There is a small corner of downtown Kansas City, KS (KCK in local parlance, as oppose to the metropolitan area center, KCMO), that harbors three of the area restaurants I’ve been most interested in exploring further, but haven’t quite gotten around to.
El Camino Real
has terrific tacos al pastor
, but that’s as far as I’ve managed to make it through their menu. On Friday night, trying to end a month-long BBQ drought, we made an aborted attempt to visit Jones BBQ, a few blocks southeast. Unfortunately, as we perused the menu board standing next to the counter, the young gentleman behind it warned us there wasn’t much left that was ready to eat. How much? The pitmaster held out a sad looking end of brisket. Apparently they’d gotten slammed earlier in the day (“It’s the first of the month, everybody’s got money.”).
Luckily, Rincon Colombiano happens to be right next door.
There were no other customers at 7:30 on a Friday night. The room was brightly lit, and very much reminded me of the kind of mom-and-pop ethnic joint we were accustomed to finding in Chicago. Not quite as decked out as Brasa Roja
, the neighborhood Colombian joint a couple blocks from our old condo, but a pleasant space just the same.
We quickly decided on the “picada (for 2 people),” which looked to provide a pretty good sampling of the range of offerings—lots of grilled meat, and a little starch. Specifically, the very generous plate included: grilled skirt steak, grilled pork (loin?), crispy chunks of chicarron, blood sausage, other sausage, fried plantains, fried yucca, and an arepa. I now find they have a surprisingly detailed website
which offers this photo:
All three photos are from the restaurant’s website
It looked like even more food in person. The quality? Pretty good. The beef was grilled well, managing a nice medium-rare. The pork was a bit dry. Regular sausage was quite good, fairly small gauge, cut into small chunks, with nice snap. The morcilla
, well, blood sausage isn’t quite my cup of tea, but this was actually pretty good. The chicharron
chunks compared favorably to the meaty, chewy hunks of pork familiar from Norka’s sandwiches at Café Salamera.
Yucca and plantain, fried, I usually enjoy for about the first two bites out of the frier. Once the heat wears off, I don’t get a lot out of them, though they’re a fine starchy accompaniment to the meats. These were about par for the course, but the plantains a little on the bland side.
But the key to a meal (for me) at these South American-style meat joints, is the sauce. I like well-cooked meats, but a pungent aji
or bold chimichurri
is what keeps me coming back. The salsa here was not hot, though the woman who waited on us assured us it was. It was neither green nor red, more like a muddy brown with flecks of what I think was parsley, tomato chunks, garlic, and some other stuff. It was tasty, and we used quite a bit more than the little Dixie cup’s worth we were first brought, but it wasn’t the “wow” sauce that begs a return visit.
We also got a couple empanadas for the boys, one beef, one chicken. The breading was fried and crumbly, more like corn dog batter than pastry dough or masa. Okay, but not great.
The arepa tasted off to me, maybe like the oil was a little old.
All in all, this was a very friendly place that I’m glad to have tried. While I think back on the component parts, I liked everything well enough, but ultimately, I’m not in any hurry to go back. I like supporting this kind of place (local, interesting food, out-of-my way location, seems like it needs business on a Friday night), and so I kind of feel bad about that. I wonder if I’m just less inclined to make the extra trip for a meat-and-potatoes type meal here, than when it was a short walk; or if the quality is just lower enough to not get me too excited. I really enjoyed my one meal at El Llano, too, and never went back. I also tend to try someplace new than make a revisit.
I might well try it again, as there may be some surprises. Maybe this calls for a group dinner. There are a few red snapper preparations on the menu that don’t appear on their website. I do like snapper.
Rincon Colombiano Restaurante
611 N 6th Street
Kansas City, KS 66101