Written by: Greg Elwell
Stylish Eats reviews are brought to you by Steven Giles Clothing, the menswear store for those with discerning taste. Style extends well beyond the confines of clothing, so Steven Giles is teaming up with I Ate Oklahoma to bring you reviews of eateries with a refined palate across the state.
It’s been a minute since we last checked in on OSO on Paseo, last featured in First Looks, and that seems like the right time to see if it’s living up to the hype.
Yeah, the hype kind of nailed it. OSO is great and it’s great in different ways for different customers.
As predicted, the bar program has continued to evolve and grow, and it’s really become a big driver in the afternoons for happy hour. It’s not hard to see why, either. The drinks at OSO are absolutely geared for sunny, fruity, summer feels and the windows keep everything bright without blowing out people’s eyes. It’s a great way to be in an Oklahoma summer without having to actually experience the misery and brutality and humidity of it all.
It is a beautiful restaurant, though laid back as all get out, which makes it a perfect choice for Stylish Eats. One thing I love about places like OSO is you are welcome no matter what, but nobody wants to ruin the view by coming in like a slob. A nice linen shirt, a lightweight pant or shorts, maybe even a hat! It’s a quality place. It’s nice to look like a quality person when you’re there.
There are certainly restaurants where the bar gets all the love and the menu suffers, and vice versa. OSO on Paseo is not one of those places. As good as the drinks are, the food is right there with it.
As chef de cuisine Chris McKenna said when OSO first opened, “We’re just two white guys making tacos.” They’re not worried about authentic; just good. And they’re better than just good.
You are not immediately served chips, salsa, and queso upon being seated. Instead you get these crunchy fried pasta wheel things in a tangy chili powder. I dare you to not fall in love with these. I dare you.
There are chips. There are salsas. There is queso. You will have to pay for these things and I don’t want to hear a word about it.
For $4 you can pick two varieties of salsa and I promise you, they’re better than the quasi-Pace picante sauce you’re getting for free. The queso is $5 (or $9 for a large) and you can add chorizo or spinach and mushroom to it for $3 extra. The queso is made of real cheese. It is worth paying for. And the chips are thick and crunchy and they make them fresh all day because people keep eating all of them.
Honestly, if this is the thing that bothers you, I don’t know how you plan to deal with the rest of the menu.
Street corn ($8) is a must. I wish they served this in little shot glasses at the bar, because I would be corn DRUNK right now. The corn is roasted off the cob, mixed up with chipotle-infused crema, and sprinkled with cotija cheese and crushed Takis chips. It’s high-class redneck elote and I love every single thing about it.
OSO has three subsets of tacos: OSO tacos, street tacos, and vegetarian tacos. I do not (despite the rumors) have three stomachs, though it would have helped with the taco-eating, because I had a lot of work in front of me.
Under OSO tacos you’ll find two of my favorites. The Brisket Burnt Ends taco ($5) is served with Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, thinly sliced radish, pepitas, and the piece de resistance: a fried pickle spear.
This is a barbecue taco that I didn’t see coming, but I was blown away by every bite. It’s not too sweet. The crunch of the pickle gives it great texture and the tartness of the brine balances the BBQ sauce perfectly. It’s an altogether lovely taco and I miss it deeply.
Why? Because I keep trying different tacos. That’s the job. For instance, I wasn’t initially overjoyed by the idea of the Cheeseburger taco ($4) with ground beef, cheddar and jack cheeses, shredded lettuce, tomato, and onion. And it tasted like a cheeseburger. But it also reminded me how close American-style tacos are to cheeseburgers, vs. some of the other tacos on this menu.
Of the street tacos, I found the chorizo ($4) and carnitas ($4) were the standouts. The shredded pork was both crispy and creamy in a really delightful way, and the salsa verde gives it a bit of a vinegary bite and holds the fatty deliciousness of chicharrone crumbles to the rest of the taco.
The chorizo doubles down on the pork-y goodness by adding bacon to the mix with the Mexican chorizo. To provide relief from that extremely heavy duo, an avocado crema keeps everything rich but cools it down. Then finely diced onion and chopped cilantro add a hint of sharp green needed to lighten everything up. It’s a rollercoaster of a taco and yes I am aware of how lame that makes me sound.
I really respect OSO for giving Vegetarian tacos their own spot on the menu and making sure there was a real variety there. I know McKenna loves his meat, but he brings that same level of detail and flavor to non-meaty dishes.
The wildest flavor by far is the cauliflower picadillo ($4) which mimics a classic ground beef taco in texture—kind of meat enrobed in sauce—but with cauliflower adding the weight and tons of flavor coming from tomatoes, olives, onions, and golden raisins. Pepitas and cilantro add a little crunchy contrast to the otherwise smooth texture.
Mushroom ($4) has that meaty umami flavor with the pop of roasted corn, the bite of salsa fresca, and a sprinkle of cotija and radish on top. It might come off as chewy or spongy for some, but mushrooms are, y’know, mushrooms. That’s the texture.
When I took my kids to OSO, they were deeply enamoured with the idea of an entire platter of nachos ($10) for dinner. And I can’t blame them, especially when you see these nachos. We added chicken for $4 and it was super-duper worth it. The chips are firm and crisp and can hold SO MUCH STUFF. They’re amazing nacho chips, especially with a blend of liquid queso and shredded cheese melted all over them, providing a foot hold for the other toppings: black beans, jalapenos, chicken, big piles of sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo.
If you or the kids are spice sensitive, ask for the jalapenos and pico on the side, but definitely get these. They’re a great big appetizer or a kids dream meal come true.
Reading the description of the Left Coast Burrito ($14), I knew it was a trap set specifically for my kind of people: dumb gluttons. And I hope that doesn’t come off as a bad thing, because I loved this weird mish-mash of foods. You get a big tortilla stuffed full of grilled shrimp, skirt steak, tater tots, cheese mix, and pico. It’s a wild mess of a thing and I really dug it. The shrimp are especially spot on, texture-wise.
OSO is such a magical little drop of happiness in the Paseo. It’s not that the area is lacking in tacos or great food or tasty drinks or much of anything these days, but there’s something about OSO that just makes me smile. It’s the little touches on the drinks. It’s the bright and airy dining room. It’s those patio seats that I am very eager to try out once the sun stops trying to roast us all into piles of ash.
So, on the off chance you haven’t heard of OSO, you should get to it. Tasty tacos. Excellent cocktails. A lovely place in a district that is absolutely flush with lovely places.
Stylish Eats are sponsored by Steven Giles Clothing, a high-end men’s fashion store in Classen Curve providing expertly tailored suits, timeless casual wear and everything in between. Visit them online at stevengilesclothing.com to schedule a fitting or stop in at 5850 N. Classen Blvd. to browse their selection in person.