Corn tortillas filled with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese rest peacefully on a plate, unsuspecting of the fate that awaits them, when suddenly they find themselves in the hot embrace of a deep-fryer. What emerges is not merely a taco, but Lucia’s Famous Taco, a crunchy confection and, like many of Lucia’s dishes, a twist on a classic Mexican dish.
Since 1995, the chefs at Palomino’s Restaurant have furnished empty stomach space with a menu of Tex-Mex favorites frequently featuring specials and happy hours. Cheesy enchiladas and chiles rellenos conquer brawny appetites every day of the week, while Sundays add extra ammo to the conquest with an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet that can spark all-you-can-throw food fights. While relaxing on an outdoor patio, guests guzzle frosty Mexican beers and icy margaritas from the bar, and dig into crispy tacos and homemade tamales.
The grills in El Maguey's kitchen are ablaze from noon until nightfall, sizzling up the meat, seafood, and vegetables of authentic Mexican dishes. Chefs assemble burritos, tacos, and enchiladas into 30 different combination plates and slice up a lengthy list of Mexican-style steaks. The kitchen also offers a full vegetarian menu, appropriate for eaters with no emotional attachment to bell peppers. Meanwhile, bartenders dole out pitchers of colorful margaritas, along with mugs of draft mexican beers.
Tamale Wizard's kitchen blends six different salsas from scratch each day, evincing a food philosophy that is "really all about doing it the hard way," as owner and chef Bruce Swabb reported to the Kansas City Pitch. From a River Market storefront, the food-truck veteran crafts a focused menu of tacos wrapped in hand-pressed tortillas and plump tamales, each dolloped with sauces that include creamy avocado, mango banana, and chili peanut in addition to classic jalapeño varieties. Pork carnitas, chili-lime fish, and chicken en mole prepared according to Oaxacan and Yucatecan recipes fill the corn or flour tacos, and black beans, sweet potato, and cheesy green chili join the slate of fillings on the tamale menu.
The taps behind the bar dispense ales and lagers from Kansas City's own Boulevard Brewing Company, and artful bottles hold all-natural Soda Vie soft drinks in pineapple cilantro and strawberry mint. Exposed-brick walls and chalkboard menus create a flexible space for the staff's constant innovation, from whipping up ever-spicier taco fillings to building a sidewalk cart in time for summer weather and the taco-racing season.
Guadalajara Cafe shies away from the Tex-Mex standards found at typical Mexican restaurants in favor of the authentic flavors and spices you?d expect to find simmering in a family cocina. Its chefs attended culinary training in Guadalajara, where they developed a special appreciation for the cuisine of Jalisco, a region that extends from central Mexico to the Pacific coast. They even spice up this Jalisciense style of cooking with exotic ingredients such as squash blossoms, nopal cactus, and shrimp wearing tiny safari hats to create dishes reminiscent of those first envisioned by the Aztecs.
The result of their dedication to tradition is a menu of central Mexican classics such as chilies rellenos drizzled in spicy tomatillo sauce, hand-rolled tamales, and tacos filled with charbroiled, citrus-marinated meats. In her blog Around the Block, Mary Bloch?the author of the Kansas City Star?s restaurant guide?lauds the eatery?s mole, calling it ?as good as it gets.? Diners can wash down these authentic morsels with a selection of Mexican beers or tequilas infused with jalape?o, cilantro, and tamarind.
Rudy's menu spreads out traditional family recipes embodying the spicy flavors of Mexico, with 25 tequilas and margaritas ready to spring from the drink menu and cool down steaming mouths. Famous for their fish tacos, the chefs at Rudy's load small tortillas with steaming fish and vegetables to eat individually ($3.99) or as part of the Tijuana tacos plate ($9.99), where they're served with a side of rice and a choice of beans or nopales. In the Tamales Especial ($8.49), corn-based masa cradles tender pork bathed in a delicious sauce and smothered in cheese. Diners can chomp and crunch their way through the chimichangas de Tenampa ($9.99), whose deep-fried tortillas house a zesty concoction of sautéed chicken and fresh vegetables served with sour cream, guacamole, and rice and beans, or bite into a piping-hot pile of Margie's sizzling fajitas ($12.99), which combine a half pound of steak or chicken with peppers and onions, then shroud it in mystery, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and warm flour tortillas. Each Friday night, diners can order one of the house margaritas and enjoy the live music of a mariachi band, which fills the restaurant's airwaves with traditional Mexican tunes.