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Posts from the ‘Ethnic Restaurants’ Category

Overland Park – Lemongrass Thai

My latest trip to go sample some pork took me back to one of my favorite places in the Kansas City area– old downtown Overland Park. When searching out great places to sample pork in various dishes, it’s easy to get stuck in the BBQ and pizza rut, so I busted out of the rut this time and went to “Lemongrass Thai Cuisine” in Overland Park.

I had the egg rolls as an appetizer and then went with the Yellow Curry Fried Rice with pork. The egg rolls were seriously the best I’ve ever had. They had ground pork and all the vegetables you’d expect inside, and the outside wrapper was fried to a perfect crispiness. The sweet & sour sauce put to shame the neon pink stuff you get at a Chinese buffet.

The Yellow Curry Fried Rice with pork was delicious as well. I decided to ask for “mild” on the heat scale just to be safe. At Lemongrass they let you choose from “no spice” on up to hot. I’m glad I chose mild, as it really let me experience all the flavors of the dish. The fried rice with yellow curry, pork, onion, and cilantro together were simply impeccable.

I will for sure be going back to try other dishes there, in time. Part of the reason I look forward to going back is I get to experience old Overland Park more. Once there, a person can check out Upper Crust pie bakery, Clock Tower Bakery & Café, or The Tasteful Olive, which has many infused olive oils, vinegars, and other unique ingredients for sale. I might even go check out the used record shop again too!

Until next time,

Mike

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Manhattan – Gordo’s

Anytime a good new restaurant opens up, the foodie community takes notice. After seeing several good reviews for Gordo’s Restaurante Mexicano in Manhattan, Kansas, I knew I had to check the place out! Gordo’s is located at 1116 Moro Street, in the popular Aggieville shopping district, near the Kansas State University campus.

The front of Gordo’s has a quaint seating area and large bar, with the kitchen and restrooms separating the front of the building from a larger seating area in the back. Gordo’s also features an upstairs patio, which I’m sure I will go back and enjoy on a warmer day.

As for the food, the obligatory chips and salsa were good. I liked the thick chips that didn’t break when I loaded them up with the fresh salsa! For my meal, I ordered one of my favorites, the carnitas (tender bites of tasty pork). Upon first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by a citrus flavor. At first, I was caught off guard by this flavor profile, but the more I ate, the more I enjoyed it. By the end of the meal, I wished I had more. Citrus flavors pair well with Mexican foods. For another great example of this paring, check out the blog of El Camino real in Kansas City Kansas!

Additional pork menu items include molcajete gordo, burrito roqueta, and quesadilla Hawaiian (which include chorizo, bacon, and pineapple).

To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised with my visit to Gordo’s Restarante Mexicano and I look forward to trying their other pork dishes on the patio, during warmer weather!

Until next time,

Chris

Kansas City – Los Alamos Market y Cocina

If you’ve ever had the urge to experience pretty much the closest thing to actually being in a small Mexican market and cocina somewhere down in old Mexico, without actually going to Mexico, then I believe “Los Alamos Market y Cocina” is the place for you. You can have that whole experience without leaving Kansas City! Simply walking through the door of Los Alamos leaves you with a feeling you’ve managed to travel decades back in time into Mexico.

Located at 1667 Summit St, Kansas City, MO 64108 (NE corner of 17th and Summit), Los Alamos is just a short jaunt across the line into Missouri. It is more or less right between downtown Kansas City, MO, and the West Bottoms (old stockyard area). It may not be the easiest place to find, but is worth the short deviation from the beaten paths of I-35 and I-670.

When fellow blogger Chris Petty and I stopped in there awhile back, I tried the taco platter which consisted of 3 tacos, rice, and beans. In an effort to sample the plethora of pork they offered for the tacos, I chose the pork in red sauce and some of the pork in green sauce. Both tasted outstanding, as it was some of the best red sauce I’ve ever had and the hunks of pork were perfectly tender. Moreover, the freshly fried corn taco shells alone almost stole the show because they were so good!

Also, the shelves of the store contain about everything you need to make a traditional Mexican meal, and the coolers are stocked with a variety of both bottled Mexican soft drinks and Mexican beers to wash down what you’re eating in the restaurant. If authenticity means anything to you, and you don’t mind small adventures when looking for something to eat, then absolutely go check this place out if you’re in the area.

Until next time,

Mike

Lenexa – Red Kitchen Tamales

The newest thing to hit Lenexa and the Kansas City area food scene is the Public Market and the Lenexa City Center. Lenexa has basically built a new downtown area out on 87th St just west of I-435 that contains the City Hall, a rec facility, a huge public library (under construction), and the Public Market. The Public Market is basically a huge mall food court with a variety of large tables (and many card and board games around to play) and several permanent food fixtures such as Mad Man’s KC BBQ (see fellow blogger Chris’  post on Mad Man’s), The Roasterie Café, Topp’d Pizza, and Chewology.

There are also spaces that are more like a farmer’s market booth in there, and that’s where this story leads to. One of those vendors is called “Red Kitchen Tamales.” I’d been hearing a lot on Facebook about Red Kitchen’s “Tamale Tuesday” so I decided to go check it out to see how good the pork was. In the process I met Alejandra de le Fuente, who owns and runs Red Kitchen and is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. She makes all the food on-site in a kitchen upstairs at the Public Market, and then brings it downstairs to the booth and sells it from warmer pans.

My first stop at Red Kitchen was on a Tuesday at lunchtime and I had the pork tamale combo, which is 3 tamales, rice and beans. The tamales are perfectly sized and are not too heavy on the dough, which really lets the quality of the meat filling shine through. It was seriously some of the best pork tamale filling I’ve ever eaten. The rice and beans were excellent too, and the 2 sauces she makes and serves are to die for!

The other thing I kept hearing about from there were the breakfast burritos with the handmade tortillas. You have to get them before 10:30 AM, so I went back a week or so later and tried a bacon breakfast burrito and a Chorizo burrito. I wasn’t able to try much of the bacon one because my 6 year old claimed it as her own. I’ll have to mostly take her word for it, but if a picky 6 year old liked it I think that says a lot. The Chorizo burrito was delicious, and I know that for a fact.

If you find yourself in the area for a few days, take some time and go check out all the stuff to do at the City Center, the Public Market, and of course Red Kitchen Tamales!

Until next time,

Mike

Manhattan – Baan Thai

On a recent work related trip to Manhattan, a coworker suggested that I should eat at Baan Thai, located on 1709 Fort Riley Boulevard. If you know me, you know that I love pork! I believe that pork deserves to be its own food group!  Besides pizza, barbecue and Mexican food, Asian cuisine is a great way to include pork in your diet!

I stopped into Baan Thai early on a Thursday afternoon, and had the entire place to myself. I was thoroughly impressed by the cleanliness and décor of this restaurant. In fact, it is probably one of the cleanest and most orderly restaurants I have ever eaten at.

According to their website, they have two other Baan Thai locations, including one in Lawrence and one in Leavenworth, and an Asian Noodle Shop in Manhattan. The Manhattan Baan Thai location hasn’t always been a Thai restaurant, in fact, it used to be a Taco Casa.  You wouldn’t be able to tell that this place has been anything but Baan Thai when you step inside. The Asian influenced atmosphere of this location is on point.

For my supper, I ordered the delicious pork pot stickers (one of my favorite menu items), as an appetizer, and had the yellow curry with pork as my main course. If you love curry, they also serve up red or green curries.

Until next time,

Chris

Fort Scott – La Hacienda

La Hacienda of Fort Scott could be considered a dining institution in Fort Scott, Kansas. This locally-owned mom and pop (Jose and Mirna) Mexican restaurant is located in a colorful, old, historic downtown building.

La hacienda is just a stone’s throw away from the Fort Scott National Historic Site. The Historic Site, owned by the National Park Service, features a complete pre-civil war military fort. Additionally, the downtown Fort Scott area features a multitude of locally owned antique stores and specialty shops.

The combination of history, shopping, and great Mexican food makes Fort Scott a perfect location for day trip from Kansas City or Wichita.

As Fort Scott residents, my wife and I are regular customers at La Hacienda. Their menu features several great pork dishes. Some of my favorites include “street style” tacos, make your own burritos, and carnitas with verde sauce.

During my most recent visit, I enjoyed a burro de la roqueta (a pork burrito with a queso and pico de gallo garnish). These can be ordered as a dinner, or as a smaller sized lunch special #15.

A lunch or dinner at La Hacienda of Fort Scott is the perfect way to complement a day of touring and shopping!

Until next time,

Chris

Olathe – Oscar’s Authentic Mexican Grill

It’s time to add yet another name to the growing list of authentic Mexican places in Olathe. The freshest face on the scene is “Oscar’s Authentic Mexican Grill”. Located near the Mur-Len and Santa Fe St (135th St.) intersection, it’s quite easy to get to from I-35 if you’re traveling through the area. Oscar’s is well worth your time too, if you’re looking for something almost as quick as “fast food” but still want to eat real food.

The setup at Oscars is similar to places like Chipotle or Qdoba, in that you see all the food choices there behind glass as your order them and can pick and choose what you want and how you want it. Like the other “burrito places” you can get burritos or a burrito bowl with various toppings, and of course you can get tacos and quesadillas!

