Casa Perico is a great Okla-mex pick.
How do you know if you’re eating at an Okla-mex restaurant? Here’s my simple test. Do they include chips, salsa, cheese sauce, flour tortillas, corn tortillas, and sopapillas as a part of every meal at no extra charge? If so, it’s Okla-mex.
Naturally, OKC has a lot of very good Okla-mex restaurants like Chelinos, Poblano Grill, Alfredo’s, La Luna and everyone’s super-crowded favorite, Ted’s. So it’s a very serious endeavor to name a favorite among so many worthy competitors. But here, Oklahoma City, is my bold Okla-mex pick: Casa Perico.
To me, there are really just two factors that make or break an Okla-mex restaurant — salsa and fajitas. Let’s start with the salsa. It’s good. It’s flavorful, chunky, and with just the right amount of heat. I can’t say that it’s far and away better than every other place’s salsa, but it can hold its own. I do have to say that Ted’s makes a really great salsa and I might even rate theirs just a notch higher. Which wouldn’t be good for Casa Perico if salsa were the only factor — but it’s not.
Fajitas are what clench the number one spot for Perico. Beef and chicken fajitas to be specific. You see, it seems to be a trend at most other Okla-mex places to serve their fajitas dripping in whatever sauce or marinade was used for flavor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the flavor and tenderness that the marinade brings, but I just don’t like to see the meat and onions swimming in it when it’s served. It’s not only unappealing, it’s just plain messy.
But Perico serves it up right. Individual strips of tender, moist and flavorful meat are laid out on top of a bed of seared onions and peppers, lightly carmelized but still crisp. All of it sizzling on a flat cast iron skillet, mouth-watering and free from excess liquid. What I love about these fajitas is that the vegetables have a chance to shine. Unlike most places where onions and peppers are basically turned into mush from bathing in a marinade all the way to the table, Perico somehow packs in the flavor while keeping everything fresh and crisp.
Build them up on flour or corn tortillas, and add any of the included side items including guacamole, sour cream, pico, grated cheese, rice and beans. Casa Perico also gets some extra points for offering a variety of side item options including steamed corn and several other types of beans. And, of course, you get all of the Okla-mex extras included.
So let’s talk about the value. With the heavy competition, most Okla-mex places tend to run in about the same price range. Casa Perico offers a variety of lunch specials in the $5.50-$8 range with a lunch order of fajitas ringing in at $7.99. My wife and I have actually split the lunch portion before and it’s definitely enough food for two people. Most likely it’s not as much food as most people expect to eat at an Okla-mex place but with all of the free chips and tortillas, it’s easily as much food as a person needs. Sometimes, though, we upgrade to the single order of fajitas ($12.99) and share with our son as well.
A note about sharing: the Casa Perico menu shows a $2 fee for sharing plates, but in our experience it is only applied some of the time. More times than not, they don’t charge it, and what a great deal! But even when they do, the value is still good — two of us for $9.99 or a family of three for $14.99 (they have never charged us to share with our 4 year old son). With all of the free stuff they give you, I certainly understand a charge for sharing plates, though I would expect it more on a lunch plate, which is obviously geared for one person, than on a single order which is way too much food for one. But that’s another story.
Well, OKC, we’re blessed with a ton of great, local Okla-mex restaurants. The competition is tight, and there are many places worth visiting and deserving of praise. I’m sure there will come a time when another one gets reviewed and recommended on this site. But for now, I had to start off with my favorite. Enjoy!