Just in time to appease the Taco Tuesday masses, Taco Zone has opened its new restaurant space at 13 E. Eighth St. in downtown Lawrence.
Taco Zone got its start by serving Southern California-style tacos on the patio of the Replay Lounge during warm-weather months for the last couple of years. It quickly became popular, so much so that owners decided to expand its reach into its own restaurant space earlier this year.
A bigger space also means a bigger menu for the taqueria. On top of the three-taco option that was available at Replay, the new location serves tortas, burritos and quesadillas ($7 each) with a choice of fillings ranging from chicken, steak, pork and shrimp to vegetarian options such as black beans and mushrooms. There's also a drink menu featuring a Cadillac margarita and various flavors of aguas frescas, as well as chips with pico de gallo or guacamole.
Taco Zone co-owner Brad Shanks says the torta — refried black beans, Oaxaca cheese, pico de gallo, avocado and a filling on a telera roll — was the most popular order on a busy first day.
Shanks says the restaurant plans to rotate fillings on a regular basis, but will always include the basic proteins in some form. He also said that dessert options — such as a Mexican ice cream cookie sandwich — are in the pipe for when summer heats up.
Those who still like live music with their tacos shouldn't worry, as the Taco Zone stand at the Replay Lounge patio will still be in operation on the weekends, Shanks says.
Taco Zone is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and until 2 a.m. on weekends to accommodate the late-night crowd, which should be sizable with Henry's, Sandbar and the Eighth Street Taproom nearby.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, readers! If you're anything like me, you've probably never met a Mexican foodstuff you didn't like. To help you celebrate the day, I've compiled a list of restaurants in town offering Cinco de Mayo specials.
This isn't a complete list, of course, and if I'm missing any places, make sure to let me know. As you might've guessed, all the restaurants mentioned here are running some kind of special on margaritas or imported beers, but I thought I'd focus on what's truly important: the food.
Genovese, 941 Massachusetts St.
Genovese's annual Cinco de Mayo Tequila Dinner is slated for 6:30 p.m. Four different varieties from Mexico's Don Julio brand will be served, paired with dishes from the Yucatan Peninsula. The menu includes shrimp ceviche, a traditional thin chicken tamale wrapped in banana leaves and cochinita pibil, a pulled-pork dish marinated in sour orange, red onions, garlic, tomatoes and achiote.
The cost of the meal is $59 per person. Call 842-0300 for reservations.
Tortas Jalisco, 534 Frontier Road
The west Lawrence eatery is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with "all the traditional dishes from Mexico" throughout the month, says Tortas owner Angel Alvarez. Expect tasty south-of-the-border classics like tamales, pozole, chicken and mole sauce, and potato tacos. If you're in the mood for something super patriotic, try the "Mexican flag enchiladas." Green tomatillo sauce, melted white cheese and red salsa mimic the color's Mexico's flag, while a dollop of sour cream and pico de gallo symbolize the eagle in the center of the flag.
Mexquisito, 712 Massachusetts St.
Over at Mexquisito, Tortas' sister restaurant, specials also include bandera (Spanish for "flag") enchiladas, available in pork, chicken or beef.
El Potro, 3333 Iowa St.
Order up a "Cinco Burrito" in honor of the holiday. Along with meat (you can choose between chicken or steak), the burrito is stuffed with veggies and topped with chorizo.
La Parilla, 724 Massachusetts St.
Festive Mexican favorites abound today at La Parilla, such as the tri-color nachos (chicken, peppers and onions, topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole), shrimp diablo and chicken mole.
La Familia, 733 New Hampshire St.
Perennial downtown Mexican cafe and cantina La Familia is serving mole with rice, beans and tortillas to pair with its margarita and Mexican beer specials.
Looking for something to pair with that Shamrock Shake — or beer, if green dairy products aren’t your thing — during tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities?
The much-hyped Taco Zone has returned from its winter hiatus, and will offer up some decidedly non-Irish munchies at the Replay Lounge patio (946 Massachusetts St.) all day starting at noon.
The eatery, which got its start serving tacos on the Replay patio last March, has earned something of a following for its upscale riffs on the humble street food. Taco Zone’s brick-and-mortar location with an expanded menu at 13 E. Eighth St. is set to open later this month, according to its website.
You can check out the rotating menu on Taco Zone’s Facebook page.
After months of speculation, it's finally official: Port Fonda is coming to Lawrence.
The popular Mexican eatery has generated quite the buzz since turning a food truck into a restaurant two and a half years ago in Kansas City's Westport neighborhood. Now, Port Fonda will expand into Kansas with a location at 900 New Hampshire St., slated to open in late summer 2015.
Jamie Davila says he and fellow co-owner Patrick Ryan signed the lease Thursday morning. They "peeked around in some places in KC," but ultimately found Lawrence to be the best fit.
"We're really excited about the growth in Lawrence and what's happening there," Davila says, pointing out the Ninth Street Corridor project. "It's a cool city that we're both familiar with."
Kansas City-based architect and KU alum Matthew Hufft of Hufft Projects has signed on to design the space, which will sit inside the newly constructed Marriott Towneplace Suites building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
At just over 5,000 square feet, the Lawrence location is just about the same size as its predecessor, but will have a "completely different" look, Davila says.
Of course, there will be a large bar" serving up margaritas, Mexican beers and hopefully, Davila says, some products from Lawrence's Free State Brewing Co.
As for the food, expect some small tweaks to Port Fonda's KC menu. Davila says they'll probably offer more casual fare like sandwiches and tacos.
"The menu will be a little different, but at the core will be the same," he says. "I think it translates really well to a college town."
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.
Salsa and crab rangoon, together at last.
Actually, the two have been in a steady relationship the past 14 years at what's easily one of the area’s oddest (and most genius?) restaurants, Jasmin in downtown Eudora. Jasmin serves both Mexican and Chinese food, and has since the restaurant opened in 2000 at 719 Main St. We’re not talking some kind of gourmet Mexican-Chinese-fusion cuisine, just Mexican and Chinese — Mexican in the front of the menu and Chinese in the back, a gilded dragon relief sculpture on one wall and Mexican blankets and sombreros on the other.
Mexican menu items include entrees like guisado (beef chunks in red sauce), chicken en mole and several shrimp dishes, plus the usual tacos, tamales, burritos and combo plates. Chips and salsa are complimentary if you order something Mexican. Chinese offerings include soups, dumplings, lo mein, fried rice and three pages of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and vegetarian entrees. I officed at the former Eudora News my first job out of college and remember particularly liking Jasmin’s Hot and Sour Cold Noodles for lunch on hot days (when I actually left the office for lunch).
Husband and wife J and Maria Ramirez opened and own Jasmin. They’re originally from Mexico, but J cooked for a long time at Chinese restaurants in Lawrence, so when they opened Jasmin they decided to serve both, Maria said.
The restaurant’s dishes are either-or. But Maria said she often sees people putting guacamole on Chinese food or dipping crab rangoon in salsa. She shrugs and laughs, “they like it.”
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.