Tag Archives: mexican food wichita ks

El Mexico Cafe

15 Feb

Wichita is lucky to have numerous local options when one is craving Mexican food. Those many restaurant options can roughly be broken into two categories: traditional and Tex-Mex. At the more traditional places you will find simple tacos, tortas, rich chile sauces, chunky homemade salsa, and fresh tortillas. At Tex-Mex places you get your taco covered with cheese and lettuce, lots of ground beef,  enchiladas smothered in sauce, and more cheese. Both of them have their place and offer equally delicious fare.

The Seneca Sampler

The Seneca Sampler

El Mexico Cafe, located on Seneca just south of Pawnee, is a straight up old school Tex-Mex joint. The inside of the restaurant has plenty of seating in two dining areas, but doesn’t really have the feel of your typical Mexican restaurant. Instead of telenovelas on TV you get college basketball(which I’m not complaining about). The music being piped in was unique as well, as it was the first time I have listened to Jim Croce while eating at a Mexican restaurant.

The menu is a greatest hits of the Tex-Mex cuisine with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and monterreys all featured. While we decided what order, chips and two bottles of salsa were quickly brought out to us. The salsa at El Mexico is the smooth and thin variety with oregano being the dominant flavor. It was decent, but nothing all that amazing. They do sell it by the pint if it’s your cup of tea though.

On our visit we ordered the Seneca Sampler which consisted of a cheese enchilada with chile con carne, chile verde, a taco, and rice and beans. We also ordered the Mexican Plate which included two cheese enchiladas, a taco, and rice and beans. Our son got one of his favorites, a bean burrito. Despite being fairly busy, our food came out after only a short wait. The enchiladas certainly lived up

Velveeta Taco

Velveeta Taco

to their billing of being smothered. They were swimming in beefy and cheesy chile con carne. The chile based sauce was typical of what you would find at many places had good chile flavor. The enchilada itself featured plenty of melted cheese rolled into a corn tortilla.  The pork chile verde should have been called chile rojo, because it was red not green like a typical VERDE sauce should be. I’m not sure if there was some mistake or if that if how they serve their verde sauce. Color aside, it was an average dish. The chunks of pork were small and not as tender as other places, while the sauce itself  lacked the complex flavors that a chile verde should have. The fried tacos were good, but there was an inordinate amount of shredded Velveeta cheese sprinkled on top. I found substituting some the cheese for salsa helped balance out the taco. The rice and beans that came with our meal were decent, but nothing spectacular. Our son devoured about half of the bean burrito and the other half ended up on his face or the floor. I always feel bad for whoever has to bus our table at restaurants.

The service at El Mexico was some of the best I have had in quite some time. Our server was very friendly and quick to refill chips and drinks.  If you are a fan of Americanized Mexican food El Mexico can offer you a fix in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. They also have $4.99 margarita specials and have won several Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice awards, some of which I would beg to differ with.

Molinos

24 Aug

Frida’s was a small Mexican restaurant that Steph and I sadly discovered right before it closed back in 2010. It was one of our first dive experiences and got us hooked on “off the beaten path” dining. Their piratas and salsa bar were things of beauty. Luckily the owners of Fridas are back in the restaurant business with their new place called Molinos, located on North Waco next to Juarez Bakery. While it is not an exact copy of Frida’s, they have many of the same items, including the beloved piratas.

Inside, the décor and seating has not changed much from when Las Tias de Beto inhabited the space. It’s still clean and new looking with decent seating areas. The menu has a good mixture of familiar Tex-Mex style dishes that you can find at many Mexican restaurants, as well as more traditional and unique items. I have noticed several online commenters railing against the fact that many of their dishes aren’t traditional Mexican. While I agree with this observation, I don’t see what the big deal is. Molinos is trying to serve a menu that blends both authentic and Tex-Mex into delicious combinations. If you want straight up authentic food, there are plenty of other

A Famous Pirata and a Gordita

A Famous Pirata and a Gordita

places to visit in Wichita.  Some of the highlights of the menu are the aforementioned piratas, a pineapple and mint salad, a baked potato with queso, and elote(a Mexican version of corn with mayo, crema, and cheese). Most meals come with your choice of meat including carnitas, chicken, and cochinita pibil. Keeping up the Fridas tradition, upon request they will bring you out several of their salsas to sample.