The meats are the real stars of the show, however. You know if you’re at an authentic Mexican place you’ll have some good choices of pork on the menu, and Oscars doesn’t disappoint in that department. Your two pork options there are Carnitas and Chili Verde pork. You can get the burrito, tacos, taco salad, burrito bowl, and quesadillas with either of these meats in them, and of course they have chicken and beef too.

I went with a carnitas taco and a burrito bowl with the chili verde pork, on my stop there, in order to get a good cross section sampling of the pork. The carnitas were tender and flavorful, just as you think they ought to be, while also being very lean. The chili verde pork has some of the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and the meat chunks were perfectly cooked and fall-apart tender.

Oscars excels at customer service too. Oscar and his brother Delfino are a joy to talk to when you come in and they’ll help you figure out what you want, tell you all about the ingredients, and give you samples to help make your decision. The choices of sides and toppings are abundant too. The chips and queso are delicious, and both kind of beans they have (Charro and refried) are excellent as well. If you’re looking for “slow food” served at a fast pace, then check this out place sometime if you have the chance.

Until next time,
Mike

 

Kansas City – Ninfa’s

It seems like when I’m looking for good ways to eat pork I can never go wrong with authentic Mexican food, so back I went to Kansas City, Kan., which is pretty much the best place around to find good Mexican food. This time we went to Ninfa’s, which is a place I’ve heard about since moving to the KC metro in 2009 and have always wanted to try. Ninfa’s doesn’t look like much from the street, but inside is some downhome Mexican comfort food and probably the best flour tortillas I’ve ever eaten.

When you’re looking to eat pork at an authentic Mexican place it’s hard to top just going with Tamales, so I ordered the “Tamale Spread Plate” and it didn’t disappoint. Pork tamales smothered with cheese and more chunks of tender pork are pretty hard to beat! The neat thing about Ninfa’s is you can pretty much have pork in any of the dishes if you want. You can also buy their handmade tortillas right there in the restaurant and take home. The tortillas alone are about enough reason to go there, but to really experience the tortillas I think I’ll go back and have a few fried flour tacos with some more of that pork in them.

If you’re travelling on I-70 through Kansas City, KS, you are just a few blocks from Ninfa’s. Located at 964 Kansas Ave, Kansas City, KS 66105, it is on Kansas Ave. right between 7th St. and 18th St. (both streets have interchanges on I-70), so it really is very easy to find. Once you’re in the area just take yourself on a little mini taco tour of KCK and hit up El Pollo Rey, California Taco Shop, and San Antonio Carniceria y Tortilleria!

Until next time,

Mike

Kansas City – Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio

In the old Armourdale district of Kansas City, Kan., sits one of the best Mexican grocery stores and taco shops I’ve ever set foot in. If you’re looking for cheap, good tacos on days of the week not named Tuesday, then look no further than Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio! These tacos are legit “street taco” style tacos and right in front of the counter are all the self-serve taco fixings a person could imagine.

The tacos were excellent the day fellow blogger Chris Petty and I ate there. Obviously we both went for the pork, so I had the carnitas and he had al pastor tacos. Everything about them was perfect. The meat was tender and had so much flavor I hardly needed to add anything else to them, and the fresh tortillas were incredible as well.

The store also has about every meat, side dish, fruit, and drink you could possibly need to prepare a traditional Mexican meal. They also have huge bin of hot Chicharróns (pork rinds) that are scooped out to order, if you’re into those! Overall I can’t recommend this place enough to anyone looking for authentic tacos and other Mexican foods. Located just south of I-70 and few blocks east of 10th street on Kansas Avenue, it is very easy to get to from I-70 or from I-35 (via 7th Street).

Until next time,
Mike

 

Kansas City – El Camino Real

El Camino Real (Spanish for The Royal Road), is an authentic Mexican experience! I’m not talking about those Americanized Mexican restaurants that claim to be authentic but cover everything in cheese sauce. I mean the real deal….the kind of place where you either order in Spanish, or else you point to what you want on the menu. These places are different, but in a good way. You might consider them to be a cultural experience.  When it comes to menu items, usually, you will get smaller portions served with corn tortillas rather than  big flour tortillas, and you can get however many of a particular food item that you want.

El Camino Real is located on Seventh Street in Kansas City, Kansas. You will find it just up the street from the 7th Street Casino and right next to the Historic Huron Indian Cemetery.  During my recent visit, I ordered Tacos Al Pastor (pork). This is what we Americans typically call “Street Tacos.” They are small soft corn tortillas filled with flavorful pork. Cilantro, lime and onions come on the side. What makes these different than other similar tacos (see the blog on Dodge City Taco Trucks), is that El Camino serves theirs with slices of pineapple. The lime, cilantro and pineapple combine to create a pleasant citrus kick that you won’t find in an Americanized version.

If you are looking for real Mexican Food with a taste of old Mexico rather than an American imitation, check out El Camino Real!

Until next time,

Chris