Even though NE 23rd Street is one of the most historical streets in Oklahoma City, many locals tend to forget that it’s also home to some of the most grassroots and homegrown eateries in town, the best having a specific focus on soul food, barbecue and old-fashioned Southern cooking. NE 23rd Street restaurants are OKC’s culinary history all in a few blocks and really should be revered as such.
Winning big can be hungry, thirsty work. We scoured Oklahoma’s casinos for your best bets on sustenance whether you are on a winning streak, holding, folding, walking away, running, or just down to your last five bucks.
Taste of Thai
1801 S. Air Depot, Midwest City
I don’t get to Midwest City all that much. Scratch that. I never get to Midwest City. But my husband had been going on (and on) about Taste of Thai, so I indulged him.
First, he warned me: Don’t expect much from the outside. I scoffed at him. I love Queen of Sheba, after all, and that has about the most extreme inside-to-outside discrepancy of anyplace I’ve seen in the metro.
Taste of Thai is admittedly humble looking from the outside. It sits at the end of a strip mall (But, honestly, it’s not like strip malls are thin on the ground in Midwest City.) that also houses popular lunch spot Akropolis. Inside, however, is a different story. The owner, Surachart Limvaree, and his family have obviously taken great care to turn their small restaurant into an inviting space with soft, pendant lighting, red-painted walls above crisp white wainscoting and music that blends into the background.
The place is small, but bright and clean. Taste of Thai does a brisk lunch service that gets a lot of traffic from nearby Tinker. And note that it closes for a couple of hours (2:30-4:30 p.m.) between lunch and dinner. It also closes at 8:30 p.m., so don’t go expecting a late meal.
But what about that meal? How’s this for a recommendation: After that first dinner, I met my husband at Taste of Thai for lunch just a week later.
Lunch is big business at Taste of Thai, which offers a lunch combo ($7.95) that changes each weekday. The combo always includes a curry, a side dish (like crab Rangoon or a spring roll), rice and a selection of six different entrées.
We visited on a Wednesday, which meant a red chicken curry with a pan-fried dumpling in the combo. The curry was rich with flavor and creamy, like many of Taste of Thai’s robust curries. And when I say creamy, I’m not talking “biscuits and gravy,” but an Asian-style that packs a bold punch without being watered down or thin.
For his lunch combo entrée, my husband went with the cashew and chicken stir-fry done in a classic brown sauce with fresh onions and red bell peppers.
Both of our lunch selections came with a lunch soup, which changes weekly. The soup was a simple vegetable broth full of large bits of cabbage, celery and carrots. It was savory, but still had a bit of that Thai kick.
One hiccup in service: My meal came out about five minutes after my husband’s, and I did notice a few tables waiting a bit before they had a waiter stop by. But, keep in mind this is a small place with a small staff — I’m not about to flip the table over just because things weren’t super streamlined.
When my meal did arrive, I dove into the lunch portion of yellow curry ($6.95), a hearty curry in coconut milk cooked with onions, carrots and potatoes plus tofu (chicken, beef or shrimp are also available). There are 12 lunch entrées ($6.50-$6.95 and different from the lunch combo) from which to choose — all with that tofu option.
Thai places do tofu right.
Often, it can be a little hard to eat out in the metro when you’re trying to avoid meat. It’s an afterthought on some menus, like throwing us veggies the leftover carrot scraps and maybe a wilted salad. But not with the tofu-lovin’ Thai.
Taste of Thai’s large, diverse menu offers up tofu as a “meat” option right alongside chicken and beef on almost all of its entrées. And that’s not even including the two vegetarian appetizers (like the crispy fried tofu for $4.95 — yum), salads and soups.
During my first foray to Taste of Thai, I tried the pad Thai ($9.50) — the dinner favorite — and found a lot to love with the fresh, spicy mélange of egg, tofu, green onions, bean sprouts and ground peanuts mixed with rice noodles.
My husband followed our server’s recommendation and tried the roasted duck curry ($11.95).
I’m pretty sure he would have left me for it if the roasted duck had only asked.
Taste of Thai has been open less than two years, but it is already doing pretty much everything right. I guess I’m going to have to add Midwest City to my standard dining repertoire from now on.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.