Restaurant Review: Iguana Mexican Grill

Iguana Mexican Grill is a name familiar to most who live in or around Oklahoma City. Iguana has been around for about a decade, but has a new vibe to surprise you with. Tucked into 9th Street off Automobile Alley, Iguana is packing a new punch. 

Throughout January, Iguana closed for a brief stint to revamp their space and menu. OKC's taco and tex-mex competition has been upping it's game recently. I applaud Iguana for taking this as an opportunity to stay in the game instead of sinking to the bottom. After seeing Sara Kate share this spoiler a few weeks ago on Instagram, I was even more anxious to see what they had done with the space. 

I've enjoyed Iguana as an easy spot for dinner, the occasional brunch, even a few events. Last week I stopped in for lunch to see what they had to offer post-revamp. Right behind the hostess stand you are greeted with a bright pink neon sign reading "Make Tacos Not War." I now want this for my bedroom. They removed the wall blocking off the bar area, creating a more open space with a community table and bar stools, perfect for happy hour.

We were seated in the original and main dining room, taking a seat at the banquette they created all along the east wall. Little aztec print pillows were scattered along the booth seat. The revamped Iguana is full of pink, turquoise, bright blue, lime green and other bright and playful colors. The food dishes now equally represent those colors too.  

I took my trusty eating partner, Kathleen, knowing that she would be more than happy to share and take bites off each other's plates. Not that guacamole isn't always great, but I'm on a guacamole kick right now. Salsa, sure, queso, I'll pass, I just want the guac. Iguana's GM, Ross, brought out a sampler of guacamoles with all different toppings. Kathleen loved the pineapple, I loved the smoky pepitas. 

For our entrees, I splurged a bit and got the chimichurri chicken with lime rice and veggies. I purposely got a bigger entree knowing my fridge was empty and that my leftovers would be perfect for dinner #noshame.  Kat got the fish taco "a la tuma" style with refried black beans and jalapeño cheese corn bread. What's a la tuma you ask? Named after an Iguana employee, they take the taco tortilla, but first sprinkle cheese directly on the flat top, put the tortilla over it, let the cheese get barely crispy then flip it over and fill the taco. The lunch menu averages around $10 a dish and serves perfect portions for lunch and Mexican food, for that matter.  

The updated menu is a foodgrammer's dream. So much color and so photogenic. The old Iguana fell into the brown, tan and yellow spectrum. The new Iguana is bright, vibrant and flavorful. Colorful food typically leads to better taste too. At least in my opinion!

The food, decor and service were all what I hoped for. Big ups to our server Alex who was as great as our meal! But make sure to take a bathroom break to check out this adorable wallpaper!

And since sister is pregnant, churros for dessert. I have to be honest I refrained to keep from going into a sugar coma and falling asleep during the remainder of my work day. But by her facial expressions and sound effects, I could tell they were delicious! 

Has it been a while since your last Iguana visit? With lunch, brunch, dinner, happy hour specials 2-7PM, $1.50 tacos on Tuesday's, catering and events, they have so much to lure you in. Take a peek back to see all the positive changes they've made! 

Annie

Let's work together! I'd love to review your restaurant. Email me annie@takeabiteblog.com so we can chat!
*Disclaimer: This is not a paid promoted post but I was partially paid in kind for compensation.

Crock-Pot Carnitas

This is it you guys, this is it. Officially my go to recipe for cooking for friends, party food, pot-lucks etc. Crock-pot carnitas are a zip to make, but totally bring on the wow. Not to mention they make a truck load, so it's a perfect way to feed the masses.

My mind and my stomach have been on a taco kick recently. One of my co-workers was recently sharing with me how she loves to make carnitas. She was going on about how easy, fresh and healthy they were. Okay, sold. Give me the recipe. So thank you Mel, this one is for you!

My pork butt was a little over 7 lbs. which is huge, but that was the smallest I could find! It barely fit in my crock pot. I think it made enough carnitas for the whole neighborhood. But really. Some for me, some for my roommates, some for sis and husband, and some for the freezer to pull out on a rainy day. Search your market and you can probably find a smaller butt. I was limited and hungry so just went with it. A pork shoulder is interchangeable for this recipe. You can typically find small pork shoulders in the grocery store!

That being said the measurements for this recipe are a little loosey goosey because your pork butt size may vary. Just go with it and trust your self, I promise you can't mess this up. 

Crock Pot Carnitas

Ingredients:
4-5 lb. pork butt roast or shoulder  (bone-in or boneless, either works)
cumin
chili powder
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Accompaniments: 
white corn tortillas
cilantro, chopped
avocado slices
lime wedges
chopped red onion, pickled onions, pico de gallo etc.

