Probably the best compliment I can give Marc Dunham is that when my friends asked if I was in for brunch at Iguana, I said yes without hesitation.
“Ooh, Mr. Popular! So many people want to have brunch with you that you have to turn some of them down, but you didn’t wait to agree to brunch at one of the best restaurants in Automobile Alley? Big shock.”
Well, no. I have kids. People never ask me to go to brunch because I’m usually too busy pouring cereal and refereeing whose turn it is to pick the cartoon.
But, as much as I love Mexican food, it’s not usually a cuisine I associate with brunch. Maybe you’re the same. The thing is, I trust Marc Dunham implicitly. And Marc trusts Juan Quixtan, the chef de cuisine at Iguana. After Dunham took over Iguana, he and Quixtan revamped a menu desperately in need of a new direction.
They took an axe to many dishes and returned the restaurant to the list of must-visit spots in Oklahoma City. It could be brunch at a Bulgarian restaurant; so long as these two have a hand in it, I’m there.
First things first: Forget about hollandaise. This is a Mexican restaurant. They’re not doing French sauces. There are plenty of delicious Mexican sauces to choose from to bother making you yet another benedict.
I love a Bloody Mary and I love a $4 Bloody Mary even more. But if ever you were going to invest in a pricier model, it should be an El Jefe Mary ($14) — a schooner of Bloody Mary topped with peppers, olives, bacon and shrimp and seasoned with a stir stick of compressed spices.
It’s a stout drink. Not only do you get an appetizer platter on top, the actual cocktail is a well-balanced mix of tomato, vodka and spices. It’s a sipper, for sure. And probably a drink that guarantees the need for a DD.
The nice thing about a drink this large is that is loosens up your inhibitions. Believe me, you’re not going to want fear messing with your order. You need to grab this menu by the horns and oh no, I think you’re at the stockyards. Back up. Let go of the horns. Let’s try again.
Pick up the menu, no grabbing necessary, it’s just inanimate paper, and look it over. Everything is $11, so price doesn’t even enter into the decision. Just go for what speaks to you.
Not literally. That would be pretty scary. I mean, if I ordered the chef’s omelet and it starts screaming because I was tearing it apart to eat it, that might put me off my meal. Like the menu, this dish is also inanimate and definitely doesn’t mind you slicing up into the blend of sauteed spinach, mushrooms and eggs covered in salsa roja.
This is just a solid omelet. It’s not flashy, but the salsa soaks into the eggs and give it a really lovely, bright flavor.
Much darker is the chile con carne skillet of two fried eggs on top of Iguana’s smoky chile con carne with a garnish of cheese, tortilla strips and sour cream.
Pop the yolk on one of those eggs and watch it mix with the chile. That’s the stuff. It’s got lots of earthy dark spices, but the eggs rounds off the sharp edges and gives it a rich, luxurious flavor. There are tortillas on the side for dipping or making some messy tacos. They’re your tortillas now. You choose what to do with them.
MILLENNIALS BEWARE! If you ever want to raise a home or buy a family, you cannot order the avocado toast. It’s hard, I know, but these are the rules.
The rest of us? No worries. We can get a pair of crispy slices of baguette topped with egg whites, guac and pico de gallo. And we will, because this is simple and wonderful.
Of course Iguana is going to have good guacamole. Of course they know their way around delicious pico. I was concerned the egg whites would be boring, but they’re really just added protein. There’s plenty of flavor to go around.
Mexican toast, on the other hand, is like nothing else on the menu. This is for your friend who cannot fathom a brunch without pancakes. The cooks take cinnamon bread and add a cornflake crust before topping it with caramel and whipped cream.
When this comes out of the kitchen, the speakers spontaneously begin playing “Oh Yeah” by Yello and people at other tables turn and lower their sunglasses.
But the winner of the prestigious What Greg Will Order Next Time He Goes To Iguana Award goes to…
[Skillet Enchiladas could not be here to accept the award because they are currently being digested in Greg’s stomach. Accepting the award on their behalf is Greg Elwell.]
Wow! Wow! What an honor! I’ve got a few people to thank. Uh...the chefs at Iguana, we couldn’t have done this without you. The chorizo filled enchiladas were perfect, tender and with just the right spice. Whoever cooked the eggs, you’re the real MVP. Those yolks were just perfectly runny. The bartender who made the El Jefe, I love you. Jenny and Bryan Grigsby, who invited me to brunch, you will never be forgotten. To my kids, you should be in bed right now! Or not. It’s the Internet. People will read this at different times of day. Thank you! Good night!