Street tacos have become easy to find in Kansas City’s casual, family-owned Mexican restaurants and groceries.
Cancun Fiesta Fresh, a little dive across the street from the Westport CoffeeHouse, was one of the first to offer the palm-size soft corn tortillas filled with slow-simmered fillings, and nobody does them better.
Rafael Pinedo opened Cancun in 1997, using his grandmother’s recipes from Zacatecas in central Mexico. Pinedo cooks his asada (marinated beef), adobada (barbecued beef), carnitas (roasted pork), pollo (chicken), carne molida (ground beef), lengua (tongue) and cabeza (beef cheek) for two days. The long cooking time ensures depth of flavor and melting tenderness.
Each taco is prepared fresh to order. Hunks of the slow-cooked meats are lifted from cooking pots in the kitchen and chopped one at a time before being stuffed into the tacos and topped with chopped onion and cilantro. A wedge of lime is offered on the side, as are a choice of three heat levels of house-made salsa. The medium salsa verde made from tomatillos and jalapeno is my favorite.
Cancun also makes a terrific fish taco served with cabbage and a special pepper sauce. It costs $2.75 but is larger than the street tacos, which sell for $1.75.
Unlike many street taco joints, Cancun has a liquor license, so you can wash down your tacos with a cold Corona or margarita.
Lunchtime is packed, so call your order in if you are in a hurry, and don’t count on being able to sit — the tiny dining area seats only about a dozen, although outdoor seating doubles that capacity on nice days.
Daily food and drink specials are offered, and Cancun delivers to nearby neighborhoods.