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Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina

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Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina was established in August 2006 as a vision of a mother-and-son founding team, Enrique and Graciela Gutierrez. The pair had a goal of bringing truly authentic Mexican cuisine to the Kansas City metro area. Teocali is centrally located near Hospital Hill and Crown Center.

Many times Mexican recipes are changed in the United States to entice a wider customer base. We’ve all been disappointed by Americanized tacos or enchiladas at Mexican chains. However, at Teocali they use the same recipes that have been in their family for generations. Their recipes come directly from the family’s home in Teocaltiche, Jalisco, Mexico. Nearly everything on the menu is served the way it is made back home.

With more than 70 different types of tequila, they make a mean margarita. Whether you prefer the traditional version on the rocks or a frozen strawberry margarita, they’ve got you covered. And for drinks after a long day of work, there is no better place to be than the patio at Teocali. With a relaxing atmosphere with traditional Mexican music at the bar, there are daily happy hour specials available from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. And with a picturesque view facing the western sunset and Liberty Memorial, their second and third story outdoor patios are a unique spot to unwind.

The ambiance at Teocali is different on each level. The main floor is smaller and very casual, the perfect spot for a speedy lunch or dinner. A quick journey to the second floor reveals exposed brick walls that convey the history of the building, which was built in 1910. On one side a garage door opens on nice days to reveal an outdoor balcony seating area; on the other side is a larger patio with sunny yellow walls and wrought iron seating. The third level is most often used for private outdoor events and can seat up to 80 with a dedicated bar space.

Lunch traffic is busy, with many area medical employees dining here; this is a favorite spot for Truman Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital staff. Dinner and weekend dining are family friendly. This is a great spot to dine before catching a show at the Sprint Center or Kauffman Performing Arts Center.

The menu at Teocali offers something for everyone. I have visited over lunch twice in the past six months. On my first visit I ordered the Chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican casserole and the ultimate comfort food. Smothered tortillas with Teocali’s hot salsa, Monterey cheese, sour cream and cilantro come with additional tortillas upon request. You can add two fried eggs to the top (a popular brunch option for those who dine when they open at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays).

On my most recent visit, my guests and I ordered a variety of items and shared. All were delicious and came with a hearty-sized portion for one individual. Come hungry, or be prepared to take home some leftovers and eat a second meal. This time we ordered the Tacos Cancun (corn tortillas stuffed with breaded deep fried shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo, sour cream and a side of salsa de arbol), Flautas Nortenas (deep-fried chicken flour tortillas served with their secret homemade chipotle sauce for dipping, Monterey cheese, served with guacamole and pico de gallo) and the Burrito Spread (a flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans and choice of meat topped with a homemade white jalapeno cheese sauce). All were very satisfying, and we enjoyed the margaritas we had as well.

If you save room or are dining with children, don’t miss ordering dessert. The Chimilate is a fried chimichanga with melted chocolate inside, topped with whipped cream and drizzled chocolate and served with vanilla ice cream and a bright red cherry on top. It is as eye-catching as it is delicious.

For those seeking a venue for a private event or needing a caterer, Teocali is a great option for anyone considering quality Mexican food. Enrique built the restaurant and its reputation on originally doing small catering events. Through his affiliation with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, he has become a “go to” person for many who respect him and the restaurant for their attention to serving quality, authentic Mexican fare.

Parking is street side and there is also a private Teocali lot just down the block from the restaurant. This is a fun little neighborhood with some hipster flair going for it. Kansas City needs more restaurants like Teocali, edgy eateries willing to depart from the norm and set their own trends with interesting menu concoctions developed by owners who care. You won’t get a cookie cutter approach here. This isn’t a chain. Put this on your list of places to visit. HLM

Find Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina at 2512 Holmes in Kansas City, Missouri; phone 816-221-4749 or visit teocali.com to learn more.