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Food And Drink

Food Critics: The Best Tacos In Kansas City In 2018

Jul 17, 2018
A pile of soft corn tortilla tacos on a bright blue plate.
Ricos Tacos "Lupe" / Facebook

A decade ago, when Guadalupe Marcela Banuelos moved her taco operation to Southwest Boulevard, her grandmother was worried that the authentic, soft shell street tacos Banuelos planned to serve at Rico's Tacos "Lupe" would be too different from the  hard shell tacos many people in the region were used to eating. 

Her response?

"You know grandma, they're going to have to get used to it."

And, they did. These days, Banuelos has a loyal following, especially from those who crowd into her restaurant on Tuesdays for the $1 taco special. 

Segment 1: Tomato season is upon us. Here's everything you need to know.

James Worley blogs about growing and eating tomatoes in Kansas City. He also organizes the annual "totally tomato weekend." Hear his growing tips and favorite recipes as he makes the case that all local menus should revolve around tomatoes right now.

A piece of funnel cake, dusted in powdered sugar.
Jamiesrabbits / Flickr - CC

Summer in Kansas City means braving the heat and humidity for the metro's many outdoor festivals, where snack offerings are so plentiful and varied that we asked our food critics for guidance on navigating the options.

"Sometimes in those festivals, you can get foods that you can't find in any restaurant in Kansas City. It's a real treat," said Charles Ferruzza.

Restaurant Owner Brings Mom’s Brazilian Cooking To Kansas City

Jun 29, 2018
Anna Yakutenko

Cristian Maciel’s mom laughed when he called her asking for help creating the recipes for a restaurant.

“She was like ‘what?’ Because I never, never cooked in my life,” Maciel said. “You know, so like 'Cristian are you sure you want to open a restaurant?’”

Maciel was sure. After struggling to find authentic Brazilian food in Kansas City, he opened Taste of Brazil with his partner in 2013 and expanded his business last year with a food truck.

Segment 1: The family that rocks together, stays together.

Radkey is a band of three homeschooled brothers hailing from St. Joseph, Missouri. The band shares how their upbringing shaped the shreads, riffs and kicks of their rock n' roll style.

Pirate's Bone / Facebook

Vegetarian options pop up on a lot of Kansas City menus, from high-end restaurants to brand-new coffee shops … and yes, even at barbecue joints.

“Now, it’s just part of everybody’s diet. You don’t have to ask for something vegetarian. It’s just a dish without meat or fish or whatever,” KCUR food critic Mary Bloch told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

Seg. 1: How to cut vegetables.

At the Overland Park Farmers' Market, after you buy your vegetables and fruit, you can get them chopped up by a professional ... for free. The Vegetable Butcher stops by with some tips on how to cut produce.

Seg. 2, beginning at 16:02: The best meat-free dishes in town.

Italian Food In Kansas City (R)

Jun 4, 2018

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: we revisit our Food Critics' search for the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

Aixois Bistro/Facebook

Kansas City might be known as a meat-and-potatoes town, but fried chicken has long been popular here.

“Fried chicken is popular because it’s inexpensive, usually, and it tastes good,” Charles Ferruzza told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Besides that, Ferruzza said, “It travels well — it’s just as good cold as it is hot.”

Segment 1: How to grill sausages and burgers.

It's almost Memorial Day weekend, and many Kansas Citians will be pulling out the grill for backyard cookouts. The owner of a butcher shop/restaurant shares his tips on the best way to cook sausages and burgers on the grill. Plus, a local chef on how he went from cooking in fine dining restaurants to opening a fried chicken joint.

715 Restaurant / Facebook

Noodles are having a moment Kansas City.

“There’s an awful lot of chefs in the city right now with small pasta menus within their main menu,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “It’s because they’re making it in-house and they’re very proud of it.”

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best noodle dishes in and around town.

Segment 1: How to prepare trout.

Chef Martin Heuser is a fan of trout; he grew up fishing and eating it in Germany and Austria. Plus, it's the only dish on his menu that hasn't changed since he opened his restaurant six years ago. Now that it's trout season, he tells us why it's so versatile, and he shares tips on how to cook it at home.

  • Martin Heuser, chef/owner, Affäre

Segment 2, beginning at 10:44: Noodle dishes in Kansas City.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

With the help of a rented plane, Jerry Eisterhold found the perfect place to start a vineyard with grapes native to the Midwest, grapes that no one had cultivated for more than 150 years.

Café Provence/Facebook

Many people consider French cuisine to be the ne plus ultra in the culinary world. And French culinary techniques are considered to be standard in many restaurant kitchens.

Whether it's hearty stews or delicate fish dishes, airy pastries or baguettes with crackling crusts, French-inspired dishes are on menus all over town.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our food critics searched out the best French food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Anna Yakutenko / KCUR 89.3

Tatsuya Arai has been serving beef Bourguignon in Prairie Village in the suburbs of Kansas City for almost 40 years.

That’s when he opened his Tatsu’s French Restaurant in 1980. (Arai's nickname is Tatsu.)

Beef Bourguignon is classic French dish consisting of braised boneless short ribs with onions and mushrooms.

It takes more than five hours to braise the beef in the separate pot, and many more hours to make a special wine sauce that goes with the meat. Finally, when the dish is ready, Arai serves it with boiled beans, broccoli, and brings a loaf of the baguette.

JC Gregg/Facebook

Segment 1: Meet a home baker who puts his own spin on classic French desserts.

He's a self-taught baker who competed on "The Great American Baking Show." Hear JC Gregg's story — and find out why he experiments with baking in the middle of the night.

Segment 2, beginning at 14:47: Exploring French food and drink in KC.

One More Cup / Facebook

Kansas City's coffee shop scene has really blossomed over the past few years.

In addition to coffee and tea drinks, a number of shops have also been serving great food: pastries made in-house, breakfast, light lunches and grab-and-go snacks.

From quiet spots to linger to more convivial spaces to meet up with friends, KCUR's food critics searched out the best coffee shops in and around Kansas City.

 

Here are their recommendations:

 

KC Coffee Shops

Apr 13, 2018

Over the past few years, the coffee shop scene in KC has really taken off. Whether you're looking for a quick cup of joe or a place to linger with pastries and food, we've got you covered. The food critics search out the best coffee shops in and around town.

Amber Deery

At a factory in Kansas City's East Bottoms, a conveyor belt spits out roughly 2,500 warm tortillas an hour. They're made from yellow, blue and red corn.

The yellow corn tortilla is so flavorful, says Marissa Gencarelli, it’s like, “corn punching you in the face.”

Marissa and her husband, Mark Gencarelli, launched their Yoli Tortilleria business about eight months ago. Marissa, who is originally from Mexico, wanted corn tortillas that were close to what she grew up eating.

Scott's Kitchen and Catering / Facebook

Burritos and wraps are glorious things.

Just about anything can go in a tortilla. And voila, a complete meal that's portable and ready to go.

But what's the difference between a wrap and a burrito?

"A burrito is typically warm or hot, and a wrap is generally cold, in my experience," food critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Logan, along with fellow food critics Jenny Vergara and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best burritos and wraps in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Segment 1: A Lebanese dinner at the Kemper Museum and a new tortilleria in the East Bottoms.

We talk with a chef whose Midwestern childhood and Lebanese heritage come together on the plate at Cafe Sebastienne — and at a special Lebanese dinner at the museum. Then, a visit to a local tortilleria where they make corn tortillas the traditional way.

Facebook

A lot has been going on in Kansas City's food scene over the last few months.

KCUR food critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara brought their seasonal roundup of the biggest local restaurant news to Friday’s Central Standard.

Segment 1: Peruvian food in Kansas City.

A chef at a Lenexa restaurant shares how she makes lomo saltado, a classic Peruvian dish. Then, a home cook from Lima tells us about Peruvian food.

Segment 2, beginning at 15:00: The Food Critics recommend South American dishes.

Facebook

Kansas City only has a handful of South American restaurants, but South American food has been appearing on menus all over town.

"You don't have to just be a South American restaurant to enjoy and have these dishes on your menu," Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best South American dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Courtesy Ruins Pub

Ryan Cavanaugh has a vision for downtown Topeka: a restaurant and pub called Brew Bank, where customers can access a wall of 20 electronic, self-serve beer taps as a way to mingle and try local brews.

“It’s just about a community experience,” he said. “For the patrons to be able to try all of these beers and try them responsibly in small amounts is just an exciting thing.”

The devices let customers use an electronic card to dispense brews.

“Let’s face it,” Cavanaugh said, “the technology’s just really cool.”

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

As you may have heard by now, Shake Shack is opening on the Plaza.

The New York-based burger chain has a devoted following, and the news of its fall opening sent many Kansas Citians into a tizzy. There’s been so much buzz about Shake Shack that the moderator of a local food group on Facebook had to tell people to stop posting about it.

“I can taste the Shake Shack burger without actually tasting it,” said Elizabeth Paradise. “I crave it that much.”

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Burgers are a classic KC menu item.

"As a steak town, Kansas City has always had a lot of good burgers, too," Charles Ferruzza told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Whether diners prefer a thin or thick patty — or something meatless — local menus have plenty of options.

Ferruzza, along with fellow Food Critics Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best burgers in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Segment 1: The diner-style burger.

The news that Shake Shack is coming to Kansas City has sent people in a tizzy. We take a Shake Shack fan to Snack Shack in Downtown Overland Park. Then, a talk with Michael Corvino, a James Beard Award semifinalist, about the cheeseburger on his menu that's earning raves.

Segment 1: Can our employers help us get more sleep?

We've heard that getting a good night's sleep makes everything better; it's good for our health, our cognition and our relationships. Sounds simple, right? But falling asleep (and staying asleep) can be hard. Tomorrow, the KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community. We hear from people who are trying to make their work culture more compatible with good sleep habits.

Katherine Lim / Flickr -- CC

Breakfast: is it the most important meal of the day or the most tasty meal of the day? Whatever your thoughts, the breakfast scene is changing in Kansas City, offering more interesting options.

"I think people are going out more for breakfast," said KCUR Food Critic Mary Bloch. "I think part of the reason it's changing is because coffee is such a big thing now. And you have to have something to eat with your coffee."

On Friday's Central Standard, Bloch, along with Food Critic Bonjwing Lee, searched out the best breakfast spots in and around Kansas City.

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