El Burrito Loco Mexican Cafe is now open

Less than two months after the Kansas City Smokeshack BBQ closed at 900 Swift in North Kansas City, the bright-yellow building has a new tenant, a family-operated Mexican restaurant called El Burrito Loco Mexican Cafe. It opened yesterday.

But smoked meats are still on the menu.

“I took over this space as a turnkey operation,” says owner Paul Davalos. “The smoker was here, all the tables and chairs, most of the equipment. So our menu has traditional Mexican dishes as well as brisket, baby back ribs and Cuban barbecue.”

El Burrito Loco’s chef is Cuban-born Jorge Perales, who makes a moist, lusciously tender smoked pork shoulder after marinating the meat in bitter orange, lime juice and his own blend of spices. (“Cumin and oregano,” Perales says, “but that’s all I’m saying. The rest of the recipe is my secret.”)

Perales is equally secretive about his Cuban sandwich, another house specialty at the restaurant. He follows the traditional style of the pressed roasted pork sandwich constructed with pickles (he makes his own), provolone cheese (instead of the typical Swiss), ham and mustard. What kind of mustard?

“That’s a secret, too,” Perales says.

Davalos – who has a full-time day job as assistant store director at the Cosentino’s Price Chopper on Independence Avenue – says the menu at El Burrito Loco will be an evolving one. His wife, Ybel (who manages the venue), is from Panama and would like more of her own country’s signature dishes on the menu. “We do have fried plantains,” she says. “But we’d like to add seafood.”

A dish completely unknown to Ybel until she moved to the United States four years ago was the delicacy known as Frito pie. “I couldn’t understand why someone would put corn chips on their chili, but now I’m a big fan of the dish.

Frito pie, fajitas and taco salad are a few of the Tex-Mex options on the menu, which also features enchiladas verdes, chile relleno, 10 kinds of burritos (in two sizes), barbecue plates, and house-made flan and Mexican rice pudding (arroz con leche).

Davalos isn’t serving liquor yet – he has applied for his license – but plans to offer margaritas and mojitos when he can. For patrons who insist on a beer with their chimichangas and tacos, Davalos will be serving select dishes to patrons at the Big Rip Brewing Co. when it opens its outdoor beer garden.

The dining room at El Burrito Loco offers table service during business hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink