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Taking it to the streets


The metro offers a variety of street food for hungry, mobile eaters or those looking for an adventurous experience.

Doug Hill May 18th, 2011

Whether you’re looking for a quick snack between appointments or an eating adventure, the area street food scene has several attractive choices. And it’s growing every year.

Mary Esparza (left) and Chelly Gutierrez prep food at Tacos Los Compadres.
Credits: Mark Hancock

Warm weather makes grabbing a taco or hot dog and dining at an outdoor picnic table (or even standing up) a pleasant alternative to a crowded restaurant. Street food is affordable and sometimes even ethnically authentic. Quirky locations and irregular hours of operation can be part of the appeal, along with having that clued-in foodie aura.

Hot Dog OKC follows the generations-old American street cart tradition. It’s whipping out wieners in Bricktown, 209 Flaming Lips Alley, 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Thursday through Sunday.

Hot Dog OKC serves Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, which frankfurter aficionados agree are numero uno. A fully loaded pooch with chili, onions, cheese, jalapeños and sauerkraut will set you back only $3.

Although it may be a dubious distinction to have a weenie named after you, Hot Dog OKC’s menu has a celebrity list. Check out the No. 4, Casey Cornett Dog, which sports the works, plus “Fritos Corn Chips sprinkled on top … AWESOME!” And if dogs aren’t your thing, Hot Dog OKC also dishes out bratwurst and hot links.

Super Cao Nguyen market, 2668 N. Military, hosts a line of Asian street food vendors just inside its entry vestibule on weekends. Banh bao xá xíu, or Vietnamese steamed buns filled with pork, chicken or barbecued pork, are a big, round ball the size of your fist for only $1.50.

The vendors also have fruit buns stuffed with coconut, taro or custard. Or try a cinnamon-and-sugar-flecked churro, the fried pastry often called a Mexican doughnut.

Although still young, Big Truck Tacos certainly extends the lead set in food-cart capitals such as Portland, Austin and Vancouver, B.C., with its two roving food trucks that have gained mega-fans.

Try tons of tacos, like the 5th Amendment (“We’re sorry … we plead the 5th. We’re not at liberty to tell you — trust us.”) They hit the hungry spot for a recent lunch. And in the interest of outing Big Truck’s 5th on my visit, it was mildly spicy pulled pork, spinach leaf and quinoa topped with queso blanco, served in a choice of corn or flour tortilla.

And while technically not a street vendor, Big Truck’s brick-and-mortar location, 530 N.W. 23rd, offers plenty of outdoor picnic tables and a walk-upto-order style that makes the experience almost identical.

“Have you ever tried Bobo’s Chicken?” That’s what Oklahoma’s former first lady Kim Henry asked me in a conversation about metro restaurants late last year. “It’s wonderful,” she said.

Located within walking distance from the Governor’s Mansion at approximately N.E. 23rd and Lottie Avenue, Bobo’s has cult status. It’s famous for chicken that’s first smoked then fried and smothered with a sweet sauce. Only open on Friday and Saturday evenings and into the wee hours, customers start lining up around 7:30 p.m.

Rapper Jabee Williams is a fan too.

“Bobo’s is dope,” he said. “We lived down the street and would just walk there sometimes to get the home-style chicken and biscuits. Covering it in that honey syrup stuff is why it’s so good.”

Norman currently has three taco trailers located on key corners around town. Tacos Los Compadres, 315 Alameda in front of Bill’s Used Furniture, has burritos, tacos and super nachos for super cheap. And there’s even a shrimp cocktail and an authentic lengua (tongue) taco. Soft drinks are only a buck.

While waiting for your order, admire the wooden picnic tables decorated with Dia de los Muertos graffiti and soccer scores (Argentina 1, Mexico 0) left by previous customers.

Jennifer & Kathia’s My Cocinita, 2201 W. Main, serves up pasteles Salvadoreno, which are savory El Salvador-style pastries that are magnificent. Pannes relleno is another option, bread stuffed with piquant grilled meat and dressed with sliced radish. Or, go for fried bananas with caramel jelly, lamb’s tongue tacos and open-face Ricos huaraches sandwiches, among Norman’s more exotic treats.

Finally in Norman, Taco Loco, 1728 24th Ave. S.W., has the expected tacos and burritos, but also tilapia and shrimp ceviche, gorditas and quesadillas. Take a walk on the wild side with a carnitas buche (pork stomach) flauta. And for enjoying that meal? Beside the trailer is an inviting covered dining patio with plenty of seating that’s filled with tropical plants from the greenhouse business next door.

With all these options on wheels, why head indoors at all?

Tracking down the trucks online

Big Truck Tacos — Big Truck trucks (tee-hee) all over the metro, but you can track it down by following on Facebook and Twitter @bigtrucktacos. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the day’s specials.

Hot Dog OKC — Get your dog fix on Facebook or Twitter @hotdogokc for more on the menu.

Smokin’ Okies — Follow the food truck online at thesmokinokies.com for a calendar pinpointing just where this Edmond-based food truck will park.

 
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