Enchiladas Guatemaltecas at Cocina Guatelinda in Oklahoma City

Cocina Guatelinda: a better taste of authentic Guatemalan cuisine [closed]

by | February 21, 2010 | 26 Comments

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Cocina Guatelinda is located at 3043 NW 16th Street (near Drexel) across from El Mariachi Super Mercado in west OKC (map). They are open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11am to 9pm and Friday through Sunday from 8am to 9pm. Closed on Wednesday. You can reach them at 405.601.1300 or visit their website . They accept MC, Visa and Discover.

Exterior of Cocina Guatelinda in Oklahoma City

PLEASE NOTE: Cocina Guatelinda is no longer in business.

I first caught whiff of Cocina Guatelinda from a co-worker who had told me of a great little Latin American restaurant serving up a delicious, spicy soup that knocked his socks off. I tried their Sunday stew special and, though I didn’t find it to be spicy at all, it still made for a great meal and an interesting dining challenge. I’ll describe this experience in more detail in a bit.

The restaurant is designed with an open-kitchen concept. The last time I visited a place this open was at 105 Degrees where you can literally see the chefs making the food right out in the open. If you’re the paranoid type, this is great because you’ll know if anyone does something unpleasant to your food. Seriously though, it’s really cool to see your food being prepared out in the open, especially in a restaurant setting since you can see all the hard work being put into making your order. The experience is akin to being in your mom’s kitchen and watching her cook dinner.

Every patron here is treated to a fresh basket of chips, tortillas, black bean sauce, a roasted chile salsa, and escabeche. If you’ve never heard the term escabeche, it’s made of pickled jalapeños, carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage. This side dish is a specialty of the mom in this family run place and it goes deliciously well with everything I’ve had here. You’ll also notice that the tortillas aren’t your typical store bought Mexican variety. These are particularly thick and have some weight to them and you can definitely tell each one is uniquely handmade. While you’re waiting for your food, you can also catch up on your monthly dose of Latin American music videos playing on either of the two flat panel TV’s hanging on the walls.

I’ve had the opportunity to try the Tuesday Special — Jocon  (chicken simmered in tomatillo sauce for $6.99) and the Carne Guisada (beef and potatoes in sauce for $6.99). Both of these dishes are served with potato salad (carrots, potatoes, green beans and onions) and rice pilaf. The Jocon came with two small pieces of chicken and left me wanting a bit more meat, but with all the other food on the table I was still able to satisfy my big appetite. The Carne Guisada had a good flavor to it and was definitely fulfilling. All the flavors from the dishes to the sides and salsa all meld together nicely and you can tell everything is made with a mother’s touch.

Now, on to the stew. It has been a while since I’ve eaten a meal and looked like a complete idiot trying to figure out how to eat it. This was the case while I was trying to eat their stew.

With my spidey sense, I could feel that some of the workers were laughing at me while I was trying to eat their Sunday special, Caldo de Gallina Criolla or hen stew ($7.99). The meal comes in a bowl on top of a larger dish and is filled with hen along with ginormous chunks of carrots, chayote (kind of like a summer squash), yucca and potatoes. It also comes with a separate plate of rice, diced onions, cilantro, a wedge of avocado and lime, not to mention all the other condiments I mentioned earlier.

Overwhelmed with so many possible ways to consume this delicious goodness, I thought, “Hey! There are tortillas in a basket and meat in the stew, why not make a taco?!” I later realized that traditionally these tortillas are treated like you would a treat a basket of bread at an Italian restaurant. That is, for dipping in sauce and eating — not so much for making stew tacos.

I asked my server what the proper stew-eating technique was, and I think her response was something like “Yes! It’s very good, yeah?” After I was unable to conquer the language barrier, I just continued working at my stew with my taco technique. Fortunately, the son in the family who works there noticed that I was about to make a mess of my white shirt and instructed me on the proper form. I will pass on his advice to you so you can avoid my stew etiquette faux paus.

First, you get all the chunks of vegetables and put them around the outside of the bowl (that’s why the plate it’s resting on is so large). Then you put the rice, onions and cilantro found on the other plate into the soup according to your preference. Give a nice squeeze of the lime and you’re ready to eat. Don’t forget to grab some of the tortillas and dip them into the bean sauce or salsa.  Simple, right? Now you don’t have to be a fool like me when trying their daily soup specials. By the way, the son assisting me also noted that Monday’s Caldo de Res (beef stew) was his favorite.

Not everyone is a fan of horchata (a cinnamon rice water beverage), but I usually try to get it with my Mexican food and have been quite disappointed with a lot of the places around town. At some places it’s too sweet or not sweet enough or just straight out awful. But Cocina Guatelinda serves horchata that’s just right, and they also gave me free refills! That made me a particularly happy camper. I hate having to pace myself to make sure my horchata lasts for the full meal and Cocina Guatelinda removes that limitation.

If I had the choice between this place and Café Antigua for Guatemalan food, I’d say this place has better flavors and has more reasonable operating hours. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Café Antigua has great food for breakfast, but since they open at 8am and close at 5pm I can never make it in time for a meal during the work week.

