Tag Archives: Kansas City

Places to eat in Kansas City: Mestizo restaurant review

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Mestizo restaurant review

We’ve made two visits to Mestizo in the last month. That alone should say something. The first visit was actually mixed, but there was enough good to bring us back. And I’m glad, because the second visit was more positive.

This relatively new addition to the KC restaurant scene is located in Leawood at Park Place (a collection of shops, restaurants and condos at 117th and Nall, just north of the AMC Town Center). You’d have to go looking for it. Unless you just happen to be strolling around this chi-chi mecca of high-end consumerism, you wouldn’t happen across it. And if you go in for appetizers, drinks, and a large meal, it’s going to be pretty pricey. But we just went for a light late lunch both times, and so we got out for under $15 per person.

Let’s start with the salsa. Our first visit there, we were quite underwhelmed by it. It was okay, but didn’t taste garden-fresh, which is what you’d expect from the expectations set by the menu. It tasted like the bulk of the sauce came from canned tomatoes. But that was April, and maybe they were short on good local tomatoes so they resorted to canned. This time, however — midway through May — the salsa lived up to our original expectations. It had both a sweetness and a pleasant kick (mind you, this comment from me, the spice-wimp), and the sweetness tasted like it came from homegrown t’maters, not from Heinz, or added sugar. A salsa-dipped chip did benefit from a little extra salt added at the table, as the chips are served pretty much saltless. (But I’d much rather have a dish lack salt than be overly salty.)

Other than lacking salt, the chips are great. They somehow manage to be both thick and light — perfectly crispy.

On our first visit, we ordered guacamole, but none of us (and there were four that time) were impressed. We didn’t even finish it, even though it was fairly small. It had a strange note in it; almost tasted mustardy to me. ($9. Sheesh!)

On my first visit, I ordered the “chipotle chicken” — a simple salad topped with glazed, grilled chicken breast and a tamarind vinaigrette. The chicken was a little over cooked but still enjoyable, and the salad dressing was unique, with a bright, citrusy flavor. ($10.)

On our first visit, the two guys ordered two different kinds of tacos: one ordered grilled mahi-mahi, and the other, crispy pork belly. On our second visit, my husband, having tasted both the first time, ordered a mixed serving of both. (Two tacos, $9.)

The fish tacos, served with avocado slices and mango salsa on top:

Pork belly may sound weird, but these were bite-sized chunks of tender pork with a pleasantly crispy exterior. They weren’t strongly smoked, but there was a hint of bacon-y flavor to them.

My husband’s assessment of the two: He likes them both, but prefers the pork belly. (“I like El Patron’s fish tacos better by a long shot,” he says.)

Both kinds of tacos were served with a side of “drunken beans.” No one liked the beans. My sister’s fiance thought there was an “off” taste to them; I thought they just tasted bland.

The star dish, in my opinion, was the pepita-crusted scallops. My sister ordered it on our first visit, and I ordered on our second. (Her serving had three scallops, mine, only two. Perhaps measured by weight?) The scallops were perfectly done, sweet and tender, and served atop a creamy corn picadillo. Dictionary.com says that picadillo is “a traditional Latin American and Spanish dish of ground meat, onions, tomatoes, raisins, olives, and spices,” but this one had grilled corn, small pear tomatoes and bits of jalapeno in a creamy, sauce that tasted of ancho chile to me. The slightly spicy, slightly smoky sauce was a great counterpoint to the sweet scallops, was contrasted nicely with the salty, crispy crust of finely chopped pepitas on top. Nothing to criticize! ($12.)

Our one main complaint about Mestizo: the atmosphere is just a little too slick, a little too chic. (It should be noted that both of our visits were mid-afternoon. Perhaps the decor feels more right after dark.) My husband also was a bit put off by the sterile, styled-ness of the plating.

In a “Welcome” note at the top of the menu, owner Aaron Sanchez says that the menu was inspired, in part, by family meals “freshly prepared by my mother, Zarela.” And that kind of love for the flavors and the food came through in the dishes we tried, but I wish it would have also come through in the decor. The restaurant shouts STYLE, and feels like a corporate concept, not a homespun gathering place.

Mestizo website.

Mestizo on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Eggtc.

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Found another great breakfast place in KC! It’s been there for several years, but we only discovered it recently.

Just a few blocks south of the Plaza on Main Street, Eggtc. is next door to Minsky’s Pizza (same owners). On weekend mornings, expect a wait. And expect good food!

