Camilya’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Camilya’s Mediterranean Cafe
10942 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 418-4141
Camilya's

Camilya’s


Camilya got this restaurant off to a very good start by serving fresh, home cooked style food in a small cafe style setting that did not make customers pay high prices. In 2010 the current owners took over the restaurant, continuing the same type of food that Camilya cooked (since that time some of the family members opened Jerusalem Restaurant in Edmond which is excellent as well and serves the same type of food).

Camilya’s is rather inconspicuous, being a small restaurant in a strip shopping center in the north part of Oklahoma City. Food is cooked on a grill in view of the dining room, and the small scale on which food is prepared is a main reason for its high quality. Even though there are less than a dozen tables in the dining room I have never seen it so full that people had to wait for a table. Those who do eat here, though, seem to appreciate the good quality of the food served in this true “family restaurant.”

Normally when a restaurant changes owners I have to start over in writing descriptions of the food, but in this case there have been few differences from before. The veggie sampler plate has different items than before, several new menu items have been added, and the plates have become more colorful so that I can now take more interesting photographs. I have upgraded the ratings of some of the dishes, but I do not think there are any that needed to be downgraded. I think the “new” Camilya’s is very much like the old one, only better. Technically the original Camilya’s was Syrian cuisine and now it is Jordanian/Palestinian, but I have a very hard time distinguishing the differences between them.

Salads
Several salads are available, served in both small and large portions. Small salads come with many of the dinners, and these can be upgraded for an extra charge. If I have a large enough appetite I think it is worth ordering the fatoosh or Greek salad.

Fatoosh salad

Fatoosh salad

The Fatoosh Salad was one of the freshest and best I have had anywhere. The portions of lettuce and other ingredients were not huge, but the quality was very good.

The Greek Salad came with a very good dressing, and the olives and feta were highlights of the salad.

House salad

House salad

Soups

Lentil soup

Lentil soup

Lentil Soup is apparently a new item that was added in 2010, and it was excellent. This was a home made soup made from yellow lentils, and with a generous amount of vegetables included. This was a smoother soup than others in the city, with the lentils being puréed to the point that round beans were not noticeable. I enjoyed the flavor, the texture, and the inexpensive price of the soup.

Kabobs

Tawook and keftah skewers

Combo dinner with tawook and keftah skewers

The chicken and beef skewers were every bit as good as I had expected, having been referred to Camilya’s in the first place by family members who have too limited a budget to waste it eating out on food that is not truly worthwhile. The Keftah Skewer was made with ground black angus beef seasoned with what is probably a family recipe. I thought it was well prepared, and had especially good spices.

The Tawook Skewer was made with flavorful chicken and similar spices as the keftah skewer. I have gone back and forth on different visits trying to decide whether the chicken or beef was better, but I can definitely say that both are good. I also fall on the side of ordering the chicken because the one here seems better to me than the ones at any other restaurant (while the beef at several restaurants is comparable).

Plates

Gyros

Gyros plate

I would rate the Gyros as one of the best items served at Camilya’s, and it has a flavor that is quite different from many of the small gyros restaurants and take-out places in the city. The meat was tender, flavorful, and definitely high quality. Gyros comes in a sandwich, or the Gyros Plate which comes with a salad.

The bed of Vermicelli Rice on the gyros plate and other dinners is excellent. Hashwa can be substituted for the rice, but most of the time I think the rice is just as satisfying.

Beef shawerma and chicken tawook

Beef shawerma and chicken tawook on the combo plate

Beef Shawerma is the “Mediterranean version of fajita,” according to the menu, and I also thought this was quite good. Made with tenderloin steak, tomatoes, and onions, it provides a different type of beef than the keftah skewer, but I thought the meat was of equal quality. The shawerma normally comes in a sandwich, but it can also be served on a platter if requested.

Sandwiches

Falafel sandwich

Falafel sandwich

Vegetarian items are usually the weak point of Middle Eastern restaurants, but it is not so at Camilya’s. The Falafel has been quite good, and I think this is one of the hardest vegetarian dishes to get right. The key to falafel seems to be preparing it fresh and not making it too greasy. Camilya’s hit the mark on both of these. I have tried the falafel on more than one visit, and it has always been moist with good spices. The pita was very good as well.

Lamb kabob sandwich

Lamb kabob sandwich

A Lamb Kabob Sandwich has recently been added to the menu, while a larger lamb shank dinner is also available. The sandwich is one of my favorites at Camilya’s, and the best feature is that this is one of the most inexpensive places in the city to order lamb.

