Mar 13, 2011

More Mexican Mediocrity

Restaurant: Paparico’s
Location: 8314 Wornall, Waldo, MO
Food: Mexican
Service: Friendly, traditional waitstaff
Atmosphere: Disappointing.
Price: What you'd expect.
Rating: zero napkins

What can a restaurant blogger say about a place like Paparico’s?

Friends said they loved it; their favorite new neighborhood Mexican joint. Then a cheap Muncharoo certificate became available so we jumped on it and a few days later we’re sitting in a sad, ugly restaurant with one other full table completely depressed.

The problem is that I am definitely becoming a dreadful,  unapologetic Mexican food snob. I don’t really know why but the utterance of the half-words “Tex” and “Mex” brings an uncontrollable sneer to my upper lip. I scoff at misused sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese at phony Americanized Mexican cantinas.

I can’t take it anymore. I’m absolutely yearning for an innovative, contemporary yet authentic Mexican restaurant in this city (thus, secretly hoping the rumors of an Aaron Sanchez-owned spot come true).

And so it was with this Mexican food baggage that I arrived at Paparico’s, admittedly skeptical, but hungry and hoping only for something adequate. Unfortunately, adequate turned out to be the nicest word I could use to describe our experience.

There’s no need to go into much detail about this place. The staff was nice and eager to serve. They were prompt and friendly. The salsa was fresh and tasty. Better than a lot that you find in KC. The atmosphere was glum. Décor is relegated to a massive lineup of plastic two liter and glass soda bottles. And piñatas. Ancient, dated-looking wood paneling consumes the dank space.

My pork tamales were decent, with the requisite rice and refried beans on the side. Elizabeth’s tacos al pastor were comprised of under-ripe, hard bits of pineapple and many bites of pure fat and gristle. She only ate one of the tacos, and was only able to choke down about 50% of the meat therein. A bad bite in Mexican street tacos here or there is to be expected, but these were inexcusably bad.

As we ate, the hostess stood at her post and watched our every move, apparently having nothing else to do to fill her time. It was truly pathetic.

Paparico’s was a sad story from start to finish. I wish nothing but success for a hard working family that’s doing decent work, but I won’t be going back for dinner. Everyone in Kansas City, no matter where they live, has a Mexican restaurant at least as good as Paparico’s just around the corner. I'm sure there are people who live in the Waldo area who will say they love this place, and that's fine. That's how all these neighborhood Mexican restaurants go. We all like chips and salsa. We all like rice and beans, tortillas and spicy, cheesy hot plates of food. So it's not too hard to find loyal patrons for these places. But our standards are just too low. I know someone can do something better and I'm going to wait for that place to come before I start handing out napkins to any more boring, uninspired Mexican places.

(The one exceptional bright spot for Paparico's, however, may be its breakfast. I've not had it but I'm a huge fan of Mexican breakfast and I might recommend that if you go there at all, you do so for that menu as opposed to the lunch or dinner we had.)

So until a new, great place opens, or I get a chance to go down to the much-heralded Frida’s, I’m sticking with the usual favorites (read: CFF & El Patron) for my Mexican food fix. This widespread Mexican food mediocrity is just too depressing.

Rating: zero napkins

Paparico's on Urbanspoon


Chef Explorer KC said...

The Country Club Plaza newsletter reported that "The team behind local restaurant Frida's Contemporary Mexican Cuisine will open Zócalo - Mexican Cuisine and Tequileria on the Plaza later this spring at the corner of 48th & Jefferson. Zócalo will offer delicious Mexican cuisine and handcrafted cocktails in the dining room, lounge and open-air patio."

kimberlyloc said...

Wow, that's too bad John! As I was reading your post, I thought to suggest Frida's over here in my neck of the woods...looks like it's already on your radar. Totally worth the drive to the burbs :) Better luck next time!

KCNapkins Guy said...

Chef Explorer KC, I've noticed that spot and forgot to mention it in the post. Thanks for the comment. I'm cautiously optimistic about it. Never heard very good things about Mi Cocina, the restaurant that used to be in that space, and I fear the new place will be a re-branded version of that, but I'll DEFINITELY be giving it a try.

Kim, yeah, I'm dying to go to Frida's. Next time you're in there, will you order them to open a location at least as far north as Mission Farms? Much obliged. :)

mm said...