As is so often the case, I ordered an Eggs Benedict (on whole wheat toast, to make it a smidge healthier).

Tender, juicy, flavorful ham; not too thick, not too thin. The egg perfectly done. Nice job!

They offer nine different kinds of omelettes, plus a “build your own” option. With eight kinds of meat, seven kinds of cheeses, 16 different vegetable choices, and a partridge in a pear tree… (sorry!) …you ought to be able to find or create something that suits your fancy. My friend ordered an omelette off the menu: Apple and Goat Cheese omelette, with walnuts and onion chutney. Not my cup of tea, but she enjoyed every bite.

I didn’t snap a pic of her husband’s plate, but he ordered the “Salubrious” omelette — isn’t that a great name? It’s not often a menu item has you pulling out your smart phone to look something up on dictonary.com! (Salubrious means “conducive or favourable to health; wholesome”.) It contains Monterey Jack and Swiss cheeses, asparagus, black olives, mushrooms and red onions, topped off with red onion chutney.

They also serve frittatas, crepes, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles, french toast… you’d be hard-pressed to find a breakfast favorite that’s not offered here.

There were eight of us at the table; I don’t remember what everyone ordered, but I do know there were no empty plates at the end! It’s a wee bit loud, but the service was prompt and friendly.

Definitely recommended!

Eggtc. website

Eggtc. on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Slice Deli & Bistro

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On a recent short trip to Kansas City, we decided to try some place different for breakfast. I read about Slice Deli on Urbanspoon: it was rated 95%, and reviewers raved about how great the sandwiches are, and about how they smoke and roast all the meat on site. And given the name, I was expecting something bistro-ish. So we went with high hopes.

Which was a mistake.

Now, given all the positive reviews, I’d be willing to try it again at lunch time. And if you go in with realistic expectations, it would be just fine. (Except for the coffee. More on that in a minute.)

First the atmosphere: The space is bright and clean, with toys and games available to play while you wait. But Slice is adjoined to a convenience store, with a large open doorway between the two, and there is no change in ambiance from one to the other. “Deli” is an appropriate description. “Bistro” is not.

My husband and I both ordered “The Beater:” two eggs any style; two slices of bacon, sausage or ham; hash browns and toast. I thought the sausage and eggs (which I ordered over medium) were perfect. The hubs considered the sausage overcooked. The toast came without butter — and without an offer of butter from the waitress — and there was none sitting out. The hash browns were perfectly adequate.

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but my husband is. Big coffee snob, really, if we’re going to be honest here. He grinds locally-roasted Sumatra beans every morning, and perks it in a French press. Get the picture? He described the coffee at Slice as “the worst coffee I’ve ever had anywhere.” Given that ringing endorsement, I didn’t try it, so I can’t give the alternate opinion. If coffee is coffee to you, you might think it’s perfectly fine. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you might want to skip it.

So the bottom line is: go for lunch, go in with reasonable expectations, and if you’re picky, skip the coffee.

Slice Deli & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Beer Kitchen

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The Beer Kitchen in Westport, Kansas City MO

The Beer Kitchen in Westport is another of our favorite spots in KC. In the past, we’ve enjoyed their lunch/dinner menu, including various salads, burgers, Mac & Cheese or Fish & Chips.

This time, we were visiting a little earlier in the day and looking for brunch.

Both the hubs and I are big fans of a classic Eggs Benedict, so we’re always on the search for good ones. We still miss the EB at Reverse Grill and Jack Gage, which are both now closed.  🙁

But luckily, Beer Kitchen also has a brunch menu on the weekend, so my husband tried it. It comes with a side of “brunch potatoes” – chunky cubes of potatoes, crispy-brown on the exterior. The verdict: good hollandaise, potatoes nicely done, but the poached eggs were a little under done, with the whites being just a tad runny. But he wasn’t in a complaining mood, so he didn’t send them back.

I ordered a “Turkey Turkey” sandwich: smoked turkey, turkey bacon, avocado, tomato, chipotle cheddar and chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough. Being the spice wimp I am, I was concerned about the chipotle component of this sandwich, but the waitress assured me it wasn’t spicy at all, so I ordered it as is. I should know better! It was just a little too spicy for me, but again, not bad enough to not finish.

Other than the spice factor (which wouldn’t be an issue for most people), the sandwich was delish. I especially liked the toasted sour dough: it was the absolutely perfect balance of crunchy outside and just-chewy-enough inside. Unfortunately, it didn’t photograph well, so no pic.