Appetizers

Camilya's sampler

Camilya’s sampler with baba ghanouj, falafel, hummus, and grape leaves

Falafel is also served on Camilya’s Sampler plate, an appetizer combination plate containing four vegetarian items. The Hummus was very good, and I think has improved since Camilya served it. The Baba Ghanouj was less flavorful than the hummus, but this is true for me at just about all Middle Eastern restaurants. The Grape Leaves were also excellent.

A falafel platter is available from the Appetizers menu, and is probably too small of a portion to make a meal but can be combined with other appetizers for a filling dinner.

Tabouleh was one of the best vegetable items I have tasted, and as far as I am concerned would always make a good choice. I thought the tabouleh had a strong taste of olive oil, and all ingredients were fresh and good.

Spinach pies

Spinach pies

Spinach Pies are available on Camilya’s sampler, or they can be ordered separately. I was very impressed because the outer dough tasted fresh and did not seem as if it had been frozen (this is a common problem I find at other restaurants). The inside was excellent as well, and I really think this is the best place in Oklahoma City to get spinach pies.

Labaneh

Labaneh

Labaneh, a yogurt dish made with goat’s milk, has been pretty bland and boring many times I have tried it, but Camilya’s makes an extremely good version because of the olive oil dip along with the oregano, thyme, and sesame mix that gives it quite a zesty flavor. In fact, this makes an excellent alternative to any of the salads on the menu (and the labaneh also comes with its own salad).

Side Orders

Hashwa

Hashwa

The Hashwa rice cooked with black angus beef, pine nuts, and almonds makes an excellent dish by itself, or can be ordered as an upgrade to the rice on the dinner plates.

Mojaderah is a vegetarian version of hashwa, made with lentils and steamed rice. This started out as a special but is now on the menu.

Special Menu

Gyros omelette

Gyros omelette

Camilya’s has added a special menu of breakfast items, including the Gyros Omelette. The owners explained that some of the employees used to work at IHOP, so they started preparing omelettes to be served at Camilya’s.

Desserts

Baklava

Baklava

It is hard to resist the Baklava for dessert, since I think this is the best in the city (but other places make baklava that is close). Other more exotic desserts including layali lubnan and kunafa used to be listed on the menu but are no longer included (I am not sure if these are still available from time to time or by special order).

Additional Comments

The Hot Tea is a brewed masala tea that has had a very good flavor, and I think this type of tea goes perfectly with Middle Eastern food. For those who remember the special Middle Eastern style tea served in a pot (shown in the photo of the falafel sandwich), this is no longer served. I do like the masala tea, though.

I have seen Turkish coffee and strawberry banana juice on the menu, but the take-out menu (shown at the bottom of the page) does not list the drinks so I am not sure what is available at the moment.

Apart from the quality of the food, the thing that is impressive about Camilya’s is that it is really like entering a restaurant in the Middle East, with few if any compromises made to change the food for American tastes. In fact, because it seems to be more authentic than many restaurants I think this makes it better. Camilya’s has gyros (normally considered a Greek dish), but the meat is different here than other places, and they cook it in house. Even dishes that do not look as if they would be especially good turn out to be much better than I expected.

For many items Camilya’s is better than any other Middle Eastern restaurants I have tried in the city, but this is not true across the board. The previous cook at Camilya’s opened Jerusalem in Edmond, and I have to say that this is one restaurant that is comparable to Camilya’s in terms of the food. Other restaurants, such as Nunu’s, are better at certain items. I continue to be impressed, though, by the overall quality at Camilya’s.

Camilya’s has not had take home menus for a while so I am including the latest one I have.

I have conflicting information about the hours–recently they were open on Sunday but I am not sure if this is still the case (for a while they were open Sunday for lunch only).

I do not believe there is a charge for you to bring your own wine.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Bring your own wine

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 20, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Tawook Skewer, Keftah Skewer, Gyros, Lamb Kabob, Fatoosh Salad, Greek Salad, Labaneh, Spinach Pie, Mojaderah, Hashwa, Baklava

Special Ratings
star 5 Tawook Skewer
star 5 Keftah Skewer
star 5 Beef Shawerma
star 5 Chicken Shawerma
star 5 Lamb Kabob
star 5 Hashwa
star 5 Mojaderah
star 5 Labaneh
star 5 Spinach Pie
star 5 Hummus
star 5 Grape Leaves
star 5 Lentil Soup
star 4 Falafel
star 4 Tabouleh
star 4 Cabbage Rolls
star 4 Baba Ghanouj
star 5 Fatoosh Salad
star 5 Greek Salad
star 5 Vermicelli Rice
star 5 Pita
star 5 Baklava

Menu (Aug. 2015):

 

Cafe 7–Oklahoma City, OK

Cafe 7
14101 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 748-3354
Cafe 7

Cafe 7 on North May Ave.


