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Friday, September 2, 2016

Nine Mexican Restaurants I Can't Get Out of My Head

Fried Ice Cream

Anyone who knows us can attest to our love of Mexican food. Truth is, one of the first things we check out in a new town is whether or not we can try a new Mexican restaurant.

We certainly don't classify ourselves as experts but we know what we like and which meals create memories. Several restaurants come to mind when we recall outstanding meals. We typically order our usual items when we try a new restaurant. I love fajitas, street tacos and tostadas. He prefers burritos - typically pork or chicken. We both love guacamole and fried ice cream.

I have chosen nine places that have impressed us. They range from hole-in-the-wall to upscale. The commonality is that they are all in middle America and we really like them. I will list them from north to south. This list is incomplete. It's simply the first restaurants I think about when I'm craving Mexican food.
Lunch fajitas at Tequila's, Northwood

1. Tequila's - Northwood, IA

What a find! I really had no expectations of finding awesome Mexican food in northern Iowa, but this little restaurant can compete with any place we've tried. Owned and operated by a young couple, the food is fresh and tasty, the service good and the portions hefty. I ordered the lunch fajitas and we shared fried ice cream for dessert. Outstanding!

2. Salty Iguana - Kansas City, MO and Overland Park, KS

This is our go-to place in the south KC area (Overland Park) for several reasons. The food is always good, the service prompt and friendly and they have a great dog-friendly porch. Since we usually have Luke, our Bichon, with us, we've frequented it whenever we're in town. By the way, I love their fajitas and street tacos. They have several locations in the Kansas City area.

3. Panzon's - Lenexa, KS

It's usually crowded and there's a reason why. The food is consistently good, the servers friendly, and I like their margaritas. They have outside dining but I've never checked if Luke is allowed. Open seven days a week, they pride themselves on their fresh food. Oh, Panzon's is the place I first discovered street tacos - and fell in love with them!

4. El Potro - Paola, KS 

Another small-town find! We love the complimentary cheese dip - an awesome way to start a meal. I usually order tostadas or fajitas and both are consistently good. They recently enlarged the restaurant, and they desperately needed it to seat all their hungry customers. They also have locations in nearby Lawrence and Bonner Springs, KS.

5. Tequila's - Branson West, MO

You've probably noticed my frequent reference to consistency. There's a reason I consider it important. Tequila's is close to our son's home and we usually have a meal there when we visit him. The food and service are both consistently good. I like their margaritas too. We especially like the chicken fajita burrito grande.

6. Cantina Laredo - Branson, MO

Many things to like about this one! It is a chain and we visited the Branson Landing location. If you're lucky, you can dine overlooking Lake Taneycomo. We love their "made-at-the-table" guacamole. I usually order fajitas and Everett a burrito.

7. Ted's Cafe Escondido - Norman, OK, Overland Park, KS

We first tried Ted's on one of our trips between Kansas City and south Texas. After a couple of people suggested we stop there, we made a point to find it. We loved the food and Everett really liked the complimentary cheese dip and flour tortillas that are served with their regular chips and salsa. They have several locations in the Oklahoma City area, and other places.
1/2 of chicken fajita taco con todo
at Manuel's

8. Manuel's - Port Isabel, TX - Open Tuesday-Sunday, 7:00am - 2:00pm

I can't say enough about this one! We love Manuel's. It's both the food and the people. The restaurant is located in a small, old building near the lighthouse in Port Isabel. Family owned, the customers are served with friendliness, humor and a little bit of craziness. Although they're famous for several menu items, we can't tear ourselves away from the Fajita Chicken Taco Con Todo, Enchilada Wrap. By the way, we split it and it's still huge!

Enchiladas at Chef House

9. The Chef House - Port Isabel, TX

The Chef House is another family-owned operation. Located on Queen Isabella Ave (Hwy 100), this gem has never disappointed us. Everything is home cooked and although it takes a while, it's well worth the wait. Check for hours and specials on their Facebook page. We frequently order their daily special.


  1. If you haven't tried El Molinos in Waseca, MN, they are the bomb! Awesome service, large menu that has not failed me yet, very reasonable prices and portions....all around great place!

  2. Thanks. Good to know. We always look for new places when we travel.