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

Su Casa–El Paso, TX

Su Casa Restaurant
2030 E. Yandell Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 544-5136
Su Casa

Su Casa Restaurant


Any list of classic El Paso restaurants would have to include Su Casa, a neighborhood hangout that has been operating at the same place for longer than I can remember. A friend reminded me that Arnold’s, another classic El Paso eatery, was at this location before Su Casa opened. While Arnold’s may have already established the popularity of the location, Su Casa has kept people coming back even if their residences or jobs have since moved out of the neighborhood. Having a central meeting place is part of the reason, but people have a hard time finding the same food anywhere else.

Su Casa seems to have escaped the notice of most tourists, but the restaurant is already so crowded for lunch I doubt that one of the priorities of the owners is to advertise in the local travel guides to attract new customers. Instead, word of mouth seems to bring most people who are not already regular customers. I have a hard time choosing any one Mexican restaurant that I would advise out of town travelers to visit if they have only one meal in El Paso, but Su Casa is certainly one that would be on the short list. The food here typifies the classic El Paso style of Mexican food, and is of consistently good quality no matter what you order from the menu. The combination plates are good at Su Casa, as are many of the single item plates.

Mexican Dishes

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas

For me one of the best tests of El Paso style Mexican food is the Red Enchilada, and the one at Su Casa is certainly one of the best (this is the opinion of myself as well as several of my friends). The one here has a good spiciness, and the cheese provides quite a good flavor. It can sometimes be skimpy on the sauce, but if you need more sauce you can ask for it. These are an El Paso variation of the New Mexico style enchiladas, which are generally slightly more spicy than their borderland cousins.

Beef Tacos are among the most enjoyable anywhere, made with ground beef and topped with Mexican cheese.

The Tortilla Soup is well spiced with excellent cheese. If this were going to be the main part of the meal, though, I would prefer the caldo tlalpeño at Café Mayapán that also contains avocado and a whole chipotle chile. Su Casa serves the soup in either a whole order, which would constitute a pretty substantial meal, or a half order.

The Refried Beans, topped with a generous amount of cheese, are delicious when eaten on chips. Traditional wisdom seems to be that beans made with lard have a better flavor, but the ones at Su Casa made with vegetable oil seem to disprove this theory.

Middle Eastern Food

Spinach pies

Spinach pies

I think Su Casa should be known as much for its Middle Eastern food as for the Mexican menu. The Spinach Pies, made from scratch in the owner’s home, have the best flavor I have tasted anywhere, but suffer from the fact that they are kept frozen and then microwaved when you order them. The ones here are probably not like you would find in Lebanon, but they are better than the ones I have tried in the city’s Middle Eastern restaurants. Even though the crust shows some signs of being microwaved, the inside filling is fresh and moist, with a rich Middle Eastern flavor. For me, this is the best lunch plate served at Su Casa.

Tabouli

Tabouli

The Tabouli is made fresh, and has a well deserved reputation as one of Su Casa’s most popular dishes. The light sauce brings out the true flavor of the vegetables that I find typical of good quality Middle Eastern food. My respect for the tabouli at Su Casa has increased over the years as I have tried other versions in El Paso and other cities that seemed too have to much or too little of certain ingredients, while the one at Su Casa has just the right balance of its various components. Lebanese food is a real passion of the owners, and it definitely shows in the tabouli and other dishes that are served.

Several other Lebanese dishes are offered including kebby, Middle Eastern style chicken, and shish-kabob.

Before and After the Main Meal

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The Salsa is not the spiciest in El Paso, but may have the freshest ingredients. The owners’ Middle Eastern heritage comes through a little bit in the mixture of ingredients that come together to provide one of the most complex flavors of any salsa in the city.

Sopaipilla

Sopaipilla

Complimentary Sopaipillas are served after every meal, and are some of the tastiest around. This one, like many served in El Paso, are thinner than the New Mexico version.

Things to Know
One feature I really like is that just about every plate is available in a half order, and many times the half order is large enough for a meal (although a half order of the soups or salads would not fill me up). Several of the combination plates come in half orders with fewer main dishes, but you still get the beans, rice, and sopaipillas. My favorite at night is the “dinner special,” that comes with one taco, one enchilada, rice, and beans (and can also be served with two enchiladas or two tacos). However, Su Casa has cut back its hours to the point that Friday is the only evening it is open, and only until 7:00 p.m.

Almost everyone who is a regular will say that one of the attractions is the excellent service. Su Casa is a neighborhood, family style restaurant, and once you go you will likely be remembered from then on. There is a higher likelihood of running into my friends here than at any other restaurant in the city. Everything seems to come together to make it feel like “your home” (su casa).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican & Lebanese
Cost: $
Hours: Lunch only Mon.-Sat. (open until 7 pm on Fri.); closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, wine, Sangria

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 27, 2010
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Spinach Pie, Tacos, Tabouli, Sopaipillas, Salsa

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Spinach Pies
star 5 Tabouli
star 5 Tacos
star 4 Tortilla Soup
star 5 Refried Beans
star 5 Rice
star 4 Chips
star 5 Salsa