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.
What works: Enchiladas, tacos, fajitas … you know, Mexican food.
What needs work: Get rid of those fried guacamole bites.
Tips: Botanos are good, but filling. It’s an appetizer for a group.
Since when do people think “authentic” means the same thing as “delicious”?
I want “authentic” food to be made out of natural ingredients and not a big pile of chemicals, but other than that, who cares? Chefs change things all the time based on taste or the availability of ingredients, or just because.
So what if actual Mexicans living in actual Mexico don’t eat a lot of sour cream chicken enchiladas? Have you tasted a good sour cream chicken enchilada? It could come from Mars, and I’d still enjoy eating it.
brings us to the topic of Casa Perico, a Mexican restaurant that
straddles the line between “real” Mexican food and the Mexican food we
all grew up with and still love, even if it isn’t what people eat south
of the border.
Perico is one of my favorite places to eat precisely because it doesn’t put on airs. It’s clean, the servers are friendly and the food tastes good (and isn’t terribly expensive). They just want you to walk out happy.
And I would do just that, but I’m usually too full to walk.
To start out, I like to get the botana ($7.99) for an appetizer. Sure, you can gorge on chips and salsa and cheese jelly, but the botana is so much tastier. It’s a big plate filled with cheesy potatoes, fried jalapeños, onion, avocado and tomato wedges, and served with fresh tortillas. And of course you can get nachos ($8.99), shrimp cocktail ($12.99) or housemade guacamole ($5.99).
know what else Casa Perico has? Tacos ($8.99-$12.99). Yeah, tacos. You
know those things everybody loves when they come from a tacqueria, but
you’re supposed to be ashamed if you get them from a drive-thru
fast-food chain? Perico does them right and in almost every style. Hard
or soft, corn or flour, chicken, different kinds of beef or even
catfish. And a taco salad ($10.99). C’mon — you love taco salad. Don’t
be a jerk.
One thing I wasn’t wild about: the flautas ($10.99). The chicken was barely seasoned and too dry.
As for “authentic” dishes, I really liked the carne asada ($12.99). The salsa over it was a bit spicy for my wife, but the flavor was right on, and the texture of the steak was wonderful.
Even better is my personal favorite, the dish that keeps me coming back: carnitas de puerco ($12.99). It’s pork rubbed down with Perico’s seasoning blend, then roasted and seared. The end product is juicy, crispy and tender. And if you somehow can resist downing the whole pile of pig meat at once, it gets even better after a night in the fridge.
On the side, I tend to enjoy the classics. There’s something about Mexican rice and refried beans that soothes the soul. That said, I also like the borracho beans, but I avoid the grilled vegetables, which contain too many mushrooms for my liking.
I don’t know what “Parrot House” has to do with food, nor am I inclined to learn. I will just keep going to Casa Perico, where I know they’ll serve me foods from the old country and foods that are indigenous to the U.S. So long as it keeps tasting this good, I don’t really care where the recipe started.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.