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.
The chicken mole is quite nice as is the pork chile verde I had this week.
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.
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
Downtown Overland Park already features a TV repair business, a model train store and no less than two old-school barber shops, so naturally a milkshake and burger joint would complete the mid-century ambiance nicely. The windows advertise hand-dipped shakes, burgers and fries made from local, organic ingredients. The interior is pretty sparse right now. Indeed there is no seating, only a counter and a shelf lining the perimeter.
No word yet on when this place will open. I’m sure it depends on any renovations they want to complete. I poked around looking for an owner or contractor, but the place was totally vacant. They do appear to have a large, fully functional kitchen.
This space at 8039 Santa Fe Drive was occupied by an outpost of Wheat State Pizza until recently. While several locations remain open, some Wheat States were shut down due to tax problems of the previous owner. I can only assume that was the case here. It always seemed a little odd that it was located a stone’s thrown from another local pizza chain with tax problems, Papa Keno’s.
In a shopping center near Roe and 105th lies a little strip mall just south of Suburban Home & Garden. In recent weeks a South American joint set up shop there in the storefront that housed the marvelous but short lived Salvadoran joint, El Cipote.
I saw it open a few weeks back when I was eating at Brobek’s to prepare for a KC Free Press story, but completely misinterpreted it because of the quick drive-by. The name of the business seems to be hung somewhat crookedly (unless this is intentional) and I assumed that it was the name of the place previous to El Cipote, who simply hung a banner on top of the old letters.
Out front sits a chalkboard with the daily special–that day it was some kind of sandwich, so I misinterpreted El Porton as a boring Johnson County soup and sandwich spot.
I was wrong wrong wrong. El Porton has a nicely sized menu that incorporates various South American and Caribbean cuisines. You can order from among twelve varieties of arepa, a couple different empanadas or choose one the exciting-looking entrees like pabellon or pork hash.
Most items come with a plain but satisfying white rice, excellent black beans, and perfectly fried plantains. I got a platter called “The Works” which includes one arepa, one empanada, a dish of ceviche, rice, beans, plaintains, avocado and a tiny potion of shredded carrot salad.
I splurged and ordered one of their fresh blended juices. I wanted papaya but passion fruit seemed to be all they had. It was seriously delicious nonetheless.
There weren’t many customers but I’m going back to eat, again and again. It’s like the ghost of El Cipote is giving us a second chance to keep a place alive.