Just as Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant's name honors the owners' oceanfront hometown in Jalisco, Mexico, the menu honors Mexico's iconic cuisine. These pages brim with favorites such as enchiladas, hefty burritos, and sputtering fajitas with marinated portions of beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp. The choices seem familiar, but there's no denying that their roots cross the International Date Line that separates California from Mexico. Mexican Coca-Cola fills glasses alongside a handful of imported beers, and the tangy crema sauces and vaguely sweet moles are all based on family recipes.
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.
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.
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.
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.