Unwind Café opened in Uptown 23rd on Saturday, Sept. 4, bringing a delicious brunch option to the Tower Theatre complex. Owners Kefren and Maria Arjona and chef-partner Mikel Pichs came to OKC from Miami, where the Cuban-American restaurateurs experimented with several concepts.
“We came to Oklahoma City for a visit, and we loved what we saw,” Kefren Arjona said. “Miami is a party city; there is no time for sitting down to a meal, being social. We saw so many people in Oklahoma City enjoying a meal or drink with friends, and we love that social, slower pace.”
They convinced Chef Mikel to join them in OKC, and signed a lease on the former Scottie’s Deli space, which had remained empty since the deli closed. They were close to opening in the spring, but the theft of a trailer full of their equipment set them back months. When they were ready to open last month, the city’s staffing shortages caused a further delay.
“We just decided we’d serve tables until we get fully staffed,” Kefren said. “We’re still looking to hire, but we needed to get open.”
The long-term plan includes tapas and cocktails, and the café already has a patio along NW 23rd. For now, it will be house-made pastries—Pichs is the rare combination of chef who can also bake—full coffee service, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch items. Cocktails are also available now, and the coffee cocktails are delicious, as are the Cuban-style coffee selections.
The chicken salad sandwich is exactly what the city needed. Served on soft, buttery Texas-toast style bread, the addition of whole grain mustard and fresh tomato make this a complex, tangy, comforting lunch item that is large enough to share, especially with the side of fries that comes with it. And, you’ll likely want to add a pastry or house-made biscotti for your coffee.
The brunch menu includes egg dishes (poached, over easy, or scrambled) with salmon, house sausage, and other proteins, as well as a Benedict menu. Chef Mikel worked in Spain, and the European sensibility shows in his food, especially balance in avoiding extremes (e.g., nothing is too sweet or too pungent). The French toast is a master class in how to do a traditionally sugar-laden dish that tastes better when it’s prepared closer to semi-sweet. He seems to be an expert in blending chocolates, too, a skill that shows in the French toast and the Love cake.
The latter is sure to be a house signature; it’s a triple chocolate confection that is as delicious as it is eye- catching. “He used to make them for the Versace Mansion when we were in Miami,” Maria said. “He makes a pistachio version, too.”
Yes he does, and it’s incredible. The food shows early promise of a serious and sophisticated chef offering delicious and different-for-Oklahoma options in a decidedly casual and un-serious setting. Good food, good booze, slow pace, and patio dining? Welcome to OKC, Unwind Café.