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TLO Restaurant Review: Firelake Fry Bread Taco

As we stood in line at Firelake Fry Bread Taco, 1568 Gordon Cooper Dr. in Shawnee, I explained to my longtime friend Dustin that no matter how many times I try and, sadly, continue to try, I just can’t get my fry bread right. It’s always too small, too crunchy, too greasy, or too burnt. Dustin, a member of the Creek Nation, has suffered in similar ways.

I guess that makes this place—probably the perfect Oklahoman restaurant—an absolute for people like us.

Even though it was originally created for our actual survival, fry bread has become something more to many Natives: a healing plate of delicious heritage that allows a person to express their beautiful pride while having a bountiful dinner, served in many ways, most of which are on the menu at Firelake.

For example, I started off with a Spicy Meat Pie ($3.99) that immediately burned my mouth as I was a little too eager to try it. Regardless, it was a fantastical mix of meat, cheeses, potatoes, green chiles and jalapenos, packed into a tight bit of that magical bread, golden fried and served in a container with the word “spicy” scrawled across it.

After painfully waiting the few minutes for it to cool down a bit, once it was there, I ate it like a man in cool love, slowly embracing the delights and enjoying the tastes of the vaunted meat pie, the spices perfect for my still flaming mouth. Dustin, who ordered the non-spicy variation, was off in his own world as well, eyes closed as he savored his successive bites.

I ordered a side of Corn Soup ($3.99) to lubricate my insides before the fry bread taco went in there, and while it was momentarily filling, it was also a little bland; I poured a small cup of leftover green chiles into the bowl however and, after a rigorous and righteous stir, it blossomed into the perfect elixir that I had to stop myself from finishing.

And that was a great idea, because I needed plenty of room for the Nishnabe Taco ($6.99), a hulking beast with a sturdy base of plump fry bread that is truly some of the best in this rarified business; while I originally craved the bison they served, they ran out earlier in the day, so I settled on the ground beef, which, really, was just as good this evening. I just wanted that taco!

But it was the extras where Firelake really shone brightly, a menu where you can make the taco truly your own. In addition to the heavy meat, I dropped pinto beans, pepper jack cheese, green chiles and jalapenos right on top, satisfying every hungry need I had. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t beat this.

The biggest surprise on the night, however, was a dessert style of frybread: the Fry Bread with Fresh Fruit ($3.99) topping. As it was laid out before me—a solid piece of warm fry bread covered in rich strawberries with a large dollop of whipped cream on top—it was like a continual gift from the Great Spirit directly to my belly in need of sweets.

As we were gathering up our trash and about to head out, I made the observation that, all these years later, it’s truly amazing what something simple like fry bread can do and, thankfully, continues to do. You can't take that away from us. Cómpralo ya!


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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