Cafe 7 has four menus (all of which offer choices in the same price range): Sandwiches, Pizza, Pasta, and Salads. The pizza is individual sized, and the pasta menu follows the trend of some national chains in offering a variety of dishes along with a “build your own pasta” selection. Cafe 7 is strictly local, though, and I think the real beauty of it is that you get individually prepared items with the type of selection that is normally available mainly in larger restaurants. They can meet all kinds of dietary needs, such as serving vegetarian and gluten free dishes, and the source of the food seems to be largely local. More than anything else I am impressed with the quality of the food.

Seasonal menus offer additional choices, some of which are higher priced. Most of my favorite items are from the regular menu, but there have been some standouts from the seasonal menu.

The dining room

Cafe 7’s interior

Some of my personal feelings about Cafe 7 are that I like the dining room, I like their tea, and I think the prices are reasonable. I sometimes find it a problem that they close at 8:00 P.M., but they do not seem to mind if customers stay after this time. I thought they had the best cupcakes in Oklahoma City, but they are no longer available and the staff tells me there is nowhere else that I can buy them (meaning that they did not come from one of the local cupcake restaurants). It is not really necessary to order a dessert here, though, since the meals are filling enough.

When customers enter the restaurant they pick up one of the order sheets, fill out the choices, and go to the counter to pay. Special orders are also available, but these sometimes have a higher price (I think the soup and sandwich combination I ordered was a dollar extra). I sometimes ask for suggestions from the employees at the counter, and I really have never gone wrong with the sandwiches, pasta, or seasonal specials they recommend. If they are busy, though, I think the system of giving you the menus while you are waiting in line works very well.

Sandwiches

Turkey and guacamole sandwich

Turkey and guacamole sandwich

On my first visit I ordered a special that is not listed on the menu– a half sandwich with soup. The full order of Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich (pictured above) was as good as the first experience, and reinforced my idea that this is a good flavor combination. The turkey seemed to be roasted (not processed), and I think this set it apart from most turkey meat served in restaurants. The bread has changed since my first visit (not better or worse– just something different). The fact that the guacamole blended well with the turkey speaks to the art and thought that went into creating the sandwiches offered here.

Cuban sandwich

The Cuban

The Cuban reinforced my opinion that the sandwiches are top quality. With pulled pork, ham, Cuban relish, onions, pickles, Swiss cheese, and Dijonnaise sauce on a toasted hoagie there was plenty about this sandwich to like. I did not notice any flavors that particularly stood out except the sauce and Swiss cheese, and all the meats were good. The sauce was a little spicy, probably comparable to most of the city’s Mexican restaurants.

Soups

Cream of broccoli soup

Cream of broccoli soup

The Cream of Broccoli Soup sounded very good, but I thought the flavor was a little flat. The most disappointing thing, though, was that it was too salty for me. I thought the soup was fresh and good quality, but I tend to find the best soups at ethnic restaurants rather than ones that are American style.

Tomato basil soup and cobb salad

Tomato basil soup and cobb salad

The Tomato Basil Soup was also one of my favorite items at Cafe 7, although I would not place it in the same category as the soup at some of the city’s better Italian restaurants.

Ms. Vickie’s Chips used to be served with all sandwiches, but they later dropped this in favor of the much better all natural Popchips potato chips. As of 2015 they seem to have changed the chips again, but in any case they are better than the original Ms. Vickie’s (but customers can still get Ms. Vickie’s for an additional cost if they want).

Salads
The Cobb Salad tasted very good when I sampled it, but I think it would not be filling enough to order as a meal (even though the regular salad is twice the size of the one shown in the picture). The honey mustard dressing was one of the highlights of it, after trying several less flavorful versions at other restaurants (such as Interurban).

