Chica’s Mexican Cafe: they serve fresh fruit (and other surprises)
Chica’s Mexican Cafe is located in Nichols Hills Plaza at 6482 Avondale Drive in Oklahoma City (map). They are open Monday through Friday 11am to 9pm and Saturday 8am to 9pm. Call them at 405.607.8193.
PLEASE NOTE: Chica’s Mexican Cafe is no longer in business.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant that offers fresh fruit as an alternative to rice and beans. I have to say, I like it. When I saw it on the menu, I knew that Chica’s was unique.
This small restaurant in Nichols Hills Plaza is pretty far off the beaten path. It’s about as far from the main road (Western Ave) as you can get in this little outdoor strip mall. The location was formerly occupied by a sandwich shop called Scotty’s (which, by the way, I loved). Once it changed to Chica’s, I took notice, but never went, until recently.
Cinco de Mayo came along and I naturally wanted to try some Mexican food. One of our readers had recently written to me about Chica’s and I thought, “hey, let’s give it a try.” This reader’s opinion was that Chica’s has done for Mexican food what Iron Starr did for BBQ. I can see that. I might also compare it to Saturn Grill (which, incidentally, is located at the other end of the same shopping center). It’s got that sort of trendy, shabby chic approach that attracts the local urbanites. Chica’s is definitely not trying to be the most “authentic” of Mexican places. Rather, it attempts to bring a creative and eclectic spin on Mexican food in a hip environment.
I chose the “ocean tacos.” My waitress told me they were by far the most popular dish. I chose grilled over fried (it’s great to have a choice as most fish tacos I’ve found around here are fried only). The tacos come with tilapia, a homemade slaw and an avocado green sauce, all wrapped in two soft corn tortillas. They came out piled high. Plenty of food, but light and fresh all the same. The tilapia didn’t have any “fishy” smell to it, which I appreciated. The slaw was fresh and had a great texture. The avocado sauce was smooth and creamy. All in all, they were good, I just wish that they had a bit more zip to them. I would have liked for some spice or flavor to really reach and out grab me. Instead, the flavors were a bit understated. Maybe they were trying not to overpower the fish. I don’t know, but they did leave me hanging a little bit. Still, I ate every last bite on my plate.
You get to choose two side dishes with most of the house specialties and, as I mentioned above, they have some unique options. They have regular or refried black beans, borracho beans, Mexican potatoes, cole slaw and fresh fruit. I chose regular black beans and fresh fruit. The beans were ok, nothing really special, but the fruit was fabulous. A large ramican overflowing with fresh pineapple, canteloupe and grapes. I think fruit and Mexican food really go well together. I wish more places would offer this option.
The rest of the menu at Chica’s looks fairly intriguing as well. Keep in mind, I didn’t try any of these other things, but I’ll give you an idea of what’s available. It’s mostly standard Mexican dishes, but they each seem to have a little something unique. They have breakfast offerings that are served all day including migas, huevos ranchero, and even a fruit plate with honey yogurt. Their house specialties include other interesting options like Chica’s Chicken (fajita chicken sauteed with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted poblanos and jack cheese), and shrimp and poblano enchiladas. They have a few different salads and their own tortilla soup. For dessert, you can choose from tres leches or key lime pie.
Chica’s does serve chips with salsa and cheese sauce to every table. I liked the salsa. It wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I thought it had a good amount of heat without being overpowering. The cheese sauce is better than average, smooth and creamy with a deep flavor instead of watered-down and tasteless (Andrew would approve, I think).
Most meals are in the $8 – $12 range, making it perhaps slightly more expensive than your standard Okla-mex fare. But I don’t know, last time I went to Ted’s I noticed their lunch specials were at $8.95! Casa Perico also charges $7-10 for a lunch item now. I think Chica’s is priced pretty much in line with the major Okla-mex places and, given the quality and uniqueness of their offerings, I think it is worth a try.
Oh, one more thing. Even on a very busy day like Cinco de Mayo, the service was extremely fast. I was quite impressed with the attentiveness of the staff. So, Chica’s has a lot to offer, I think. Let me know what you think about it in the comments.