Obbligato: Landmark Mexican restaurant keeps getting better

Obbligato: Landmark Mexican restaurant keeps getting better

Stripes Okinawa

When you’re desperate for homemade nachos and salsa washed down with an ice-cold one, Obbligato Mexican restaurant can be a life saver.

Billed as one of the oldest Mexican restaurants on Okinawa, Obbligato opened its door more than 30 years ago. Today, it boasts locations in three different locations: Chatan, Yomitan and Uruma. And best of all, those three locations are easily accessible from different bases on island.

A variety of Mexican dishes are available here including enchiladas, taquitos, quesadillas, mole, nachos and burritos. The most popular dish is the jumbo combo which includes an enchilada, chimichangas, carnitas, Mexican rice and beans, and tacos for 1,780 yen ($14.88).

Another favorite is the Golden Tacos for 1,250 yen; it consists of four tacos with your choice of sirloin or carnitas (pork) rapped in house-made soft flour tortillas with pumpkin powder.

“We have our own tortilla factory to serve the freshest homemade tortillas to the customers,” says Obbligato spokesman Toru Okubo. “We also make our own fresh homemade salsa, as well as all of the other sauces for our meals, daily.”

Their tortilla factory is located next to the Obbligato in Uruma and customers are free to observe the process of making tortillas. You can also purchase theses fresh tortillas at all of their locations to make your own Mexican meal at home. They are sold in packages of six and come in two sizes – 6 inches for 240 yen and 11 inches for 290 yen.

Obbligato is a family owned and operated business with a unique Okinawan and American tradition with roots in Mexico. It maintains the original chili sauce recipe from the grandmother of the founder, Richard Esparza, who moved from Mexico to the U.S. more than 110 years ago. His son David Esparza is now at the helm, and that recipe has been cherished by Obbligato and its patrons – about 50 percent of which are Americans – for the past three decades, according to Okubo.

“We maintain the founder’s grandmother’s traditional chill sauce,” says Okubo, adding that it has been adapted slightly for local Okinawan sensibilities. “When we opened the restaurant, we blended it just a little so the chili is not too spicy. Everybody has loved it ever since.”

Obbligato’s meals come with your choice of white rice or Mexican rice – and rest assured –  these meals are served in “American-size” portions, not like those you get at most local Japanese restaurants, insists Okubo. In addition to Mexican-style meals, they also offer the popular Oki-Mex dish, taco rice. And if that’s not enough, more menu items are on the way.

Obbligato is planning to add a new lineup of tacos, including fresh fish tacos, in May, according to Okubo.

Kids meals are also popular here, he adds, including the kids chili omelet, kids spaghetti and the kids taco rice (420 yen each).

Most Obbligato’s friendly staff speak pretty good English, and of course, takeout is always welcome.

So, if you are tired of the same-old fast-food experience, why not try a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine served up with Okinawan hospitality?


Photo courtesy of Obbligato


Tel: 098-972-4220
Address: 6-2-18 Midori-Machi, Mine-Green Bldg. Uruma City, Okinawa (Near Camp Courtney)
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Tel: 098-956-7420
Address: 497-1 Furugen Yomitan, Okinawa (Near Torii Station or Kadena Air Base)
Hours: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Tel: 098-926-1888
Address:: 3-1-10 Mihama, Chatan, Okinawa (Near Kadena Air Base or Camp Foster)
Hours:11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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