I usually try to avoid Campus Corner most days, its effervescent youthfulness strangling me silently as I stare into the dank depths of my own offensive middle age. Still, it’s the only place in Norman to get some Pepe Delgado’s and their critically-lauded (by my girlfriend, at least) avocado salsa; for that it’s worth the abyss staring back at you, if only for a few sustained moments of mushy green happiness.
Rightly situated at 786 Asp Avenue, just past the smoky haze of the Sublime-loving dispensary next door, Pepe’s is a real rarity not only on Campus Corner, but in Norman and pretty much most of Oklahoma City as well: as the sign says on the black refrigerator near the cash register, there’s no Tex-Mex here, so don’t even bother asking for queso, guey.
And as much as I love queso, I have to respect the owner for keeping things authentic enough; with no gratis cheese-sauce in sight, instead we ordered an opening round of their much-loved chips and salsa ($3.25) and, while we’re at it, straight off the specials board, I went with the Pork Tamales ($10.00); she requested the Plato Vegetariano ($10.75), a solid dish that mostly was to feed her somewhat insatiable hunger for their aforementioned avocados.
While many times they’re an enjoyable yet wholly passive part of the meal, Pepe’s chips and salsa are definitely worth writing about, if only for the fact they come with four different varieties of salsa, including picante, fresco, and tomatillo, all with varying levels of heat-based loving. But, you know, my girlfriend was right: that avocado salsa was definitely tops, myself and my tortilla chips falling deeply in amor with it as well.
Covered in a thickly rich layer of magnífica mole sauce, the pork tamales were the ones for me, fatty. A dynamic duo of tamales with the savory corn coating hiding a surprisingly flavorful bit of spiced pork, these special cuts made each piquant bite house a meaningful smirk on my face, one that went along beautifully with the cilantro-infused rice and black beans.
Meanwhile, the Plato Vegetariano did a great job of satiating her wanton lust for Pepe’s avocado sauce, but let’s not forget about the accompanied vegetables and such: the fried potatoes, sautéed elegante with bell peppers and onions and served with red onions, sour cream, cilantro and red salsa, as well as a side of expertly grilled jalapenos for some extra heat on the street.
And what about the spare tortillas that came with her plate, just yearning for a purpose? Well, they were perfect for sopping up any of the remaining avocado salsa, the requisite queso now a mostly forgotten memory in the Mexican restaurants of my mind. Cómpralo ya!