Apr 282011

I know, this isn’t Oklahoma Lunch Spots, and the farther reaches of rural Johnson County can damn well feel like our esteemed neighbor to the south, but K & M Bar-B-Q is probably worth mentioning as a destination lunch joint for folks in most of the metro area.

K & M Bar-B-Q

I have only made one recent visit and frankly am unlikely to make another any time soon. Even Gardner felt like a sizable jaunt from Spring Hill, and that’s saying something. Normally I like to feel a restaurant out for 2,3 or 4 meals before taking the time to write a blog post, but I’ll forego that here and offer a brief recap of my meal.

It was excellent. K & M offers some of the best burnt ends I’ve eaten in Kansas City, and the portion size was nothing to sneeze at either.

Burnt ends and rings

Burnt ends and rings

Burnt ends are typically only available on weekends as a dinner plate, but my visit luckily coincided with them being offered as a special, which included any side dish and drink for 7.80. Considering that burnt ends at LC’s cost $8.95 for the sandwich alone (admittedly much larger), this is a great lunch deal.

Yes, these are real burnt ends and not random chunks of meat covered in sauce that some places try to pass off as KC’s signature dish. The meat itself was fork-tender and the fat was properly rendered and not overabundant. I could have used a little more crunch on them but they did have a ton of prevalent bark that gave them a nice smokiness.

K & M has a nicely flavored sauce, a little less forward than a Gates or Bryant’s, and somewhat thinner. As is typical of local BBQ joints, the spicy sauce is virtually identical to the regular sauce with the modest addition of (probably) hot sauce. This is a rather lazy way to create a hot BBQ sauce but I can’t complain about the flavor.

The onion rings had the crackery coating which was actually nice accompaniment to the smoked meat. I can’t say with any certainty that they weren’t from a Sysco bag, but I sure as hell didn’t mind.

The interior of K & M is decorated in a strong western motif with cowboy hats, steer horns and old-timey prints adorning the wood-paneled walls. While this place gets pretty darn busy during lunch, the interior is huge, featuring at least two distinct dining areas. It was hopping but not even close to full at the noon hour.


The service was excellent. I had my drink and food order taken quickly and food delivered within 5 minutes. They deliver the check to your table but take all payment at the front counter which significantly expedites things.

Who knows what circumstances might leads you to Spring Hill, Kansas in the future? While it seems doubtful for many folks who live in KC proper or the older suburbs, this is a manageable drive from southern Overland Park, Gardner or Olathe. Regardless, eating in small towns can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the options. K & M may be one of the only places to eat in Spring Hill but from all indications it serves barbecue as well as they do anywhere else.

K & M Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Mar 172011

Don’t be afraid. The scariest thing about Chelly’s is the interior decorating.



Isn’t this place dreadful inside? When reader JaySoy suggested it a year or two back, I had never really noticed it, nestled on the end of a haggard strip mall around the corner from Swagger at 85th and Wornall. The shopping center is anchored by the excellent neighborhood bar, Walsh’s Corner Cocktails which apparently has a cheeseburger I need to try.

A cheeseburger you don’t need to try is at Chelly’s, because Chelly’s is a Mexican restaurant. Mexican restaurants don’t need burgers. If anyone feels strongly to the contrary, feel free to tell me how great Chelly’s burgers are in the comments.

That being said, I did enjoy my meal in this curious little place much more than I anticipated. It is a familiar and popular genre of restaurant: slightly Americanized Mexican fare with a broad appeal but not the utterly gross kind. They serve up hearty plates of food along with mass-produced Mexican beers and perfectly good unnaturally green margaritas. Think Mi Ranchito, Dos Reales, Los Corrals and the like.

I was pleasantly surprised by a delicious pork tamale covered with a red chile sauce that they seem overly fond of. Tacos get the traditional corn tortilla, onion and cilantro treatment. I had carne asada and chicken and the meats, from what I remember, are just fine. These tacos aren’t going to knock your socks off but sometimes you just need a fix.

