and picnic facilities.

Cattleman's interior

One of the many dining rooms

Directions
Cattleman’s is located north of Interstate 10 on Ranch Road 793 (Fabens exit, located east of El Paso). There is really nothing on this road until you get to Cattleman’s (it is about five miles north of the Interstate).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Steaks
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: May 9, 2008
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Fillet, Cole Slaw

 

Special Ratings
star 5 New York Strip
star 5 Fillet
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 5 Beans