Zarate’s–Edmond, OK

Zarate’s Latin Mexican Grill
706 S. Broadway
Edmond, OK
(405) 330-6400
Zarate's Restaurant

Zarate’s in Edmond


The cuisine at Zarate’s covers just about every country from Latin America, including South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are represented by one or two dishes, but the greatest variety is found for Mexican and Peruvian food. Flags of various countries are placed on the menu next to each dish to indicate its country of origin, and I thought it was quite interesting to have so many types of food available in one place.

The Peruvian dishes are from the owner’s homeland, so this seemed like a good bet for trying something “authentic” (or at least that the chefs had a lot of experience preparing). I suspect that dishes from many other countries were probably equally authentic, since food and recipes tend to migrate to nearby countries in Latin America just as they do from state to state in the U.S., and from Mexico to this country.

The Mexican items on the menu, by contrast, seemed to be the type of Tex-Mex dishes served in many Oklahoma and Texas restaurants, but which do not typically represent traditional style Mexican food. The Mexican food I tried was good (and was Tex-Mex style), but dishes from the other countries seemed more special because they are items that are not served in many restaurants.

The main choice for Peruvian dishes seemed to be between ceviche (made with fish or seafood) and the meat, seafood, or vegetable platters. Ceviche is generally considered the “national dish” of Peru, but takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare, according to the menu.

Pollo Saltado

Pollo saltado

Pollo saltado

I think the dish I have enjoyed the most has been the Pollo Saltado, a flavorful roasted chicken that was not spicy, but was topped with vegetables and garnishes. I thought this was a very good introduction to South American food, provided one is hungry for meat (two vegetarian versions are also available: one with spinach and one with spinach and linguini). The saltado dish is also available with seafood or beef. The chicken was good, though, and I thought was one of the better versions of chicken I have had in the OKC area.

The Peruvian dishes come with side dishes that are typical of the country. Standard on each dish are fried plantains and yuca. Sliced tomatoes and onions provide added flavor.

Pollo saltado with yellow sauce

Pollo saltado with aji

The former version of this dish came with yellow aji amarillo sauce and brown rice. The restaurant told me that the aji sauce is no longer available, but I think it would be a definite improvement if they brought it back.

Caribbean Food

Jamaican jerk chicken

Jamaican jerk chicken

One that I wanted to try (and was recommended by the waiter) was Jamaican Curry Chicken, and I can assume this is one of Zarate’s specialties. This was sauteed chicken with potatoes, and a Caribbean style curry sauce. I cannot judge how authentic it was, but it was good. However, I did not think it was quite as spectacular as I have heard that some Jamaican dishes can be.

Brazilian Food

Feijoada

Feijoada

Zarate’s also offers Feijoada, the “national dish” from Brazil made of black beans with ham, ground pork, and pulled pork. I thought this had a good flavor but certainly not a vibrant flavor, and did not seem to match the type of Brazilian food I have had at Cafe do Brasil in downtown Oklahoma City. Still, it left me wanting to try more of the different national dishes from Central and South American offered at Zarate’s.

Mexican Food
Chips and salsa come with every meal (at least on the dinners), and I thought they were good. The special spicy salsa I once got on request, though, was even better. The Rice was quite surprising, with a tomato flavor that reminded me of the good versions served in El Paso (it was surprising because I usually do not find this in Oklahoma).

A Chile Relleno I sampled was also quite good, although since I judge all of these chiles by the ones in New Mexico I only gave it four stars out of five.

Some Other Notes
Zarate’s has a lunch menu that comes at substantially reduced prices, but the tradeoff is that not all dishes are available (including the pollo saltado). I cannot speak for the other dinners, but I thought the pollo saltado was very good, and probably provided a better value than many of the lunches even though you have to pay more for it.

