All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Tarahumara's is a Norman gem with the fastest service in the West

Penny Ridenour / Red Dirt Report
The cheese enchilada dinner at Tarahumara's Mexican Cafe.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report
Rusty's Score
4.5 Rustys

The reason things become a classic is that even with new-fangled twists, nothing is better. Take Mexican food for example-  go to any Mexican restaurant in the state and you can order an enchilada dinner. 

The classic rendition will come in the center of the plate, covered in a savory sauce and flanked by Mexican rice and refried beans. But sometimes, a classic gets an upgrade, like the Mexican food at Tarahumara’s Mexican Café and Cantina, 702 N Porter, in Norman.

I stopped by on a weekday night and had a hard time finding a parking spot. I resigned myself to a wait, but as soon as I entered the door the hostess ushered me to a table. Tarahumara's was bustling. Every table was full and brightly lit and the ambient noise was all children’s giggles, forks sparring, and happy conversations.

I found Tarahumara's on’s list of the 10 best restaurants in Norman, and I had heard tales about the famous margaritas and ceviche cocktails. I was seated and ordered a cheese enchilada dinner ($11.95). The obligatory chips were homemade and very fresh and the salsa was brightly flavored with fresh tomato and cilantro.  

That’s when I noticed the floorshow. When a table emptied, multiple staff would literally run from corners of the room to clean the table, resembling a NASCAR pit crew. It caught my attention and I started to time them. They waited until the patron was several steps from the table, then wham! A busser on each side cleared the table, while another swept beneath and yet another dodged their flying arms, legs, and dishes to wipe the seats and table. It took less than eight seconds! As soon as they cleared, the smiling hostess was seating another party at the table.  

My dinner came and I continued to watch the crackle of activity. The enchilada was tasty, and it reminded me why the flavor combination of entrée, rice, and beans is the standard of Mexican restaurants. It is because when the fresh, quality ingredients are put together, the result is good. It is classic. 

My water was never more than half-empty and the service was excellent.

I ended my night with a sopapilla ($0.49), the cinnamon-sugared pastry pillow served with honey at nearly every Mexican restaurant, and it was airy and soft. 

The sopapilla at Tarahumara's Mexican Cafe. (Penny Ridenour / Red Dirt Report)

So here it was -- the moment of truth. I gathered my things and stood up, noting that no one appeared to be rushing me. I walked a couple steps and turned. Sure enough, the pit crew was back. They made it look as if no one had been sitting there at all in a matter of seconds and returned from whence they came, ready for the next table to empty.     

Tarahumara's Mexican Cafe
702 N Porter Ave
Norman, OK 73071
Phone: 405-360-8070

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK