Posts tagged ‘Mexican’

Chelly’s Cafe

After writing about Paparico’s, and my excitement over discovering a Mexican restaurant I enjoyed in the Brookside/Waldo area, several readers questioned how I could prefer it over Chelly’s Cafe, which is essentially around the corner.

Chelly’s used to be in Grandview, but moved several years ago to its current location. Since I had not been to the Wornall location, and I appreciate any feedback to my posts, those comments spurred me on to try it.

They were right…to a point. Yes, it is worth going to, and yes, it’s better than most of the old-time Mexican restaurants on the Southwest Blvd. corridor that I tend to skewer on a regular basis. But, at first blush it did not change my opinion that Paparico is the best Mexican restaurant in the Brookside/Waldo section of town.

Walking into the restaurant at 12:30 on a Monday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost every table was taken. We were served chips and salsa upon sitting down, and happily noted that the salsa came in a mini-carafe to pour as needed. The mild salsa was a bit bland and tomatoey, but perked up nicely with the addition of the hot chile salsa that we requested.

I ordered a fajita burrito with pork. It was filled with meat, peppers and onions, and served with fluffy Mexican rice and whole pinto beans. Though the menu stated that it would be smothered with tomatillo sauce, this was definitely a ranchero sauce. When I asked about the switch, the server explained that had I ordered it with chicken, one of three options, it would have come with tomatillo sauce. However,  the pork and steak burritos are made with ranchero sauce because of the spices that the meats are marinated in first. Can’t argue with that, but it would have been nice if that had been clear, or if the server mentioned it when I told her I was debating between chicken and pork. At least she was happy to bring me some heated tomatillo sauce to spoon over it.

The pork was tender and pleasantly seasoned and, though as I’ve pointed out before, I’m not a fan of ranchero sauce (I prefer a chile based sauce to one made with tomato), it did work well with the dish. The tomatillo sauce added a bit of a punch though it was slightly oily. I love having whole beans instead of refried as a side– it’s so much healthier and I prefer the texture.

My husband ordered cheese enchiladas, which came smothered in the kind of rich chile sauce that typifies an “enchilada sauce”, as opposed to a ranchero sauce.

He also ordered a pork tamale with mole sauce, but when asked about it the server said it wasn’t really mole, though it was similar. I’m not sure it was different than the enchilada sauce, but that’s not a bad thing. It was a bit grainy, which confirmed it had indeed been made with chile powder.

Service was good, not exceptional. Our chip basket was not refilled, but that was probably for the best. As it was I had to pass much of the burrito across the table to my personal garbage disposal, who can’t abide letting food go to waste no matter how full he may be.

Were Paparico’s not in the same neighborhood, I would be happy to go back to Chelly’s, but the overall experience and fare didn’t quite measure up. Though my observations are admittedly based on one visit, I’d have to concur with my readers who gave the nod to Paparico’s.

Chelly's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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March 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm 5 comments

Paparico’s Mexican Restaurant

Finally. A great Mexican restaurant in my neck of the woods. I have long searched for a place closer to the Plaza/Brookside area that would satisfy my frequent cravings for enchiladas, carnitas, burritos and the like.

Hence my near euphoria after eating at Paparico’s Mexican restaurant. My husband and I went for breakfast one morning, though the owner Ismael (who goes by Papa Rico), offered to fix us anything on the menu if we had a few extra minutes. No need. There was more than enough to choose from on the breakfast menu, even for those who don’t like eggs, including tacos, pozole and even mole.

I had a breakfast burrito, stuffed with eggs and my choice of a long list of ingredients. I selected chorizo and potato, and out came a huge burrito smothered with ranchero sauce. If you like it mild, that might be the sauce for you, though it didn’t do much for me. I preferred the “House Red”, a homemade guajillo sauce that was as close to a New Mexican chile sauce as I’ve found in Kansas City. It shows up on several menu items, including cheese and onion enchiladas and pork tamales. We also had pork carnitas and al pastor tacos, listed as “Premium” tacos, though they were what is usually classified as a street taco. Not the typical American version with cheese and lettuce but, rather, simply topped with onion and cilantro and served with  chile de arbol and avocado jalapeno sauces. The sauces completed the dish, though the meats were little taste treats on their own.

