Cook’s Restaurant–Clovis, NM

Cook’s Restaurant
4700 Mabry Dr.
Clovis, NM
(575) 762-9423
Cooks Restaurant

Cook’s Restaurant


Probably the biggest factor that makes Cook’s Restaurant popular is the fact that it is open from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. daily (and open 24 hours Thursday night through Saturday night-Sunday morning). This is a diner and truck stop located about halfway between Clovis and Texico, New Mexico, but is close enough to Clovis to be considered one of the city’s local hangouts.

When I entered the restaurant somewhat close to 10:00 P.M. (on a day they were open 24 hours) one side of the restaurant was filled almost to capacity (the other side is presumably open when they are even more busy such as at breakfast time). I did not make note of whether breakfast is only served during certain hours, but it seemed to be a large part of the food served here. In talking to the employees they indicated that some of the breakfast dishes were quite popular.

I also noted that over half of the late night crowd appeared to be eating Mexican food, so I naturally assumed this was one of the most popular items on the menu. They do have a large menu of American diner-style items, so I think there is something for everybody here.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Having decided to order one of the Mexican dinners, I was given some chips and salsa which turned out to be excellent. The salsa was not on the spicy side but had a robust flavor that I would call New Mexican style (the chiles were fresh and seemed to be sourced from somewhere nearby).

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas

I do not remember the entire Mexican food menu, but the best options seemed to be a choice between red enchiladas or green. I chose the Red Enchiladas which were served with beans and rice (they said the green was not spicy). I noted on the menu that the dish came with “Red Chili” (the Americanized spelling of “chile”) so this was somewhat of a red flag, but is really the standard spelling I have seen in eastern New Mexico.

I really have mixed feelings about this dish because it was certainly not the best example of New Mexican food I have had, but it was New Mexican food nonetheless. The waitress said it was New Mexican red chile, and this was borne out when I tasted it. While New Mexican style enchiladas have either a red or green chile sauce, though, this was more of a gravy that was thick as if they put a filler in it. I have seen this style of New Mexican food before, most notably in Tucumcari, but it is a style of food I do not find very satisfying. There was enough chile “bite” in the dish, but I did not find the flavor to be very good.

The beans were good, but the rice was burned along the edge (about half of it was edible).

There was really nothing else open at that hour and I was glad to get a meal. Enough of it was good that I enjoyed the food (particularly the chips and salsa). For New Mexican food, though, I had a better experience at Leal’s (located a couple of miles west on the same highway but not open as late in the evening).


RATING: 17

Cuisine: American and Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (open 24 hrs. Thu.-Sat.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 30, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chips, Salsa

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3
Special Ratings
star 2 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Family Pho–Weatherford, OK

Family Pho and Rolls (Closed)
1021 E. Davis Ave.
Weatherford, OK
Family Pho

Family Pho and Rolls


Family Pho and Rolls follows a popular trend in serving both Vietnamese food and sushi (at least the style of sushi that includes California rolls, etc.). Outside of a couple of Chinese restaurants I think this is the only Asian restaurant in Weatherford, so I think it makes sense for this restaurant to provide any other dishes they can that would be popular in this small college town.

While Chinese food tends to become more Americanized in smaller towns, Vietnamese food has tasted pretty much the same everywhere I have tried it (but the menu choices are more limited in small towns). This is good for me because I love what most Vietnamese restaurants are serving, and these tend to be reliable choices even where Chinese restaurants are not. Family Pho was exactly as I thought it would be–good food but with a rather small menu.

After my comments about Chinese restaurants I need to point out that I have liked the ones I have tried in Weatherford. My favorite place in town, Young China, has closed, but the people at Family Pho told me the owners have now opened the Hibachi Buffet.

Vermicelli Bowl

House vermicelli

House vermicelli

The type of dish I was wanting happened to coincide with what seemed to be the restaurant’s special dish, the House Vermicelli. This did not come with my normal choice of chicken, but the pork they served had a very good flavor and is another type of meat I like. It had the added benefit of an excellent spring roll. The fish sauce was very good, and I especially liked the chile sauce (which can be seen in the small bowl on the lower right side).

Two things I normally like in a vermicelli bowl were lacking–peanuts and mint. Everything else was good enough that it pretty much made up for these deficiencies (I can say for sure that the spring roll was more satisfying than the peanuts would have been). Overall this was definitely a very good vermicelli dish.

