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Ted’s Café Escondido: Better Mexican, No Longer a Secret

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When I recently visited Ted’s Café Escondido for the very first time, I felt like I’d stumbled onto a delicious secret, hidden in plain sight at 135th and Metcalf. When I found out that “escondido” means “hidden” or “secret,” I could only smile.

How fitting a name for a place I had never noticed amid other restaurants and businesses. As much as I’d like to keep my favorites to myself, I must sing the praises of Ted’s Café Escondido and insist that you stop at one of its three metro locations in Overland Park, Lee’s Summit and North Kansas City. I’ll bet a margarita that your first visit won’t be your last.

Ted’s is not new; it’s been in business at the 135th and Metcalf location since 2015 and an impressive 26 years in its original location in Oklahoma City. But it’s new to me, and I’m thrilled about my discovery. The atmosphere is warm, inviting and very family friendly; the food is fresh and uniquely flavorful, the price is right, and the service is second to none. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever encountered a more authentically friendly staff.

Guest satisfaction isn’t just a priority here; it’s an experience. At the helm is district regional manager Danny Ragusa, whose enthusiasm for his restaurant and the food is palpable. It was like talking to a proud dad about his child’s game-winning play; the energy he pours into every aspect of this restaurant, from the kitchen to the front of the house, is obvious, especially in the details.

While you wait for your table, you can watch tortillas being made, and if you look hungry enough they’ll pass one through a little window for a pre-dinner snack. Once you’re seated, servers bring out complimentary chips, homemade salsa with varying degrees of heat, cheese dip, flour tortillas and grilled onions and peppers. After your meal, they will offer you a warm, fluffy sopapilla coated in cinnamon and sugar. That’s right, all complimentary. For parents with small children, this is family dining bliss. The kids can happily dip away while you take the time to peruse the menu and sip a beverage. On Mondays, kids eat free, another reason Ted’s has earned a thousand gold stars from me.

The beverage menu presents a serious dilemma—the cheery Sangria Swirl or the tangy Perfect Margarita made with Patron Silver tequila and Grand Marnier? Either way, a basic dinner or lunch becomes a fiesta when you add one of these or another signature cocktail to your meal. A holiday shopping outing is so much more festive if it includes a Ted’s break. No quieres tequila? They have a great selection of bottled Mexican beer, ice cold, just like a December evening in Kansas City. You can order your beer “Ted’s style,” which comes in a large frosty glass, the rim generously coated with lime to make sure every sip has a citrusy zing. It’s a brilliant way to enjoy a beer.

Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., is extended for Chiefs games, making it a perfect option to watch the game. Enjoy $6 appetizers with drink specials starting at only $3. The bar area is a low-key, comfortable spot to gather with friends; it feels intimate while still providing an atmosphere of camaraderie. The engaging bartenders create a good time for everyone with lighthearted banter and attentive service.

Because of the generous complimentary starters, there’s no need to rush your dinner order. You can relax and enjoy the company at your table. But if you’re in a time crunch, Ted’s is up to the task. At lunch and dinner, the speed of their entrée delivery is second to none, ideal for weekday lunches when time is limited. They offer multiple lunch specials, including the Ted’s Choose Two, two a la carte taco or enchilada items of your choice with rice and beans for $8.99. Get in, eat well, and get on with your day. They’ll even box up leftovers and include fresh chips, salsa and queso to take with you.

The menu at Ted’s is part Tex Mex, all Best Mex. They use premium ingredients such as aged cheeses, high-quality beef and chicken, soaked for 72 hours in a delicious signature marinade, and fresh, local vegetables. The tagline, Better Mexican, is more than a slogan; it’s truth. They offer traditional Tex-Mex favorites alongside innovative dishes that reflect culinary trends as well as customer requests, all at reasonable prices. Each table has a comment card on it, and the feedback is taken seriously.

It’s December, so ’tis the season for parties! Ted’s offers full-service catering for groups of any size, and it’s not too late to book for the holidays. The full-time catering manager, Megan Chamberlain, will take care of the details so that you can enjoy your event. They will come to your house or office, or help you put on a large-scale event such as a wedding reception or fundraiser.

While you’re out and about this holiday season, stop in to Ted’s Café Escondido. Whether it’s lunch, dinner or Happy Hour, the food and drinks will fortify you for the stresses of the holidays. Discover this hidden gem for yourself; you won’t regret it. ■

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