I have yet to be disappointed with the food here and will definitely dine here again. If you’ve had the chance to dine here and especially if you have your own special dining technique, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Cocina Guatelinda on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Sam Lee on Sunday, February 21st, 2010. It is filed under:

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  • Cult of Nobody says:
    February 21st, 2010 at 7:48 pm   

    I have driven by this place a couple of times but never at a time when I’ve had a chance to stop.

    Thanks for the review. I’m gonna get over there and give it a try.

  • Ryan S. says:
    February 22nd, 2010 at 7:22 am   

    As a bariatric success story, I am always looking for new soups and stews, due to the obvious eating limitations that come with my new lifestyle. This review is so convincing, that I will definitely be trying this place very soon.

    Also, I coincidentally saw two commercials for Cocina Guatelinda while randomly flipping channels on TV last night, and remarked on how much I love an open kitchen. I can’t wait to make my first visit.

    Thanks,

    Ryan S.

  • Kevin M says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 2:37 am   

    Cocina Guatelinda is a wonderful place to eat with a friendly staff. The family who owns it are very nice people who are there to make your dining experience a special one. I have gone there about four times, love the hours since I live in Norman and work nights and sleep during the day because most of the other Guatemalan establishments are just open 8-5. I have eaten the Carne Guisada (beef cooked with vegetables), Carne Adobada (marinated pork chops), Carne Asada (grilled steak), and Pipian, the National Dish of Guatemala that I got with chicken. Also, try the Rellenitos, a plantain with a chocolate black bean sauce, they are delish. Good horchata and the guatemalan salsa is excellent. Black bean salsa is unique. I also recommend the Guatemalan prepared beer, it is excellent as well. Come prepared to eat one of the best Latin meals you have ever eaten unless you are in that country of origin. I might put it up with Cafe do Brasil and El Pollon as the top Latin non-Mexican restaurant in OKC.

  • Kevin says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 6:32 am   

    I’ve been staying well south of I-40 for a spell. You’ve provided a tasty sounding reason to change up the routine. Thanks, again.

  • SSSSSNAKES! says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 1:13 pm   

    Clean, bright and open space, friendly staff, food was served quickly. I enjoyed Hilachas (Saturday Special) which was served with the best potato salad I have ever had (which is nothing like typical American potato salad) and a nice Horchata. Also, the hand made tortillas are very thick and moist. Looking forward to trying the Caldo de Gallina Criolla (Sunday Special) this weekend!

  • Tim says:
    April 16th, 2010 at 1:21 pm   

    Finally got out to try this place today. I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Nice, inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and great food that noticeably tastes home made.

    I had the Carne Guisada with rice and fried potatoes. It was all excellent and very filling, but what I loved the most were the hand-made corn tortillas. I love corn tortillas and have never found really good ones in OKC. Usually they are just the regular, mechanically pressed ones you find. But here, they are thick and they have a great texture and flavor. Plus, you can watch the people make them while you eat! I would visit here just for the tortillas.

    And Sam, I heeded your advice about eating methods but then finally just decided I didn’t care if they laughed at me, I had to put everything in those awesome tortillas.

    Please, people, try this place. It’s a great find.

  • Sam says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 9:30 pm   

    I’m glad you liked it Tim…the place is money, but chef ryan said there’s a better place than even there. I forgot the name if the place off he top of my head.

  • KC says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 1:07 pm   

    This is a good place to dine: it’s fresh, terrific value, and the food has good flavor and distinction. The Jocon was way too saucy, which overpowered the flavor of the chicken – if you reserve yourself not to eat too much of the tomatillo sauce you’ll be just fine. The carne guisada and carne asada were terrific. The hand-made tortillas, black bean dip, and guajillo pepper salsa round out a fine meal and makes you want to come back for more.

  • wimpy says:
    June 5th, 2010 at 11:03 pm   

    Very good food friendly staff and patrons as well, I had the Pepian it is delicious ! I should try something else but in two trips I have had it both times, delicious tortillas made as you watch, everything fresh and delicious !

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    June 8th, 2010 at 2:25 pm   

    Well it only took me 3 1/2 months to finally get over and try this place…… Why did I wait so long??? It was terrific!!!

    Refills on the horchata…. I don’t even like beans and I enjoyed the black bean dip… Handmade tortillas were thick and hot and soaked up lots of juice from whatever you dipped them in.

    Think I’ll go back next Monday and try the caldo de res.

  • Pam says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 3:57 pm   

    Hubs and I tried Cocina Guatelinda on Sunday. Though tempted by several enticing breakfast items prepared Guatemalan style, we opted for a platter of 3 papusas, accompanied by a spicy relish/slaw, and a Sunday special–Caldo de Mariscos. We enjoyed both and look forward to sampling their other menu offerings. The “open kitchen” enabled us to watch the Latin ladies prepare our lunch. The surroundings were pleasant and the staff very friendly and helpful. I will return often. Please note that this cocina is closed on Wednesday.

