El Vaquero

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Tex-Mex has been the favored name of the Americanized Mexican menu consisting of tacos and quesadillas and chips and salsa. I would like to introduce you to the King of Ok-Mex: Americanized Latin flare covered in white queso.

White queso is the Cadillac of all Mexican food restaurants in Oklahoma, and a trip to the area is not complete without a stop into my favorite Mexican dives: El Vaquero. A restaurant where in my younger years I drank many a margarita with friends, when we were young and skinny and our metabolisms could handle tequila and cheese in the same meal.

El Vaq, as it affectionately known by Stillwater residents, is the Capital Grille of Ok-Mex establishments. The restaurant is rumored to be built above living quarters for its employees, a theory created by the roped off downstairs area that no visitor I know of has been brave enough to sneak down. The interior is styled like a fast-casual restaurant in this demographic, high capacity seating and bold colors. The place is clean, albeit dark, but no one goes there for the scenery.

You go there for the carne tapatia, a plate of beef tips (most likely shaved shoulder clod) that have been flat topped and smothered in queso. The grease from the grill and the beef meld together with the succulence of the white sauce and form a new flavor profile that the novice guest would speculate is another sauce all together. It is served simply on a vibrant colored plate with beans and rice and not so homemade tortilla.  

It is not the fanciest of plated options on the expansive menu, but it is frankly the best one. By far. The rest of the menu in my opinion is totally irrelevant.

One note of caution: Sometimes the fiesta in your mouth continues its party down south. Your bathroom may hate you, but the gastrointestinal distress is worth the deliciousness.

 El vaq