Kansas City Kansas Taco Trail | Exploring the Midwest Podcast Episode 26

Last Updated on August 28, 2021 by Jody Halsted

This month on the podcast I am celebrating the flavors of the Midwest.

I really think you can learn a lot about a place by tasting their traditions – which is why I love food trails!

Alan Carr is Executive Director at Visit Kansas City Kansas and is THE local guide to the Taco Trail in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Street taco assortment El Toro Loco Mexican Bar & Grill

Origin of the Kansas City Kansas Taco Trail

When people hear Kansas City, the first food that probably comes to mind is BBQ, not tacos. So just how did the Taco Trail come to be?

“Well, everyone who comes to the Kansas City area has to eat barbecue, and everyone is looking for the best barbecue places,” says Carr. “But, you know, one of the things we wanted to do was tell a story that wasn't really being told, and that's when we looked into our great taco heritage here in Kansas City, Kansas.”

A lot of people don't realize how multicultural KCK is, and it's that immigrant culture that brought about this taco heritage you can now find in the city. Kansas City, Kansas, is made up of about 150,000 people, but of those, 40% are white, 30% are Latino, 20% are black, and other ethnicities make up the rest of the demographics. “I think there are more than 100 languages spoken in our school systems here,” says Carr.

He said when he and his colleagues at Visit Kansas City Kansas started digging around into the cultural heritage of the community, “what became obvious was we have so many great taquerias and taco places. We decided this was a perfect food experience and created the KCK Taco Trail.”

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GGs Barbacoa Cafe

HOW many stops are there on the KCK Taco Trail?

There are more than 50 locations on the KCK Taco Trail, and they don't all include “traditional” restaurants. During my recent visit we enjoyed tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is nothing like barbacoa on a fried taco for breakfast! (Don't miss GG's Barbacoa Cafe!)

There are really 3 types of experiences you can have on the KCK Taco Trail:

  1. Street tacos. In the U.S., that's what we call the authentic Mexican tacos. They typically come on a soft corn tortilla and are fairly simple but have complex flavors. Generally the filling is a protein of some type topped with onions, cilantro, and a salsa with a squeeze of lime. The majority of the places on the KCK Taco Trail will feature this type of taco.
  2. Tex-Mex tacos. These are the crispy fried tacos with cheese. Several locations serve this type of taco.
  3. Non-traditional tacos. A few of the places on the KCK Taco Trail aren't traditional Mexican food places but are ones that include a taco on the menu. “So probably the one that most people have gone to is Slaps Barbecue,” says Carr. “So there is in fact, a barbecue taco. They serve it on Tuesdays only, but it's a burnt end taco. So if you want your barbecue fix and tacos, you can get those at the same time.”
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Al Pastor Tacos at El Camino Real

Get the KCK Taco Trail Pass

To make it easy for people to explore the trail and reward them for doing it, Visit Kansas City Kansas created the KCK Taco Trail Pass.

Go to KCKTacoTrail.com and sign up for the pass either through your phone number or email. You will then receive a link to the pass, which you can download and save to your phone.

When you visit one of the places on the Taco Trail, you can check in using geolocation. The more places you check in, the more prizes you receive.

Check in to 5 and receive a decal. Check in to 15 and receive a bottle of salsa from Spicin Foods in Kansas City. Other prizes include a T-shirt, a KCK Taco Trail Champions flag, and a place on the Taco Trail Wall of Fame.

Other Things to do in Kansas City Kansas

While fitting as many tacos into a visit to KCK sounds like a worthy goal, you need to do something to burn off those calories.

“So sometimes people get confused that there are two Kansas Cities. There's Kansas City, Missouri, which is a bigger city, and Kansas City, Kansas. We're the smaller cousin. And there's some great experiences you can have over here,” says Carr.

Village West

On the Western side of the Metro, this is the prime tourist and visitor area. See:

  • Legends Outlet — an outdoor mall with artwork and restaurants.
  • Kansas Speedway — NASCAR track
  • Children's Mercy Park — home of the Sporting Kansas City professional soccer team
  • Legends Field — home of the KC Monarchs independent baseball team
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Urban Hikes in Strawberry Hill

Downtown KCK

If you want to get outdoors and get active, there are many different things to do in Downtown Kansas City:

  • Mural Walk — explore murals throughout the downtown area that tell the multicultural story of Kansas City, Kansas
  • Urban Hikes — take a guided walking tour and learn about the history of the buildings and community of downtown Kansas City, Kansas
  • Lewis & Clark Park at Kaw Point — hike the trails near the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers
  • Wyandotte County Lake & Park — get on the water or enjoy the trails within the city limits
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Glamping at Suite Tea at Watkins C Ranch

Also in KCK

  • Suite Tea — go glamping without leaving Midtown on Watkins C Ranch, where you can also go horseback riding and get the full ranch experience
  • Zip KC — find your ultimate ziplining adventure just outside Kansas City in Bonner Springs, Kansas

To get more information about the Taco Trail and visiting Kansas City, Kansas, go to visitkansascityks.com.

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