I was not born in Oklahoma, but I came here pretty young and never really left. Del City. Edmond. Oklahoma City. Tulsa. A pretty pitiful variety, all things considered. If you read that and thought, “Why should I listen to what this guy has to say about food?” well, I don’t understand why anybody listens to me about anything, so it’s up to you.
Aaaaaanyway, a few years back I started dating a very lovely woman who works in Norman and lives in South OKC and so I’ve been spending more and more my eating time south of I-40. There’s a lot of nice restaurants that get a lot of nice coverage in North OKC. South OKC? Lot of nice restaurants. Not so much nice coverage.
So here’s what’s happening with I Ate Oklahoma: This is going to be a mostly southside blog. I’m happy to spotlight little places on the northside that are doing amazing food but need help getting out the word, but I think it’s time to leave all the heavy-hitting restaurants with big ad budgets to everyone else. You know those places are good. You don’t need me to tell you.
Now that I’ve bored you to tears, let’s talk about Tony’s Tacos.
Jess (the very lovely woman who agreed to marry me) drove past this place near SW 29th and Western and decided we should try it. The main draw? It’s a drive-in. While Sonic’s boards have gone super high tech, Tony’s Tacos just has a few stalls to pull your car into and a little speaker box with a button for you to order.
Oh, yeah, they take credit cards. Just thought you should know. That’s probably going to come up a lot.
Tacos are $2.30 each and they’re taqueria-style tacos—small soft corn shells, tons of meat, diced onions, cilantro. We got the asada and the barbacoa, because those are what I like. I’m really sorry, but I’m just not into eating stomach or tripe. If that’s what you’re looking for in your taco reviews, I wish you all the best on some other website.
The asada was a little dry for Jess the first time around, but it’s got a gorgeous smoky grill flavor to it that I loved so much I got a crispy taco full of it on the next visit. The al pastor, similarly, is done in that small-dice fashion so that each piece has a nice little bit of crust and a toothsome chew. Between the two, I’d probably choose the asada for the flavor.
The barbacoa is soft and juicy with a few little pieces of fat that just kind of smoosh and disappear on the tongue. Sumptuous is the word. I’m kind of a barbacoa freak, though, so I got it in the quesabirria ($8.29), too.
Someone pointed out that on Tony’s old menu #12 was a quesadilla. And it’s kind of still a quesadilla, honestly. It’s three pieces of quesadilla, but the way it’s grilled and the flavor on the outside of the tortilla makes me think they’re creating a hybrid of sorts. Melty cheese and meat inside a large flour tortilla is a quesadilla, but the whole thing seems like it was dunked in flavorful fatty taco juices before it was grilled, giving it that greasy crispiness of quesabirria tacos.
Oh, and it comes with avocado on the side. That’s not a big deal, I guess, but these guys must be the avocado whisperers because every slice I’ve had there was perfectly ripe.
The empanadas ($7.36 for two) are filled with a blend of ground meat and gooey cheese, all wrapped up in a buttery fried shell. Worth the visit alone.
I thought the flautas de pollo ($7.37) were good. The chicken was juicy, which doesn’t always happen with flautas, because usually the meat is cooked first, then rolled in the tortilla, then deep fried, resulting in filling that’s kind of chalky. Not so at Tony’s. Whether it was a fluke or something they do, these were crisp outside and still retained a little moisture inside after cooking.
I also got crispy tacos ($2.07 each) and they fried the shells themselves. I know that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but it makes all the difference in the world. They were sturdy. They had crunch and flavor. They didn’t crumble just because I took a few bites. I wish they were a little more loaded with lettuce and cheese, but I’m still going to get them next time.
The fries were meh, but the Tony’s Burger ($9.21) was a delight. Beef cooked on a griddle tastes more intense to me and the cheese, poblano pepper, grilled mushrooms, and guacamayo made every bite just a little better. Next time I might try the La Texana, which swaps out mushrooms for a hot link. I like hot dogs just fine, but generally not on my hamburgers. Hot dog spice tends to overwrite the other meat flavors for me, but a hot link might just work.
Oh, the strawberry agua fresca was delightful, but the horchata was lacking. Too thin for my tastes and not enough cinnamon flavor.
Tony’s Tacos is a treat. The selection of meats (asada, pollo, barbacoa, pastor, birria, tripa, buche) isn’t as varied as some taquerias, but the execution on the menu items they do have is solid enough that I’ll make a return trip.
Any other southside spots you’re interested in? Let me know: email@example.com.
And if you know of anybody who might want to advertise on this here weird food website, clue me in. Reviews will continue to come slowly until I can get the site to pay for itself again.