Location: Crossroads (follow @PortFondaKC)
Food: Authentic Mexican with a flare
Service: Walk-up window
Price: Single-digit selectionsRating: two napkins
Five years ago, I had no idea the process of making dinner reservations would become a game of cat and mouse involving social networking applications on my mobile device.
These guys, cooking fun, authentic Mexican street food out of a gleaming chrome Airstream trailer, usually in the Crossroads downtown, have become the most shining (literally) representation of the nation’s food truck craze in Kansas City.
@PortFondaKC. Their most common landing pad is the parking lot on 20th next to The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange.
When I showed up with coworkers Erin and Brandi the other day, we found several other friends from the office there, too. And therein lies the intrigue of the Food Truck methodology. We felt as though we were heading out to a secretive underground food connection that only a few of those who are in-the-know would find. And yet, what we actually discovered was a festive gathering of friends, excitedly deciding their orders, hanging out on the curb oohing and ahhing over their delicious food and generally enjoying the escape from the office. It’s a great way to spend a lunch hour, start off or recap a night out carousing.
torta freak, so I had the Ahogada version: lots of slow-cooked, shredded beef short rib meat and rancho gordo beans with chile de arbol and pickled onions, adorned with some crema. Surprise number one was that it was served in a horizontal bun type of carrier instead of on flat bread, as is traditional. This was likely a calculated decision by the chef to make the sandwich easier to pick up and eat with one hand, hot dog style, rather than needing two hands—a thoughtful gesture knowing his customers are, most often, eating the food right then and there on the curb with no table to accommodate plates, napkins and perched elbows for two-handed sandwich eating.
The tacos, though, were the star. These were carnitas tacos, so basically Mexican pulled pork. So much flavor and such great texture! And with the addition of pineapple, adobo, onion and cilantro, were nearly a classic serving of Tacos al Pastor, one of my favorite Mexican treats. After tasting my taco, I honestly wished I could give back the torta and have more of them. Not a knock on the torta but a testament to how good the tacos were.
Altogether, my first impression of Port Fonda was strong. As the choices for Mexican food get stronger and stronger in Kansas City with heavier emphasis on serving authentic dishes over yellow cheese-slathered Tex-Mex dishes, Port Fonda holds its own and then some.
Adding to its intrigue, Port Fonda also does private dinners in the tiny sitting area toward the front of the trailer. Reservations fill up months in advance and the menus—still authentic Mexican cuisine—sound divine. I hope to get in on the action soon and report back on the experience.
Rating: two napkins