As soon as guests enter Sorano's Sports Bar, they’re surrounded by 12 televisions, all tuned to premium sports channels. While fans cheer and whoop in the background, servers shuttle plates of pub-style finger foods, hamburgers, hot dogs, and Mexican fare to eager diners. Nearby, bartenders siphon drafts and crack open bottles of domestic and imported beers, and pool tables beckon guests to illustrate their favorite geometry proofs. In addition to brews and bites, the sports bar keeps spirits high by hosting free poker tournaments, karaoke nights, and DJ performances throughout the week.
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.
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.
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.