There's nothing better than a good street taco, and there are plenty of places to find them in the Kansas City area, including the ne plus ultra of street-taco creations, served at El Camino Real or Veracruz in Kansas City, Kansas, and El Pulgarcito in Merriam.
The jury is still out on a new contender closer to midtown: the Taco Factory in Waldo.
As Fat City reported two months ago, restaurateur Mike Flaherty -- the founder of the original Kennedy's Bar & Grill -- took over the short-lived Sweet Guy location at 7439 Broadway and turned it into a low-key taqueria called the Taco Factory. It's not connected with a restaurant of the same name in Oklahoma.
click to enlarge
The walls are painted bright-blue and yellow (the same colors as the neon Corona Beer sign hanging near the entrance), and it's completely self-service. The money Flaherty saves by having a tiny staff (there were two men in the kitchen and one woman behind the counter on the night I stopped in) is passed on to customers by serving tostados and tacos -- soft-shell or crispy -- for two bucks, and jumbo burritos for less than $6. During the restaurant's "Happy Hour" (3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights only), Budweiser draws are $1 each, and 16-ounce margaritas are $2 each.
Fat City's Jonathan Bender thought the fare was "unbearably salty" (particularly the black beans) when he dined there, not long after the restaurant opened. I'm wary of salty Mexican food myself (which is why I can't tolerate the sodium-laden fare at Taco Bell), but I didn't find the tacos or burritos at the Taco Factory to be all that salty. Maybe the recipes have changed, or the Factory adjusted its salt settings.
Still, I couldn't help wonder why the tacos were sprinkled with crumbles of one of the saltiest cheeses ever -- feta -- when it's not particularly authentic -- or even that interesting --
on these Tex-Mex creations, which are also constructed with bland Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, red cabbage and -- inexplicably -- aioli!
I personally like feta cheese, especially on Mediterranean dishes. But for the Taco Factory, why not queso blanco
or queso fresca
The place is attracting a solid clientele, though: young families from the surrounding neighborhood, drinkers from the nearby saloons, college students, and everyone in between. On the night I was eating in the brightly lit dining room, a couple had wandered over from the adjacent sushi restaurant. "We were still hungry!" they told me.
After I left the Taco Factory, I was certainly full -- even without a Choco Taco.
The restaurant is unusual in that it serves late -- until 3:30 a.m. -- on Friday and Saturday nights. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday.