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Colombian treats await your taste buds in OKC

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Picada at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Picada at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

If  we’re being honest — and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be — I don’t really know anything about Colombian food.

It’s not like Oklahoma City is overrun with Colombian restaurants. If you haven’t eaten any Vietnamese food after being here for a few years, you made that choice yourself. If you haven’t eaten Colombian food, it might be that you didn’t know El Fogón de Edgar, 2416 NW 23rd St., existed in the first place.

I am happy to report it does, in fact, exist. It’s in a tiny house on 23rd Street,next to a barbershop that specializes in fades.

There’s a small transom between the kitchen and the counter at El Fogón de Edgar. Every time I eat there, without fail, the chef looks through the hole in the wall and asks how everything was.

Empanadas, tender steaks slathered in sauces, delicate fish chowder with potatoes and rice — I can’t imagine your answer would be any different from my own.

“It was so good. I can’t wait to come back.”

Probably the most enticing item is the first one you’ll see, both on the menu and at everyone else’s table at the restaurant: empanadas ($1.50).

Joyous pockets of fried dough stuffed full of potatoes and chicken and beef come to the tables piled on top of each other like puppies eager to play. Except, unlike puppies, you will eat the empanadas.

Empanadas at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Empanadas at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Wait!

I know they look good, but I have an urgent message from future you.

“Cut one open and let it sit for a second. That thing was just in the fryer, and it needs to cool down. And don’t forget to put some of that bright green verde sauce on it.”

It’s weird that future you didn’t have any stock tips or lottery numbers or anything. It’s also weird that future you didn’t mention how you’re required by law to order the caldo de pescado ($9.25).

Another dish that requires a maddening wait before you can eat it, this fish soup has a thin, creamy broth that hides big chunks of fish and tender potatoes. It also comes with rice, which confused me at first since they’re both starchy. But if you add the rice to the soup, it begins to soak up the broth and becomes more stewlike in consistency.

By the end of the meal, you’ll be picking up the silver serving bowl it came in and trying to pour every last drop of it into your mouth.

I hesitated ordering the arroz con pollo ($9.75) simply because it seemed too simple. But it’s those simple dishes that really show the skill of the chef. Here was something similar to fried rice, but with more texture and big chunks of shredded chicken hidden in every bite.

Arroz con Pollo at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Arroz con Pollo at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Like many dishes, the arroz also comes with sweet fried plantains. There must be plantain trees all over Colombia, because they are all over this menu. You will also see patacones: green plantains that are smashed and fried. Those are more starchy but still quite tasty.

If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the cuisine, I quite enjoyed picada ($14), an enormous sampler plate with sausage, pork, beef, chicharron (a big strip of fried pork skin), morcilla (blood sausage), an arepa, tomato and fried yuca. It’s a lot of food. I liked it a lot.

Arepas are corn cakes cooked on a grill. The flavor is pretty mild, though, so be sure you’re putting some sauce on it or getting it with toppings, like on arepa con jamon y queso ($5.50). Don’t bother having a polite-off for the last bite of this one. Creamy cheese and perfectly cooked ham make for an irresistible bite. You might as well order two.

Arepas Con Jamon y Queso at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Arepas Con Jamon y Queso at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Or just have one and get bistec a caballo ($9.99). The thin, broiled steak could have been bland or overdone, but the house tomato sauce El Fogón cooks it in kept it moist and flavorful. If you want your egg runny, you should mention it to your server. They tend to come to the table with the yolk past medium.

Bistec a caballo at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Bistec a caballo at El Fogon De Edgar, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

That’s the kind of nitpicking you can do at El Fogón de Edgar. Everything is so tasty, everyone is so friendly, the restaurant is so charming that it is legitimately difficult not to enjoy all of it.

It turns out I do know something about Colombian food, and that’s what El Fogón taught me: I love it.

Like I told the man in the transom, I can’t wait to go back.

Print headline: Dense Fogón, Colombian food finds a great showcase at El Fogón de Edgar.

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