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Margarita's Mexican Restaurant

7800 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 848-8394

Margarita's on N. May south of Wilshire

Margarita's is a small restaurant that is quite popular because it not only offers the "Tex-Mex" food many Americans have come to expect from north side OKC restaurants, but also dishes that give patrons a taste of the owner's home state of Zacatecas, Mexico. Many people who do not even know the difference appreciate the down home style of Margarita's in both food and decor.

The owner points out that everything is made fresh from scratch, while some other restaurants have the habit of preparing items ahead of time in large batches (including one in which he worked before starting Margarita's). I would have to state that everything does seem to be quite fresh. I think the restaurant is trying more to provide consistent quality than to offer a huge menu that might have some hits and misses.

Mexican restaurants in north Oklahoma City fall under the general category of "Tex-Mex," and have a sameness in the menu and the flavors just about anywhere you go. I noticed some of this at Margarita's, with the Salsa tasting just about like the ones everywhere else. Although the complimentary bowl of Queso was better than at most other restaurants, this is still a Tex-Mex tradition that is not followed in Mexico or other parts of the U.S.

The drink menu began to give me some hope that Margarita's would be a little more authentic than other north side restaurants. Horchata was available, and I was apprehensive that this would be another "dumbed down" item as I thought the salsa was. The horchata was freshly made and quite delicious, though, somewhat to my surprise. The real test was that after sitting for a while the ingredients began to separate, with some cinnamon and other items dropping to the bottom as they would in the real Mexican version if you do not keep the drink stirred with your straw.

Margarita's salsa picosa
Margarita's spicy salsa can be requested

The next good sign was the large bowl of Salsa Picosa that came out when I asked for something spicier than the bowl of salsa that had been placed on the table. This was truly hot and truly good. Like the salsas served in the better Mexican restaurants it seemed freshly made, and certainly did not come from a can or a bottle.

The food became more understandable when I learned the owners were from Zacatecas and had brought many recipes with them. While the majority of customers probably want and expect the items to which they are accustomed in other restaurants, Margarita's offers items not found in most other establishments, and is more representative of the type of food that would be served in Mexico.

Combination plate
Combination plate with tamal, chile relleno, fajita enchilada, rice, and beans

The Chile Relleno is a pretty typical Mexican dish found in most restaurants in OKC. The ones I have tried at Margarita's used a mild chile with flavorful Mexican style cheese, and was overall a good item--in fact probably one of the better rellenos in Oklahoma. Some authentic rellenos can be quite greasy but this was not so--just cheesy and delicious. In this case it may be a good thing for the chile relleno to be a little less authentic than it could be (some of the greasiest rellenos I have eaten have been in Mexico).

Tamales here are fresher and have a richer flavor than the typical ones served in Tex-Mex restaurants. The one I tried here was permeated with red chile, and was worthy of a Christmas or New Year's celebration at which the tamal is a requisite.

Enchiladas seemed totally Tex-Mex, and bore little resemblance to ones I have seen south of the border. The Fajita Enchilada was not really an enchilada at all. With no chile on top it did not fit the definition of to "en-chile-ar" or to top it off with some type of chile. Instead it was more like a burrito with sour cream and cheese on top. The Beef Fajita meat inside, though, was so good it did not matter whether the dish was authentic or not. Of course, I do not think fajitas are at all authentic, seeming to be popular almost exclusively north of the border. This whole thing was a blow for Margarita's status of trying to serve authentic Mexican food, but it was a treat for the taste buds.

Chicken mole
Chicken mole Zacatecas style

The Chicken Mole was listed under the "Specialties," and I think this is where some of the more authentic dishes can be found (all seemed to be meat dishes). Using a mild red chile sauce it tasted much like mole I have had in Queretaro style restaurants (another state in central Mexico), except not as spicy.

I should mention that the Flour Tortillas that came with the meal were quite good, and are almost a requirement to successfully eat a plate of mole.

Carne asada tacos
Carne asada tacos

Tacos de Carne Asada had a lightly spiced good quality meat (as opposed to the more heavily spiced fajita meat) and were excellent in their simplicity of the meat, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. They came with flour tortillas that were better than average, but I thought they were better with corn tortillas (these will be brought to the table at no charge). Carne asada is found in a wide area of Mexico, but I am sure the owner has a special way of cooking it that makes it better than average.

Tortilla soup
Tortilla soup

Tortilla Soup comes with a tomato flavored broth that seems to be full of "secret herbs and spices" that make it one of the best around. The main issue with ordering tortillas soup is not whether it will be good (I think it is one of the best), but whether it will be large enough for a meal without ordering something else. I would say give it a try--you may be surprised how filling it can be. There is a substantial amount of chicken, and the tortillas provide a good amount of substance.

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Cuisine: Mexican Zacatecas
Cost: $$
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 2, 2008

Number of Visits: 3

Best Items
Fajitas, Tortilla Soup, Carne Asada, Salsa

Special Ratings
Carne Asada Tacos:
Chile Relleno:
Cheese Enchilada:
Chicken Mole:
Tortilla Soup:
Refried Beans:
Salsa: spicy