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Curiosidades Guatemala

1800 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 521-1899

Curiosidades Guatemala restaurant inside the store at N.W. 16th and Indiana

Having spent a summer in Guatemala, I discovered that it was not a big place for restaurants. Most meals are eaten at home, and when people do "eat out" it is usually for special occasions to eat food that is the same or better quality than home made, only without the effort to cook or clean up.

The exception to eating at home seems to be mainly food that comes from the market or street vendors. I think both this and the tradition of home cooked meals fit perfectly into the concept of the restaurant inside Curiosidades Guatemala at the corner of N.W. 16th Street and Indiana Avenue, near downtown Oklahoma City. Curiosidades Guatemala, meaning "curios" or "souvenirs," is the official name of the store, but the sign outside simply reads "Tienda Guatemala" (the Guatemala Store). A sign in the window advertises "Antojitos Guatemaltecos," or lunch specials that vary from day to day. It is partly the variety of items served that makes it so interesting.

A sign in the window states that it is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday. This only applies to the store, however, with the restaurant only being open for lunch Monday through Saturday. Orders are taken at the counter, and a few tables are provided. Drinks are available from coolers in the store, and the whole thing is very much a "serve yourself" operation (just as it would normally be done in Latin America).

The food counter with the selections of the day
The ladies make Christmas tamales while customers get their selections at the food counter

There are usually about a half dozen selections available at the counter, and all come with side dishes. Rice, black beans, and salad are the traditional accompaniments, but other items can be substituted. The menu changes daily, and only a couple of the items I saw looked spicy (most Guatemalan food is not spicy at all).

Pollo guisado
Pollo guisado served at the display counter

I tried the Pollo Guisado, a mild chicken stew with vegetables mixed in. The chicken was tender enough to practically fall off the bone, and I liked the fact that the whole chicken was included (not just dark or light meat). This was a delicious meal of high quality chicken and good seasonings that I thought could have been served in a number of the city's upscale restaurants and would have been considered "fine dining." Of course the rice and beans that came with it gave away the fact that this was Latin American food, but it was food that I think would be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Beef estofada
Beef estofada

Beef Estofada is an example of other choices from the kitchen, and all of the dishes served were some type of meat (I think the exception was chiles rellenos that were not only the sole non-meat dish, but also looked the spiciest).

Salsa is served on the side, and customers can make food as spicy as they want. People who wish to avoid eating spicy food, though, can easily do so.

The hand made Tortillas were another highlight of the meal, and I think have become somewhat well-known at this restaurant. Fresh, home made tortillas are not all that unusual in Latin America and along the border, but they are quite hard to find in Oklahoma City. I thought the ones here were especially good, and offer a definite bonus to any meal eaten at Curiosidades Guatemala.

On my initial visit I saw the ladies in the kitchen area hand making tamales for Christmas, another sign that there is food served here that is somewhat hard to find anywhere else. I think the concept of having home cooking in a restaurant setting works quite well here.

The front of the store is mostly in Spanish, and may be intimidating to some people to try, but once inside everyone is friendly and they speak English (unlike many similar small restaurants I find in El Paso where only Spanish is spoken). The main problem is just finding out that this restaurant even exists, and I probably would not have done so without the help of BigKev, who seems to be able to find many of the area's hidden gems.

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Cuisine: Guatemalan
Cost: $
Hours: Lunch: Mon.-Sat.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking

Most Recent Visit
Dec. 19, 2008

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items
Pollo Guisado, Tortillas

Special Ratings
Pollo Guisado:
Black Beans: