Go to Casa Frida, You’ll Leave Stuffed & Smiling

By on April 22, 2011

Fly over Brookside by night and it’s a glittering string of diamonds. But head south of the Interstate and all the glitter’s gone. Forlorn, half-abandoned strip malls huddle by the road, and in one of them you’ll find Casa Frida. Step through the door, though, and you’re in another world. A tropical beach world of bright lollipop pastels. An artist’s distillation (Frida Kahlo perhaps) of the charm and flair of Mexico.

I didn’t come for the pastel, though. I came for the pipian. The glory of Mexican cuisine is its sauces, rich complex concoctions that can take days of hard labor to prepare. Mole pipian, made of ground-up pumpkin seeds (and a lot of other things besides) is one of the easiest to make of these, but it’s also one of the rarest, and each time a restaurant serves it in New York it gets featured in the papers. So when I heard it was featured here in Tulsa I ran to try it. Pipian is usually served over chicken, but on the menu here you’ll find it only with enchiladas. I persuaded them to let me have it over a pounded chicken breast. I’m glad I did! Here’s what I got.

It was, like the best moles, rich and complex, smooth, a bit oily, with a robust nutty flavor. I could taste peanuts. In fact it reminded me of Ghanaian peanut sauce. It was different from the pipian I was used to in New York. There, the sauce is made with tomatillos and is bright green. That’s how it’s made in Puebla, where most of New York’s Mexican chefs hail from. But the cooks at Casa Frida are from Tamaulipas, right on the Gulf of Mexico. In that part of Mexico, they make a variant of pipian, sometimes called pipian roja, that is indeed made with pumpkin seeds, peanuts and sesame seeds. That’s what you get here. You’d never find it in New York, and it’s well worth seeking out. The chicken itself was almost tasteless, and that’s how it should be. The meat is just an excuse for the sauce. But if you want it over enchiladas ($7), here’s what you’ll get.

Oh and if for some strange reason you don’t want pipian, there are five other ways to get your enchiladas. Green sauce, red sauce, and three other sauces I can’t remember. They all come with rice and beans, and you can request refried black beans instead of the usual brown. That’s what I did with the chicken, and it’s a good choice. But if you want something more Tex-Mex and commercial, be advised that Casa Frida has kick-ass fajitas.

That’s the deluxe version ($12), with shrimp, beef and chicken sizzling in harmony. “Best fajitas I ever had!” exclaimed Cathe and I am inclined to agree. Of course they come with all the fixin’s.

The guacamole is exceptional. And, best of all, they make the tortillas themselves.

Go to Casa Frida. You’ll leave stuffed and smiling.

Casa Frida
5239 S. Peoria Ave.
743-6064
open Tuesday through Saturday 10 AM to 9 PM, Sunday 10 AM to 3 PM, closed Monday

Casa Frida Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Brian Schwartz:

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

12 Comments

  1. Noah

    April 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I agree, the deluxe fajitas are the best in town! I’m not a big fajita guy, but those are amazing.

  2. Blugalhether

    April 23, 2011 at 3:52 am

    My husband and I went straight here tonight for dinner. The place was packed and the fajitas were amazing! Had it with $2 modelo! They serve breakfast dishes all day as well! I will most definitely be returning!!

  3. TastyTulsa

    April 23, 2011 at 11:09 am

    We have heard really great things from friends and family about this restaurant. I’m looking forward to trying another great Tulsa eatery!

  4. Jerry

    April 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Best food in Tulsa…….great people.

  5. Thomas

    April 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    That place looks great. Will definitely be checking that out very soon. I have yet to find great Mexican food in Tulsa.

  6. Phillip

    April 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    just ate here. food was pretty decent. had a different chili reilleno then normal. meaning they stuffed it with a ground beef mixture. without that the pepper itself and the egg had no flavor but that filling was great. the black beans were ok. a little bland but i am hoping thats cause they have a less then normal sodium. same with the rice. thats a good thing for those watching sodium. now i will say i wouldn’t skip la hacienda for this place though i haven’t been there for breakfast.

    Thomas are you wanting authentic mexican food or tex-mex also depends on what region. if you hit any # of places on 21st and 129/garnet area you will find plenty of authentic mexican food. same with la hacienda. if you want tex-mex then you have a plethora of that as well.

    now as far as this place. id have to say this is something my aunt would make us for lunch and quick. la hacienda is something my aunt would throw together for a family gathering be it in sonora or in LA

    • Thomas

      April 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

      What’s good “tex-mex” in Tulsa? I’m originally from Houston and honestly think “tex-mex” in Tulsa is a joke. And I think I’ve tried quite a few places. My wife and I ate Mexican food in Houston at least once a week. In Tulsa we don’t even want to eat it. And whether I’m eating authentic mexican or tex-mex, why is it that very few restaurants in Tulsa make their own tortillas? If a restaurant in Houston didn’t make their own tortillas, they’d be out of business.

  7. Geeg

    April 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    The flan is to die for. Of course it’s made fresh daily and not shipped in.

  8. Brian Schwartz

    April 29, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I was at Casa Frida last night. I had the chopped ribs in salsa asada ($7). Ribs stewed in a garlicky marinade. Not nearly as complex as the pipian, but a hearty, satisfying dish. I spoke to the daughter of the owners. She’s amazed by how much her parents (and she herself) work. They are up early in the morning preparing the dishes. For instance, they have to shell peanuts for the pipian. I asked her why they didn’t use a can or shelled roasted peanuts and she said that wouldn’t give as good a flavor. Sometimes, she said, there are weekend special dishes, even authentic Mexican moles, and these are announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
    http://www.facebook.com/CasaFrida

  9. DannyB

    May 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I just tried it the other day…I had the cheese and chicken enchiladas with the pumpkin sauce. They were delicious! The burritos were really good too. If you have a big group it would be best to call ahead though, because the restaurant itself is tiny!

  10. RC

    September 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Very tasty, unique, & enjoyable. The only thing I missed was the crowd. Dining is more fun when a restaurant is busy. Come on people, go give it a try.

  11. Trip Park

    December 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    My wife and I go to Frida every week…..It is the best!
    There is nothing on the menu that I have not tried. I have a few fav’s; Tacos de Paulo & Espinosa del Diablo. I don’t have a a menu in front of me so those are from memory!

    A restaurant should make you crave at least one or two items that they prepare….Frida has too many that I crave weekly!

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