Sep 28, 2011

Port Fonda: Taco Tweets

Restaurant: Port Fonda (food truck)
Location: Crossroads (follow @PortFondaKC)
Food: Authentic Mexican with a flare
Service: Walk-up window
Atmosphere: n/a
Price: Single-digit selections
Rating: 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.

Five years ago, I had no idea that some of the city’s yummiest food would be served out of trucks and Airstream trailers.

Enter: @Portfondakc

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.

The hardwood trimmed main door to the trailer, held open at 180 degrees, serves as the life-sized daily menu board for Port Fonda. Each day they feature a handful of street food-themed selections for downtown lunchers who know where to find the truck. Figuring that out is easy, but requires some digital savvy; the proprietors make their location known via Tweets from their Twitter handle, @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.

On this particular day, I tried three different items. I’m a bit of a 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 sandwich was massively filling and the meat was cooked perfectly. Being short rib, it was fatty, though, so the guilt factor was pretty high by the time I was done with it. Leaner beef or pork would have been better for me but I’m sure a lot of people like the luxurious fatty short rib and it made for heightened interest.

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.

A special that day were the chilaquiles. I’m not the biggest fan of chilaquiles which are like smothered tortilla chips (purposely saturated, not crunchy like a nacho) as I find them to be more filling than delicious. These came with chorizo verde – herb, spice and chile-infused chorizo sausage – as well as crema, salsa de mocajete and a fried egg on top. They were, true to form, quite filling but the flavors infused in them were delicious. Probably the perfect food for alcohol saturation after a long night of drinking.

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

Port Fonda on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

carlyklock said...

You gots ta get into el comedor! We went last Friday and it even exceeded the hype. Top 5 dining experience in KC for sure.

So funny to run into you that day over lunch!

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