Zarate’s has several Peruvian dishes, but it is not a Peruvian restaurant. It does not serve chicha morada, and no longer has aji sauce. The menu is mostly Mexican and a variety of “national dishes” from various Latin American countries. Still, I have found the pollo saltado to be better than at some of the full fledged Peruvian restaurants I have tried, and I would probably say Zarate’s is the best Peruvian restaurant in town (in fact I would definitely say this, but it is subject to making other discoveries at the other restaurants).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Peruvian, Mexican, Latin American
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Margaritas

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 11, 2017

Number of Visits: 4

Best Items: Pollo Saltado, Plantains, Mexican Style Rice

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pollo Saltado
star 4 Jamaican Jerk Chicken
star 4 Feijoada
star 4 Chile Relleno
star 4 Quesadilla
star 5 Rice (Mexican)
star 5 Plantains
star 4 Chips
star 3 Salsa
star 4 Salsa (Spicy)
star 3 Queso

Brown’s Bakery–Oklahoma City, OK

Brown’s Bakery
1100 N. Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 232-0363
Brown's Bakery

Brown’s Bakery


Brown’s Bakery is one of the few food establishments in Oklahoma City that is older than I am, but it also has a special significance to me in that it was the source of most of my birthday cakes while growing up. Just because it is old does not make it good, but I believe the fact it is so good is what has kept it around for so long.

Brown’s is located in the heart of Midtown, and the fact that it has its own parking lot means it is one of the few places you can find parking when you go there. Of course it is for takeout only unless you consider donuts as being a good breakfast, but still I think this is important because it pretty much ensures the bakery’s survival in an otherwise evolving neighborhood.

The Displays

Brown's Bakery display

One of the displays at Brown’s Bakery

The overwhelming feeling I got upon entering the store was its sheer size and the variety of baked goods sold. In square feet and amount of display cases it dwarfs other bakeries such as Ingrid’s and La Baguette. I am not saying that any of these bakeries is better overall than the others, but Brown’s does hold the edge on the variety of items and the number of choices you have.

Shown here are the number of pastries they still had at noon, but several empty spaces indicate items that had been sold out, and other displays not shown in this picture have other types of pastries.

My Sample Package

Assorted Items

An assortment of items from Brown’s Bakery

This box contains what I took home to sample, and I can assure readers it was a hard choice being able to narrow it down to these items. Shown here from left to right are the Traditional Cinnamon Roll, Peach Danish, Applesauce Doughnuts (4 so that I would have enough), Peanut Butter Cookies, Lemon Cupcakes, and a paper plate inserted so the items would not slide around in the box. Not included this time was a birthday cake like I used to enjoy when I was young, but perhaps at some time I can report on this also.

An Assessment
I honestly put these items into two categories: (1) absolutely amazing that you must try, and (2) very good but about the same as you can get at other bakeries.

Foremost on the list was the Peach Danish, which I thought was one of the best I have ever had. To me this is a must try.

The Lemon Cupcakes were also quite exceptional, although they are so sweet a little bit goes a long way (I’m glad I was able to share them).

One of my personal favorites was the Applesauce Doughnut. They tasted like these doughnuts should, and from that standpoint are not “must try” standouts. Compared to many I have tried in Oklahoma City, though, I thought they were a standout.

In the “comparable to other bakeries” category I would put the Peanut Butter Cookies and the Cinnamon Roll. I cannot state a reason for this, only that this was the way they tasted to me.


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Bakery
Cost: $
Hours: N/A
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: N/A

Best Item: Peach Danish

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Peach Danish
star 5 Lemon Cupcakes
star 5 Applesauce Doughnuts
star 5 Peanut Butter Cookies

1492–The Village, OK

1492 New World Latin Cuisine
9213 N. Penn Pl.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 463-3266
The new location of 1492

1492 at Casady Square


One of my biggest gripes about restaurants is when they try to mislead people about their food, so I have to give 1492 credit for being up front about what they serve. My experience in 2016 (and my review) indicated that this was possibly the only restaurant in Oklahoma City with authentic food worthy to carry on the tradition of the now closed Adobe Grill.

