Restaurateur Victor Esqueda - probably best-known for his Ixtapa restaurant in the Northland and his first Guadalajara Cafe at 103rd Street, between State Line and Wornall Road - decided to buck the trend for popular Tex-Mex dining venues in Lee's Summit and opened, last October, a new version of the Guadalajara Cafe at 410 S.E. 291 Highway. The restaurant is located in a space formerly occupied by Tequila Harry's and Tequila House in a shopping strip that's not the easiest to access from 291 Highway.
"Like Frida's," he says, "we serve traditional Mexican cuisine with a modern twist."
Getting that message across has been a little more complicated than Esqueda expected: "Some people come in and they look for combination plates and chimichangas. We don't serve those. But we've found that when diners are a little adventurous, they love our food."
Esqueda is hedging his bets on the adventurous diners being too gutsy. He serves quesadillas de cuitlacoche, but doesn't mention on the menu description that cuitlacoche (also known as huitlacoche or corn smut) is an unusual delicacy: a naturally occuring corn fungus that has been considered a distinctive treat since the days of the Aztecs. It doesn't look so appetizing but tastes delicious with sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese.
The signature dish here - which Esqueda says sells briskly - is the pork Oaxaca (pounded pork tenderloin marinated with beer, pineapple juice, garlic and sea salt folded around a filling of white, creamy Oaxaca cheese and topped with a thick blanket of jade-green tomatilla sauce). The other top-selling dishes, Esqueda says, are steak ranchero, pollo adobado (a boneless chicken breast marinated in achiote pepper sauce), and carnitas de pollo.