Dec 282007
 

Poco’s closed to the public on March 16 but has since reopened. This review reflects my experience at the first incarnation.

Everyone wants to love this place, and it’s easy to see why. The owner works in the kitchen, the staff is very friendly. The space is cute, and the location is off-kilter enough to make it interesting. It’s hard to argue with all that.

I visited during lunch hour and found the place nearly devoid of customers, but I think Poco’s does a better breakfast trade anyway. It’s interesting to see such a combination of American and Latin cuisine, but not in the same dishes, just on the same menu. The menu features both American classics and gussied-up Mexican fare. For instance, at breakfast you can get huevos rancheros or pancakes with sausage. For lunch you can have fish tacos or a cheeseburger. Great, something for everyone, right? But as I sat there with my menu, I found myself wondering: Do I really want a reuben from a Mexican restaurant? Do I really want tacos at an American restaurant?

I want to know what they do best, and that’s my responsibility as a diner and a lackadaisical blogger. I figured, let’s go with the mole. Mole is pure Mexico, and not every Mexican place has it on the menu. Not unlike barbeque sauce or marinara, there are different types and techniques with everyone claiming to have to best version of this revered sauce. And it is notoriously difficult to make from scratch. Now I’ve had mole in various incarnations at many Mexican restaurants. I have even foolishly attempted to make mole in my own home–the kitchen looked like a crime scene when it was all over. Alas the mole at Poco’s had all the indications of being made from a commonly available paste, and I can’t really blame them. Tasty, but pedestrian. It came atop chunks of poached chicken breast-certainly not a traditional implementation. It was satisfying but underwhelming. With decent corn tortillas, refried beans and excellent rice, it was nonetheless worth 7.95.

Due to this, I think I might just try breakfast fare next time. It doesn’t seem like they are trying too hard with that and other people’s food looked tasty. Poco’s does offer a nice selection of beer to take the edge off a morning’s hard work. The place has windows all around the perimeter which invites great natural light and a vista of industrial KCK in all its glory. As a lunch spot, you can probably do better for Mexican on the Boulevard. But if you have a hankering for breakfast food, or just want a friendly change of pace, it’s a bit of allright.

Don’t want to take my word for it? here are some other reviews from

Poco's on the Boulevard on Urbanspoon

Cooking in KC

The Pitch

and Noodletown

Nov 272007
 

With a name like this I can’t believe it’s not owned and operated by white people. Housed in one of westport’s most doomed restaurant locations on Pennsylvania just north of Westport road, this little taqueria dishes up some really good mexican food in addition to some less adventurous standards. I know that Mexican food and BBQ are overrepresented on this blog, but let’s face it, they are overrepresented in my life.

Cancun has a very pleasant little interior–I think the place used to be a gas station or garage because it’s small and there is a big overhead door to the outside. Not sure if this opens in the summer, which would be nice. Regardless, there is some outdoor seating with delightful views of that weird bar with the volleyball courts, not to mention giant semi-trucks parked in front of the Beaumont club and roadies showing how big their dicks are by carrying the heaviest gear as quickly as possible while simultaneously smoking cigarettes and cracking wise about the next guy’s mom. Well, it’s not exactly sitting outside season, but in this town you never know. It was 70 a week ago.

The people who work at Cancun Fiesta Fresh (god, it’s hard to write that name with a straight face) are super friendly. They have counter service, but typically bring out your food to the table. They have several salsas to choose from, including one that is actually hot.(from now on, due to the silliness of its name, I’m going to refer to this restaurant in all caps, i.e., CANCUN FIESTA FRESH!). What you want here are the so-called ‘street tacos.’ They feature your choice of meat, including carne asada, pork, chicken, lengua (tongue), and beef cheek. Yes, beef cheek. Anyone who watches enough of those food shows on the travel channel knows that the animal’s cheek is always the best stuff. Street tacos at CANCUN FIESTA FRESH! also come on steamed corn tortillas, the way it should be. You can be a jackass and get hard tacos with shredded lettuce and cheese and so forth, but you might as well go to taco bell. Or most any other mexican joint in KC for that matter.