On my return in 2017, though, the waiter indicated that they had changed the menu, and that it was now largely just Tex-Mex food (which had always been their most popular cuisine). Not only had the item I tried before (pollo azteca) been removed from the menu, but the one I intended to try (chicken and mole) had been removed as well. I found few possible substitutes that were southern Mexico style alta cocina dishes, and in fact I am not sure there are any. The menu has always consisted mainly of Tex-Mex items but I am sorry that some of the other choices are now gone.

I initially came to 1492 because of the opening of their second location in Casady Square at Britton Rd. and N. Penn (Pennsylvania Ave. for those who are searching for it on a map). The original location on North Walker in Midtown had been known as being expensive but better than most Mexican restaurants in town. The reviews were skewed between those who loved it and those who felt let down, but I was more in the first camp when I was able to experience it for myself.

1492 in Midtown

1492 New World Latin Cuisine at 1207 N. Walker

The “New World” cuisine concept of 1492 covered everything from Mexico to South America. The old menu described the geographic origin of several of the dishes, including Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and even Tex-Mex.

The menu now prominently features fajitas and other Tex-Mex dishes. There is a Venezuelan Pabellon (brisket marinated in red wine “ropa veja”) and a Cuban puerco criolla. I am not sure, though, that I could say the restaurant overall is representative of Latin American cuisine.

The Bar

1492's bar area

The spacious bar at the Casady Square 1492

The new restaurant at Casady Square takes up the space originally occupied by Pancho’s Mexican Buffet and then by Hunan Chinese Restaurant. These former restaurants were designed to accommodate a large number of tables, and in comparison 1492 seems that it is using a very large building for a relatively small number of seats. A large portion of the space, though, is taken up by 1492’s upscale bar. I did not sample anything from the bar, but I thought it was noteworthy enough to provide a photo.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

1492 serves excellent chips and salsa. The salsa was flavorful but not terribly spicy (but it didn’t taste like watered down tomato sauce either).

My Dinner from 2016

Pollo azteca

Pollo azteca

A visit in 2016 allowed me to try an outstanding dish–the Pollo Azteca. I thought this was very close to alta cocina style food from Mexico, and really filled the void left when Adobe Grill closed.

I can provide details about the pollo azteca, such as that it had crema along with some tomato and cilantro on top, but there are many restaurants that use these ingredients and do not have food that tastes the same. This was not a spicy dish, and the garnish on top did not have the spiciness of pico de gallo, but it was every bit as satisfying as many dishes which have a higher spice level.

The Black Beans served on the side were very good as well, and I would say better than at most restaurants (I believe the black beans are still served and have not been discontinued).

Chicken and mole is also on the “discontinued” list, and I am disappointed I did not get to try it.

The New Menu

Mole enchiladas

Mole enchiladas

The menu in 2017 did not seem to have new items, but only omitted certain dishes that had been served before. The one I ordered was the Mole Enchilada de Carnitas which actually contains two enchiladas. My favorite way to eat mole is usually not on enchiladas, but I will take it any way I can get it. The dark mole here is normally my favorite, and the one here was good. The waiter informed me, though, that they had changed the recipe of the mole from last year so this explains why I did not think this was one of the best moles I had tasted. If I could still order the pollo azteca I would definitely recommend it over the mole enchiladas if your goal is to eat the best Mexican food available.

Other Suggestions

Tacos

Tacos

Although I did not sample the tacos I thought it would be worthwhile including a photo to show their obvious high quality (and it was reported to me that the flavor was very good as well).

Overall Impressions
The restaurant is expensive, and the overall quality has been very high. What you probably do not get is a lot of choice in menu items. The biggest choice is in Tex-Mex items, but other restaurants in town such as Abuelo’s also give you very good Tex-Mex food (thus I am not terribly excited about the items served at 1492).

The portions were generous, but not huge. The atmosphere was quiet and attractive. Although I am disappointed about losing some of the authentic Mexican food choices, the restaurant at least is honest in telling you which items are authentic and which are Tex-Mex.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$$
Hours: N/A
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 21, 2017

Number of Visits: 2

Best Item: Pollo Azteca (but it is no longer on the menu)

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Mole Enchiladas
star 5 Rice
star 5 Black Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

 

Discontinued Items
star 5 Pollo Azteca