Sunday, July 29, 2007

Update on Save the Mango Room and Other Independent Restaurants! - Mexican Fast Food Edition

The Mango Room and other fine dining experiences are only part of the issue. Kansas Citians ought to also be aware - perhaps even more aware - of their local options when they're just looking for something quick, tasty and cheap. Every drive through customer at McDonald's or Taco Bell is casting an economic vote for homogeneity and corporate control of our food supply. They're supporting a minimum-wage based, anti-entrepreneurial economy. They're also getting crappy, chemically-altered products designed by food chemists instead of chefs.

This past week, I tried out two cheap, quick Mexican places for fast food. First I tried Midtown Burritos and More, in a hut connected to the old Lamar's building on Linwood. A commenter on the original posting in this series had inquired about the place, and I had never noticed it. I'm glad I stopped by. The place had bounteous specials. It had a charming hostess. It had a special vegetarian menu. It had coziness. What it didn't have was electricity - the cell phone shop next door had blown a fuse or something. Undeterred by the lack of refrigeration, I selected one of the combo specials, which came with a ground beef taco, a ground beef enchilada, and a tamale. I'm not really a ground beef fan when it comes to Mexican food, but that's what they were offering that day, and somehow under-refrigerated chicken and pork didn't sound quite as good.

I was pleasantly impressed with the portions, the flavor and the tamale. I LOVE tamales, and this was up there with Pancho's version. I don't feel like I got to taste the full potential of Midtown Burrito's (sic) and More, but I was satisfied enough that I will return and see what they can do when they have power.

My second new Mexican experience was Cancun Fiesta, in Westport. I went in search of the appetizing fish tacos described by DLC in the comments in the original post, but they were not on the menu. Instead, I got one of their specials - 4 "street" tacos for $6. (Street tacos are simply soft tacos, so named because they are sold from carts on the street in many cities.) I had two pork, one beef and one chicken. The beef had great flavor, and was my favorite. Spicy, but not too hot, and finely chopped.

Both Mexican places were vastly superior to Taco Bell. Both provided tasty food at great prices, quickly. Both were run by local families, and were grateful for the business.

If it weren't for the fact that one of the best restaurants in the world is Pancho's on Main, both of these restaurants would get ringing endorsements. As it is, I will recommend them both to those who don't make it to Pancho's.

(PS: I messed up in my original post by failing to include links to other blogs featuring food, either regularly or in response to my challenge to make August "local food month". I'll correct that oversight in a posting very soon. In the meantime, please email me your suggestions, or post them in the comments here.)

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Blogger --Blue Girl said...

Yes! The Mango Room is feeling the effects of the construction downtown. I make it a point to patronize them at least once a week. You don't need to deal with the construction, either - park at the transit station in Waldo and ride the Max. (You live in a city, folks! Take advantage of the amenities, like public transit!)

When you go to the Mango Room, try the Plantation Cake! Oh my God, is it heavenly!

7/29/2007 12:35 PM  
Blogger Waldo Oiseau said...

Excellent suggestions on the Mexican restaurants -- will try them out!

8/01/2007 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Nona Vasquez said...

Yes I just wanted to say thank you for your generous comments about our restaurant Midtown Burritos and More. We are not fully advertised just yet and your article has made us more known. Thank you for taking the time to try our food and writing about it. Please come back and see what we can do since our power is back on:-)
Thanks again.

8/15/2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2007
Contact: Alfredo Parra

Unique Billboard to Be Unveiled
Tuesday, September 4,
As Part of Effort to Secure
Way-finding Signs for Westside

Kansas City, MO – If you are an out-of-town visitor or even a Kansas City resident looking for the Westside, it might be hard to find, as no signs currently point to the Westside. Alfredo Parra, community activist, is looking to change that.
Parra has been working for months to raise awareness about the lack of signs pointing to the heavily Hispanic Westside. “We are a vibrant, beautiful community. If Westport and Quality Hill merit signs, then the Westside does too. We want people to come to the Westside to discover the beautiful neighborhood and shops,” Parra says.
Parra launched a campaign to install signs that say “Bienvenidos al Westside.” Petitions to support the installation of such signs have been placed at local restaurants and shops. By mid-September Parra hopes to have over 1,000 signatures.
The city of Kansas City, Missouri, began to put up Way-finding signs in 2003 to direct visitors to tourist attractions. A wave of signs popped up around certain areas. A second, later phase added signs in the renowned 18th and Vine jazz district, a historically black neighborhood overlooked in the first installation of signs. Currently, twelve city districts are included in the Way-finding program.
According to Dennis Gagnon, public information officer for the Department of Public Works, the Westside would need to become a district itself to be included in the Way-finding program. For this to happen, a City Council member would have to sponsor an ordinance in which the Westside becomes the 13th district in the program. Parra hopes that “one or both of the Councilwomen representing our district, Beth Gottstein or Jan Marcason, step up to the plate.”
In addition, Parra approached Nancy Bass of Dynamic Displays to put up a sign that will say “Bienvenidos al Westside” on a billboard at 17th and Jefferson. This billboard is very visible to southbound vehicular traffic on I-35 as well as to vehicular and pedestrian traffic near the 17th and Jefferson location. Bass secured the use of the billboard at no cost to the community. Adolfo Martinez graciously donated the beautiful original artwork to be used on the sign. John Fierro, Executive Director of Mattie Rhodes Center, helped to sponsor the sign.
The sign is scheduled to go up on Tuesday, September 4.
An earlier sign off I-35 at the West Pennway exit which directed visitors to the Crossroads District was taken down after residents complained about the omission of the Westside. Mayor Funkhouser promised residents that another sign would be erected. Parra has communicated with Crispin Rea, aide to the Mayor, who says that the Mayor supports the community’s desire to rectify this omission.
“Signs are part of the urban fabric,” says Parra. “Good signage can make people aware of unique, culturally diverse neighborhoods that await exploration.”

9/13/2007 12:49 AM  

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