KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Latino culture through art, music, history, community and food.
In the spirit of celebration, KSHB 41 revisited a project we started this spring. After reading your feedback on our taco trail for visitors in KC for the NFL Draft, we decided to give some of your suggestions a try.
We visited five spots around the metro, four suggested by you and one bonus spot of our choosing — trust us, it's SO worth it!
Taco Naco KC
Offering a modern approach to traditional Mexican food, Taco Naco KC is a quick, reliable option for the Johnson County suburbs.
Each dish is vibrant and fresh, topped with a rainbow of garnishes.
Addi tried three different tacos — pork al pastor, brisket barbacoa and carne asada chimichurri.
While I would eat all three again, my favorite was the brisket barbacoa.
As a Kansas City native, I have an affinity for brisket, so my hopes were high. Luckily, Taco Naco delivered.
Each bite was lush, juicy and flavor-packed.
Even after going overboard on sauce, which was so hot I had to take a pause to cry it out, and compromising the structural integrity of my taco, I was content.
David tried three chicken al pastor tacos topped with cilantro, pineapple, onion relish and cilantro aioli.
Despite picking off each pineapple chunk, since he isn't the biggest fan of the fruit, David said the aioli was a bright spot and he would recommend visitors try the citrus-forward taco.
Located: 8220 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Kansas, 66204
Taqueria La Nueva
Though Taqueria La Nueva is new to Westport, the restaurant is no stranger to providing comforting, brag-worthy staples.
David tried three chicken tacos, which he chose to pair with a mixture of habanero and avocado salsa. While the habanero salsa packs a punch, David recommends an agua fresca to wash it down and find relief.
Addi went with the quesabirria tacos.
Since the last taco assignment, I've been on a birria kick. Everywhere I go, if birria is on the menu, my mind is as good as made.
Each savory bite went down like a dream. The consumé splashed across my face, shirt and table, but I have to imagine it's just part of the experience.
I also added some habanero and avocado salsa for some spice. What I did not know is that it was not some spice, it was a ton of spice. After a few minutes of sweat-induced panic and the desperate downing of a Diet Coke, I was ready for more.
Full transparency, I would still rank Tarahumaras' birria as No. 1, but La Nueva absolutely knows how to make a birria taco.
Located: 3906 Waddell Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111
Taqueria El Torito
Taqueria El Torito arguably has the best salsa bar in town, according to David.
You can choose from 10 different salsas ranging from mild to fire-burning, world-ending habanero.
Different varieties of pepper-based sauces and even two different avocado options are available, too.
David's favorite was the less creamy avocado sauce and hot habanero. He recommends, and highly encourages, mixing your sauces.
As a frequent visitor of El Torito, David tends to favor the chilaquiles with salsa roja and an over-easy egg on top. But this time, he decided to shake it up and ordered the chicken huarache.
A huarache is a boat made of masa (dough made of corn) that's later fried and topped with beans, your choice of meat, lettuce, sour cream and tomato. It was delicious.
Nearly two years ago, Addi visited El Torito with David after joining the KSHB 41 crew. I think I tried a huarache?
For this trip, I ordered two gorditas — one filled with al pastor and another with asada.
While I'm familiar with the gorditas of Taco Bell, I had no idea what I was missing when it came to the authentic version.
The masa pocket was perfectly stuffed and left blank like a canvas for me to design with salsa, lettuce, queso fresco, sour cream and tomato.
A few bites in, I slathered creamy habanero sauce on top. While it felt like a good idea at the time, I was left with a near-smoking tongue. There was no evidence, but I could feel the heat.
Still, the perfect crunch-to-bite ratio and make-it-your-own flavor made the gordita memorable. I will be thinking about it often.
Location: 6126 Independence Ave, Kansas City, Missouri, 64125
Tamales, cakes, pastries and tortas don't tip the iceberg of what Elvira's Cakes has to offer.
If you've never had a tamale — a traditional corn dough dish stuffed with cheese, peppers and/or meat — before, you are now simply obligated to.
Elvira's offers four kinds — pollo en salsa verde, rajas, puerco deshebrada en salsa roja and dessert tamales.
David recommends getting one tamale de pollo and one of the rajas. Some don't think salsa doesn't go on tamales, IYKYK, but he disagrees and believes you should drench it in Elvira's red salsa.
Addi tried a rajas tamale and a chipotle chicken burrito.
Thanks to the generosity of David treating his coworkers to tamales every once in a while, I've tried Elvira's before. However, eating a fresh tamale is a much different experience.
It completely changed everything to torch the tips of my fingers while unrolling the steaming hot tamale from its corn husk, bust the middle open to be met with steam and, with no regrets, douse red salsa over every bite.
I have no notes and merely no words. It was perfection.
As for the chipotle chicken burrito, I had no idea what I was getting into. I told David to pick something from the menu and surprise me.
Again, I was not disappointed. Creamy, hefty and delightful — I could eat this every day.
Other Mexican favorites at Elvira's include gorditas, burritos, tortas, tacos, etc. Plus, Elvira's offers guisos instead of standard meats to stuff your entrée.
Once you load up on those, head over to their bakery for dessert to fulfill your sweet tooth. Elvira's offers dozens of traditional Mexican pastries like conchas, donuts, muffins and more.
You can also order custom cakes, including the famous tres leches, for any special occasion.
Located: 3838 Independence Ave, Kansas City, Missouri, 64124
*Bonus pick: Tacos Valentina
David is a walking advertisement for Tacos Valentina. Ever since he first experienced the magic of their potato quesadilla, he has not been able to contain himself from gushing about its greatness to anyone and everyone who will listen.
After his first bite, which came on a Sunday afternoon at Torn Label Brewery after a bike ride, he was transported back to when his abuela hand-made corn tortillas for him.
With no idea Valentina was a full restaurant, he recalls thinking, "Them boys know what they're doing back there."
Chefs Pablo Muñoz and Roger Avila are relatively new to the KC taco scene, but their work has quickly risen to the top of David's best-tacos list.
He recommends trying the Taco Orinoco, a vegan potato taco, and, if available, the potato quesadilla. IYKYK!
Taco Orinoco is loaded with potatoes, cilantro and yogurt sauce. Make sure to add their signature salsa, too.
Addi tried two tacos — barbacoa and carne asada.
Staying simple and classic, the barbacoa is dressed with cilantro and onion. The carne asada is served with queso anjeo, charred poblanos, cilantro and white onion.
Truly, each taco was special. Sometimes tortillas can feel heavy or the taco can get greasy, but none of that was present in Valentina's presentation.
Every bite was fresh and left you wanting more. And the salsa — forget about it. I want to take it home and use it on everything.
It's clear how much passion the chefs have for their craft, it comes through in how the food looks and tastes. I have already started telling everyone I know they MUST try Tacos Valentina — thanks, David!
Also, not pictured in the pile of dishes we destroyed, we ordered the papas machas. We were told the recipe was under construction.
Our minds were absolutely blown, so I can only imagine what level the dish will be on once it's to Muñoz and Avila's liking.
@kshb41 It’s clear how much passion the chefs at Tacos Valentina have for their craft. You can see it and, most importantly, taste it 🌮 #kc #tacos #nationaltacoday #kctacos #hispanicheritagemonth ♬ original sound - KSHB 41
Located: 1708 Campbell Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108