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Tequila Harry’s: New Selections, Longtime Favorites and a Beloved Community Establishment

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Tucked away in a strip mall across from Johnson County Community College on the southeast corner of College Boulevard and Quivira Road, Tequila Harry’s has been serving happy families for 35 years. This locally owned small business thrives on serving its customers and it’s beloved by its hundreds of longtime neighborhood regulars.

Tequila Harry’s was founded in January 1987 by Kansas City restaurateurs Danny and JoAnn Kanatzar. After 30 years of growing the business, it was finally time for the couple to turn over the established Tex-Mex Restaurant to a fresh face. Danny hand selected longtime customer and restaurant operations expert Chris Stuewe and his wife, Melissa Stuewe, to buy the restaurant.

“I live in the neighborhood and we were coming in to the restaurant all the time. We started meeting and discussing becoming future owners,” said Chris. “Danny wanted to infuse new energy into the restaurant. He was ready for new blood. He gave me lots of ideas, and I’ve been able to jump in and reinvest in the building, update the website but most importantly, fine tune the menu.”

Chris has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years, including operating restaurants in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., so when COVID-19 hit and he’d owned Tequila Harry’s for less than a year, he leaned on his years of experience and the loyalty of the restaurant’s customers to get through the pandemic.

“We didn’t close down a single day. I was able to create to-go packages and told the staff we’d figure it out. I’m pretty proud that we were able to keep 100 percent of our back-of-the-house staff and a lot of our staff has been here for as many as 20 years,” Chris said.

Fortunately, the Kanatzars have stayed connected with the business, helping with day-to-day operations and catering jobs. Chris’s wife, Melissa, helps with marketing and even their four-year-old son, Dominick, has been known to sweep the dining room floor. And the generations of Tequila Harry admirers go beyond the owners.

“We have multiple generations in families who come here and are part of our regular crowd,” Chris said. “It’s amazing to hear the stories about how their kids’ kids are now some of our best regular customers, and we’ve catered their graduation parties, birthday parties, weddings and other events. That’s what makes this place special.” It also has a community feel. When you come into Tequila Harry’s, a place I’ve been dining for many years, you might see your friends or neighbors; even if you don’t, there’s always a welcoming, friendly vibe.

For our Cravings tasting, Chris shared menu items that he introduced when he took over as the new owner as well as a few original items that have made a comeback with minor recipe edits based on Chris and the longtime restaurant’s cook’s ideas. Before the tasting, I was already very happy with Tequila Harry’s food. After the tasting, whoa! These minor changes and few new items will blow you away!

The most fun menu item we tried was the Queso Fundido. This new appetizer is made with chihuahua, a type of Mexican cheese, and Monterey jack, roasted poblanos, onions and garlic, with your choice of chorizo or mushrooms, served with flour tortillas. In short, it’s a bowl of yumminess that you eat with tortillas. The cheese is hot, melty and blends the flavors perfectly. You must eat this in the restaurant so it’s served to the table piping hot, and it’s definitely shareable.

If you’re a loyal reader of my Cravings articles, you know I’m a salad connoisseur, so it takes a lot to impress me with a salad. The Harry’s Salad is not your average Mexican restaurant salad. This one consists of chopped romaine, tajin cucumbers, sliced strawberries, roasted corn, spiced peanuts, queso fresco and a light, spicy cilantro-lime vinaigrette. I added grilled chicken to mine, and it’s a healthy, delightful lunch or dinner option. You’ll want to give this a try.

But even more than salads, what I’m known for is my addiction to flavor, and the most flavorful thing I tried was the Chili Con Carne Enchiladas. These two seasoned beef enchiladas topped with red enchilada sauce, pico de gallo and chili con queso are served with Spanish rice and beans. This is a new item created by Chris, and I’m so glad he did. I can see why customers love this dish. My husband and I will fight over who gets to order this next time.

The El Rancho Burrito has made a glorious comeback with a few impeccable seasoning edits. It’s made with a large flour tortilla filled with eggs, chorizo, cheese blend, tomatoes, peppers and onions, smothered in a special burrito sauce and chili con queso, then topped with green peppers and served with Spanish rice. This dish is packed with a ton of savory meat with the egg and chorizo mixed together to create not just great taste, but enough for leftovers the next day. Muy bueno!

Finally, Harry’s Famous Fried Crispy Beef Tacos! Made the traditional way, which means the beef is cooked in the corn tortilla, closed with a toothpick and dropped in the fryer. Then they’re pried open to add the cheese, lettuce and green onions. Not a lot of restaurants are still making tacos this way because it’s time consuming but oh, so worth it! They’re crispy, distinctive and tasty. I can see why they’re called Harry’s Famous.

I’m so happy that these new owners have instituted only minor tweaks to improve and refresh this Kansas City favorite because Tequila Harry’s is an KC institution. My family loves stopping in for a delicious meal, to enjoy the comfortable ambiance and appreciate the amazing friendly service. Keep up the good work, guys!

Visit Tequila Harry’s Mexican Restaurant at 11817 College Blvd, Overland Park, Kansas; call 913 469-6644 or visit for more information.

11817 College Blvd
Overland Park, Kansas, 66210

Written by: Megan Neher

Journalist-turned-PR-professional Megan Neher has never forgotten her true first love: writing. Today, Megan owns her own PR firm, Megan Neher Public Relations; she’s a wife, mom, marketer, student and spends a lot of time cleaning up after her four pets and two teenagers. Her dream is to live on a tropical beach somewhere where she can stroll barefoot to a nearby grass hut for a fish taco and margarita.