From morning, noon, to night, the hardworking chefs at Paparico's dish out mouthwatering meals of Mexican. Breakfast burritos and quesadillas greet the rising sun, and traditional meals of pozole, carnitas, and tamales round out suppers graced with garnishes of colorful pico de gallo, creamy queso rico, and salsa verde. An ample supply of Mexican beers and potent margaritas wash away spicy notes of poblano and chili de arbol, and provide more sturdy toasting apparatuses than enchiladas topped with ranchero sauce.
The Waldo district's 75th Street Brewery concocts unique beers best enjoyed while listening to the sounds of the local musicians who frequent its stage. As brewmasters labor to perfect the flavor of each keg, chefs craft an ever-growing menu of famous American eats, including burgers, ribs, pasta, and fresh vegetable salads. They call out daily specials on colorful, handwritten chalkboard menus suspended next to the high, exposed wooden rafters. For those who appreciate alfresco dining, a sunny beer garden lets in air and light through its slotted roof, while four solid walls block unpleasant noises, such as the squalls of wandering avant-garde jazzmen.
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 jalapeño, cilantro, and tamarind.
Start your delicious tumble down JJ's dinner menu staircase with an order of JJ's famous Paco shrimp ($13), large, meaty crustaceans bacon-twirled and deep-fried, then served with a Dijon mustard and white-wine sauce for dipping. Other enticing appetizers include seared ahi tuna ($13), wild-mushroom brioche toast ($12), and warm goat cheese with toasty crostinis ($10). Standout main courses include JJ's Pride, a 12 oz. center-cut filet rubbed with porcini mushrooms and sided with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a veal demi-glace ($38), and wild boar ragu served with fettuccine ($24). When your belt is on the last hole you added with a screwdriver, ask your server to wheel the dessert tray under your nose. JJ's is also open for lunch, giving office drones a faster and easier midday escape than the tunnel they're digging beneath Accounts Payable with a plastic coffee spoon.
Dos Hombres' menu takes your tongue on a journey through Mexico without subjecting it to long debates on the current state of international free-trade agreements or pressuring it to buy a time-share. Start with an order of Dos Hombres' original espinaca con queso dip, a cheesy blend of spinach and jalapeños ($7.99), or the nachos supreme ($7.99) smothered in refried beans, melted cheese, jalapeños, and your choice of meat. Dos Hombres' hearty combination dinners manifest themselves in traditional and creative configurations, such as the puffy tacos ($10.99), which swaddle traditional taco meat in three tortillas before taking a dip in the deep fryer and getting sprinkled with taco toppings. The monster 30th-anniversary burrito ($10.99)—filled with spicy pork, refried beans, rice, and sour cream, then topped with enchilada and queso sauce and even more pork—lets you defy the laws of physics by eating something larger than your own head. Additional à la carte offerings let you add a little color to your dining experience with soft tacos ($3.29), jalapeño slices (79¢), and pico de gallo ($1.49).
With its dark wood-paneled walls, antique road signs, and murals of Mexican pueblos, Kokopelli Mexican Cantina’s dining room resembles the fusion of a southern roadhouse and taqueria. It’s a fitting backdrop for a menu of homemade tamales, burritos, and enchiladas sprinkled with southwestern flourishes, like the pepper jack cheese layered on spinach enchiladas or the crab and white-wine sauce stuffed in the tucumcari's flour tortillas. Fajitas—Kokopelli Mexican Cantina’s specialty—feature strips of shrimp, steak, and chicken seasoned with a piquant blend of spices and scoops of homemade guacamole.
Kokopelli Mexican Cantina is a member of the Kansas City Originals, an alliance of independent eateries and chefs dedicated to nurturing, growing, and regularly basting the local culinary scene.