La Oaxaquena Bakery & Restaurant
Many of my fondest childhood memories are infused with the sounds and smells of Mexican markets and restaurants, places with vibrant and colorful decor, filled with the sounds of happy folks laughing and chatting in the foreground and fragrant foods sizzling on the griddle in the background.
I moved from California to Oklahoma in 1992, and soon after that, those memories started to fade. After years of longing for places like those I remembered from long ago, I began exploring the south side of Oklahoma City in hopes of finding something similar. I was amazed at the world I found in existence right across the Oklahoma river from downtown. Plentiful and colorful hand-painted signs with phrases in Spanish directed me, and though as a newcomer I needed the direction, I also felt completely at home, as if I had found a piece of my childhood.
There are so many little gems in this part of town that are worth your attention, but one of my favorites is a place called La Oaxaqueña Bakery & Restaurant. The moment you enter, you are greeted by the wonderful smell of freshly baked pan dulce, Mexican sweet bread. You can join the long line of people from town coming to grab their bollios, a savory Mexican bread that is a shorter version of a baguette, or if you proceed to your left, you can take a seat in the restaurant side of the establishment, always packed with hungry visitors.
As the name suggests, La Oaxaqueña specializes in the cuisine of Oaxaca. Although the restaurant specializes in a very small sample of the region’s vast food offerings, it hits most of the favorites. The Tlayuda is a surprisingly large toasted corn tortilla smothered with refried beans, your choice of meat, shredded lettuce, crema, avocado, queso fresco, and topped with pickled carrots and jalapeños. If you go with a large group, you must order one of these and split with your party. They also have mole negro, widely eaten in the region. You have a choice of mole negro over chicken served with rice and beans, or, as I prefer, as a filling for a large tamale wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf. You can order it with or without a hot cup of Mexican chocolate and buttered bollio, but I’m not sure why anyone would order it without. Another excellent dish is the enchiladas, which come with a choice of red or green sauce and either chicken or cheese. I often crave the cheese enchiladas with red sauce and make my way to La Oaxaqueña on the regular to satisfy that craving. Although everyone has a favorite, you really can’t go wrong with anything here. In fact, the last time I visited, I gave the posole a try and am now completely torn between two, or maybe even three, favorites.
While spending an evening here, it’s not unusual to find a mariachi band playing, karaoke fans singing, or maybe even a conga line running through the restaurant. Along with the great food and aromas, you will find a full house of fun and friendly people enjoying themselves. I hope that you get a chance to give this place a try and add it to your rotation of wonderful and unique restaurants that this vibrant part of our city has to offer.
> La Oaxaqueña Bakery & Restaurant, 741 SW 29th St, Oklahoma City