Fast food is, by definition, supposed to be fast. But when it comes to quantity, the category has no implied qualifier.
Just know you’ll want to be famished when you order the loaded nachos at Reyna’s Express, an offshoot of Reyna’s Mexican Bakery in Kansas City, Kan.
The Mexican counter-service kiosk opened inside the Roeland Park Price Chopper entrance in late August.
Here, the “loaded” adjective almost feels like an understatement: When the woman behind the counter handed me the take-out container — the layers of lightly fried chips, seasoned ground beef, beans and a confetti of shredded yellow cheese, iceberg lettuce garnished with a simple pico de gallo — were mounded to heights so extreme that the lid would not close.
The mother lode rang up at $3.99. And there’s nothing on the menu at the moment that will cost you more than a five bucks.
“What we believe is that by keeping prices cheaper, we maintain more customers,” says Manny Reyna, vice president of the family’s express venture.
The specials board on the day I was in offered other $3.99 deals: a meat plate — a choice of mildly seasoned pork, chicken, beef or ground beef with Spanish rice, refried beans and your choice of warm corn or flour tortillas — or three chicken hard-shell tacos with rice and beans. The signature griddled and stuffed gorditas — which Manny describes as a “Mexican Hot Pocket” — and burritos are $2 each. Every Sunday, Manny also makes menudo that he sells for $12 a gallon, or $3.50 per 32-ounce cup.
The ingredients are lined up in a half-dozen stainless-steel steam trays so customers can choose between meat, sides and toppings. Order a fountain drink and pay at the end of the line. Then pass through the fresh salsa bar, one that allowed me to add to the nacho stack with a spicy green tomatillo salsa and sour cream.
“We decided to let customers add on so they don’t have to pick out tomatoes or onions if they don’t like them,” Manny says.
If you would rather eat in than take out, the Roeland Park Price Chopper has a casual food court just a few steps deeper into the store, near the salad bar. There is a big-screen TV, and several folks were eating lunches they had just purchased.
And if you haven’t stopped by this particular Price Chopper before, take a few minutes after your meal to peruse the aisles of this fascinating grocery that caters to a largely Hispanic clientele. The produce section is one of the most exotic and well-stocked in the area, offering up nopales, banana leaves and a rainbow of peppers.
4950 Roe Blvd. (in the Roeland Park Price Chopper)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Large shopping center lot.
Don’t-miss dish: Loaded nachos and meat plates are tasty and filling.
Seating: Take your food to go, or eat in the grocery store food court.