In the morning  all of the entrees are served with refried beans and breakfast potatoes (perfect little chunks of crispness) instead of rice and beans. I wish they had a whole pinto or black bean alternative to the refried version, but that was really my only quibble with the place.

Be forewarned. If you want to wash your food down with a beer or margarita, you’re stuck with soda or juice until the liquor license application goes through, but Ismael is hopeful that it will happen soon. Since it was morning, I didn’t mind, but the flavorful salsa and chips will be even better with a beer in one hand.

This is a real family operation. Husband, wife, brother, and daughters, they are all incredibly hospitable and want nothing more than for you to enjoy your meal. If you want to tweak a dish, or devise your own combo, just ask and they will oblige. They cater and even deliver.  Ismael and his wife split the cooking, and share in the serving.  He insists on making certain sauces (and even the chips) himself, while she has her own complement of specialties. Ismael told me they make their own mole, so that’s a must try for my next visit, which I’ve already started plotting.

Paparico's on Urbanspoon

February 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm 12 comments

Fiesta Azteca has moved to Lee’s Summit

In an update to an earlier post, Fiesta Azteca has moved from Raytown to Lee’s Summit. Don’t expect any changes other than in the size of the restaurant. The digs are much roomier, but owner Andres Orozco is still roaming the tables, exhorting guests to try something other than the usual Mexican fare. He continues to be a cheerleader for his brand, touting dishes not commonly found on most Mexican restaurants about town.

In an attempt to sample items I had not tried before, we enjoyed the carnitas, essentially double-cooked pork that has been “crisped” after slow-cooking in the oven, and cactus enchiladas with green chile sauce, both of which were worthy of Orozco’s accolades. My one dismay was that the salsa which accompanies the chips was so thin that we couldn’t help but make a mess every time we scooped it up…dripping on the menu, our sweaters, and the table.

The new address is 705 SE Melody Lane, just off Hwy 291.

Yes, you can get tacos or burritos, but do yourself a favor and branch out a bit. Your taste buds will thank you.

Fiesta Azteca Mexican on Urbanspoon

February 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

Guadalajara Cafe

For a restaurant to stay in business for fourteen years, the owners have to be doing something right.  Guadalajara Cafe is a case in point. Owned and operated by the same families that own Ixtapa in the Northland and the highly acclaimed  Frida’s in Southern Johnson county, Guadalajara has flown under the radar for years, but still manages to stay afloat producing authentic Mexican fare in an upscale setting. Many menu items are similar to what is served in the other two restaurants, though it has its own specialties, too.

Though I wanted to stick to the dishes that make Guadalajara unique, on a recent visit we did try the Quesadillas de Flor de Calbaza, corn tortillas stuffed with squash blossoms, griddled, and served with guacamole. This is one of the most special dishes at Frida’s and I was delighted to find that it was every bit as phenomenal here,  a real delicacy that has to be experienced to understand just how wonderful it is.

First impressions always start at a Mexican restaurant with the chips and salsa. These chips were crisp and the salsa was fresh and very tasty. The hot salsa was as hot as advertised, and we used it to spice up the mild version.

I never pass up mole when I see it on the menu. Guadalajara’s was as good as it gets, a smooth chile sauce with hints of chocolate and spice. the pork verde with tomatillo sauce featured tender chunks of pork, but the sauce was a bit thin, both in terms of consistency and flavor. The rice that accompanied it was cooked perfectly and the corn tortillas that came on the side were homemade, which is a big deal in my book. The only disappointment of the evening was that the beans were refried rather than whole.

It’s surprising that Guadalajara Cafe doesn’t receive more accolades. The food isn’t greasy like at the typical Tex-Mex joint, it’s authentic, and the service is friendly and knowledgable. If you’ve been before, it’s time to go back. Or, give it a try for the first time, it won’t be your last.

