Photos by Reilly Moreland
If there are tacos, I’m there. That’s been my motto ever since I had my first authentic street taco one middle school summer in Utah, and now I’m hooked.
Kansas City is now home to the St. Louis born taco chain called Mission Taco Joint. There are four locations within the Gateway City, and a fifth location opened up in late August on Kansas City’s very own 18th street.
Located just around the corner from Grinders, Mission Taco Joint is the ideal location for a pit stop during First Fridays or a lunch date with the girls on a Saturday afternoon.
With a distressed brick wall behind me and a comic book-esque mural of a city at night i
front of me, the interior of Mission Taco Joint incorporates design elements that all mesh perfectly together to create a trendy environment that distinguishes our downtown. I wouldn’t normally envision a taco place with heavy wooden tables and industrial light fixtures, but Mission Taco Joint makes it work. Two large garage doors also overlook the Crossroads District, allowing for a superb opportunity to people watch as you wait for your food.
Although I firmly believe that all Mexican restaurants should have free chips and salsa, I was willing to splurge $4 on the bottomless appetizer. The chips are made fresh daily, and have a crunch of perfection in every bite. Each and every chip was a golden brown color with a healthy layer of salt. Although some bites were a little–dare I say–too salty, the salsas complemented the chips nicely.
Two salsas were presented in ceramic bowls, each at opposing sides of the spiciness spectrum. One bowl contained a fiery
habanero salsa that I would normally not even entertain the idea of tasting, considering pepperoni makes me tear up. I ended up taking one for the tam (you’re welcome, Harbinger) and tried the habanero salsa. My tastebuds were overwhelmed with insane amounts of spice and the smooth texture of what was basically habanero flavored ketchup. I was left gulping down water as our waitress approached us to take our order, but went back for another bite because masked underneath piquant flavor lived a great, flavorful taste
The second salsa was chunky and mild, with hints of onion. This was my preferred salsa, and the vibrant combination of miniscule vegetables left my usually plain palette completely fulfilled, without being drowned with pungent spices.
As I snacked on my chips and salsa, I feasted my eyes on nine choices of street tacos that are all served on housemade corn tortillas and co
st between $3.25 and $4.00 each. After scanning the menu for several minutes, I opted for the Be
f Brisket Birria taco and the Carne Asada taco. Mission Taco Joint doesn’t draw the line at tacos; they also serve a variety of burritos and several different side dishes.
The Carne Asada taco was by far my favorite of the two, with wood-fire grilled flank steak, b
aby arugula and fresh cheese. Held together by a handmade soft corn tortilla, the arugula balanced out the pepperiness of the steak, and the cheese added to the overall mellowness of the taco’s flavor.
The Beef Brisket Birria taco was a combination of slow roasted brisket and pork belly carnitas with avocado and a fiery—and I mean fiery—sauce. I took my first bite and immediately had to reach for a stack of napkins to catch the falling juice and excess meat. The tenderness of the meats was a dream, but I had to stop half way through because of t
he overwhelming spiciness. Overall, the flavor of the taco was robust and the avocado helped tame the spice, but I couldn’t handle all of it.
When I first looked at the menu, one of the items that stood out the most were the homemade cinnamon sugar churros with chocolate sauce. On the outside, the churros were crunchy and warm, but the soft inside a
nd gooey chocolate sauce compelled me to eat every last bite. I definitely saved the best for last, and would honestly go back just for the churros.
My meal was moderately priced, with two tacos, a soda and half an order of chips and
alsa and a half order of churros coming to just under $15. Mission Taco Joint is the perfect place to go if you’ve had your usual order at Taco Republic or Salty Iguana a few too many times, but are still in the mood for a south of the border cuisine.