There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Ricky’s Cafe is an impressive, freestanding Spanish colonial-style building in a bustling strip mall. It’s maroon and pink outside with a brick-colored tile roof. Although named “cafe,” Ricky’s is closer to being a fancy restaurant than a snack bar or coffee shop.
Pride in ownership and operation are evident in the spotless interior that’s spacious and attractive. The place exudes attention to detail. Tasteful floral arrangements, wrought-iron candelabras and colorful Mexican ceramics are at every turn. Behind glass, next to the comfortable waiting area, is “Ricky’s Tortilla Factory,” where an employee operates a stainless steel machine and mini assembly line. We watched her crank out the freshly made warm flour tortillas that are served with every order. The dining rooms are divided between comfortable booths and mauve-colored granite-top tables.
I like places that name plates after their friends, patrons or celebrities, and Ricky’s has several. If I owned a Mexicano restaurant, there would certainly be my own version of Ricky’s Special Mexican Dinner ($14) on the menu. It’s a gigantic platter with chicken and cheese enchiladas, two tamales, one taco, guacamole and beans and rice.
The taste is unmistakably from family recipes. Nothing about this food hinted at a corporation lurking in the cocina. But it’s not midnight-in-the-barrio taco truck fare, either.
There’s no baby goat or lingua in fried masa. Ricky’s is definitely Norte Americano friendly. Unlike many Mexican restaurants that cater to gringos, Ricky’s salsa is boldly spicy. Made in-house with plenty of cilantro, garlic, fresh tomato and chili, the salsa’s fragrance and flavor are above the insipid stuff sometimes served in these parts.
Bianca’s Favorite ($15) is guiso, beef tips sauteed with tomato, onion and jalapeño, a chicken and sour cream enchilada, carne asada taco, fried potatoes, rice and beans. The delicately seasoned beef, flavored with caramelized onions, was delicious rolled up in a tortilla.
Tony’s Special ($13) features costillas de puerco or pork ribs, along with a taco, enchilada, rice and beans. The ribs were not as tender as they could have been, but otherwise tasted good. Chile Colorado ($12) was as fiery on the palate as it appeared on the plate. A distinctively crimson guajillo sauce gave this dish a real piquant bite. Ricky’s has some veggie plates including Fernando’s Taste of Mexico ($12) with cheese quesadillas and guacamole.
Seafood dishes tend toward shrimp and catfish filets. Cocktel de Camaron ($10) is shrimp cocktail with lime and tomato served in a big glass goblet.
There’s a section of the menu titled “Breakfast in America.” These egg-and-meat plates are served all the time. The machaca ($8.99) is scrambled eggs with dried and spiced shredded beef. It’s a traditional favorite of silver miners in the Sierra Madres in the state of Chihuahua, but rarely seen on Oklahoma menus.
are several grilled steak choices, including Bistek Ranchero ($11), a
small beef steak served with cheese, beans, rice and pico de gallo. Wash
one of those big platters down with a large frozen margarita ($8.49), a
Dos Equis Amber ($3.89) or go for a more exotic choice. Ricky’s version
of horchata ($1.99) combines sweetened milk with ground rice, vanilla
and cinnamon. They also serve tamarind and hibiscus tea concoctions. If
that’s too much of a walk on the wild side, you can always stick with
house-made lemonade ($1.99) or domestic suds ($2.99).
Photo by Mark Hancock
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.