Tamale and tacos

The menu advertises an accompaniment called the “Mexican flag,” which I assume is the centrally located piles of green guacamole, sour cream, onions and tomatoes on each plate.


As you can see, Chelly’s serves whole pinto beans rather than the more common refried variety and though I prefer the latter when they are good these are perfectly tasty and a refreshing chance of pace.

Waldo is not a particularly good locale for Mexican food, with the supremely mediocre anglocized Cantina del Ray and Taco Factory up north. Paparico’s is the newest addition to Waldo’s Mexican family which has very favorable reviews around town, with a notable exception. So in this climate, Chelly’s succeeds, even though it may not be up to the highest standards.

Chelly's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Feb 282011


Danny Edward’s BBQ began life as a little shack in heart of downtown Kansas City, known for cranking out delicious barbecue to lunch breakers, mostly on a “to-go” basis due to its small capacity. It was also known as “Lil Jake’s Eat it an’ Beat it,” a reference to Danny’s nickname as a kid. Danny’s father, Jake, was a well-regarded local purveyor of smoked meats in his own right for more than 40 years.

Danny Edward's BBQ, Downtown KC

I moved here in 2006 when Lil Jake’s/Danny Edward’s was still very much alive downtown but increasingly dwarfed by the scope of construction at the new Power & Light District which, if you recall, made that part of downtown virtually un-navigable. Apparently, the area didn’t have much to recommend it before the arrival of P&L, but by all accounts Lil Jake’s was not part of the problem. Nonetheless it was inevitably forced to yield under the duress of eminent domain, for the “public good” of a tax-subsidized entertainment district. In with Famous Dave’s, out with Danny Edward’s, a tenant of more than a quarter century.

It is the greatest regret of my culinary life not to have eaten at Danny Edward’s downtown location before it closed and moved to Southwest Boulevard. When I started this blog on January 1, 2007 I worked at the downtown library, a 10-minute walk from the little BBQ shack, but somehow I let the construction and the potential annoyance of a small, busy restaurant keep me away. Within a year it was gone, only later to reappear on the city’s west side.

To their great credit, Kansas City barbecue enthusiasts proved more than willing to make the short car-ride out to the Boulevard and the new Danny Edwards has succeeded mightily in newer, larger, more modern digs. While the whole relocation story makes me a little sad, I’m nonetheless thrilled that this place not only does brisk business, but serves great barbecue on top of it.

Indeed the food at Danny Edwards is practically as good as the esteemed Oklahoma Joe’s, without the attendant enthusiasm of people who deluge Twitter and Facebook with uninformed assertions about BBQ sandwiches with cheese on them (click at your own risk). And while I am not immune to the appeal of Joe’s excellent barbecue, I can’t recommend it in my capacity as a lunch blogger because the wait is simply too long during the noon hour.

I’m also much more excited about eating at a place with the Edwards pedigree. Danny’s father was slinging ‘cue on the right side of the state line five decades before Joe’s set up shop in a KCK gas station.

The hand-cut fries at Edwards are similar to those at Joe’s, right down to the salty and unnecessary seasoning powder applied at the end. You can request them without seasoning and I recommend doing just that. Better yet, forego the fries entirely in favor of some of the best onion rings in town.

Beef sandwich

The brisket is hard to ignore. Once you enjoy the thick-cut, tender chucks of smoky beef, you’ll be hard-pressed to order anything else. Sure, I prefer a thinner slice such as that at Gates or LC’s and the Edwards’ brisket has all the marks of having been steamed in foil to achieve extra softness. But any complaints I have are purely related to personal preference rather than any failing on the restaurant’s part. The flavor and texture are truly sublime.

Beef and Ham

Beef and Ham

Edwards does a nice job with their burnt ends too. Their predilection for buttery, grilled kaiser buns adds an element of decadent richness, but certainly doesn’t hurt anything. Edwards has excellent baked beans with understated sweetness and good bean flavor accentuated by many tender chunks of pork. Their sweet potato fries aren’t bad either.

Ol' Smoky (Burnt Ends)

Southern Style

I’ve eaten here a number of times but have yet to try the ribs, which look excellent. But I can vouch for the beef, pulled pork and ham. What I can say is that Danny Edwards has the best, friendliest service of any BBQ joint in town. This is a table service place and you will never want for a a refill, to-go box or check when you need it. These people are pros and they will get you out in a hurry if that’s what you want. While places like Gates pay lip service to friendliness with their calculated “How may I help you” training regimen, Danny Edwards is service in action. Pay a visit and see if you don’t agree.

Danny Edwards is used to regulars and it is possible to order before your seat is warm. Get your check at the table and pay at the counter, where, more often than not, the restaurant’s namesake and his wife are running the show. Don’t let the modern building fool you, this is old school Kansas City barbecue at its best.

Danny Edwards Boulevard Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ
2900 Southwest Blvd
Mon-Sat 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Jerry’s Cafe: 1209 West 103rd St.

 Posted by at 2:24 am
Feb 242011

I consider it a personal failure never to have visited Jasper’s or its lowbrow sister, Marco Polo down at 103rd and State Line road. This is a part of town with a number of nearby office buildings, medical facilities and a major metropolitan highway. Yet lunch options are a little thinner than one would expect. Certainly Marco Polo, Gates, Fritz’s Sausage and Guadalajara come to mind, but little else beside chains and a few nondescript sports grills and Chinese places serve to sate the presumed hordes of corporate lunchers.

So I set my sites on lunch at Marco Polo, but was quickly distracted by a sign for Jerry’s Cafe virtually next door. My lunch plans quickly changed.


Charles Ferruzza wrote a piece for the Pitch back in November about this plain little diner owned by the former proprietor of the Woodswether Cafe, a seriously interesting joint with great diner food. It had almost slipped my mind, despite being thrilled that Jerry had found another culinary outlet.

The dining area is small, plain and pretty boring except for a stupefying Pulp Fiction-themed mural along one wall which depicts Jules and Vincent holding a burger and fries, respectively. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen the film that I can’t recall of this is a reference to a specific scene or just a curious general homage.


Two signboards rest in the front window advertising daily specials. The specials were identical on each of my visits so I suspect they are more or less permanent options.


As you can see, prices are pretty reasonable, especially considering the size of the portions. I ate a reuben ($6.99) that was so a large and sloppy that I had a hard time finishing it. I did eat it all, ultimately, instead opting to leave quite a few fries on my plate. While hand cut and freshly fried they were entirely too waxy, dense and limp for my tastes. I suspect they were not fried twice, which can be fine as my friends at the Snak Shack tell me, but it requires a specific cooking method. At any rate, the fries at Jerry’s were disappointing.

Frozen fries are so prevalent because good, hand-cut french fries are not easy to prepare. As more and more restaurants serve the real deal we are bound to encounter some less than stellar versions of the glorious fried potato.

Reuben and fries

On my next visit I ordered onion rings which were great, although I couldn’t tell if they were hand-dipped or not. Jerry uses the cracker-style coating which I normally don’t prefer but these were tasty rings.

Oh did I mention I had a Chicago style hot dog? Hell yeah, it’s damn near authentic and may be the best one in town. Someone tell KC Napkins guy!

Chicago dog

This dog is no shrinking violet, it’s of sufficient size to make you blush, extending an inch or so from either end of the bun. It’s an all beef Vienna dog with most of the requisite toppings: neon green relish, tomato slices, sport peppers, onions and mustard. The only thing missing was the celery salt which I often forego anyway.

Chicago dog

Before my dog came out, Jerry visited my table to make sure I knew how hot the sport peppers were. Yes, I know, I assured him. Later as I was eating, he came back out to make sure I was doing ok with the sport peppers and all. I take it he gets a lot of diners who don’t like spicy food. At any rate, Jerry seemed like a nice guy and the hot dog was awesome — worth every penny of the $3.99 it set me back.

While Ferruzza had some mild complaints about the service and the table set-up, I experienced no such foibles. My servers were all very quick to the table and quick to deliver the check. Refills came without prompting. They do use flimsy napkins which is silly considering how sloppy the food can be. Make sure you get some extra ones for your meal. Also the kitchen is fast enough that you could get out of there in a half hour if you time it right.

In summary, get yourself to Jerry’s for breakfast or lunch. The joint is open Tuesday – Sunday until 3pm. No dinner here. The food is miles beyond what you will get at your average diner anywhere in the KC metro. Ignore the strip mall and enjoy your meal.

Jerry’s Cafe
1209 W. 103rd (at State Line, southeast corner)
Tues-Sunday: 6am-3pm

Jerry's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Feb 222011

Taco Factory set up shop early this year in the old Sweet Guy spot in the heart of Waldo near 75th and Wornall. I was honestly prepared to never set foot in this place. Everything I had heard and read about Taco Factory made it sound like a middle of the road, cheapish whitey taco place that caters to boring people and drunks.

It turns out I was completely right, but I did enjoy my meal to a reasonable degree. The interior is brightly lit and brightly colored. Like a fast food joint, you order at a counter and pick up your order when your number appears on a monitor mounted high in the dining room.


I haven’t seen the number method deployed in this manner before, and I far prefer it to obnoxious shouting via loudspeaker or food runners shouting people’s names in the dining room.


The menu is reminiscent of popular fast food chains like Chipotle or Pancheros but I think the quality and flavor are a bit superior at Taco Factory. The shredded beef was succulent and delicious, despite a distinct over-reliance on salt. And the tempura battered fish was great; I would go back just for that.

Unfortunately, there are no corn tortillas to be had, only premade flour ones. They may be softened slightly on a grill, but are a little dense and chewy by the time you take the first bite. Each taco is attractively, if inauthentically adorned with shredded lettuce, red cabbage, feta cheese crumbles, some pale tomato and a generous handful of some tepid “Mexican shredded cheese mix” – probably Monterey Jack and Cheddar.


Don’t bother with the rice and beans. The rice is over-seasoned and has the consistency of minute-rice. The beans are too salty and seem to come from a can.

The entree salads are large and attractively presented in metal bowls with multi-colored fried tortilla strips. The finely shredded chicken was likely cooked in-house and was well-seasoned and pleasant in texture. The salad dressing has the appearance of having come from a Sysco gallon jug, but you may prefer the judicious use of salsa instead. You have the choice of hot or mild salsa but I was unable to detect any heat whatsoever in either one.



A highly publicized Happy Hour from 3-5pm advertises $1 Bud Lite draws and $2 margaritas. The signage is sponsored by none other than Pepe Lopez tequila which, along with the bottles of Hiram Walker triple sec I saw behind the counter probably creates a hell of a cheap-ass wallop in a margarita. By the way, what’s up with happy hours that end at 5pm? Happy Hour used to be a way to compete for after-work business, hasn’t this gotten a little out of hand?

Basically, Taco Factory is a fast food restaurant well-poised to succeed in Waldo, home to some of the city’s oldest and most mediocre restaurants. It is also aptly-named, since every ingredient in the place probably came out of a factory of some sort. It will appeal to college students, people who can’t get in to Waldo Pizza, and drunk people (it’s open very late at night). I’d love to tell you more about their hours and their menu choices, but Taco Factory doesn’t have a website.

Taco Factory on Urbanspoon

Jan 302011

To most folks outside of Kansas City, the Stonewall Inn refers to the landmark New York City nightclub that saw a 1969 riot by its gay patrons during a police raid. The Stonewall riot is often heralded as the event that put gay rights into the public consciousness. Out in Lenexa, Kansas, The Stonewall Inn refers to a supremely old school restaurant serving up traditional homestyle American cooking without flash or pretension. I imagine homosexuality plays very little part in what they are serving up and its name is just a happy accident.

Stonewall Inn

While I have not eaten at the Stonewall’s main restaurant, a smaller old home sits just south of the original restaurant at Pflumm and 103rd and houses Stonewall Pizza. This is a smaller, more affordable joint with a limited menu. While the big restaurant is open for lunch, Stonewall Pizza makes a little more sense for a quick midday bite so that’s what I’ll focus on here.

I have been to Stonewall Pizza many times over the course of three years, having first been introduced to it by local blogger Goofy Girl. As I said, it lacks pretension but I’ve found that the pizza is really quite good.



Stonewall Inn

You order at a counter just inside the front door. The menu offers slices, whole pies and a few sandwiches. The best bet for lunch is the special: a 3-topping slice, side salad and fountain drink for $6.48. I have opted for the two-slice lunch but found it to be too much food and slightly too expensive, approaching 10 bucks with drink. As each slice is made to order, it can take 10 minutes or so to get your food.

These are large slices with a fairly thin crust that remains delightfully crispy on the bottom and edges. While slightly more rustic in appearance, the pizza slices at Stonewall remind me of those at D’Bronx, and are a little bit cheaper.

The salads are typical unremarkable pizza parlour offerings with iceberg and romaine lettuce, a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese and a couple of pepperoni slices. I’ve never understood why pizza places love putting odd pizza toppings on salads. It’s not like they don’t have a a whole slew of fresh vegetables on hand, so why put pepperoni and cheese on the salad? Yet another truism for you: shredded cheese never belongs on a salad.

Stonewall Inn

Stonewall Pizza is not a restaurant for people who like to keep to themselves. You see, this is perhaps the friendliest place I have ever eaten. It’s friendly to a fault. If you want to show up, order food and mind your own business, you may be disappointed since the staff will talk to you continuously throughout your stay. Not a minute into my last visit, I knew the name of the woman at the counter and the name of the owner who was sitting at one of the tables in the empty dining area. Throughout the meal, each staff person referred to me by my first name, frequently checking up on me to make sure everything was okay and making small talk. One woman even asked me if it was alright to change the music, which played from a portable stereo by the front window.

I don’t have a lump of coal for a heart, so I appreciate the hands-on treatment at Stonewall Pizza, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.


The interior is small and a little wonky but it’s an interesting space to have lunch. There is a back dining room that is typically closed or empty and a sizable patio out front that is nice in warmer climes.

All in all, Stonewall Pizza is a decent spot to put on the lunch rotation if you live or work in that part of Johnson County. It took me a while to warm up to the place but the good crust occasionally calls my name, which put it over the top for me. Stiff competition from Pizza Man which sits right next door may make this a less appealing option. But since Pizza Man recently started pre-making Chicago Dogs and Italian Beefs for lunch service, you may want to give Stonewall Pizza a try one of these days.

Stonewall Pizza
10244 Pflumm Road Lenexa, Kan. [Map it >]

Stonewall Inn on Urbanspoon

Jan 052011


Todd Schulte, proprietor of the esteemed Columbus Park cafe, Happy Gillis, has opened a special little spot in the West Bottoms that may just surpass his first venture in terms of style, menu and flavors. Housed in an extensively rehabbed gas station painted a jaunty shade of red, this place was put together carefully and tastefully. While not my personal aesthetic, I love the way this place looks on the inside; it’s perfect for the neighborhood. The interior contains a wonderful mix of vintage and modern items. Beautiful old cafe tables, chairs, light fixtures, salt shakers and bud vases complement clean, white china, a sleek bar and the cotton towels that serve as napkins. Design-wise it lies somewhere between Victorian splendor and old West tavern.

A banquette along the back wall provides a space seemingly well suited to sipping drinks and nibbling on a little something. Interestingly, the menu is not well-suited to this use but I imagine that may change when the weather warms up and word gets out about this place.


The West Bottoms is truly one of Kansas City’s most unique environs, and I think Schulte and company were smart for snapping up one of the few remaining commercial spaces on Genessee street. Anchored by the R Bar a few doors down, the block offers the old school charm of the Golden Ox and the somewhat more lowbrow offerings of Grandma’s Bar & Grill which has apparently filled a the void left by Connie’s Genessee Inn. Apart from a few businesses and the Livestock exchange, most of the street has been subsumed by Kemper Arena in one way or another. Despite the weirdness of the area, I think it has a real shot at becoming a distinct dining and nightlife destination.

Out the window

Only time will tell who precisely flocks to Genessee Royale, but right now it appears the be a prime spot for casual business lunches. During my visit, more than a couple tables had folks holding court over notebooks, papers and laptops while digesting their food. The crowd tended toward the middle aged and well-heeled, but frankly, who else would be eating lunch at 2 p.m. on a weekday? Who else, except me that is (I’m not quite middle aged yet!)

The menu itself is quite simple and relatively affordable despite the smallish portions. Lunch entrees aren’t loaded up with filling side dishes like french fries but rather accompanied by a handful of subtly dressed greens or a tablespooon or two of homemade potato salad. Lunch items run between $6 and $9. To my mind they are perfectly sized portions but some hungry diners may want to consider one of Genessee Royale’s excellent soups to start. Oddly the menu offers no appetizers or a la cart side dishes at all. I think they would benefit from a few small plates, particularly if they want to be any kind of hangout. Right now, the hours are not conducive for such use, as they only stay open until 4 p.m. Nonetheless, you can order a small selection of alcoholic beverages here: champagne cocktails, bloody marys, a few wines and (if memory serves) a couple of Boulevard products.

The food is clearly put together with a lot of care. The burger is excellent: freshly prepared, very well seasoned and juicy, with nice Bibb lettuce, compound butter and an English muffin bun. While the muffin was a tad dense and chewy as a hamburger bun, it was still a great English muffin.


I also tried their version of biscuits and gravy which comes with a deliciously tender, fried chicken breast and a fried egg. While more cooked than the sunnyside up that was advertised, I loved the whole combo, almost enough to make me appreciate brunch. This is a perfect brunch dish.

Fried Chicken and Egg biscuit

Their take on French Onion Soup ($7) was likewise inspired. The broth was rich without the characteristic dark, saltiness that plagues steakhouse versions of the stuff. Instead the soup played up the sweetness of the sauteed onion, offsetting it with a shelf of melted Gruyere and a homemade crouton.

Onion Soup

While the place is pretty lean and mean, I personally like that they are not biting off more than they can chew from the get-go. Rather the Royale serves as a more refined version of a luncheonette, a place where one wouldn’t expect a wide-ranging menu but can still get a unique meal at a good price. Genessee Royale wouldn’t be out of place in Brookside or Prairie Village in some ways, but the interesting context of the West Bottoms makes it a very appealing alternative for those living and working in the center city.

Genessee Royale Bistro on Urbanspoon

Dec 192010


I can’t say the name of this restaurant without whispering it faux-sexily, in the manner of commercials for douchey local strip clubs.


Intentions opened up last year in the downtown Overland Park space previously occupied by a club called Revolver, which I had never visited. It had the outward appearance of a dance club straight out of the 90s but closed down several years ago and stood vacant for some time. The concept behind Intentions is an odd hybrid of semi-upscale Asian food and live music.

While sushi is the heart of the menu, they offer everything from wraps to chicken fingers to steak. The food is pretty tasty and prepared with care but I never know what to order for lunch. Do I really want a burger from a sushi place? Is this even a sushi place? Many menu items have been sufficiently “enhanced” as to be inspired by sushi and not necessarily the real thing.

The specialty maki (rolls) run between 10 and 13 bucks each and are probably large enough to fill most diners, but not everyone. Smartly, Intentions typically offers a few specials which the chef will be more than happy to tell you about in great detail. Great detail.

There is typically a daily special of one of the simpler rolls (California, avocado, cucumber) and a side salad for 4.95. That sounds cheap but it isn’t much food, at least not for this fatass. One day I tried the “lollipops,” on special which are basically a tempura-fried roll, topped with raw salmon and surrounded by rice. They are presented on toothpicks thusly:


They tasted good, but were exceedingly difficult to eat, falling off the toothpicks and eluding chopsticks. They were not particularly filling or worth the $11 I paid for them. At any rate I prefer a simpler, more traditional sushi experience and I’m happy to say that Intentions can provide it.


The nigiri are larger than most and fresh in taste and appearance. The side salads are very good, with a homemade asian-inspired dressing. Alas they add way too much, which overwhelms it.


A large space in the rear of the restaurant provides a stage, bar and lots of seating for the nighttime crowd. For lunch I prefer to sit up front where some windows provide some natural light. There is a decent lunchtime group but seemingly not enough to warrant the presence of 5 or 6 employees who are always milling around.

Unfortunately there is also a flat screen TV blasting 80s metal videos in the front room. It was sufficiently loud one one visit that I had a very difficult time hearing the chef describe the specials from 10 feet away behind the bar. Apparently, the focus here is on being a club that serves food rather than a true restaurant that can stand on its own. Similarly the servers get the job done but seem like they would be more comfortable dishing drinks to drunk chicks and working the door. On a side note, one server referred to me variously as “partner,” “chief” and “boss” during a single visit.

Nonetheless Intentions is a fine choice for lunch in the area, and more or less fits the middle of the road, white person nightlife vibe provided by other nearby businesses like Taste, Maloney’s and the Other Place. I hesitated to post about this place because I assumed it would be out of business in short order. So kudos to Intentions for getting over the initial hump. While not really my style of vibe, food or decor, they must be doing something right.

Intentions on Urbanspoon

Nov 302010

Way back in February, a reader named Candace emailed me about a “little hole-in-the-wall on 24 highway” with incredible tacos. Here we are ten months later and I find myself hurtling toward Independence on an unrelated weekend errand. Since I am virtually never in Independence I felt obligated to try one of the joints listed on my spreadsheet of restaurants to try. Do you have a suggestion? Submit it using this form; I may get around to it in the very distant future.

Anyhow, my visit to Lucia’s is proof that I do keep track of these suggested restaurants, and I will eventually get around to trying most of them.

Candace was right, Lucia’s is a hole in the wall, with an outward appearance reminiscent of a Bait & Tackle shop or a rough and tumble roadside tavern.

Lucia's exterior

Since half the square footage is taken up by kitchen and storage, the dining room is really very small. It is so small that I wouldn’t count on being able to get a table without waiting during peak hours. I popped in last week at about 1:30 on a Saturday and there was only one table available. The tables are situated fairly close to one another and most of them accommodate either two or four diners. I wouldn’t pop in to Lucia’s with your party of eight expecting royal treatment.


The tremendous display of photographic expertise above is about the only kind of dining room photo you can get at Lucia’s without being an asshole. There is no way to hide what you are eating, doing or talking about. So, to sum up, Lucia’s is small, get it?

Want to see the menu?



Here we have the usual dizzying assortment of hard shell tacos, sauced burritos and deep fried delicacies that are so prevalent in Kansas City. But the twist is that Lucia’s has a much more homestyle preparation. This makes for dishes that are a little more satisfying than Jose Peppers, Jalepenos and the like but not quite authentically sublime like El Camino Real for instance.

Marco & Steve's Judicial Spread

Mike & Jeff's Legal Lunch

Lucia’s has the curious habit of putting a grated, dry cheese–parmesan perhaps–on their tacos. I’ve seen this at other Tex-Mex spots and I’m really not a fan of the practice. It made an otherwise delightful fish taco a little too salty and pretty much trashed the mouthfeel.

The carnitas, only available on weekends, was nothing special. While tender and easy to chew, it lacked the crunchy exterior that is characteristic of the best carnitas. It appeared to have been braised or stewed without ever having been crisped in the oven.

The ground beef taco was…well, a good ground beef, hard shell taco. Even Don Chilitos can do these well so I don’t consider it much of an accomplishment. But I ate it and enjoyed it at Lucia’s.

Overall I think Lucia’s is a cool joint: family owned and operated, popular with locals, affordable and friendly. I have only been once, and I might go back to sample the menu more widely. Good Mexican food is so readily available in this town however, that it’s hard to justify returning when there are so many other deserving Independence spots to try.

Lucia's on Urbanspoon