Hello! I am new to your blog, but i am glad i found it; I am always searching for ideas of new places to try. Too bad to hear about your experience. I didn't like Mexican food until recently; all of the food I had been exposed to was the "Tex-Mex" type until I tried Frida's, so I was going to suggest it as well. I heard the owners of Frida's also own a more informal version called "Guadalajara Cafe", it is on 103rd and state line, since it is not very south you might want to try it and see what you think. I haven't tried it myself but Frida's is good, my expectations are that this Cafe is probably similar.

KCNapkins Guy said...

mm, glad you found me!
I actually HAVE been to Guadalajara and loved the food. Found the atmosphere to be a little dull but better than a lot of the Mexican restaurants in town. The owner is always there and is passionate about explaining the difference between his food and the likes of Taco Bell... almost too much so. But I appreciated his fervor for quality and authenticity. The food there is great. Keep reading! :)

The DLC said...

I believe Frida's is run by the same folks as Guadalajara. Personally I like Poco's for modernized Mexican.

KCNapkins Guy said...

Hey DLC,
Yep, confirmed that it's the same owner. I've enjoyed Poco's twice now. I find it a funny place - their entrees are definitely authentic and quite different and more upscale than I would expect, just looking at the place from the outside. Business seems slow in the evenings but I hear they, too, do an awesome brunch, and when I pass by on Saturday mornings, it always looks busy.

foodsnob said...

FINALLY! Someone who agrees with me. When I put in my urbanspoon review that the food was ok but I'd rather eat at Chelly's the Paparico's people were all over my review with the not helpful button!!! Just because that is the same food these people serve in their homes and they are "Mexican" doesn't make it authentic! Incedentially-I've tried the breakfast which is my favorite San Diego type thing to do and DO NOT waste your time!! Frida's is truly special and if I just want some decent Mexican food I head to El Pastor, Rudy's, or Chelly's. And-Chelly's has breakfast which is good though I haven't tried Poco's though it's on my list.

J&JE said...

When we reviewed Paparico's, their people were all over us as well and I didn't think it was a bad review. I thought the food was good/ok. There were some other things I could have said in the review if I wanted to be a total dbag.

KCNapkins Guy said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! Initially, I understand why they'd be upset with reviews that are less than complimentary... they feel like they're working hard at making an honest living.
But they also need to know that a lot of us are just tired of the same old thing. No originality, little effort... You're so right, foodsnob: just because this is how they eat at home doesn't mean it's how they should serve it at their restaurant. I look at it this way: a lot of American families eat boxed mac n cheese or tuna noodle casserole every week. Does the public want to get that kind of food at an American restaurant? I don't care if it's authentic; mediocre recipes with mediocre ingredients stink. Period.
Awesome comments. Thanks.

foodsnob said...

Well, I feel better now. Vindication is a wonderful thing! Thanks guys!

Anonymous said...

I literally felt offended after eating at Paparico's. My enchilada had some kind of sour-cream-BBQ sauce on it and the chips were stale. Maybe a beer could have made it tolerable? No. Paparico's didn't have a liquor license. I'd rather make my own tacos at home.

Anonymous said...

please do not feel bad for that man. He says every person that has worked for him has stolen.crys to his tables for bigger tips. let me tell you my family is from the waldo area i have served in several restaurants i have a good reputation for working hard and never had problems with being accused of stealing until i quit his restaurant. i simply was not making any money, neither were they, theres nothing to steal a job is to make money not take from it. i worked very hard and the man trashes me all over this city. says things that are not real and defimates his former employees character.i felt bad hearing about his bad run of luck with his wait staff and offered to come help. come to find out that he threw me into his lies which is uncomfortable explaing to people who ask what happened. in fact instead of giving me the money he owed me for working he shorted me 70 bucks on the last money he payed.he cant afford his rent its over priced and slow the man doesent pay his taxes because he pays 2.25 cash an hour (meaning he doesent take taxes out. and when i asked why its cashed he kind of laughed)to serve and your lucky if you make 40 dollars in a 10 hour day there. the owners do dirty business and treat people bad then cry to their tables about it. now i would say thats bad business so happy to have moved on from that dump.!!!!

Brandon said...

Good Blog....I feel the same way about Mexican Food. It's all typical, I did try Frida's very good, but a liitle too fancy for my Mexican Food taste. Maggie's in LS is fantastic and extremely different. check it out

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree with you more. You may want to make a second trip. I have been there 10 - 15 times and the food has always been great. Service is great. Salsa is great. The main course has always hit the spot. I do get amused at food critics though. From my experience at the restraunt you either got one bad experience that is the rarity or you are just a poor food critic.

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