Tea
I was disappointed that they did not have any hot tea, but iced tea was available. I would say this made the restaurant somewhat Americanized, but the food was good and it did not have a great impact on the meal.

An Assessment
Everything I had was good, but the negative aspects were the things I was not able to have (peanuts, mint, hot tea, etc.). In spite of this I would not hesitate to come back. At restaurants I usually like to order things again that I enjoyed previously (in this case it is the House Vermicelli). They do have other types of vermicelli bowls, though, as well as other items (mainly the pho and rolls implied by their name).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Accessible: Yes, but maybe the sidewalk is a little steep
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 30, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: House Vermicelli

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Iced Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 House Vermicelli

 

Vito’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Vito’s Ristorante
7628 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 848-4867
Vito's

The entrance to co-restaurants Vito’s and Bacon


Note: The photos here were taken at the old location at 7521 N. May Ave. Vito’s new location is 7628 N. May.

With Italian restaurants I generally find one or two dishes that stand out among the rest, and which I will usually order on return visits. At a few restaurants, though, the red sauce, cheese, and overall flavor are so good I can imagine that I would enjoy just about anything served, and so far this has been the case with Vito’s Ristorante.

Located in north Oklahoma City, Vito’s is among the several Italian restaurants I would have tried simply because of its proximity to me. Fortunately, though, I also consider it one of the better choices that can be found anywhere in the city.

The emphasis at Vito’s is all on home made food from family recipes. Cathy Cummings, the owner of Vito’s, grew up in a family that operated an Italian restaurant in Kansas City, and the food at Vito’s not only reflects the family’s traditional recipes but also some of Kansas City’s notable specialty dishes such as chicken spedini. The bread, sauces, and olive oil dipping sauce are all made in house, and the food is about as close to “home cooking” as you can get.

Vito’s is open for dinner only and dinner portions are quite large. Dinners come with either soup or salad, and of course bread. Smaller dinners are also available such as Italian sausage or meatballs (they are not on the menu but Cathy suggested this to me).

Cathy’s husband operates the restaurant next door (formerly an Irish pub but now a restaurant called Bacon), and the front door of the building can take you into either restaurant. The two restaurants work together on some items (such as the bread baking), and it has been interesting to see the two restaurant concepts unfold over time (I do still miss the Irish pub, though).

Salads and Appetizers

Bread

Complimentary bread

Customers begin the meal with complimentary home made Bread. This fresh bread and olive oil dip is addictive, running the risk that you will feel nearly full before the meal even arrives.

Tomato soup

Tomato and basil soup

Many dinners come with a choice of soup or salad, and usually I find the soup to be a better choice. The Tomato and Basil Soup, for instance, was truly memorable for its flavor, freshness, and quality. The soups change daily and probably seasonally, but I was particularly impressed with this one.

Salad

Salad

Salad is a good choice as well, and as the photo demonstrates this is much more than the typical “house salad” served at many Italian restaurants. The salad at Vito’s has greens that are actually green, and the tangy dressing is quite good (although I still prefer the dressing at Papa Dio’s).

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna

One of my favorite dishes at Vito’s has been the Lasagna, a wonderful concoction of beef and pork meatballs, pasta, cheese, and sauce that is not quite like any other lasagna dish I have tried. The meatballs are cooked into the sauce, but would be easy to remove if you are a vegetarian. To me, though, this is definitely one of the best parts of the dish. So far this is the best lasagna I have found in OKC.

Chicken Dishes

Chicken marsala

Chicken marsala

The Chicken Marsala was frankly not my favorite dish here, but it impressed me by having a better flavor than the cream sauces I have tried in many other restaurants.

Chicken scaloppine

Chicken scaloppine

Chicken Scalloppine is a relatively recent addition to the menu, and originally only veal was served. However, the mushrooms, capers, olives, and lemon butter sauce are really too good to be kept to only one dish, and I thought the chicken version was a definite winner. This dish was a good balance of flavors, and is a good alternative to the red sauce dishes (but you don’t have to miss out on the red sauce because it is served with pasta on the side).

