Oklahoma Station–Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma Station Bar B Q (Closed)
4331 N.W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma Station BBQ

Oklahoma Station BBQ


Although Oklahoma Station is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in Oklahoma City, a change of ownership in 2015 not only prompted me to start over with a new review but more importantly, I think the food is quite different than before. The menu is the same and on the outside everything looks the same, but I have noticed marked differences in the items I have ordered.

In some cases these differences are good. For instance, the smoked turkey not only seems better than before, it is also my current choice as the best in Oklahoma City (this has been the case the three times I have gone to the new Oklahoma Station, so I don’t think this is likely to change).

The outside smoker

The outside smoker

Some items are about the same as before, and this is a good thing. Included on this list are the okra, sweet beans, creamy cole slaw, and most of all the incomparable banana pudding (at least I have not found any others that match the pudding at Oklahoma Station).

Some other meat items pose quite a mystery to me as to why they could be so good before but so forgettable at the current restaurant (especially when the turkey has been consistently good).

The Barbecue
The first thing I should point out is that there are more meat items available than are listed in the review, and as is the case with most barbecue restaurants, I have not been able to try them all. You can get a head start, though, with the three meat combination dinner (shown in the next two photos). Both of these served as a meal for two people with leftovers to take home, but your appetite may vary.

Three meat dinner

Brisket, turkey, ribs, creamy cole slaw, Texas toast, okra

The Smoked Turkey has seen a marked improvement over the ones I tried at the “old” restaurant. The gentleman in the serving line included it in his list of recommendations, and based on this I would say asking the employees is a good starting point if you are not sure which items to order.

I thought the turkey had everything required of good barbecue– it was cooked well, it had a good smoky flavor, and the meat was high quality. I recently had the opportunity to order the turkey at Swadley’s (another contender for the best turkey in the city), and I would say Oklahoma Station was the clear winner.

Three meat dinner with pork tenderloin, ham, and turkey

Pork tenderloin, ham, turkey, creamy cole slaw, okra, apple cobbler, sweet beans

The Pork Tenderloin was one of my favorite items before, but the one I had recently was dry. In fact, dry meat was a common theme with many of the meats I have ordered here. The Brisket had the added problem of being tough, but it had a better flavor than many of the others.

The Pork Spare Ribs have been my biggest disappointment at the new restaurant, with the texture and flavor of the meat seeming so wrong I was wondering if they just had a bad day.

Ham is an item I have only tried at the new restaurant, and I thought it had an excellent flavor but was dry. Somewhat inexplicably a piece I took home as a leftover was much better, so based on this I am rating this as one of the better items at the restaurant.

Side Dishes
The creamy Cole Slaw was one of the best in the city at the old restaurant, and I think it is the same now. They have two types of cole slaw, and I have always found it best to stick with the creamy one (rather than the vinegar based version).

The Sweet Beans were excellent.

The fried Okra has been excellent two out of three times, with a good flavor and texture. Like all the side dishes they frequently put out fresh batches, but if you happen to be there when they do not look fresh out of the oven I would advise ordering something else.

Several other vegetables and side dish choices are available, and I think the selection here is unmatched by any other barbecue restaurant in the city. Generally the items are fresh, but in the case of the okra they will tell you if it is not right out of the oven (and therefore you may not want to order it).

Be sure to check the “relish bar” in front of the restaurant for pickles or other appetizers (customers can take whatever they want).

Desserts

Banana pudding and cherry cobbler

Banana pudding and cherry cobbler

The Banana Pudding was my favorite dessert at the old restaurant, and is still available. Somehow they have found the secret to making the best banana pudding I have found anywhere, but I think the secret is just keeping it simple but making sure everything is fresh and follows the recipe correctly.

There was a great variation in the cobbler, though. The Apple Cobbler was excellent, but I thought the Cherry Cobbler was bland.

Additional Comments
I have discovered that high quality iced tea is an integral part to the full enjoyment of a barbecue meal, and the fresh brewed tea here is among the best (sweet tea is also available).

