The Iguana Mexican Grill was a mainstay in north Oklahoma City for years and had developed an almost cult following of loyal diners. Steve Mason, owner of Iguana, had to make the very difficult decision to close the Nichols Hills location, citing building and parking problems. The restaurant was in need of resurgence.
Setting his sights on the urban crawl, Steve waited until he felt the timing was right, and enlisted Robert Painter as a partner to get the project rolling. Affectionately known as “the little taco stand by the railroad tracks”, Iguana’s new location on 9th Street in downtown Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley district, has been an instant hit. Gaining new customers and welcoming back the old with the classics from the Western Avenue location, as well as Chef Ryan Parrott’s nouveau take on Tex-Mex cuisine.
Robert Painter’s dream was to create a place where the masses would come to sit, relax, eat, and drink a bevy of tequila. As a result, The Iguana Mexican Grill has become one of the hottest downtown OKC restaurants earning him the nickname, “The Mayor of 9th Street.” The “Mayor” and the new Iguana opened its new doors on July 1, 2008, boasting 130 varieties of tequila. With its rustic, colorful decor, playful interaction between the wait staff and patrons (partially inspired by the tunes and a little tequila!), a visit to The Iguana Mexican Grill is always enjoyable.
Chef Ryan Parrott began his cooking career at age 15. From this first job, a passion and career was born. At the young age of 19 Ryan was promoted to kitchen manager position at local restaurant! Yearning still to learn more, Ryan held positions at various other locally owned establishments including the Petroleum Club, among others, honing his craft to near perfection. Looking for a change in his life, Chef Ryan decided to partner with Robert Painter and Steve Mason to bring back the Iguana Mexican Grill.
You will find that Chef Ryan has a straightforward, no frills style of cooking: Focusing on flavor rather than flair, and technique rather than style. He is proud to reside in Oklahoma City with his wife, and five children, and is deeply rooted with many charity organizations, including The Arts Council, March of Dimes, Regional Food Bank, Canterbury Choral Society, Harn Homestead, The YMCA, MS Society, and Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Chef Ryan assembled a strong team including Chef Lee Bennett, Sous Chef, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City but migrated to Europe after high school and then, after some time abroad came back to the States settling in California. This is where Lee took root and began his career in the Culinary industry. Starting as an entry level dishwasher, Lee was soon promoted to prep cook at a country club. Lee continued to hone his skills in various restaurants from fast food to fine dining. Lee triumphantly returned to Oklahoma as Chef Lee, to be closer to his family, and accepted an offer to come work at Iguana.
With the kitchen in hand, Rebecca Daley was hired as the Fine Wines and Spirits Connoisseur. Rebecca has spent the last 9 years learning her way around the restaurant business. Focusing primarily on bar service, Rebecca has become affectionately known as “bar fly” to her friends and regulars. Falling in love with all of the nuances of bar service, from cocktailing to bar managing, Rebecca also developed a passion for hand crafted specialty wines and spirits. After joining the Iguana team, her passion for wine carried over into a passion for tequila. Her goal is to have one of the largest selections of fine tequila in the state, if not the country. She enjoys educating people on the differences between the tequilas in an attempt to rid them of that tequila experience most had on their 21st birthday - that lead some to never want another drop so long as they live.
Iguana Mexican Grill has become very popular for its incredibly imaginative twist on Mexican dining. The team – perhaps some of the greatest in the trade - is part of something amazing. Stop by the ‘little taco stand down by the railroad tracks” and experience their passion.
Iguana is located at Nine NW 9th Street in downtown Oklahoma City. For reservations, directions or more information, call 405-606-7172.
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