Poco's On the Boulevard
Location: 3063 Southwest Boulevard, KC MO
Food: Latin American Cuisine, both upscale and traditional, plus down-home breakfast
Service: Casual, but attentive and nice
Atmosphere: Laid back, easy going, but not rundown
Price: All over the board. Entrees ranging from the $20's down to single digits
Rating: two napkins
Poco's On the Boulevard is a restaurant it seems few people know much about. And after my recent trip there, I'm still not sure I know much about it, either. The one thing about Poco's of which I am certain, however, is that it's surprisingly good.
It was quite some time ago I read a story in The Pitch saying the vacated Waid's on Southwest Boulevard was going to become a new Latin American restaurant called Poco's. The owner had apparently achieved some success with a place on Broadway called Poco's, among other things (The Grille/Boca Boca). Always looking for upgrades to the Mexican and Latin American cuisine scene in KC, I was pretty excited to try it. And then the next three years passed. So it felt like a long awaited and fateful moment last Saturday night when we found ourselves rolling down the Boulevard and pulling into that old diner's lot, hungry for something spicy.
Walking in I said, "I have no idea what to expect with this place. I think it'll either be close to my expectations and extremely pleasant, or totally bogus and a huge letdown." My confusion about what Poco's really is starts with their website. The logo in the upper left - used on all the restaurant's signage - though presumably tasteful, is fairly whimsical and lighthearted in its design. The food photography and fonts used on the rest of the pages, however, would make one think the place had a black tie dress code. Let's review the restaurant based on the main pods on the website's home page:
Elizabeth went with the Goat Cheese Vegetable Tamales appetizer, which turned out to be a tamale revelation for us. Two nicely sized open corn husks were the bed for tightly packed massa, inside of which were thin strips of roasted onion and red pepper. A green sauce and crumbles of goat cheese sat atop each of the tamales and looked to have been quickly heated under a broiler. As tamales can be slightly flavorless, these were exceptional for the charred taste that came on the pepper and onion, and the tang from the goat cheese on top. I'd had jalapeno cheese grtis for breakfast that morning and these tamales seemed almost like a fancied, more exotic cousin to that dish, the main difference being they were pressed and steamed, drier and holding their form. Delicious, indeed, though I wish the order came by the dozen.
Cutting the richness of our slightly heavy meals were a couple of sugary, citrusy margaritas. I couldn't quite see how they were made, but given the server's recommendation and the flavors I was picking up, I'd bet they were NOT from a bottle of Jose Cuervo pre-mix. It really hit the spot.
To end the evening, our server told us that Poco's also still specializes in breakfast/brunch, too, which contains both diner classics like those found at the Waid's back in the day, as well as great Mexican favorites like huevos con chorizo. A promising idea for our next fuzzy morning after over-indulging, perhaps.
Poco's may not be exactly what it's trying to market itself as, but I'd urge you not to get hung up on that confusion. It's a Latin American restaurant on the Boulevard with good service, a comfortable dining room, and some solid food. That's really all you need to know.
Rating: two napkins