First Taste: Frida’s Taqueria

Many of you are familiar with Frida’s Contemporary Mexican Restaurant. If you’re not, you should be.  Owner Ivan Marquez has a hit on his hands there, with cuisine that makes you smile with every bite. Not content to simply move the original restaurant to 119th St. from 149th St. in Stanley ( which has done wonders to increase his foot traffic), Marquez and his family recently opened Frida’s Taqueria. The fast-casual concept offers a pared-down menu of tacos, burritos, tamales and empanadas, as well as the standard chips, salsa and guacamole.

On a recent visit, I sampled two tacos: one stuffed with Chile Verde (pork with tomatillo sauce) and the other with Cochinita Pibil (pork with Yucatan sauce). They were served with rice and a choice of black or refried beans, which came in tiny plastic cups that also serve as the vessel for salsas. My husband ordered a burrito, which came with the rice and beans wrapped up in the tortilla rather than on the side.

Though we ended up with a pork tamale despite ordering one with cheese and chiles, we had no complaints. The masa was light and moist.

Going through the line is not as easy an experience as it is at Chipotle. A language barrier or lack of hospitality made it difficult to complete the order. The salsas aren’t marked, and the people behind the counter weren’t particularly forthcoming, so I was left to point at each container of food to determine its contents and ask for various sauces or veggies to be added.

The final product was worth that bit of awkwardness. The pork was tender and juicy, with terrific flavor shining through in each bite. I also enjoyed the salsas, which I’d bet were the same as those served in the main restaurant.

The taqueria is new and I fully expect service issues to be resolved. Since the food is so good and the prices so reasonable, tweaking that aspect of the operation is all it will take to make this a successful venture.

 

Frida's Taqueria on Urbanspoon

The Tasteful Olive

On a recent trip to Napa Valley, we were blown away by a fabulous store that featured every imaginable flavor of olive oil. The best part was that sampling was encouraged before buying. Open the spigot, let a few drops fall into a tiny, tiny cup and dip a piece of bread or your finger in the oil to taste. Ah.

It gets even better. Now you don’t have to fly to Napa to have that same sensual experience. The Tasteful Olive has come to old Overland Park, offering a plethora of olive oils as well as flavored vinegars at a fraction of the price of those California shops.

Big jugs of olive oil are yours for the tasting. Once you choose from 20 varieties, including blood orange, fig, truffle and Tuscan herb, simply tell the salesperson what size bottle you’d like to buy. Small, medium or large–200, 375 or 750 ml, the latter being the size of a typical wine bottle. The salesperson will then fill a bottle and seal it with foil, using an old-fashioned hair dryer to complete the job. The date and flavor are added to the label lest you forgot when or what you bought.

The 18 or so types of vinegar are equally stunning, from chocolate balsamic to blueberry or apple. The store also stocks dried pasta, sauces, chutney and other gourmet items.

With the holiday season upon us, this would be the perfect place to find gifts for the cooks in  your life.