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.
6700 N.W. 39th, Bethany
What works: The authentic food is fantastic.
What needs work: There is limited parking.
The tip: There's a parking lot behind the restaurant.
Among them is Birrieria Diaz. It specializes in serving up big plates of delicious Mexican food. It’s important to note the fare is not the typical Tex-Mex served throughout the metro.
in an uncomplicated space on the corner of N. College Avenue and N.W.
39th, this newcomer brings some big-time heat to Bethany.
The restaurant has a warm, welcoming vibe and simple decor, as well as a tempting menu with prices to match. All the dishes are homey and original.
Each meal begins with a big bowl of corn chips, creamy queso, fresh salsa and sliced radishes.
Many folks come here for the house specialty, birria: a spicy Mexican goat or beef stew, depending on your meat choice. The chopped meat is slow-cooked in a thick and fiery tomato-pepper broth until it’s tender and ready to be served with assorted toppings. Such condiments are limes, roasted and salted hot peppers, cilantro, purple onions, diced habaneros, white onions, as well as homemade corn tortillas. The trick is constructing tidy bites, all of which are packed with compelling flavor, and having them arrive safely in your mouth.
The birria meal is served in three sizes: The small ($5) adequately satisfies most diners. A bigger appetite might want the medium ($7), while the large ($9) easily could be split between two people.
Birrieria is like stepping into a friend’s cozy kitchen where you’d likely find a divine meal bubbling atop the stove. All orders are made fresh from family recipes.
The menu has the usual favorites from tacos to quesadillas. The traditionally prepared chicken enchiladas ($6.99) proved to be a winner. Tender pieces of chicken are wrapped inside four corn tortillas.
The red sauce drizzled on top was tame and didn’t require a call to the fire department; the green sauce is on the hotter end of the spectrum. A side of crispy, diced potatoes made for a nice contrast.
The pork tamale ($5.99) was a slight disappointment. The shredded meat was soft. The masa, although moist on the interior portion, was too dry around the edges. The accompanying side of rice and beans more than made up for the distress. “Amazingly authentic” is all that needs to be said.
Try the flautas, too. Tightly rolled with beef or chicken ($4.99), then lightly fried, the four came perfectly crunchy. They were topped with daintily sliced avocado, sour cream and green salsa.
And there’s a nice selection of sopes, aka soup ($5.99). Familiar selections are beef, chicken, pork, with a more exotic chicken tongue and beef head. They are all topped with choices of lettuce, sour cream and cheese.
Soft drinks are served in cans, and you can order real Mexican Coca-Cola, Jarritos and aguas frescas ($1.99). Sangria ($1.99), domestic beer ($2.75) and imported beer ($3.25) are also sold.
End your meal with a light, airy sopaipilla sprinkled in cinnamon and sugar and drizzled in honey. That is, if you are not too full.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.