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El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant

4491 N.W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 949-0140

El Sombrero at NW 50th and Meridian

One good sign a Mexican restaurant might be authentic is that is serves horchata, one of the agua fresca drinks I enjoy so much with this type of food. Unfortunately, El Sombrero was out of the drink on my first visit, so I did not get to try it. The fact that they have horchata on the menu, though, and the fact that one of the three El Sombrero locations is in south Oklahoma City, is a sign that this restaurant does not serve the typical "gringo" food I have been used to in north OKC.

In fact, the menu offered enough choices that I was not sure what to try. The Parrilla, Tacos, and "Especialidades" sections of the menu listed quite a few meat choices. Several specialty enchiladas were served, both with and without meat, including one with chile verde. It really seemed as if almost everything would be good.

Tacos al carbon
Tacos al carbon with corn tortillas

Six types of tacos were served, and I was told the first three listed were recommended for those who wanted tacos "Mexican style." The tacos al pastor and tacos de asada are ones I rarely see on Oklahoma City menus, and did seem to be made the true Mexican style.

I chose the first taco plate listed on the menu, Tacos al Carbon, made with grilled steak. This is a specialty of northern Mexico, with spices and marinade that gives the meat extra flavor. I thought the meat at El Sombrero was very good both in quality and flavor. The tacos come with flour tortillas, but can be ordered with corn. These same tacos generally come with avocado, grilled onions, cilantro, and other condiments in the versions I am used to getting in El Paso, and because the ones at El Soombrero did not have these extras they did not earn my highest rating. They were enjoyable, though, because of the meat.

The Rice was excellent to the point of being one of the best I have eaten. Many restaurants can prepare good rice during the lunch hour when it is fresh, but El Sombrero had a similar quality in the evening.

The Refried Beans were good, and tasted as if they had been made with vegetable oil.

The Queso tasted like the normal one served in Oklahoma, and nothing like the chile con queso I have found in Mexico and along the border. Being served free, though, it is hard to complain about El Sombrero's version.

The Salsa was surprising in both its flavor and spiciness (and was surprising in a good way). I thought it was similar to salsas served in El Paso, except it was more watery. El Sombrero had a "secret" salsa, though (you have to ask for it) that was spicier and not watered down like the regular one. I enjoyed the flavor more than the regular one, except it was so hot I could not eat much of it. This "salsa picosa" was full of whole chile chunks, tomatoes, and other goodies that made this one of the best salsas in OKC.

One of my big problems was with the Chips. Even though they tasted very good, and had a good thickness, they left a strong corn oil aftertaste. I like the fact that El Sombrero uses vegetable oil in its cooking, but I think they probably use too much.

A Sopaipilla is served free as a dessert, and this was one of the few in OKC I thought was worth saving your appetite for. In New Mexico sopaipillas are used as part of the dinner if you want some "bread" with the meal, and most restaurants that turn them into dessert seem to have a corresponding drop in quality as they pile on the sugar and cinnamon. The one at El Sombrero, though, was one of the few I have tried in OKC that I think would be worthy to serve in the traditional way as part of the meal (if they would leave off the sugar). I also enjoyed the fact that the honey was in a bottle rather than those little packages that are almost impossible to open and make a huge mess once you manage to do so.

At El Sombrero I was unenthusiastic about some of the little things--the chips, the queso, the beans, etc. As far as I can tell, though, the food is quite good and seems to be authentic. Any restaurant that can serve salsa as good as the one here can't be too bad.

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 20

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer
Additional Locations: 2624 W. Britton Rd.; 2838 S. I-35 Service Rd.

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Jul. 8, 2008

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items
Tacos al Carbon, Salsa, Rice

Special Ratings
Tacos al Carbon:
Refried Beans:
Rice:
Chips:
Salsa:
Salsa: special
Queso:
Sopaipillas:



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