|This is the only photo of mine I could find |
of the original Airstream-based Port Fonda.
Like many lucky Kansas Citians I discovered Port Fonda several years ago when it was based out of an Airstream that parked in a few strategic locations around the city. My favorite spot was the parking lot at the Rieger Hotel & Exchange for the simple reason that Airstream Port Fonda didn't serve alcohol and some of the best drinks in town can be found at both The Rieger and Manifesto (same building, in the basement). Outrageously good street tacos in the parking lot followed by a drink or three at one or both of these places and it's a good evening.
This place got a cult following and fast. Everyone I knew was talking (and tweeting, and posting...) about it. Hipster for sure, but even us 40-somethings were getting in on it. Not sure if it was feeling around in the dark or sheer business genius but owner/chef Patrick Ryan sure looked smart - starting a restaurant in a low-cost RV, building a loyal clientele and healthy social media following to boot. All that must have been helpful when it came time to finance a permanent brick and mortar establishment.
|Chef/Owner Patrick Ryan in the kitchen.|
|Esquite Asado grilled sweet corn, epazote, cotija, |
habañero mayonnaise, chile, and lime.
|Port Fonda Hamburger with Farm-to-Market Concha|
(Mexican style sweet bread), fried egg and pork belly.
Avocado lovers (me) and vegetarians (not me) will fall in love with the Tacos de Aguacate - (fried avocado, salsa blanca, cabbage, radish, cilantro, onion, lime). I've had this twice and both times the avocados were perfectly ripe and simply delicious in this preparation.
My only real disappointment has been the Tacos de Camarones - (tomatillo and cumin braised shrimp, bibb lettuce, crema, lime). All I remember about this particular dish was that the shrimp were really small.
I am begging for a return to the menu of the Tacos Ostiones - (fried oyster, hot sauce mayonnaise, avocado, radish, cucumber, cabbage, cilantro, onion, lime). I'm a Maryland guy and have a pretty high standard when it comes to oysters. These things were flat out great and I miss them dearly.
There are naysayers. More than a few judging by some of my friends and acquaintances. Here are the common complaints and my take on them:
- The food isn't as good as __________ (fill in name of favorite Mexican restaurant).
As mentioned above, that's probably not a fair comparison. Port Fonda is not trying to be like your favorite Mexican restaurant.
- It's too expensive.
Everything's relative. A couple on a budget can get out of here for about $30. That's an appetizer, two taco plates, and a pair of beers. You can spend much more. Cocktails run on the slightly high side for KC ($10-ish) but are worth it.
- It's too loud.
OK, it can get loud. On weekend nights there is an arms race of volume between the music and the diners. As the hours go by each tries to overcome the raised decibels of the other. Not for everyone.
- The menus have too much Spanish.
Many of the menu descriptions include Spanish words that won't be common to many diners. Just ask your server what it is.
|Caitlin the bartender shaking it up.|
Also - Parking! Ryan has a bunch of off-street spaces available in the lot behind the restaurant. Westport regulars know how great that is.
OK, that went a little longer than expected. Closing thought: You know how you go on a trip to Chicago or New York or L.A. and wander into an energetic, exciting place, with unusual but really good food and say to yourself, "Why don't we have places like this in Kansas City?" It turns out we do.
Delicious photos follow:
|Tacos de Carnitas - (braised pork shoulder, adobo,|
grilled pineapple, cilantro, onion, lime)
|Tacos de Aguacate - Fried avocado, salsa blanca,|
cabbage, radish, cilantro, onion, lime
|Camarones Veracruzana - grilled shrimp, tomatoes, olives,|
capers, jalapeños, sautéed spinach
|Farmers Market Flip (My Favorite)|
Sadly, no longer on the cocktail menu.
|Foreground: Roselle Margarita|
Background: Vodka Gimlet
|Tecate Tall Boy's are popular.|
This is Mexican PBR. You've been warned.
|View from parking lot (yes, parking!)|
|When the weather is right they open up the overhead doors.|
|It's not just the cooks and bartenders that sport tattoos here.|
|Port Fonda's Wood Oven|
|Night Scene. Inside.|
|The bar is well stocked - especially with tequila and mezcal.|
|Queso Fundido - chorizo rojo, chihuahua cheese,|
poblano rajas, oregano
|A Chimichanga Special|