If you are an Okie, you love Mexican food. It’s just an intrinsic part of living in the state that’s next to the state that used to be Mexico. To all of our Mexican amigos responsible for providing the amazing Mexican food in this state, I want to extend a sincere “gracias,” and share with you, my blog amigos, my three favorite Mexican restaurants in Tulsa. Now, before I begin, let me preface this by saying, every Okie has a different taste in Mexican food. I’ve had friends who have raved about Pancho’s Buffet (if you don’t know what it is, that’s probably for the best). I find that rather laughable and I honestly feel a bit of pity in my heart towards those individuals, but I will not knock their taste. Instead, I acknowledge that all of our taste buds are unique. So, my favorites may not be your favorites. But they might be. So you should try them if you haven’t.
I’ve blogged previously about El Rancho Grande, the historic Mexican icon on Route 66, so I won’t take much time here to expound upon its greatness. But please, if you haven’t experienced the yumminess of El Rancho Grande, plan a trip. I’m happy to report that since the time I wrote that last entry, they have expanded the parking lot, meaning I am never denied El Rancho Grande when I get the hankering. They’ve also initiated a “Customer of the Week” program (Check out their Facebook page for all the details)… and I’m proud to announce that I was Customer of the Week a few months back! (no surprise there…I’d happily challenge anyone to an El Rancho Grande “Customer of all Eternity” Competition. Any takers?
My love affair with Cafe Olé on Brookside dates back nearly a decade and originates from two primary sources:
1. Their queso.
2. The ambiance.
First, the queso. At some restaurants, the queso is seemingly optional. You could do with it, or you could do without it. At Cafe Olé, if you don’t try the queso, you will be seriously lacking a must-have life experience, mi amigo. This is no ordinary queso. This is a blend of whipped sour cream, cream cheese, various cheeses, topped with spicy jalapenos. This queso is second to none in the Tulsa area. A few years ago, The Tulsa World published a “knock-off” version of Cafe Olé’s queso. I tried to recreate the knockoff. Was I successful? Well, I succeeded enough to win the Cinco de Mayo Dip Competition at my work, but it was still not nearly as good as the real deal.
Okay, on to the ambiance. There are few outdoor dining areas in Tulsa that rival Cafe Olé’s. While enjoying your meal and margarita, you’re surrounded by twinkly lights, an enclosed patio complete with fans and a fireplace and heat lamps (depending on the weather), and other diners enjoying their margaritas and queso, of course. It’s the perfect place to take a group of friends for a casual evening out.
The food is a bit different than your typical Mexican restaurant. The menu is southwestern Tex Mex, so if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, this probably isn’t the place for you. All of the dishes are eclectic, blending flavors you may not find at other restaurants. When the weather is cold, I highly recommend the Chicken Tortilla Soup. I also enjoy all of their enchiladas, particularly the Blue Corn. Cafe Olé seems to have healthier options than a lot of other Mexican restaurants, so it’s probably safe to say you can eat here without too much guilt. Oh, and they also have a splendid Brunch Saturday 9am-12pm and Sunday 9am-2pm.
Just the mention of the name “Chimi’s” gives me visions of freshly prepared chunky salsa and a gargantuan chimichanga. Chimi’s and I go way back … I essentially grew up on Chimi’s. This local Mexican chain (three locations in the Tulsa area) is a staple in Tulsa that has been providing Tulsans with fresh Mexican food for decades. For its reputation of providing consistently delicious food and excellent service, Chimi’s takes the sopapilla as my favorite restaurant in all of Tulsa.
My local Chimi’s is the Cherry Street location, so let me just take a moment and dote on them. Their service is always exceptional (I would know; I’m there at least once a month), whether at lunch or dinner. And the food is always spot on. As I mentioned earlier, their salsa is mouth-watering, and the salsa server always gives you three options: Fresca — mild salsa and chunky salsa (my favorite), Picante — smooth and medium hot salsa, or Dad’s — super-charged hot salsa (proceed with caution).
For a starter, I highly recommend the Queso con Chorizo, a creamy, white queso filled with spicy meat. For the main meal, it’s difficult to go wrong with any of Chimi’s many options. If you’ve never tried the Chimichanga, that’s a great go-to. I also really enjoy the Street Tacos, corn tortillas filled with your choice of meat, onions, peppers, and cilantro. Typically, the meals are served with rice and beans, but if you want to mix things up, try the pappitas, delicious fried Mexican potatoes.
I also appreciate the Chimi’s offers daily specials and regular coupons. Be sure to check their website for all the details.