Tamales El Patio: Shady Restaurant of the Month
Tamales El Patio
Editor’s note: This is the final post written by Andrew Littleton, the founder of our Shady Restaurant series. Andrew wrote this before he left town but I have waited until now to publish it so that it will still seem like he is here. Enjoy his farewell words and a final tasty find.
By now the word is out that my days as shady writer for eataroundokc.com have come to an end. I have decided it would be fitting to end my shady posts where I started them — on SW 29th street, almost literally next door to Sydney’s, the one that started it all.
This review is about the best Mexican-style tamales in town. I say that with absolutely no reservations. No “I think,” no “possibly,” — absolutely no trepidation. I speak with confidence because I believe I have eaten at every authentic-ish Mexican restaurant on the south side of Oklahoma City and, unfortunately, at my fair share of Okla-Mex places in town as well.
Before I get to talking about Tamales, I would like to offer a brief homage to SW 29th street.
Ever since the day I had a $3 breakfast for lunch at Sydney’s and helped to unplug the fan so they could plug in the cash register to complete my purchase, I fell in love with this stretch of road. Sure, there have been moments of fear. Like the time the drug dealer dudes started ramming their $40,000 tricked-out Cadillacs like they were bumper cars. Or, the time the meth lady accused me of stealing her car (my custom Volkswagen Beetle) and then chased me back to my office. Or, of course, the time I ate at the Golden Touch Grill. But those moments are fleeting as I think of all the great food. Flautas and enchiladas at Los Desvelados, dollar tacos at Max Burger, the burger I got carded to eat at the place that turned out to be a shady beer bar, and the time my friend Dirk nearly died from the heat after shouting “muy caliente el diablo!” about how hot he wanted his pork chile verde from the place across the street from Los Desvelados.
Yes, I have many fond memories of SW 29th street, and I leave you with one final recommendation.
Tamales may well have a more complete name, but I’m not sure (editor’s update: since the time of publication, we have learned the official name of this restaurant is actually “Tamales El Patio”). There is a bit of a language barrier. I asked once what hours they were open and got a “yes we are open, you like tamales?” To which I replied, “As a matter of fact I do!” So this I know — they are open seven days a week for lunch and at least until 6 or 7 or so. I say this 6 or 7 deal because I have sent many people there after work to take a dozen home for dinner. These tamales pair especially well with the marinated flank steak you can purchase at the mercado across the street if you want a complete meal. They also serve menudo on the weekends. I bet it’s awesome, but I haven’t tried it.
The menu consists of tamales, chocolate covered bananas (with sprinkles), and nachos. They also serve raspados (Mexican snow cones). I have only had the tamales, so you will have to supply your own reviews the other other offerings in the comments. I’m not big on raspudas or chocolate covered bananas, sprinkles or no sprinkles.
You order your tamales by the dozen, spicy or . . . uhm . . . not spicy. A dozen tamales costs $13. The spicy pack a punch, as they are full of chopped jalapenos, but they are, by far, my favorite. These tamales are silky, moist, perfectly steamed, and by no means dried-out gritty corn mush pockets like you would get at most places in town. In fact, I have had many people who don’t even like tamales say these are great. The problem is, these people probably had their first and only tamale experience from Taco Bueno.
Take my advice, block out past memories of fast food tamales and Okla-Mex tamales, go get a dozen of these, take them back to work (they will stay hot, trust me), and go change the lives of your co-workers. They really are that good. I work with a large number of people from Austin who swear there is nothing close to these down there, and they are a good seven hours closer to Mexico than us. The door to the back room is usually cracked open where you can see a lady with a stack of corn husks rolling up and steaming them as fast as she can go. It may bring tears to your eyes, but fight through the emotions and yell out, “One dozen tamales . . . uh . . . spicy!” It works every time.
Well, there’s not much more to say about Tamales El Patio, so let me just say this. It’s been awesome, and humbling, to see how our shady reviews have changed the dynamic of these deserving restaurants and brought them patrons that might have never ventured into them before. I have had owners of a few of these places come out and give me hugs. I’ve seen the comments as our faithful readers give great feedback on these shady wonders. Recently, I’ve even seen a couple of these spots hit the national food scene on TV. The only negative has been watching some of my favorite spots become so popular that they are hard to get into now.
Thanks, Oklahoma City, for all the shady memories. I can’t wait to hear what you all think about Tamales. While Nashville has a great meat and three, spicy chicken, and soul food scene, there is no replacing the Mexican and South American food scene we have here in OKC. So keep them busy for me while I’m away, and if you are ever in Nashville, I’ll meet you for some hot chicken.