I wasn't surprised when there wasn't a chorus of raves for Queen Taco from the readers commenting under Jonathan Bender's morning Fast Pitch post, "Who makes a terrific taco in Kansas City." After all, unless you live in Independence, you probably haven't heard of Aaron and Cicci Carreno's unassuming little Mexican restaurant at 11771 East 23rd Street. I had passed the place at least a dozen times myself on my way to the Mugs Up drive-in.
Is it worth a visit? Hell, yes! That is, if you can find it. It's next to a tattoo parlor, just west of the Mandarin House.
Aaron Carreno is the cook here, and his wife and daughter wait tables. There's no liquor served in this dining room, but a Pepsi refrigerator case near the cash register is stocked with both American and Mexican sodas (including pineapple, apple and tamarind Jarritos soda); I don't remember seeing any Pepsi in it. The servers bring the icy bottles to the table with a bottle opener.
There's a surprisingly large and elaborate menu for such a tiny restaurant featuring tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas and the usual Tex-Mex dishes. Today's lunch special was a 1-pound burrito stuffed with rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and a choice of beef, chicken or pork in green sauce or barbacoa - for $4.50.
The signature dish is very good: two hefty soft flour tortillas filled with chopped steak sauteed with peppers and onions - and bacon! It's topped with fresh pico, cheese and slices of fresh avocado and served with refried beans and rice for $9.
Queen Taco is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.