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Food Dude: Hacienda Tacos ready for its day in Plaza Court

A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

Life on the 405 diningscape is as delicious as it is fast-moving these days. Late Friday, I got a text from downtown flavor detective (and contractor) Larry Dean Pickering indicating if I wanted tacos for dinner, Midtown had a new place to check out in the venerable Plaza Court.

As usual, Larry was mostly right. Hacienda Tacos quietly left the door ajar at its new

A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]












Midtown location for a weekend kitchen test-run. 

A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

My wife Lori and I are regulars at the original Hacienda Tacos in Northpark Mall, where you can gourmet food inspired by classic Tex-Mex and the flavors of New Mexico, where owner Robby Vernon was born and raised. We were happy to check out the new spot, which takes over the long-time home of gone-but-not-forgotten Irma's Burger Shack.

Vernon moved the entrance to the far west corner of the space with a full service bar where Irma's had its entrance and register. Pop culture clashes with Day of the Dead and Lucha Libre iconography all over the walls, creating an atmosphere as colorful as it is energetic.

Molcajete DIY Guacamole from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Molcajete DIY Guacamole from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Smothered Burrito from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Smothered Burrito from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A taco burger and fries from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A taco burger and fries from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

Lori had a monster bean burrito smothered in queso, and I sprinted straight for my inner 10-year-old's happy place with a taco burger and fries. We always get the molcajete quacamole and house-made chips, and as usual the combination was an ideal caddie to the meal.

Robby said he expects to open officially on Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest.

A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A look inside the new Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
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Dude, Food halls!  

My recent tour of local food halls has taken me through Parlor OKC, The Collective and The Edmond Railyard

You can read about some of the stops I made at Parlor here, today I'm concentrating on The Collective. 

I've eaten at Beth Lyon's Black Cat more than anywhere else at Oklahoma City's first food hall. On top of teeming with flavor, texture and technical precision, chef Beth's food is really good for your body, mind and soul. It's no accident, Beth's not here just to tickle your taste-buds, she's also got her sights on your heart Chakras.

But I recently learned Lyons does killer tacos on Tuesdays. Miss them at your own peril.

A selection of tacos from The Fried Taco inside The Collective. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A selection of tacos from The Fried Taco inside The Collective. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

Speaking of tacos, the popular Fried Taco food truck now has a spot at The Collective that also draws its share of attention. I'm just gonna keep it simple: The hype is real. The tacos are fried fresh to order, meaning whatever filling you choose is going to be insulated in texture and real corn tortilla flavor. I recommend the jackfruit filling, you won't be sorry.

The Fried Taco isn't the only popular mobile kitchen represented in The Collective. David Greggs has parked his Flying Pig BBQ mobile concept inside The Collective's east side. I tried some terrific spicy smoked chicken thighs recently. It was a terrific snack, but David mentioned he's working on a variation on Nashville hot chicken I'm looking forward to.

Beef Wellington puff pastry from Cafe de L'Asie inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Beef Wellington puff pastry from Cafe de L'Asie inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

I've also eaten at chef Vuong Nguyen's Cafe De L'Asie at least twice, enjoying Philly Cheesesteak eggrolls and Beef Wellington  puff pastry, but most recently I dropped by chef Patton Simpson's Shaka and chef Gary Arnold's Local-Homa.

Simpson is a veteran of a number of kitchens in the 405 diningscape, including time as a teppanyaki chef at Musashi's. For Shaka, Simpson is sharing the flavors of his home state of Hawaii.

Da Kine Bird comes from Shaka inside The Collective food hall and bar.[Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
Da Kine Bird comes from Shaka inside The Collective food hall and bar.[Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

I recently tried Da Kine Bird, which puts marinated chicken thighs, rice and macaroni salad on the same plate and makes you like it. I finished every bite of this odd assortment of protien and starch.

"That dish is so Hawaii, man," Simpson later told me.

The chicken was bursting with enough flavor to make dance partners with both starches. This is a great light lunch that doesn't scrimp on flavor. Looking forward to trying the scallops on the menu.

But of all the dishes I've tried at The Collective thus far, the one that stopped me in my tracks was the pork belly platter from Local-Homa, play ground of chef Gary Arnold. The Lawton-native is working with local ingredients and plenty of cooking acumen. 

A pork belly platter from Local-Homa inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]
A pork belly platter from Local-Homa inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

The simply prepared and sliced pork belly came with steamed rice, scallions and a halved marinated egg. The dish was as delicious as it was beautiful. Looking forward to trying one of the burgers Arnold has on the menu. If the pork belly is any indication of Arnold's ability, Nic might be in trouble.

My food hall tour continues next week with a first glimpse at the Edmond Railyard. 



Related Photos
Smothered Burrito from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

Smothered Burrito from Hacienda Tacos in Midtown. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]

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[Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="A selection of tacos from The Fried Taco inside The Collective. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A selection of tacos from The Fried Taco inside The Collective. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8811c3be2f28bb0e1b970bea742ee337.jpg" alt="Photo - Beef Wellington puff pastry from Cafe de L'Asie inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]" title="Beef Wellington puff pastry from Cafe de L'Asie inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Beef Wellington puff pastry from Cafe de L'Asie inside The Collective food hall. [Dave Cathey/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma‚Äôs booming food scene. Read more ›

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