In the mid-1970s thousands of refugees primarily from Vietnam found a home in the heart of OKC. Those refugees turned Okies, started families, revitalized neighborhoods and became integrated pillars of the greater OKC community.
To honor those veterans from Vietnam and their American allies, Military Park was created just south of NW 25th between Classen and Military Ave. The Vietnamese American Community of Oklahoma City raised funds to provide a statue called “Brothers in Arms” that depicts American and Vietnamese soldiers standing in solidarity. Many residents still refer to the area around Military Park as “the Vietnamese heart.”
Also known as “Little Saigon,” this area of town officially adopted the name of the Asian District to be more inclusive and to better represent its changing residents. Today, the Asian District is the highest concentration of Asians in the entire state. Locals have known for a while how special the Asian District is, but by gaining widespread attention for its culinary scene, it is becoming impossible to hide this gem any longer.
If you are going to do one thing in the Asian District, that one thing better be eating. The fact that OKC is an emerging foodie city is no joke, and this district is proof positive of that. Let’s start off with breakfast.
Being true to our renegade form and our Modern Frontier attitude, the best breakfast in the Asian District and quite possibly the city can be found at Cafe Kacoa. This authentic Guatemalan and Latin food restaurant located on the north edge of the Asian District serves up a phenomenal breakfast, brunch and lunch selection. This family-owned establishment does breakfast extremely well. The Tikal is mouth-watering, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. Also, they have their coffee beans shipped in from the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala which make a delightful cup of joe.
Speaking of coffee, there are a couple of other options worth mentioning. Classen Coffee Company is a traditional coffee shop with an assortment of baked goods as well. They are centrally located and have a serene atmosphere for those who want to sit and soak in the experience for a while. Probably one of the most unique-to-OKC coffee experiences is The Red Cup. This coffee shop is tucked away in a neighborhood in the Asian District. The giant red cup on this rambling house-turned-coffee shop is strangely fitting. Along with your favorite coffee drink, you have a wide selection of vegetarian breakfast and lunch options.
Pho is probably what you are here for. It has put the Asian District on the culinary world’s map. This magical Vietnamese brew of broth, meat and fresh veg is legendary in Asian District lore. There isn’t just one exceptional place to get pho in OKC, but more than a handful. Not only are there so many places doing it right, but they all also have their own style and nuances unique to themselves. Perennial favorites are Pho Lien Hoa, VII Asian Bistro and Pho Cuong (affectionately dubbed by locals as “the green house”).
Or Not to Pho
Not a pho fan or looking for something different? If Chinese food is your jam, try the venerable Lido’s or the dim sum at the Grand House on Sundays. The dumplings at Szechuan Story are to die for. The tiny Quoc Bao Bakery makes a mean banh mi and Lee’s Sandwiches does as well. La Brasa serves up exotic Peruvian dishes in its own funky ambiance, making it a great place to start your night out on the town.
In this ever-evolving district, you can find Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Korean food as well. Heck, you can even slam down a big country breakfast, if you are into that. Either way, put the Asian District on your itinerary for your next visit to OKC. Your taste buds will thank you for it.