My feelings about Ted’s Café Escondido, the most popular Mexican restaurant in Oklahoma City due to its safely Caucasian locality, have long been documented but, if I am to be completely honest, I have actually never eaten there. Instead, my intense dislike of the place was mostly based around the fact that people always be all up in my face about the joint.
But God works in funny ways. My (current) girlfriend is Mexican and lives on the Southside. She enjoys the music of Marco Antonio Solis, teaches Latin dance and carries a straight-razor in her hair, should I ever need back-up. When we first started dating, I thought that this was my ticket to all that delicious SW 29th comida, from the Cubanos at El Chavo Super Tortas to the authentic sopas at Berta’s Buffet. But, in a twist worthy of an O. Henry story, turns out her favorite Mexican restaurant is Ted’s Café Escondido, 2836 NW. 68th St. So guess where I’ve been eating recently…
To be fair, Ted’s isn’t that bad. Is it worth standing in a long line outside for hours on end with well-to-do types huffing at their watches, especially when there’s a lower-cost and comparable Chelino’s down the street? Probably not. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nowhere near a bad as I made it out to be in my head.
For example, I was pleased to find out that most of the wait-staff and kitchen were actual Latinos. I had always pictured some kid who named Tucker, who more than likely got kicked out of Bishop McGuinness for selling Adderall, back there cooking my burritos. And the overhead music, while it was of the Cuban variety, was at least in Spanish, putting forth the idea that actual effort was used by whomever turned it to the Sirius XM station.
As soon as we were seated, we were brought a full set-up of fresh tortilla chips, fresh flour tortillas, “atomic” salsa and even pickled carrots and onions. That’s a rarity in even the most authentico of eateries. Our waitress was extremely attentive and kept the queso flowing like the mighty Rio Grande.
Wanting to try one of their signature dishes but unable to morally eat anything with the name “Ted's Favorite 'Dilla!” I settled on the “Must-Try Best Mexican Tacos” ($13.99) with a side of corn con crema and pappas Mexicanos, or creamed corn and mashed potatoes with bits of green chile in them, if you will. My significant other went for the more traditional cheese enchiladas with chili con carne ($12.99), paired with a grilled vegetable medley and corn con crema as well.
The Mexican Tacos were alright for the most part. The grilled beef and chicken were tops, but the corn tortillas were rather rubbery. I know they were going for a street tacos kind of thing here, and I commend Ted’s for trying, but the bumps and bruises just weren’t there. The corn con crema and pappas Mexicanos, however, were absolutely delightful, a great Latin twist on a pair of European favorites. It’s like there was a Colonialism party in my mouth and everyone’s invited! (Except other Mexicans, Native Americans, and Blacks, of course.)
Mi novia’s cheese enchiladas were fine as well. I have had better and I have definitely had worse, the worst being those microwavable El Charrito dinners where the refried beans get all hard and crusty while the Spanish rice stays a frozen block no matter how many times you microwave it. So, in other words, Ted’s cheese enchiladas are a definite step up from a shitty TV dinner. De nada.
Now I don’t know if Ted’s Café Escondido really deserves to be named the “best” Mexican restaurant in town, as per the Gazette’s readers, but in the end, I guess it really doesn’t matter anymore, because apparently it’s where I’m going to be eating for a while. Oh, the things we’ll do to ensure we won’t die alone.
Louis Fowler doesn't need your Mexican restaurant recommendations, but knows you're going to put them in the comments anyway. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisFowler.