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.

Interior

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.

Interior

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.

Tacos

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.

Salad

Receipt

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

Sep 192010
 

LC’s closed in early 2011 and the building is for sale.

Exterior

After several years in Kansas City, the northland is still pretty much a mystery to me. I am trying to get my head wrapped around it because, despite what many folks say, there are some good-looking lunch spots up there. Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote a post about burgers which is where I first heard about LC’s (thanks Jason, ShawnF and whoever else!). There are actually two locations, an original spot on NW Prairie View road that has indoor seating and this place which is strictly a drive-through with a little outdoor seating.

Exterior

After eating a meal there, I’m tempted to recommend that you forego the outdoor eating experience. Even on a nice day, the picnic tables are uncomfortable and the view is depressing. Sure you can feel superior by eating at a locally owned joint while looking down your nose at people at the Sonic next door, but the bustle of North Oak Trafficway has little to recommend it.

I suspect that this building started life as a Checkers or Rally’s if you can recall those pseudo-retro fast food burger joints that proliferated in the early 1990s. As a result the physical experience of LC’s is entirely without charm. You order your food from a window that faces the street, and a somewhat grumpy cashier takes your money and gives you a number. I waited at least 15 minutes to get burgers and tots for two people. Your number gets announced at the side window facing the picnic tables where you go to pick up your paper bag. If you want ketchup, ask the dude at the window for some packets.

Ketchup packets are not my favorite way to enjoy a condiment that already on the threshhold of disgust for me. There’s nothing like being hungry and trying to eat a burger and fries from a paper sack and having to open literally ten packets by the time you finish. Put a goddamn squeeze bottle up at the window or something, but leave the packets to Mickey D’s.

Speaking of which, I found the whole experience very reminiscent of fast food–the paper bag, the styrofoam containers, little baggies for the onion rings and even the food itself which, while tasting eons better than fast food, did have its appearance.

Burgers and sides

If you can keep your napkins and paper bags from blowing away in the wind, you might get around to tasting your food which is pretty good. I liked the burger quite a bit- it was greasy, salty and came on a lightly toasted bun with pre-applied condiments and grilled onions.

Under the hood

Both the tater tots and onion rings did not disappoint but aren’t among the best you will have. Tater tots pretty much taste the same wherever you go, unless someone really screws up the frying or dumps cheese on them or something.

I guess the overall impression I got from this LC’s was that it is comparable to a high-quality fast food place. I don’t want to eat here very often, mostly because the location doesn’t work for me and the eating situation is a little uncomfortable, but also because it seems like food you should feel guilty about consuming.

LC's Hamburgers, Etc on Urbanspoon

Mr. Gyros: 83rd & Metcalf

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Dec 052007
 

Mr. Gyros is hilarious in many respects. Firstly, its name brings a smile to my face because I picture a little talking gyro. Kind of like that Arby’s talking oven mitt, only not stupid and idiotic. Mr. Gyros also looks hilarious. I mean the faux-Greek temple thing is awesome–as if to shout “this is a temple of processed lamb goodness.” It’s actually easy to miss because it’s white and kind of clean cut in a way that most fast food joints aren’t. As someone pointed out to me recently, it looks like a bank.

Now, before I tried it, I had heard from several people (some of them actually reliable) that Mr. Gyros was awesome, not to be missed. So naturally I was prepared to hate it. Nothing raises more red flags with me than someone telling me that so-and-so’s has the best ______ in town. This is particularly true when you are talking about a fast food spot which Mr. Gyros, despite a few weird indications to the contrary, most definitely is. Among people who grew up in JoCo in particular, the place is the stuff of legend and well-revered. Which is also hilarious.

All that being said, Mr Gyros may have the best gyro I’ve ever eaten.

Mr. Gyros

And it’s a simple thing: pita, meat, tomato, onion, period. And a side of flawless tzatziki sauce. The pita is warm and soft. The meat is tender, well-seasoned, and lacking in undesirable mystery components that one occasionally finds in less reputable Greek establishments. My one complaint? It’s small, real small. You can’t get by on just a sandwich, you need something else like a salad or at least a piece of delicious homemade baklava. Or better yet, two gyros.

Mr. Gyros

So, now I have to go back–again and again, which is really too bad, because I was all prepared to hate it and continue to mock the Greek bank from afar.

Read more:

Mr Gyro's Greek Food on Urbanspoon

Yelp

Nov 132007
 

This is a fast food, railroad-themed, johnson county cheesesteak emporium. Thanks to commenter JH for bringing this local chain to my attention. Apparently chartreuse is a particularly obnoxious variety of the color green. I’m happy to report that the large model train featured at the Lenexa location opts for a more understated green than true chartreuse. One also hopes that the misspelling “chartroose” was an intentional gesture to facilitate visual rhyming with “caboose” in that gimmicky, commercial signage kind of way.

The Lenexa Caboose is located in a strip mall west of I-35, a truly uninspiring but typical placement for establishments in this part of the metro. The place was entirely filled with dudes–overgrown frat boys on lunch break, college students, random jobless yahoos. Not sure why, but cheesesteak doesn’t seem to be popular with the ladies.

The food at this place is fine, mostly because i can’t really think of another fast food place that specializes in cheesesteaks. As discussed previously, Grinders has a damn good one, but lots of places just phone it in, resulting in highly perplexing and uninspired varieties of this delicacy. The cheesesteak was good, but not awe-inspiring. Shockingly, it really needed more cheese. I’m thinking Cheez Whiz. I mean, it’s called a cheesesteak for chrissake, what’s the deal here? They have other things on the menu but I wasn;t going to order anything else if they consider this the specialty. The prices are cheap–I got outta there for 6 bucks all said.

The decor of course is pretty terrible–formica tables, too much light, hotel-grade artwork with a locomotive theme. They can’t decide whether this is a fast food joint or or a hangout. There is a small video game room and a train track that runs along the circumference of the wall. One can only imagine that the model train takes periodic trips around the confines but I did not witness this. They also serve beer which, along with these other things indicates to me that the Caboose wants to be a dinner destination for families. My advice, quit trying to hard and be a lunch spot.

Read more:

Chartroose Caboose on Urbanspoon