On our visit I went with a pirata and a gordita. The pirata consists of a crispy flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of meat(carnitas in my case), melted cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and guac. A small bowl of pico de gallo is served on the side. My pirata was as delicious as the version I remembered from Fridas. It is really the perfect Tex-Mex dish that incorporates as much goodness into one tortilla as legally possible. For the gordita I ordered cochinita pibil as my meat. As evidenced by the picture, this little meat filled tortilla pocket was not quite as breathtaking as the pirata, but at least the cochinita was good. It had a sweet and tangy taste and was very moist. The gordita shell, made from masa, was certainly fresh and chewy. With some pico de gallo it made for a tasty meal. Steph went with her usual default Mexican restaurant order of chicken enchiladas. For her sides she ordered the charro beans and elote. Molinos serves their version of elote in a bowl and let me tell you it’s addicting. There will be no going back to grandma’s creamy corn recipe after you get a taste of elote. Not to be overshadowed, the enchiladas and charro beans were solid as well. The  two enchiladas came smothered with a savory chile sauce that certainly did not originate from a can. Topped with sour cream and  cheese, they were very good. The charro beans were quite amazing as well. Charro beans are a nice break from refried beans and are typically more like a hearty soup. Molinos’ version were some of the best I have had in town. They were nicely seasoned and contained what I believe was tripe instead of the usual bacon. While Steph was not impressed with these tender bits of offal, I found them quite delightful. I would be remiss if I did a review on a Mexican joint and did not mention the salsa. We just went with the regular red salsa which was very good and had just the right amount of kick to it. The salsa was also provided entertainment for our son, who enjoyed attempting to dip his chips into it.

If you are a fan of Mexican food then you should definitely check out Molinos and if you aren’t a fan just go have a pirata and tell me you don’t like it.  With their varied menu you can enjoy traditional dishes or branch out and experience some of their fusion type dishes. Anyway you look at it Molinos is a great addition to the local Mexican restaurant scene.

Molino's on Urbanspoon

Lalo’s Express

9 Oct

Words you will never hear on a Taco Bell commercial: “Try our new pork stomach tacos!” While most people would probably not jump at the chance to try a pork stomach, there is a place in Wichita that serves them along with other delicious Mexican fare. Lalo’s Express is located at the NW corner of Seneca and Harry in a small space that offers a wide variety of quick service Mexican food. It’s kind of like Taco Bell except that their food does not suck.

Behold: The Awe Inspiring Chimichanga

Inside Lalo’s there are a few tables for dine-in customers, but it seems most of their business is carryout. On the menu are all those typical Mexican dishes you have come to love, including burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and chimichangas. There are many other menu

Simple Yet Delicious: Barbacoa and Buche Tacos

options as well ensuring that anyone will be able to find something to enjoy.

On our visit I wanted to try several different items so I went with a shredded beef chimichanga, a barbacoa taco, and the intimidating pork stomach taco, called “buche”. Steph went with one of the combination plates that included a beef burrito, beef enchilada, and beans and rice. After ordering at the counter, we sat  down and prepared ourselves for a feast. Even with several other orders in front of ours, we only had to wait 5 or 10 minutes for our food to come.  The chimichanga was a sight to behold with its crispy golden tortilla covered in sour cream, guac, and cheese. Luckily it tasted as good as it looked. The shredded beef was tender and well seasoned and the peppers added additional flavor to the dish. It was one of the best chimichangas I have had in Wichita. The barbacoa and buche tacos were served the traditional way, open faced with cilantro, onion, and lime. The barbacoa was wonderfully tender and full of flavor. Looking at the buche taco I had my reservations, as the bits of grey meat did not look that appealing. Nonetheless I added a bit of salsa to the taco

The Burrito and Enchilada Meal

and dove in.  The buche was surprisingly tender and I enjoyed the earthy taste. Both of these tacos were rich and greasy so with a side of rice and beans you could have a cheap and tasty meal. Steph, being the enchilada connoisseur, rated hers as good, but nothing special. It must not have been that bad, because it was gone before I even had a chance to sample. We both took turns trying to finish the large beef burrito. The beef was well seasoned, but I would have liked more cheese, lettuce, or other fillings inside the burrito. The refried beans were fresh and flavourful, while the rice was just average. All of the food is served on styrofoam plates with plastic utensils, so eating something like a burrito can be a challenge especially when you have a squirming baby in one hand.
Lalo’s offers very good fast service Mexican food. Their tacos are especially worth trying, and at $1.95 each they are a good value. With dine-in, carryout, and drive thru options Lalo’s is also very convenient, especially late at night because they are open till 1 am during the week and 3 am on weekends.

Lalo's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

Las Tias de Beto (CLOSED)

20 Aug

Always on the lookout for a good Mexican place we tried the recently opened Las Tias de Beto (The Aunts of Beto) the other day. This restaurant is conveniently located next door to the wonderful Juarez Bakery in the small shopping center at 1068 N. Waco. It appeared that we had picked a good day to try this place because a small sign outside the restaurant listed the daily specials as fish tacos, barbacoa tacos, and menudo.

Fish Tacos With Delicious White Rice

Inside Las Tias you will find a newly remodeled space that is clean and inviting. The menu at Las Tias is small, but I have heard that it will be expanded in the coming months. For now there is just a short list of typical Mexican fare including burritos, sopes, enchiladas, and tortas.

Beef Sopes

Much to my dismay there were no pork options on the menu, but for now I am willing to let it go in hopes that they will add them later on. Steph and I were both intrigued by the specials, so we ordered the fish taco plate and a barbacoa taco. I also got a beef sope plate to sample something off the menu. While we waited, the obligatory chips and salsa came out to our table. The salsa was average, but the chips were warm, thick, and homemade.

