Mi Familia Restaurante: some cultural flavor for Bethany

by | April 9, 2008 | 11 Comments

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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.

Mi Familia on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Andrew Littleton on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008. It is filed under:

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  • Bev Graham says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 12:45 pm   

    Thanks for your sensitivity about “shadiness.” There IS a difference. In some areas there’s a genuine fear factor. For others, they’re just good, locally owned restaurants that find a place where they can do business and not pay exorbitant prices for the address.

    One such place is Ray’s Cafe, on NW 50th just east of May Avenue. I find their food consistently good and very reasonably priced. The clientele tends to be elderly, but at 50-something I’m thinking I’ll fit in soon. But not TOO soon!

    I also agree about Bethany. Most of the area has a safe, “hometown” feel that I like; I was there nearly two years. If I had a young family, I would definitely consider this area. It’s a city of about 20,000, totally surrounded by OKC and Warr Acres, but yet it feels like a city of its own. Kudos to Bethany leadership!

  • Andrew says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 10:04 pm   

    I agree with you on Ray’s Cafe. It is good and very affordable. I usually get breakfast there, and get in and out for 3 or 4 bucks. I may have to review Ray’s soon.

    Thanks for the great feedback!

  • Sheri says:
    April 10th, 2008 at 8:37 pm   

    Thanks for this review. I’m right down the street from this joint and have always wondered. After too many meals at Chellinos, I’m suspicious of most latin restaurants.

    And I agree with the watered down cheese soup comment.

    (Tex) Mexican worth trying: Tio’s Mexican Cafe @ Western & I-240 where City Bites used to be. They kept the giant hand coming out of the wall. :-)

  • Tim says:
    April 10th, 2008 at 8:41 pm   

    I have to clarify my stance on cheese sauce at mexican restaurants since you invoked my name.

    I made the point in this article that if you are going to try and compete as an Okla-mex restaurant, you pretty much have to offer cheese sauce because every other Okla-mex place does.

    That’s not to say I favor cheese sauce (I usually don’t even eat it). I’d much rather see a restaurant try and do something unique. But, if you’re Okla-mex, you’re going to have a hard time getting by without it because the public (here in OKC) expects it. So, my position is more from a business perspective than what is good to eat.

    I’ve had a lot of people remind me that no one offers cheese sauce in Mexico, and I totally understand that. I don’t claim that it’s authentically Mexican, only that it’s common here in Okla-mex.

  • katie says:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 1:56 pm   

    MY fav Mexican place in OKC – Los Palomas at 23rd and Meridian. Their queso fundido is fabulous (melted white cheese on a skillet with sauteed mushrooms, pablanos and chorizo) Also – they too serve mole. For those who like it – their flan is one of the best I’ve had.

  • Arnulfo Gomez says:
    December 1st, 2008 at 9:10 pm   

    My favorite Mexican place is in Tulsa, its named “EL Nuevo Amanecer”. They serve Mexico city style food.
    “Chilango style” Their hand made Huaraches and Quesadillas are the best. They even have Cuitlacoche and Flor De Calabaza. They also serve good pupusas. They are located on “1140 Memorial DR. in Tulsa. GO TRY IT!!!!

  • Wimpy says:
    August 4th, 2009 at 9:37 pm   

    I tried the Mama Elsa’s plate when I ate there it was diffrent than anything I have had before but over all it was good the tamal was large and had a piece of chicken inside nice surprise,also the rice and beans were very good, everyone was friendly, I will try Mi Familia again at some future date!!

  • Bill says:
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:42 am   

    Went to Mi Familia on 06/14/10 for lunch. A buddy of mine picked the place out randomly, so I tagged along. We were the only table in the place at about 11:30. I ordered beef fajitas and he ordered chicken. A couple of other buddies ordered burritos. Anyhow, our food arrived and was not very exciting, but looked eatable. After eating for about five minutes, my buddy with the chicken fajitas discovered a cockroach laying on top of his beans! I’m still disgusted! We notified the man that seemed to be running the place, and he comped the meal, but no breaks for anybody else at the table although none of us ate anything from that point on. I WILL NOT be going back and DO NOT recommend this restaurant.

  • JORGE says:
    February 14th, 2012 at 2:17 pm   

    I THINK MY UNCLE MAKES THE BEST PUPUSAS.

  • anita says:
    February 14th, 2012 at 2:23 pm   

    if Jorge says it is great; I believe it!

  • clauemi says:
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:53 pm   

    I love the pupusas that lady makes from her apartment. I actually was searching for another place that makes El Salvador tamales as good as hers because she does not make them that often and I’ve had a huge craving for them for weeks now. I used to live right next to Mi Familia but they never seemed that busy so that made me think they are not very good. I might give it a try just to see if their tamales are any good.

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