The Chicken Parmesan was excellent as well, with tender chicken and a light sauce. The parmesan cheese slices lightly melted on top contributed as much as anything to the excellent quality of the dish (as they do with the eggplant dish).

Spaghetti

Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs were memorable not only for the meatballs, but also for the sauce. The meat seemed to be the same as the one used in the lasagna, only formed into larger balls (two meatballs were served with the order). The sauce had thick chunks of tomatoes and vegetables that made it delicious and filling. It had a noticeable sweet flavor, but I think it is the same sauce used in all the dishes at Vito’s. It just seemed sweeter with the spaghetti due to a lack of distractions such as cheese that would offset the sauce’s flavor. A generous amount of basil was used, but this seems to be the case with all the dishes at Vito’s. I was particularly impressed with the spaghetti for being a very satisfying dish with no cheese (although the server will add parmesan cheese if desired).

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parmesan

The Eggplant Parmesan is one of the best in the city, and on an earlier menu it was listed as “Vito’s specialty” (now there are three dishes listed as specialties). I think the eggplant truly qualifies as a specialty because they have everything down right, including the breading, the eggplant, and the sauce. This is one of the two or three eggplant parmesan dishes in the city that I think is definitely worth trying. Of special note is the fact that Vito’s has avoided the temptation to overcook the eggplant.

One further note is that I frequently share this dish and I feel that the quantity is more than adequate for two persons (but when sharing I order an extra soup or salad).

Kansas City Specialties

Italian sausage

Italian sausage

Italian Sausage is one of the items at Vito’s that is well known for being authentic and one of the best examples that can be found in Oklahoma City. Since some time passed between sampling the meatballs and the Italian sausage, I cannot say for sure which is better. It seemed, though, that both were excellent. The spices in the Italian sausage were so unique that this appears to be the reason the sausage is especially sought out. The sausage shown in the photo was a side serving, and it is available in the number of pieces desired or on a dinner.

Chicken spedini

Chicken spedini

The Italian sausage is one of the several specialties Cathy brought from Kansas City, and which is popular in the restaurants there. Another is the Chicken Spedini, a breaded and highly seasoned grilled chicken dish with no tomato sauce, but which comes with a side of pasta that gives a balance of flavors. I enjoyed this dish not only because of the flavor, but also because it is not often I find something I like to order at Italian restaurants that is a departure from the normal dishes served at every restaurant.

Desserts

Spumoni

Spumoni

Vito’s does not have as many dessert choices as other Italian restaurants (I think it is because very few customers ever have room for dessert). One that is good, though, is the Spumoni ice cream which is much like the three-flavored Neapolitan ice cream found at ice cream shops (except that these flavors are a little different).

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

If your appetite can handle, it, though, I really recommend the Chocolate Cake which is so rich I think one piece can be shared by everyone at your table no matter how many are at the table.

Closing Comments
Vito’s is a small family run operation, and it is obvious that much care is taken to assure high quality. Probably the biggest drawback is that the menu is smaller than other Italian restaurants, but there is no shortage of good choices. Some items have been added over time, and if you don’t see what you want chances are that they can still cook it for you. Pizza is really the only item I might have expected the restaurant to have that is not served.

Vito’s is a dinner-only restaurant (in 2008 it began serving lunch but this has now been discontinued). I like the limited hours, though, because this is one way they maintain the high quality (and every time I have gone I have seen Cathy there).

Wine is available from the wine list or the house wines. My information also says they have a full bar, but I am not sure about this.

The bottom line about Vito’s is that it and Papa Dio’s are my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. I order different items at each restaurant, though (here it is usually eggplant parmesan and at Papa Dio’s it is usually chicken cacciatore or a pasta dish with cacciatore sauce). In my opinion these two restaurants are co-winners of the chicken parmesan contest.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$
Hours: Dinner only (closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Wine

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 29, 2017
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Chicken Scalloppine, Chocolate Cake

Special Ratings
star 5 Eggplant Parmesan
star 5 Chicken Parmesan
star 5 Chicken Scaloppine
star 5 Lasagna
star 5 Spaghetti and Meatballs
star 5 Chicken Spedini
star 5 Italian Sausage
star 5 Spaghetti and Meatballs
star 4 Chicken Marsala
star 5 Tomato Soup
star 4 Salad
star 5 Chocolate Cake

Menu (Oct. 2016):