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Kansas City: Central/South American

Kansas City: Central/South American
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  • Kansas City: Central/South American

    Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 12:20 am
    Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 12:20 am Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 12:20 am
    I don't know how long this thread will get, as the options are not, I imagine, extensive. There is a Venezuelan place I've been wanting to try, and a couple Colombian.

    And this Salvadoran spot quite close by, El Pulgarcito.

    Very enjoyable spot, this. Stopped in for lunch with the boys last weekend, and over-ordered as usual.

    After reading Rene G's post on Monja Blanca just the day before, the specials certainly sounded intriguing.


    How could I resist the pacayas?


    I didn't finish them, though I ate most of one and cut the other into a bunch of pieces and shoved a bunch of stuff around on the plate to make it look like I enjoyed it. Even chiles rellenos are hard to do right, not just a grease bomb, and I like chiles. The pacayas were very bitter and the grease and heavy cheese filling didn't adequately balance as, say, some bitter melon dishes do. Not a big fan, but these were frozen. I'm definitely curious to see others' experience with this veggie.

    The pupusas, luckily, were excellent, thick with ample filling.


    I hadn't had a loroco-filled pupusa before, which I rather enjoyed, though I was mistakenly told it was the same as flor de calabaza. It had a more bitter note, compared to squash blossoms, but in this case, I thought it was set off well by the rest of the pupusa.

    The curtido also struck me as unusually bitter, though tasty and clearly homemade.


    I guess they really like things bitter here. I'm not sure how characteristic that is of Salvadoran tastes. If so, it strikes me as somewhat unique among Central American cuisines.

    The folks here were very friendly, and an older gentleman (who I presume to be the owner) hurried over shortly after we arrived to extol the virtues of the baked chicken special. I may try that yet, but it will be hard to pass on the pupusas. A nice entry in the booming Merriam, KS dining scene.

    El Pulgarcito
    5921 Merriam Drive
    Merriam, KS 66203
  • Post #2 - February 3rd, 2008, 3:02 pm
    Post #2 - February 3rd, 2008, 3:02 pm Post #2 - February 3rd, 2008, 3:02 pm
    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