Even with these two small complaints, I would recommend Beer Kitchen without reservations. This was probably our fourth or fifth visit, and they have been consistently good.

They are open seven days a week: open at 11 am on weekdays and 9 am on the weekends. They close anywhere from midnight to 3 a.m.; check their website for details.

Beer Kitchen website

On Urbanspoon:
Beer Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Places to eat in KC: El Patron

Places to eat in Kansas City: El Patron

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How to spot El Patron.

El Patron Cocina and Bar is a locally-owned Mexican restaurant, but it’s not your standard mexi-gringo fare. My sister is a local and she first clued us in to this gem; we’ve been back multiple times and are never disappointed.

It’s definitely off the beaten track, as far as restaurants go. It’s in a somewhat industrial area, and I would never have picked it out, just driving by. It’s even a little hard to find when you are looking for it. (The gray arrow in the photo at left points to the El Patron awning.) But it’s worth the hunt!

The interior is a refreshing break from the ubiquitous chunky-wood-painted-neon-colors you find in so many local cocinas. It feels more like a bistro, with exposed brick walls displaying original art.

My favorite — and what I almost always order — is the fish tacos. As you can see in the photo below, they have a much more generous serving of fish than Seasons 52. You can get them on corn or flour tortillas, topped with cabbage, avocado, and pico, and they come with a side of mango salsa. What I love about them is that the balance of all the flavors is just exactly right: you can taste the fish but it’s not overwhelming, and you get just a small hit of the pico, without it dominating the dish.

But on this visit, my husband wanted the fish tacos, so I decided to order something different, and went with the tacos al pastor: tender chunks of pork, marinated in a “secret recipe.” It’s a very, very red sauce — prepare to get messy! — and though it contains pineapple and orange, don’t expect anything like a teriyaki. It’s a slightly sweet sauce with cinnamon being the most dominant note. It was nicely flavored; if I were a fan of cinnamon with meat, these would be fantastic. But I’m not, so I wasn’t wild about them. Understand, though, that it is just this matter of personal taste that is my only complaint. They were still delicious!
My husband and son have also ordered steak and shrimp — Arrachera con Camarones. It’s a marinated skirt steak, served with sauteed shrimp and caramelized onions. Garnished with charred jalapeno, beans, rice and guacamole on the side, served with flour tortillas. They’ve both ordered it more than once, which tells you that it’s good! (This photo is from the El Patron website; I didn’t get a good shot of it.)
So if you’re willing to venture beyond the Plaza and Westport, check this place out!
Located at: 2905 Southwest Blvd. (which is not the same as Southwest Trafficway)
Hours: open for lunch and dinner, M – Sat.; dinner only on Sun.

El Patron website.

El Patron on Urbanspoon

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Places to eat in KC: Beer Kitchen

Places to eat in Kansas City: Seasons 52 on The Plaza

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Seasons 52 is a high-end restaurant chain that just opened a location in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza last year. As the company website says, they feature a “seasonally-inspired menu and award-winning international wine list.” As our server explained it, the whole menu changes seasonally, then there are a number of features which change week to week.

The decor feels sort of like a nice hotel lobby. Elegant, pleasant, but lacking soul.

Our server was perfect. Friendly and sincere; knowledgeable and helpful without being pushy.

My daughter and I split the Tiger Shrimp Penne Pasta with “market vegetables in a lemon-basil sauce with Parmesan cheese,” to quote the menu. The shrimp was nicely done and the vegetables were perfect, but I couldn’t taste lemon or basil in the sauce. In a cheaper restaurant, the dish would be perfectly acceptable, but given the location, the ambience and the prices, I expected to be wowed. I wasn’t.

My husband ordered the Blackened Fish Tacos. They were beautifully presented, but as you can see, none too generous with the fish. His take on the flavor was similar to mine regarding my pasta.

On to dessert! (I don’t know who first came up with the idea of serving tiny desserts in restaurants, but it is genius!) I ordered Lemon Pound Cake, and it was finally the calibre I was expecting: a perfect balance of sweet and sour. My daughter ordered Mango Cheesecake, which she said was good but lacking much mango flavor. My husband ordered the Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse, and it was so sweet he didn’t want to finish it.

I always hate to give bad reviews, probably due to that mantra driven into us all in childhood: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” But unless someone else is picking up the ticket, I won’t be back. It’s not horrible; really, it’s not! It’s just not much above good.  🙁

Seasons 52 website
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

You might also like these places to eat in KC:
El Patron
Beer Kitchen in Westport