Mi Familia Restaurante: some cultural flavor for Bethany
Mi Familia Restaurante is located in Bethany at 1708 N. Rockwell Avenue (map). You can call them at (405) 789-6609. They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.
Not long after I posted the first shady restaurant review, it was recommended that Mi Familia, on the Bethany / Oklahoma City line at 16th and Rockwell, be considered for review and nomination. However, I couldn’t post it as a shady restaurant because, for one, I don’t think it is shady. It definitely had its shady characteristics, but I just don’t think it has the whole package. I think we have to be careful not to brand a restaurant as “shady” simply because of cultural differences, but only for reasons listed in the original criteria set for this prestigious award. In my opinion, Bethany just doesn’t have a lot of shady areas. Maybe I’m in denial. I’ll let the readers weigh in on the subject, but there are several things that make Mi Familia a great, and safe, place to dine.
Mi Familia is a Guatemalan-influenced restaurant with several Mexican staples as well. The outside of the restaurant is hard to miss. It is a bright sky-blue with a mural painted on it. Each window has written advertisement of the food inside as well, as many Latin restaurants do. Also, they advertise Vigo wire transfers for those wanting to send hard earned cash back to the homeland. There is a saying that if you want authentic latin food, look for the Vigo or Western Union sign out front.
The restaurant’s interior has been made over recently. When you first walk in you see a few tables in a room that opens up to the kitchen, and then there is a separate dining area around the side of the restaurant. They used to have a wall blocking the kitchen which made the place seem rather small, and they would always seat the Hispanic customers in the front space, and the non-Hispanics around on the side. Now that it is opened up it feels more inviting and less awkward. The walls are bright orange and purple and decorated with chilies, garlic, and onions.
The food here is interesting. There are several things I like, and several things I don’t like. I would call it inconsistent. I like their tamales. Tamales are served in a whole banana leaf South American-style which means they have a very creamy consistency, much like the tamales you find at El Salvador Restaurante Y Pupuseria. You will also find a chicken chunk, piece of potato, and other tidbits hidden in there for a surprise. I think the El Salvador tamales are a little better, but these are bigger and could be a complete meal by themselves. I usually get the Mama Elsa’s Plate which includes a tamal, pipian (a South American stewed meat product and sauce), plus rice and beans. The pipian has been beef at times and chicken at times. I much prefer the beef over the chicken. I feel like they often use inedible pieces of chicken making me think that they are just using left over parts that can’t be used in other dishes.
Their Chile Rellenos are different than most others I have had. They are full of ground beef and loads of cumin. They have a good flavor, but I prefer my chile’s with more cheese. They also serve pupusas here. They are good, but not as good as El Salvador’s.
(Side note: I actually had the best pupusas and tamales of my life at the shadiest “restaurant” in town the other day. I can’t list the place because I don’t want it to get shut down. It is actually run out of a lady’s apartment off I-240, surrounded by barbed wire, and you must speak Spanish and have an insider to get there. AMAZING food. I highly doubt it is governed by any food laws therefore its legality is in question, but she had two tables and a menu on the wall. The absolute best pupusas I’ve had, and she makes her own Horchata — El Salvador’s take on the popular Mexican rice based drink — that is out of this world).
Anyway … Mi Familia serves chips, salsa, and watered-down cheese sauce before your meal like every other place in town. I differ from Tim in my analysis of the cheese sauce at restaurants. I think this watered-down “cheese” is insulting at most places. I would rather pay for something good than be given a ramekin of something that is slimy, watery, and unflavorful. I know my opinion differs from most of Oklahoma City. Please don’t hate me.
The one thing I say stay away from is the enchiladas. I have had them, my wife has had them, my kids have had them, and each time they have been less than satisfactory. I think it is a cultural difference. They have a flavor that is unlike any enchilada I have ever had, and I don’t like it.
You can also get mole here. Not the fuzzy little blind mammal with the star-shaped nose (not that I wouldn’t eat that given the right circumstances), but the bitter and rich chocolate-based sauce. You don’t see that served many places in town.
So, Mi Familia gives you the opportunity to try something different in the Bethany area. Are there better restaurants out there? Sure. However, if you are like me, you get tired of the same places over and over again, and this place definitely provides a different take on Central American food that is worth noting.