Simple Yet Amazing Barbacoa

As it turned out the specials of the day were truly special, the fish tacos were lightly breaded and served with corn tortillas, a fresh vegetable garnish, and rice and beans. Another highlight of this dish was the white rice. Seasoned with whole cloves of garlic and herbs it was simple yet delicious. The barbacoa was probably the best I have tasted in Wichita. The meat melted in your mouth and had a wonderful velvety texture. Served with just a corn tortilla, cilantro, and onions it was a classic Mexican dish. The sope platter was a hit as well. The chewy masa shells were topped with ground beef, lettuce, and queso fresco.

True to its name, Las Tias appeared to be operated by an entirely female staff.  They were very friendly and appreciative that we had visited their restaurant. Although I would have liked to see a few more menu items, what we sampled was great.  If you like to eat REAL Mexican food and not something covered in layers of Monterrey jack cheese this is definitely a place you need to check out. Just remember to leave yourself room for dessert, because Juarez Bakery it just a few shorts steps away.

http://www.lastiasdebeto.com/Home/
Las Tias de Beto on Urbanspoon

El Agave – Wichita KS( A Good Place for Tequila and Salsa)

10 Nov

For once we wanted to be on the cutting edge of the Wichita dining scene and decided to try out the recently opened El Agave. El Agave is located on Rock Road just south of K-96 in what is one of the most transient restaurant buildings on the east side. I can think of at least 3 other restaurants that have been located here in the last ten years. After our experience at Agave I fear they might meet a similar end.

Typically I try to use a restaurant’s salsa quality to make a determination as to how the rest of the meal will go. Is it freshly made or something poured out of an On the Border jar? Is there sweet, delicious cilantro present? El Agave’s salsa proved itself to be rather tasty and paired with a solid $6 house margarita I had high hopes for the rest of the meal.

The menu at El Agave is nothing short of expansive and covers just about every Tex-Mex item you can think of  as well as some more traditional dishes like chicken mole.  I was torn between several choices, but ended up going with the chimichanga dinner. Steph ordered a beef taco and enchilada dinner. My parents joined us at El Agave and they ordered chicken fajitas and Camarones (Shrimp) Vallarta. Despite being fairly busy our food came out in short order. I enjoyed my chimichanga,  the beef was well seasoned, the tortilla crispy, and the cheese sauce tasty. Out of the four meals it seemed that mine was the best. Steph said that her enchilada was bland while the taco was nothing to get excited about. The chicken fajitas were alright, but again nothing that impressive. The most disappointing dish was the Camarones Vallarta. It looked like they had just thrown some pre-made popcorn shrimp onto a plate and served it with rice and a few garnishes.

Despite our experience at El Agave I am not ready to give them a thumbs down yet. With such a large menu to choose from there have to be some really good dishes hiding in there. Unfortunately on the flip side the size of the menu prohibits the diner from finding one of those good dishes. Hopefully as they progress with their business they will streamline the menu so that there is a consistent quality with each dish served.  On another note, if you are a big tequila person this you definitely your place. They have 20 to 30 different types of tequila and a really good house margarita. It would be a great place for drinks and salsa after long work week. Hopefully their food will come around and El Agave will thrive in a location where others have not.

El Agave Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

El Patio- Wichita KS

16 Jan

Since Steph had yet another snow day on Wednesday I was obligated to bring her along with my friend and I as we went to El Patio. El Patio is that place on east central that you have probably driven past a hundred times and never noticed it. It is directly to the west of Baysinger Police supply, but some conveniently located trees block your view most of the time. El Patio is also the restaurant that’s sign has a giant number 6 beneath it. Now I am unaware of their being 5 more El Patios in Wichita let alone one other, so I’m guessing maybe there was an old Motel 6 here and they just decided to recycle the sign. Anyway its a good conversation piece. Once inside El Patio you will find a cozy dining space appropriately decorated with Hispanic pictures and drawing. There are about 10 tables in the place so expect a wait when you go over the lunch hour.

My friend had beat us there and was holding down a table for us. He had also polished off half a basket of chips so I guess he approved. Their salsa can best be described as un-chunky. It is so runny that its served out of squeeze bottles. While I prefer chunky salsas, El Patio’s is very good.  They do give you a second bottle of salsa that is rather on the hot side and caution must be used when using this condiment. I thought it hit the spot on a cold winter afternoon. On this occasion, still recovering from a bout with the flu, Steph and I both went with the safe beef combo. It came with a taco, tostada, and enchilada. All three of these were well done. I would put the taco and tostada up against any other in the city. The enchilada was good, but not as good as Felipes or La Posada. El Patio offers all your typical Mexican dishes plus one that I would like to go back and try. That dish is menudo. Had my stomach been feeling 100% I might have taken the plunge, but I had to put it off. Menudo is a stew that contains slow cooked tripe (stomach lining) with a rich broth. Now you may be thinking that is disgusting, but it must be good if so many people like it.

All in all El Patio is a simple Mexican joint that serves good food for a low price. If you are ever in need of a good place in the downtown area and can’t find a Taco Bell this is one place you can go.

El Patio Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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