Pasta

Rigatoni Sorrentino

Rigatoni Sorrentino

Wanting to try items from the pasta section, I chose the Rigatoni Sorrentino because it sounded good from the menu. It also tasted good with a very good seasoning that I thought was not overpowered by Italian spices (one of my pet peeves in Italian restaurants). This dish contains grilled chicken, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes, all of which I thought were very good. The tomato cream sauce was also better than I thought it would be (I am not a big fan of cream sauces). This isn’t the kind of Italian food you get at Vito’s, but I thought it was very good and I enjoyed it.

Pasta maggio

Pasta maggio

Pasta Maggio was recommended by an employee at the counter, and was also very good. This had a creamy pesto sauce that I thought was not as good as the one with the rigatoni sorrentino, but the ingredients made up for it with chicken, mushrooms, and artichokes. Overall I would have to say this was the best pasta dish I have tried.

Pasta primavera

Pasta primavera

The Pasta Primavera is the one that I consider “my other favorite” (along with pasta maggio). This has a lemon flavor, and the banana peppers give it somewhat of a kick (in a good way that is not too spicy). I also like the vegetables in this one.

Pizza

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Several types of pizza are served, including a “Build your own pizza” that comes with sauce, cheese, and up to three meat toppings. Margherita Pizza was one of the specialty pizzas offered (all pizzas are the same price unless you get more than three toppings). I thought the Margherita pizza was a little disappointing in the flavor of the pizza and texture of the crust. It had standard tomatoes instead of the sun dried tomatoes served in most Italian restaurants, and the flavor of the cheese was rather overwhelming compared to my perception of the way a Margherita pizza should be. The ingredients were fresh and good quality, but this was not my favorite pizza in terms of flavor.

Seasonal Menus

Fettuccine bona

Fettuccine bona

Cafe 7 provides more variety by offering seasonal menus of different types of items. For instance, in Summer 2013 the Fettuccine Bona was an item I found very refreshing with green and red olives and a flavorful pesto seasoning. Another good item was the Muffaletta, which I thought was well made (with good sauce, meat, and bread). Other choices from the menu were a sirloin salad, salmon salad (both of which cost more than the standard menu items), two wraps, and an ultimate margherita pizza.

Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie

The Chicken Pot Pie on the Fall 2016 menu was an excellent version of a dish I usually order at any restaurant which has it on the menu. In case they have it in the future you may like to know that the crust and gravy were both good, it had large chunks of white meat chicken, there were plenty of potatoes, but I would say it was short of the other vegetables I usually like in a pot pie. It met my standard of not being too salty, and overall I liked it very much.

Green chile mac and cheese

Hatch green chile mac & cheese

The Hatch Green Chile Mac & Cheese has evolved over a couple of years to the point that this is perhaps my favorite seasonal dish served. The cheese is thin and fully melted, and along with the fresh green chile I think this is what makes it special to me. On the heat scale the chile is about four out of five (not as spicy as they usually serve in New Mexico but spicy enough to really bring out the flavor).

Desserts

Red velvet cookie

Red velvet cookie

Some of their desserts have been wonderful, such as the Chocolate Mousse and the Cupcakes. However, they keep changing the desserts all the time, and I know the cupcakes are no longer available. I am not sure what is good at the moment, or if the Red Velvet Cookies, which I liked, are still available.

Additional Comments
Customers fill up their own drink cups, and there is a choice of three kinds of iced tea: black, green, and white.

Side dishes are somewhat limited, but I liked the Potato Salad (and I would have liked it even better if it were not made with mayonnaise).

When Saturn Grill had a location on Memorial Road I was able to compare a number of items there and at Cafe 7. My conclusions were that Saturn Grill had better vegetarian sandwiches overall, but that the turkey and guacamole and Cuban sandwiches at Cafe 7 were better than any of the meat versions served at Saturn Grill. I liked the pasta dishes better at Cafe 7, but overall I thought the seasonal menu was much better at Saturn Grill. I never really formed an opinion about who had better soup.

Cafe 7 has now opened a restaurant in downtown OKC, and the large number of customers on North May attests to its continued popularity. People know good food when they taste it, though, and this is certainly among my favorite places.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Deli
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine
Additional Location: 100 W. Main St.