Directions:
Rinse and pat dry the pork butt. Put just about a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of your crock pot. Season both sides of the pork with all of the seasonings. I did about one teaspoon per side (roughly 2 tsps. of each seasoning). Place in the crock-pot. Turn on low and let cook for 6-8 hours or until tender. My pork butt was a bone-in. The best part was getting to reach in and just slide the bone right out of the tender meat.

Using two forks shred the carnitas. Add more seasoning if needed. Warm tortillas on a griddle. Serve carnitas with some pico, cilantro, fresh avocado and a squeeze of lime! 

Perfect served as is, but I also can't wait to use the meat in taco salads or on nachos. Melanie said she uses her leftovers in quesadillas and as enchilada filling! I'm also thinking it wouldn't be half bad mixed with a little BBQ sauce for a take on pulled pork. 

I'm not sure what it is about this recipe, but when I was snapchatting while I was cooking, you guys were going crazy. Which I love. And these  carnitas deserve that kind of love because they are that good. So here you go my friends, crock-pot carnitas for your stomachs to enjoy! 

Annie

Taco Salad Tuesday

I love a good taco salad. My mother really loves a good taco salad. Mom if you're reading, I'm thinking of you with this one! Last week my foodie friend posted a picture of a quinoa taco salad. You'll remember Noel from her amazing black bean burgers she guest posted on TAB. I was in mid bite of my quinoa fried rice, but instantly wished I was eating her Mexican dish instead of my Asian dinner. With tons of leftover quinoa from my fried rice I made sure to pick up some taco salad accompaniments at the grocery store this weekend to recreate her creation. 

I love love love this healthy version of a taco salad. Layers of quinoa, ground turkey, black beans and loads of veggies and cheese! 

Quinoa Taco Salad
serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 head of romaine lettuce

Toppings:
diced yellow onion
sliced avocado
chopped tomatoes
Mexican cheese
salsa
chopped cilantro

Directions:
Cook your quinoa according to package directions or use leftovers from your Quinoa Fried Rice! Over medium heat, brown the ground turkey. Drain the grease then add in taco seasoning. While your turkey is cooking, heat the black beans in a sauce pan over medium high heat. 

Chop your veggies and get all your toppings ready to assemble. Start with a base layer of romaine. Work up from there with a layer of quinoa, then ground turkey, then black beans. Load on all the avocado and cheese and salsa you desire! 

I love topping my taco salad with some of Trader Joe's  corn chile salsa. I picked up some during our weekend in Fort Worth and it's almost gone. I'm still holding out for OKC to get our own TJ's. Now go enjoy Taco Tuesday properly with a little quinoa taco salad! I'm enjoying TT via a tupperware of leftovers at my office desk...

Annie

Strawberry Salsa Shrimp Tacos

I was so excited to be moving into a dorm with a little kitchenette. I pictured myself cooking dinner most nights and baking up some treats every once in a while. First off the kitchenette is tiny, not a huge deal, but I also can barely figure out how to use anything. Second off, I didn't even think about not having pots and pans or just the basic ingredients you need to make anything. That being said, I was still determined to cook something. 

Last Saturday, after a week of eating out for every meal, I decided it was finally time to cook. I decided to make Strawberry Salsa Shrimp Tacos, adapted from How Sweet It Is

The meal was actually super simple and totally manageable to make in the baby kitchen. We did frozen shrimp, thawed and then roasted in the oven. The strawberry salsa consisted of strawberries, cilantro, red onion and lime juice, then topped with some avocado!

I bought foil to make a make shift roasting pan and got a $9 kitchen knife at whole foods to chop up the ingredients for the salsa. I made due and it actually turned out great! So if you ever are in limited cooking quarters, this is the meal to make! It was easy, summery, and won over all of the roommates!

Strawberry Salsa Shrimp Tacos

4 servings

Ingredients:
1 1b. bag of frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and devained
salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic for roasting
8 yellow or white corn tortillas, warmed

For the salsa:
8 oz fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Additional toppings:
salsa
avocado
feta cheese

Directions:
First make your salsa so the flavors have time to marry together. Chop up all your ingredients, squeeze lime over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix together and keep in the fridge while the shrimp cooks.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place your shrimp on a roasting pan or cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped garlic. Toss them around then roast in the oven for 8 minutes. 

Warm your tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then everything is ready! Let your guests put their tacos together as they please! 

Annie