Paseo’s opening of Gun Izakaya is like getting a little tipsy and buying a really edgy pair of shoes. You love them, but they’re a departure from what you’d normally wear. If that metaphor holds true, the opening of Frida Southwest is when you find that perfect jacket that just ties all of your outfits together seamlessly. It’s a natural extension of who you are. It just fits. And that’s exactly what Frida is to the Paseo. As soon as you walk into its sun-filled embrace, it all makes immediate sense.
The food is familiar, too. And while I was a tad skeptical about another upscale Latin-American restaurant opening in OKC, our first visit proved that Frida isn’t looking to compete with other Southwest/Mexican spots in town. In the style of the famous painter after whom it’s named, Frida is a self portrait of the cuisine itself. There is inherent beauty in the dishes served here and maybe just a hint of ego.
It’s all just so very Paseo. Which makes sense, as Humankind Hospitality – known for Paseo’s stalwart Picasso Cafe – is behind the flashy new-build.
What to Eat at Frida Southwest
So let’s get into the food, shall we? I’ve been to Frida twice, on week nights, and both times it’s been packed. I’ve opted for bar seating both times, and have received nothing but fun, friendly and informative service. Frida’s menu is a classic mix of starters, soups and salads, mains and sides. Aside from one chicken dish, I’ve opted to eat the veggie-focused offerings and haven’t been disappointed one time.
I adore heart of palm, so the palm heart ceviche stood out immediately from the other starters. This beautiful dish features heirloom tomato, shaved serrano, avocado, hibiscus aqua chile, cilantro and coconut-pepita crunch. This is definitely spicy, but scooped with a warm tortilla chip it’s the perfect bite. As for the non-vegetarian starters, I’ve heard great things about the seafood tamale.
The green chile cauliflower bisque is another example of how well Frida utilizes fresh produce. It’s topped with corn-tomatillo pico and served with a cheese taquito on the side. Obviously, you’ve got to dip that taquito in the soup. And obviously, it’s freaking delicious. I can see this becoming my go-to lunch in the fall.
Salads are colorful and inventive. We enjoyed the Frida salad with pineapple, cucumber, jicama and mango vinaigrette but thought it could have used a tangy cheese to pump up the flavor.
The roasted carrot salad is an elegant plate of New Mexico red chile and coffee spiced carrots, tamarind yogurt and five spice toasted pistachios.
Main dishes are definitely hearty, so if the price tag is a bit scary, rest assured you can stretch most of them into two meals. My favorite is definitely the pepita crusted chile relleno stuffed with quinoa atop heirloom beans and chipotle tomato sauce. There is so much texture in this dish and just the right amount of spice.
On another visit, I tried the bone-in Jidori chicken breast with roasted garlic agave glaze, heirloom bean-corn-squash sauté, ancho chile demi and wood grilled asparagus. I appreciated the rustic flavors, and the chicken was cooked perfectly.
The entrees are also served with a warm bread basket that includes a dense brown bread, amazing cornbread and addicting salted butter. It’s worth the carbs and calories, I assure you. As for the sides, do not leave without trying the green chile mac and cheese.
I can’t talk about Frida Southwest without praising the beautiful wine list, which features some of my favorite wineries from around the world. And if the cocktails are anywhere as good as they are next door at The Daley (their sister bar, which shares a hallways and restrooms with Frida) then you can rest assured you’re in great hands.
I’ll be talking more about The Daley in our cocktail roundup, coming up in the next week or two.
That wraps up our coverage of the Paseo’s two hottest new restaurants! We 100% recommend giving both Frida Southwest and Gun Izakaya a taste. And don’t forget about all the other great spots in this long-time favorite OKC district. One recommendation: If you can walk or ride share you’ll save yourself some parking frustration. The neighborhood is bustling every day of the week lately!