The trouble with the new Oklahoma Station, compared to the old one, is that only a few items have impressed me as being standouts. If you are looking for turkey and banana pudding, I would say this is the best restaurant in town. Some other items are solid, including the ham and several of the side dishes. I had one fairly good experience with the pork tenderloin, but it was not up to the standard I found at the old restaurant. The brisket and ribs are certainly letdowns compared to what the restaurant served before (in my opinion, of course, but I do owe it to readers to give you my best judgment).


RATING: 18

Cuisine: Barbecue
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. Evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 24, 2017
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Turkey, Sweet Beans, Cole Slaw, Banana Pudding

Special Ratings
star 5 Turkey
star 4 Ham
star 4 Pork Tenderloin
star 3 Brisket
star 3 Ribs
star 4 Okra
star 5 Sweet Beans
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 5 Banana Pudding
star 3 Cherry Cobbler

Kim Wah–The Village, OK

Kim Wah (Closed)
2925 W. Britton Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
Kim Wah in The Village

Kim Wah in The Village


*** Link to the previous review (until 2016)

Kim Wah has been one of my favorite Asian restaurants in north Oklahoma City for probably more than twenty years (I do not know the exact date it opened). It was originally a branch of Lido Vietnamese Restaurant (a prominent restaurant in OKC’s Asian District), but eventually put a large emphasis on its Chinese buffet (which Lido does not have) and shifted the menu mostly to Chinese food.

In 2016, though, new owners took over the restaurant with the idea of keeping it the way it has been for the last 20 years. I have heard from people and seen comments on the Internet that this may not be working out as well as intended. I have a theory about why this is the case, but with only one visit to the new restaurant I cannot be very dogmatic about it.

What I will say, though, is that the previous owners had possibly the best Chinese buffet in Oklahoma City. I do not care much for Chinese buffets, but this was the one place (after several others had closed) that I thought was actually very good. It would be hard for the new owners, or for anybody, to match what was here before. Some Internet comments indicate that it is not the same as before, but I do not have first-hand experience with the buffet.

The food I ordered from the menu, though, was as good as before, or maybe better. The “old” Kim Wah was very consistent, and I do not know yet if the new restaurant will be the same way. I thought they got off to a good start, though.

Vermicelli Bowls
I have always thought this was one of the best restaurants for vermicelli bowls, and for years they were duplicates of the ones served at Lido. In addition to the good flavor, Kim Wah has always given good portions and has included mint in the vegetable mix. The variety of bowls has also been very good, with lemongrass being my favorite.

Lemongrass chicken vermicelli bowl

Lemongrass chicken vermicelli bowl

My one experience since new owners took over has so far been very good as far as the Vietnamese food is concerned. The lemongrass chicken has kept most of the elements it had before (including the mint), and if anything I thought it had more intense flavors than before.

The fish sauce was still not as “fishy” as I have found in west coast restaurants, but I think most local people will consider this to be a good thing (especially the past customers of Kim Wah who want the food to remain the same it has been since the restaurant opened).

Hot Tea
The old Kim Wah switched from loose leaf tea to tea bags several years ago. The new restaurant still has hot tea, and has added a loose leaf style Vietnamese tea that I thought was very good (although it may not be everybody’s “cup of tea,” if I can make a very bad pun).

Buffet
They still have the Chinese buffet. Other web sites have comments about whether or not it may still be good. At the old restaurant I thought this had evolved into one of the best buffets in the city.

Overall Comments
The Vietnamese food I tried seemed to be equal to the best I have had in the Asian District. I certainly would recommend the Vietnamese food here.

The selection of Vietnamese items, though, is very small (as it was at the old Kim Wah). I used to order items not on the menu, but I do not know if these are still available. Besides the vermicelli bowls the menu includes Vietnamese hot and sour soup (canh chua). Pho was a very popular non-menu item, and I would think this is still being served.

I was pleasantly surprised that the new owners were able to maintain the basic elements of the vermicelli bowl that had been there before, but also to give it a little more intense Vietnamese flavor.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese and Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 10, 2016
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Green (bags)/ Vietnamese Tea (loose leaves)
MSG: No
Buffet: Yes (Chinese)

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

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