Tacos, rice and beans

Tacos

Chips & Salsa

The fish tacos are delicious as well. Lightly breaded whitefish served on corn tortillas, topped with a sweet and tangy shredded cabbage mixture. These are really really good. The refried beans at CANCUN FIESTA FRESH! are excellent as well, no doubt due to their use of lard. That’s why they always taste better in restaurants. Kind of like MSG in that respect. So this is a great lunch alternative to the host of other places in Westport. It doesn’t really have that dinner vibe, but it is open until very late–I think 2 or 3 a.m. at which point street tacos must be absolutely divine.

And dude, they also deliver.

Read more:

Cancun Fiesta Fresh on Urbanspoon

Yelp

Nov 152007
 

I stopped by Tienda Casa Paloma yesterday on a whim. It really looks more like a market (which is what “tienda” implies) from the outside, but they I noticed some signs on the window advertising tacos, burritos, lunch specials, etc. In the end, I’m very glad I stopped in, for I found a place with a huge menu, lots of seating, and good food.

The vibes in this place are super friendly and positive. I received an immediate greeting from the two people behind the counter, as well as some advice about what to order. I opted for green chili, the special of the day. I had heard about green chili before, but had never noticed it on Mexican menus. It always struck me as a southwest, ameri-mex kind of thing. Maybe it is, but I decided to give it a go on the brisk autumn afternoon.

Green chili is basically a soup or stew, made with a base of tomatillos, the main ingredient in salsa verde which you see at many Mexican restaurants. I understand the dish is also infused with some roasted green chilis and lime juice. The protein kick is provided by shredded bits of roasted pork and chicken. This is not a spicy dish at all, and really is rather simple, hearty and fresh tasting. The whole thing was topped with fried tortilla chips and finely shredded cheese. I really need to start bringing a camera around with me, but maybe life is to short to start taking pictures of my lunch in order to spice up blog posts.

The green chili was very good, but not the best thing I’ve ever had. I would have preferred more meat, but basically I’m not a soup guy, so it would have been hard to overwhelm me with this dish. However, the meal was rounded out with a fantastic bottle of coke imported from Mexico, which tastes so much better than the crap we get here due to the use of sugar instead of corn syrup as sweetener. Anyone who has not experienced a real coke, go out and spend 1.75 at your local Mexican market for one. I was also happy to see a wide assortment of Jarritos sodas which were a favorite of mine when i lived in Chicago. Mmmm, tamarindo.

This place has counter service as I mentioned, which makes the whole experience very quick. My food came out to my table before I had taken off my coat and bag to sit down. Super fast. Unlike the Chartroose Caboose, the place was populated entirely by women, who i imagined were stay at home housewives in the midst of a typical day of working out, running errands, and conspicuous consumption. Entertainment was provided by two small children, who were dancing spontaneously to the jaunty mexican music being piped in, while being ignored by their parents.

As the name implies, Tienda Casa Paloma features a small assortment of Mexican foodstuffs for sale, including an enviable selection of dried chilis. The whole room looks like it is in flux, they were doing some work at the front corner while I was there. I think in due time they will get their organizational scheme figured out, because the atmosphere is just a bit weird. I ate my lunch right next to a shelf full of styrofoam plates and boxes of plastic forks.

In conclusion, I am very happy to have found this place-it’s right next to Mr. Gyro, so next time you are in the area, opt for some good Mexican chow instead of greasy processed lamb meat. Mind you, I enjoy greasy processed lamb meat as much as the next guy.

Read more:

Tienda Casa Paloma on Urbanspoon

Yelp

Los Tules: 1656 Broadway

 Posted by at 5:35 pm
Nov 082007
 

This place gets some serious traffic in every sense of the word. This is an extremely high-profile location near 17th and Broadway and anyone cruising toward or away from downtown, the westside or the crossroads is likely to notice it. I’ve been wanting to check it out ever since I moved here. I’ve noticed that they do a good business on First Fridays, which is what you would expect. It’s not too easy to park around there, mostly because Broadway is a little wacky thereabouts. Southbound drivers are so relieved to take advantage of a little post-construction homestretch that a parking car in front of los tules is a prime target. And a northbound auto will have to make a left turn across aforementioned nut jobs to get to the place.

But enough about parking, which is a seriously overrated, oft-discussed and less than interesting topic in this town. I mean the first time I parked on westport road I spent 5 minutes looking for a no parking sign because there was no parking meter. I assumed the spot was illegal. We got it lucky here, people. Hell, at Lawrence public library you get 4 hours for quarter. Oops I’m talking about parking again.

Los Tules pretty much kicks ass. It has a bar and a dining room. The service is decent, and much of the food appears pretty authentic. The tacos are very cute–tiny little doubled up corn tortillas with finely chopped meat, cilantro and onions. This is good stuff. It took a little longer than I would have expected for the food to arrive after ordering, but compared to other places, it was just fine. I have a habit of ordering tamales everywhere I go. Sadly the offering at Los Tules was not among the best I’ve had, owing to a truly odd, meaty sauce and less than creamy texture. But I haven;t eaten very many good tamales anywhere. Best I’ve had was sold by a guy in Chicago who walks around from bar to bar at night with an insulated bag full of them. but maybe that was a beer-induced infatuation.

The atmosphere at Los Tules is pretty nice too. They have a nice collection of potted plants in the front window, including one of the largest aloe plants I’ve ever seen. The staff should take a hint from the Succostash folks and start using leftover water from people’s glasses to water the plants. I love that about Succotash, it makes me fall in love with the waitress every time, whoever it is.

Anyhow, this place is solid–thanks to condoChiefs/muzak and a couple others for recommending it.

Read more;

Los Tules Mexican on Urbanspoon

Yelp

Jun 282007
 

Dos Hombres closed its doors this week after a 3 1/2 year run. This blurb cites the poor economy as the cause.

I was actually craving some mediocre Mexican food today. Thankfully Kansas City has plenty of that. Enter Dos Hombres, a relatively mundane, whitey-looking Mexican joint in the River Market area. I always see this place when I’m down there, and choose Harry’s CC instead. Anyhow, Dos Hombres features a completely terrible name, but a decent menu of sanitized tex-mex delicasies. The place is really as much a bar as restaurant. I opted to sit at the bar, which proved to be a good call. In fact, it’s always a better option when dining alone: the service is better and you don’t feel like a loser for sitting by yourself.

The staff is a crew of professional servers. What does that mean? Well, these people know what they are doing for sure, but they also exude that air of worldy crustiness that is unique to the service industry. Many restaurants in this town don’t feature what I consider true food service personnel, but Dos Hombres has ’em. These people are used to moving fast, serving drinks, and talking shit with the best of them. No, it’s not rough and tumble or anything, it just seems like these folks are truly making a living being waiters and waitresses and not just pulling extra cash for looking cute or screwing the owner.

Anyhow, the food as I mentioned is not altogether authentic. The lunch menu is decent and affordable however, and I found the pork in particular to be very tasty–likely homemade and not dumped out of a cryo-vac Syco bag. My food did come topped with grated parmesan cheese–undoubtedly an effort to “class up” the entree. But really it was just disconcerting. I mean, freeze-dried cheese out of a shaker is hardly impressive, people. Anyway, I was served very quickly and the bartrendress was quite adept at making idle chatter. I was out of there in less than 1/2 hour, which is quite good for a sit-down joint.

In short, this is a surprisingly good option simply because it is efficient. The food is fine and the portions are large.

read more:

Dos Hombres on Urbanspoon

Yelp