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 17, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich, Cuban, Tomato Basil Soup, Pasta Maggio, Pasta Primavera, Chicken Pot Pie (seasonal menu), Hatch Green Chile Mac & Cheese (seasonal menu)

Special Ratings
star 5 Turkey and Guacamole Sandwich
star 5 Cuban
star 5 Pastrami Reuben
star 3 Classic Turkey & Swiss
star 5 Pasta Maggio
star 5 Pasta Primavera
star 5 Rigatoni Sorrentino
star 3 Margherita Pizza
star 5 Tomato Basil Soup
star 4 Cream of Broccoli Soup
star 4 Signature Salad
star 5 Cobb Salad
star 4 Potato Salad
Seasonal Menu
star 4 Fettuccine Bona (Summer)
star 4 Muffaletta (Summer)
star 5 Green Chile Mac & Cheese (Summer)
star 5 Chicken Pot Pie (Fall)

Menu (Aug. 2018):

 

 

Chibugan–Del City, OK

Chibugan Filipino Cuisine
4728 S.E. 29th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 595-2426

Chibugan

Chibugan in Del City


There have been many articles on the Internet about people’s opinion that Filipino cuisine is one of the best, yet there are extremely few restaurants in the United States in proportion to the number of Filipino people living here. I have watched both Bhing’s Cafe and Evelyn’s Asian Table close, and with both I was convinced that more people would like Filipino food if they tried it. Fortunately there is now another opportunity to try it at Chibugan in Del City (which I was first alerted about in 2016 but I was able to make my first visit in 2018).

I was encouraged when I saw the amount of business the restaurant is doing, and I think they made a wise business choice by locating near Tinker Air Force Base (military bases traditionally attract small mom and pop Asian restaurants nearby because many of the personnel have been to these countries and tried the food). It might seem as if this is a prime example of a niche cuisine that would not attract a large segment of Americans, but I come back to my statement that this will change once people try the food.

With the previous restaurants I visited the biggest hurdle was trying to figure out the menu. I mainly followed the suggestions of the owners and got good results, but I know that this will continue to be an issue with many people. Chibugan has what some people call a “streamlined” menu with additional daily specials posted on the wall, and you can see pictures of the items. Although I still had questions, the staff was very helpful in explaining everything.

Like any cuisine, Filipino food has a large number of styles of food, and at Chibugan you can get what you want from a light lunch to a very substantial meat dinner. The default for Filipino food is that it is not spicy, and mostly it is like other Asian food but with a few twists (for instance I tried one dish that had a large amount of celery).

My experience was that I asked questions about the dishes that looked interesting, and they explained it to the point that I was satisfied that I had made a good choice. I give ratings to restaurants based not only on my own experience, but also on what I think it will be for other people. I felt very comfortable that even those who have no experience with Filipino food will have a good idea about what they are ordering here.

The Food

Chicken rice soup

Chicken rice soup

With any order you get a complimentary Chicken and Rice Soup. This was a very delicious indication of how the rest of the meal would be.

Pansit bihon

Pansit bihon

I ordered two dishes with the idea that I could take some home and have somewhat of a variety of items to report. I turned out that these dishes really could not have been more different. The Pansit Bihon was a very light dish that I would say makes a very good lunch. It was a little like Chinese chow mein but it had a strong celery taste and the lime you put on top makes it taste very tropical. In any case I thought it was very good, and I happen to like this type of healthy but flavorful food.

Pork ribs adobo

Pork ribs adobo

At the opposite end of the scale was Pork Ribs Adobo which was a very substantial meat dish. It had much more flavor that I had expected, but even more surprising was the way the meat fell off the bones in a way that was just right. Much of the flavor came from the sauce and from the seasonings cooked into the meat. I thought this was a very good example of Asian slow cooked meats.

The dish is topped with Asian red chiles, but if you leave these alone the dish is not spicy.

All plates come with Lumpia on the side (the Southeast Asian version of an egg roll).

Also available are canned Philippine fruit drinks in a variety of flavors that I thought was a perfect touch with the meal.

In short, I was very happy with my two meals here (I took the pansit home for lunch the next day).

Previous Post from Mar. 23, 2016:

Chibugan Restaurant in Del City, OK (near Tinker Air Force Base in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area) will be open soon, and as far as I know will be the only Filipino restaurant in the metro.

Chibugan's interior

Chibugan’s interior

It looks as if it is almost ready to go, but they have not yet announced an opening date.  Those in the area, though, may want to keep a lookout for it.

Filipino decorations on the wall

Filipino decorations on the wall

Thanks very much to Arlene Clifton for providing the photos and for giving us a heads up that Filipino food will soon be available in the Oklahoma City area.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Filipino
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. & Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 17, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Pork Ribs Adobo, Pansit Bihon

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: N/A
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pork Ribs Adobo
star 5 Pansit Bihon
star 5 Chicken Soup