May 1 2014

Taqueria Monarca

Taqueria Monarca is a food truck found on the 2400 block of Holmes street in Kansas City, Missouri weekdays at lunchtime. They serve tacos, burritos, tostadas and other Mexican food with your choice of meats including steak, beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, tripe, and tongue.

I have tied their tacos, which are very good, but I normally get their tostada, which is only $3 and is usually enough food for me. I highly recommend the asada tostada.

Link to their Facebook page.

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Jan 4 2011

Review: Bates City Café

Heather and I stopped in at the Bates City Café last week.

Having lived in Bates City for one miserable year, I try to avoid the town. However, since the gas station became a Valero franchise it’s really the quickest way to stop and get gas between Kansas City and Concordia. When Heather and I stopped in for gas last week, we noticed that the café, which wasn’t much to look at, was absolutely packed. On the way home from Christmas shopping, we really wanted some pie and coffee, but we had already left the city. We knew there was no place to get what we wanted back home after about 7pm, so we decided to give Bates City a try.

First, the service: fast. The place was packed again, and our waitress didn’t stop moving for a second. She took our order quickly and got our pie and coffee quickly as well.

Atmosphere: the Bates City Café is a former service station that has been converted to a ’50s-style diner. The bay doors have been walled up, the concrete floor painted in large black and white checkerboard. The place is close, but not cramped. Elvis, Marilyn, and James Dean cover the walls.

Food: I ordered the peach pie and Heather ordered what she orders everywhere she can–bread pudding. Both desserts were homemade. The peach pie was good, though I think it could have used more peaches and less filling. The crust was soft and flaky. Heather didn’t love the bread pudding, the texture being quite a bit softer than she liked. Our coffee was freshly brewed, but a little on the weak side.

Price: the prices at BCC aren’t bad, but they are a little steep on some menu items.

Overall I was actually impressed. The service was excellent, the staff was friendly, the food was homemade and decent, and the place offered free wifi. A lot of people say they want to support mom-and-pop shops, but when you are traveling, it can be risky trying new places. Heather and I are glad we gave the them a try.

You can find them on Facebook.

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Sep 23 2010

Review: Mel’s Diner in Tipton, Missouri

I stopped at Mel’s Diner on 50 Highway on my way back from Rolla last week. Mel’s is a little steel building with a ketchup and mustard interior. Service was decent, despite the large party they had in the back.

I ordered the Kosher Corn Beef sandwich. The sandwich was fine , but when you pay $6 for a sandwich you kind of expect something pretty good sized–not something the size of two White Castle sliders.

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Sep 20 2010

Review: Big D’z Dawgz

Besides being uncomfortable to type, Big D’z Dawgz is a food vendor that can be found during the week on Holmes street between Children’s Mercy Hospital and UMKC Med School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Due to an imposed hot dog and french fry diet earlier in my life, I didn’t eat hot dogs with any regularity or preference until 2007 when Heather and I went to Chicago and stopped at Portillo’s, when I had my first Chicago-style dog (mustard, onions, peppers, tomato, and pickle). It was amazing.

Big D’z, as you might have guessed, is a hot dog vendor. No, you can’t get a Chicago-style dog, nor a Carolina-style dog (onions, coleslaw, and chili). But you can get a big quarter pound beef hot dog.

I ordered a dog, which was $4.25. The only condiments that were available were ketchup, mustard, and relish. But at least they have dill relish, which is worlds better than the standard sweet pickle relish you find everywhere.

When I sat down to eat, I found two surprises:

  1. The dog was cold. I don’t mean that the surface cooled on my transit from the vendor to my desk; I mean the inside was cold
  2. The dill relish I slathered on my dog was actually sweet relish that had been put into a dill relish bottle.

I know it’s wrong to pun, but I want to share my unhappiness.

I didn’t relish the experience.

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Sep 17 2010

Review: Smokin’ Aces BBQ

Smokin’ Aces BBQ is a food vendor found on Holmes street between Children’s Mercy Hospital and UMKC Med School in Kansas City, Missouri.

My first impression of Smokin’ Aces was of some place I didn’t want to visit: a black travel trailer with the words, ‘Smokin’ Aces BBQ’ painted on the side in red and yellow brushstrokes.

I ordered a barbecue beef sandwich, which was $6. The sandwich came on two pieces of white bread like Rosedale’s BBQ does, which I don’t care for that since it tends to get all squishy. However, it came with probably a full pound of meat, which he cut off of the brisket while I waited. Some of it just melted in your mouth, some of it was a little chewier. The sauce was truly unique, but I’m still on the fence whether I like it or not; it was very tomatoey, and there was some spice I couldn’t quite identify (basil, maybe?). The texture of the sauce was similar to Arthur Bryant’s.

Overall, the experience was good, the food was good, and I was happy with the amount of food I got for the price (I got 1-1/2 lunches out of it).

However, soda connoisseurs take note: if you order a Coke, you will receive an RC Cola (also like Rosedale’s).

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Feb 18 2009

Gray’s Café in Butler, Missouri

We went in for breakfast at a quarter to 10. The food was excellent; I had the Country Boy breakfast with bacon, eggs, and pancakes. The bacon was crisp, the eggs were done just how I asked, and the pancakes were flat-out awesome.

If you like sissified coffee, then this place is not for you: their coffee hot and strong (like I like my women).

Our waitress was cheerful, quick, and efficient.

The only thing I can say against the restaurant is this: the smoke. Gray’s Café consists of one small room, and it is a smoking restaurant. Because of this, you are going to both smell and smell like cigarette smoke.

Side note: a middle-aged guy with a feed cap and suspenders who was dining alone gave up his table and moved so that they could seat a family of four at his table. That kind of courtesy is so seldom seen that it bears noting.

Overall: 4.5/5 stars

Gray’s Café
404 N. Orange ST
Butler, MO


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Jan 1 2009

Review: Habashi House

My friend Kaleb introduced us to a new place to eat called Habashi House, located in the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri. The place is amazing.

We always get the same thing, which is the lunch special consisting of a gyro accompanied by either rice, hummus, or salad. Coffee and hot tea are free. All this for $5 plus tax.

First, the gyros: they may look small, but they are so good and will fill you up quick. The regular gyro is packed with meat and cucumber sauce with just a few tomatoes and the softest flat-bread you ever had. The first time I was there I ordered the regular gyro, but received a chicken curry gyro by mistake. That was one of the best mistakes ever made: it was amazing. I likely never would have tried one, but I have ordered it since.

The rice is yellow-colored and quite good. Heather said is probably saffron rice, but I just have to take her word for it.

Before I mention the hummus, I have to tell you this: I don’t like hummus. Or at least I didn’t think I did. The only other time I had had it was at the Jerusalem Café, also in Kansas City, and I didn’t care for it at all. The hummus at Habashi House is amazing. It has some kind of oil in it, and some kind of spices ground up on top, and it is so smooth. And as Kaleb showed me, you can just dip your gyro in it when you run out of pita bread.

The lunch special comes with free coffee or hot tea. Though I love coffee like an art student likes to smoke, I don’t like it with a non-breakfast food meal, so I tried their tea. I don’t know what kind of tea it is, but it has a slight minty flavor to it, and it is the best hot tea I have ever had.

As I said you can also get a salad, but I didn’t care for that at all. No matter what side you order, you get a kalamata olive (watch out for the pit). I don’t like olives of any color or creed, so I give mine to Kaleb.

The place is clean, well-lit, and smells wonderful. They also have a grocery next door where you can buy all manner of dried fruits, spices, herbs, candies, and beverages at very reasonable prices. The Middle-Eastern lady who takes your order is always very nice. Parking is easy.

In short, an amazing meal for fast-food money, with a great atmosphere. Find ’em online at, but even better just hop in the car and go there (check the hours first, of course).

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