Tag Archives: Mexican

Gavino’s Does Good Mexican in Overland Park

Exterior

I’ve mentioned Gavino’s in passing before, but I think this place bears special attention. The Mexican fare there leans toward traditional preparation and is simply prepared and presented, but I have yet to experience a disappointing meal. The tacos, while surprisingly priced at $3 apiece are excellent, piled high with highly seasoned meat and topped with cilantro, onions and very good guacamole.

Tacos

The chicken mole is quite nice as is the pork chile verde I had this week.

Gavino's

While this spot near 83rd and Metcalf was home to the well-regarded Tienda Casa Paloma for some years, Gavino’s surpasses it on almost every level. The service is friendly and food is delivered quickly to your table. There is a dearth of good Mexican in the area; indeed the closest place to get a good, authentic taco is probably several miles away at Two Amigos in Shawnee.

Interior

The interior space is much cleaner and sparser than in years past. Gavino’s used to serve breakfast and they still do on weekends, but now I believe they don’t open until 10:30 during the week. The place is never even close to full at the lunch hour, so I’d encourage everyone nearby to give them a try.

Gavino’s Mexican Restaurant
8220 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS
Website

El Huarache opens on Southwest Boulevard

Exterior

Last weekend a little Mexican joint opened up in the old Cricket store on Southwest Boulevard and Pennsylvania with an exciting name: El Huarache. The huarache is a somewhat lesser-known staple of Mexican cuisine, one not as widely available in local restaurants as the ubiquitous burrito, taco or torta. Simply put, the huarache is an oval of soft masa dough—thicker than a tortilla—that is griddled and topped with any combination beans, cheese, meat, tomato, cilantro and onion. It’s like a super taco.

Huarache

Reminding me vaguely of the Salvadoran pupusa, the huarache offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures using staples of the cuisine. The name “huarache” comes from its shape, which is reminiscent of a traditional Mexican sandal of the same designation.

Huarache

I visited El Huarache on its second day of operation and they certainly had some kinks to work out. No less than four employees visited my table for various purposes, but everyone was open and friendly, if not overly knowledgeable about the menu (which is easily forgiven this early in the game). I had no complaints about the food however, which was speedily prepared and pretty delicious.

The real revelation of my meal was the red salsa which is thin, spicy as hell and riddled with good chile and tomato flavor. They also offer a very nice salsa verde and a chipotle salsa intended for the huarache that I found a little overbearing. I’ll be back for those huaraches though. Anyone know of other good ones in town?

Holy Mole!

I am a huge fan of mole, the complex, rich mexican sauce made from a host of ingredients, but based on dried chiles which are toasted, soaked, pulverized and pan-fried. Mole is actually a general term and can refer to a myriad number of sauces throughout Mexico. Here in Kansas City (and indeed most U.S. cities) it usually signifies what is more correctly known as mole poblano due to its reliance on the dried poblano chile, known as an ancho.

I have tried to make mole, and it ain’t easy. It involves dozens of ingredients which variously include raisins, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, corn tortillas, and bread which wind up being a fairly pedestrian-looking reddish brown sauce.

turkey mole

Photo by Stu Spivack on Flickr

The process takes a long time, and I won’t get into the details. Suffice it to say that, despite the effort, you may still wind up with a mediocre version of the stuff. This is why I typically turn to restaurants for my mole fix.

Because it involves a complicated recipe, even restaurants that have mole on the menu might not have it available. This was the case for me at no less than three local establishments including Cabana del Pollo, which Mary Bloch reported made it from scratch. Yes, there are commercially available mole pastes that can be thinned out with stock or water. Obviously homemade is preferred but I can understand the appeal of the concentrated stuff for busy restaurateurs.

I have also had mole at Taqueria Mexico, El Patron, El Pueblito, Poco’s and probably half a dozen other places over the years that elude my memory. None of them were bad, but were uniformly too sweet and not as complex as I’ve seen at restaurants in other cities.

The best mole I have experienced is probably at the newly opened Gavino’s in Overland Park of all places. The presentation isn’t much but the mole definitely appears to be homemade, deepened by a flavorful stock.

Chicken Mole Poblano

Gavino's Chicken Mole Poblano

It’s nice to have found a good mole, but I’m on the hunt for the best. Any ideas?

–Dave LaCrone