Guadalajara Cafe on Urbanspoon

November 7, 2010 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

Roeland Park’s Price Chopper

It would be hard to find a more comprehensive selection of Mexican and Latino food items in Kansas City than at the Price Chopper in Roeland Park.

In my hunt for achiote paste to marinate shrimp before I grilled it, I explored aisle after aisle and enjoyed browsing the shelves. I felt like a kid in a candy store. In addition to finding a myriad of chile peppers, salsas, spices and  fresh produce items not available at my neighborhood store, I found fresh flour and corn tortillas made daily on site–the perfect wrap for those grilled shrimp!

And this store doesn’t just specialize in Mexican goodies, the Asian section is also a treat. They had several hard-to-find Thai sauces and Chinese seasonings as well.

The next time you don’t think you can make a recipe for lack of a particular ingredient, or your favorite grocer shakes his head at your request, head to Roeland Park. Whatever you wind up creating in the kitchen will be enhanced by such effort, and you may discover you have a new favorite dish to show off to friends and family!

September 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm 4 comments

Oyamel–Washington, DC

Put Oyamel on your list the next time you visit our nation’s capitol. This attractive restaurant features small plates and authentic Mexican flavors, best enjoyed family style to experience the entire array of offerings on the menu.

Mole is an intense sauce, made with a variety of chile pods, fruit and nuts. Oyamel makes several different ones and pairs them with meat or fish. The scallops with green mole were a particular treat, as was the chicken and rice smothered with poblano mole.

The best dish? A quesadilla with huitlacoche and tomatillo salsa. Huitlacoche is corn smut, popularly referred to as a Mexican black truffle. Whenever I see huitlacoche on a menu, I always order it because it’s rare and incredibly delicious (check out a similar dish in Kansas City at Frida’s, along with their fabulous squash blossom quesadilla.)

We also enjoyed wonderful chips and salsa, a corn tamale, duck confit flautas and a taco with Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange, though the latter didn’t have the oomph of some of the other selections.

The choices get harder during weekend brunch, when some incredible sounding egg dishes are added to the mix.

And, not surprisingly, the drink list includes a dazzling variety of margaritas, including the Classic which can even be ordered by the pitcher.

What’s not to like about this place?

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

August 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

Mi Ranchito

Mi Ranchito is a local chain, with six restaurants around the area. It may not be particularly exciting, but it’s a place you can count on for good, solid, Mexican fare. I recently gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I think it’s better than any of its counterparts on Southwest Blvd. (except Poco’s, which is more authentic than any of them). And the service was exceptional–friendly and competent, a winning combination.

My initial impression of a Mexican restaurant hinges on the quality of the chips and salsa, in the same way that I evaluate bread and butter at an American restaurant. If the salsa isn’t fresh and flavorful, and the chips aren’t crisp and thick (enough to hold the salsa), it’s hard for me to get past that. But the chips and salsa at Mi Ranchito passed my test–and they also had a spicy version of the salsa, a definite plus. A smooth avocado dip was also offered. The servers kept the chips coming, refilling the basket without being asked–and that’s as important as quality in my husband’s book. (Ask him to actually pay extra for chips and salsa and it will ruin his evening,  or at least inordinately cloud his opinion).

My son had a combination platter and enjoyed a tasty tamale, a pork carnitas burrito and a taco. Yes, he was hungry, but it was a huge amount of food and he didn’t finish it.  No skimping on portions here. I had pork in chile verde, substituting the refried beans with black beans. (I like it when Mexican restaurants offer a slightly healthier option). My husband had cheese enchiladas and unlike some places around town, the enchilada sauce was properly made with chiles, not tomatoes.

We went to the location at 80th and Metcalf. It’s a popular spot, so if you plan on going to the Rio Theatre next door, make sure to allow enough time.

Mi Ranchito on Urbanspoon

April 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

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