Ixtapa's kitchen creates authentic Mexican dishes with an emphasis on artfully prepared seafood and Yucatan-inspired flavors. Diners who order the pollo adobado entree, for example, can sink teeth into a chicken breast marinated in a sauce made with achiote seeds that, like most of North America's toffee supply, are native to the Yucatan peninsula. Fifteen chicken entrees—from the classic arroz con pollo to the spicy pollo Ixtapa—populate the menu alongside fiery shrimp dishes such as camarones a la diabla. The eatery's signature dish, camarones Ixtapa, presents a catch of succulent shrimp sautéed with mushrooms and onions in green tomatillo sauce. A full bar supplies adults with beer, top-grade tequilas, and reasons to talk about high school.
Each day, the chefs at El Chupacabra Mexican Grill & Cantina fire up their grill to realize a wide variety of recipes that originated in Veracruz, Mexico, as well as a variety of Mexican-themed burgers. Monster nachos ($5.79) send teeth through a gauntlet of hot queso, tomatoes, jalapeños, green onions, and sour cream. Chili relleno treasure chests ($11.29) open to a bounty of monterey jack cheese covering a cache of spanish rice doubloons, a devalued currency preferred for its flavor. Sharpen fangs on a massive El Chupacabra burrito, packed tightly with beans, cheese, shredded and ground beef, and espinaca dip ($8.99), or opt for a burger, such as the Carnita, loaded with house-prepared pork and pepper jack cheese ($10.99). Combination platters ($7.99–$9.99) are built from a variety of modules inspired by Swedish design principles, with options including chicken tacos, bean tostadas, and house-wrapped tamales. Comforting classics such as fried ice cream ($4.99) and sopapillas ($2.49) guide meals to a sweet conclusion.
True to their eatery's name, the family behind Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant focuses not only on curating a hearty menu of classic Mexican favorites and custom pizzas, but on creating a friendly atmosphere. Affable servers descend from the restaurant's velcro walls to stop at tables to deliver traditional or deep-fried burritos bundled with beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. Chefs refer to old family recipes to build enchiladas, tostadas, and guacamole or hand the reigns to customers so they can choose toppings such as pineapple, jalapeños, or sausage to assemble signature pizzas.
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.