  • Sam says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:02 pm   

    Pam, thanks for the update on the business hours. That’s such a random day to close.

  • jusumgirl says:
    June 20th, 2010 at 6:56 pm   

    We went on a Saturday. They guy who owns it is very nice. Accidentally ordered a dessert for an appetizer, but it was still really good. When I saw the lady making tortillas from fresh masa, I knew I was going to be happy. My husband had the bistec ranchero and I had a pork chop. All was delish and we are already thinking about what we’ll have next time!

  • Think global, spend local says:
    July 19th, 2010 at 7:47 am   

    Guatelinda and familia add perfectly to the depth of cultural in our OKC. Besides sharing authentic cuisine, Guatelinda has managed more than running a good clean kitchen and clean food; she’s also brought her brand of happiness and hospitality. I always feel at home in Guatelinda’s kitchen, like being with a good neighbor. The stews and soups are always what the doctor ordered, but my favorite is the Guatemalan style tostada lunch plate – filling and healthy without being too heavy. Thank you Gautelinda, don’t change a thing, I’ll be back!

  • Lacey Elaine Dillard says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 12:27 am   

    I live very nearby and have eaten here more often than I’d like to admit. I’m looking forward to the nice patio in upcoming months. My menu favorites:

    – near daily stew specials (I recommend the spoon while eating)
    – papusas
    – carne guisada
    – pacaya envuelta
    – tamales

    Watch for the tall, and usually smiling, young women who seems to fill the roll of maitre d. She’s so friendly that she may have said hello before you opened your menu, and I regret that I don’t know her name! She’s full of info and always seems pleased to discuss the restaurant and food with you. This place gets the highest marks possible from me!

  • Cristela says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 1:56 pm   

    Ever since reading this post, my family and I have become regulars! And every time I go, it’s busier than the last time I was there.

    The caldo de gallina is wonderful as is the Hilachas. The folks are so nice, I’m glad to see they are doing well.

  • Rick Cain says:
    October 28th, 2010 at 1:08 am   

    You haven’t lived until you have tried the Caldo. It comes in a huge bowl and you’re hard pressed to finish the entire thing. I’ve tried 3 times and failed so far.

  • Susan says:
    November 3rd, 2010 at 4:07 pm   

    Pork and Cheese Pupusas…yum!

  • Kirsten says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:53 pm   

    Got to try this place for the first time a few days ago and loved it! The waitress was friendly and helpful, the atmosphere relaxed, and the loroca pupusas with curtido were exactly right for a Saturday brunch–delicious and filling. I’m already wanting to go back!

  • Tiger Mike says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 3:25 pm   

    I had a light business day at work, so I was able to drive crosstown and stop by for my first visit. My waiter and the gentleman running the place were very pleasant, pointing out specific aspects of the menu and answering my questions. The Black Bean Salsa and chips came out, along with iced tea (they have a number of drink options, but I decided not to go exotic. I guess I’ll try the Horchata on my next visit. I noticed the phrase “Ask 4 Escobeche” on the white board, so I requested it, and was very pleased with the mildly spicy pickled vegetables. The owner told me he doesn’t routinely bring it out with every order because he was throwing too much of it away (I can’t imagine why something as delicious as this would be wasted!). He sure didn’t have to pick up any of mine–I ate every bit! Then, it was time for Carne Guisada with rice and Black Beans. My dinner was very flavorful, the ingredients were fresh, and the handmade Tortillas were absolutely fantastic! I had a nice conversation with the owner, who was aware of this website, and returned to work very full, having paid just under ten bucks. I very much look forward to my return visit. A word of advice: don’t wear a light-colored shirt and consume Black Beans if you’re a sloppy eater!

  • Devon says:
    June 25th, 2011 at 3:58 pm   

    Hubby and I ate here for the 1st time today, and simply put it was the nicest, friendliest and yummiest lunch we have had in a long time.
    You can’t go wrong eating here.

  • Christi says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 9:55 am   

    Apparently this restaurant has closed. The number is a recording, and sadly – several people I have sent there have reported that it is closed for business.

    I had this comment on here, but it disappeared. If there is a new contact number, could the Eataroundokc.com site owners try to post it? If it is, in fact, closed, can someone tell me who to contact at deals.eataroundokc.com about vouchers that were purchased and now are unable to be used for this restaurant? Thanks!

  • Tim says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 10:13 am   

    Hi Christi, we’ve been keeping an eye on this as well. The signs say “Closed for Plumbing” which seems to indicate it could be temporary. We are trying to determine for sure if they are closed for good or just temporarily. I will post more info when we have it, but it could take us a while to get the full information here. Thanks for checking.

  • Tim says:
    August 22nd, 2011 at 7:53 pm   

    Well, I’m sad to report that Cocina Guatelinda has closed permanently. This was one of my personal favorites and so I’m very sad to see it go.

    If you purchased one of our deals to Cocina Guatelinda and if you have not yet redeemed it, you may email eataroundokc@tippr.com to request a credit or refund.

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