If you think Coco Bolos Wood Fired Grill and Cantina in Prairiefire is a Mexican restaurant, you’d be partly right: The menu has a strong foundation of south-of-the border tastes. But explore offerings beyond enchiladas, tacos and burritos and things get eclectic.
The Overland Park restaurant, the second location for Manhattan Aggieville’s popular eatery, is a delicious crossroads of flavors defining cuisine from New Orleans, Memphis, New Mexico, the Gulf Coast, Jamaica, Mexico and even Thailand (Thai Pan BBQ Pork, $18).
If you’ve ever devoured a Coco Bolos Tijuana Trainwreck — an irresistible layered concoction of corn tortillas, chicken, chili verde, chile con carne and more, baked to perfection — chances are it’s stuck in your food memory bank. For $15, you may even get two meals from the generously portioned order.
“Many patrons remember the Trainwreck from their days at Kansas State University,” said Coco Bolos General Manager David Latty of one of the restaurant’s most-requested entrees. “Diners come to recreate a fond experience discover dishes they’d forgotten, like the Trainwreck.”
Latty admits Coco Bolos expansive fusion-influenced menu and wood-fired grilled creations like Evil Border Chicken ($18) or Gulf Trio Mixed Grill ($24) can leave customers happily conflicted, but not confused.
“It’s a great testament to Coco Bolos’ founders, brothers Bud and Bobby Cox,” he said, “that people can’t decide between three or four things before choosing. Servers constantly hear, ‘I’ll order that one next time.’”
The Cox brothers borrowed inspiration from their childhood spent in the Deep South and also channeled an affinity for ingredients like the New Mexican Hatch green chili and fresh Gulf seafood when developing the Coco Bolos menu. Many items feature riffs on classics, like Bud’s Cuban Grilled Pork sandwich ($11) that relies on the marriage of Caribbean jerk seasoning and cilantro pesto for a departure from a traditional Cuban. Or the Cocos Crab Cakes ($13), an appetizer with four plump cakes that showcases seasoned fresh lump crab served with house-made pineapple salsa and a playful red chile aioli.
One of Latty’s personal favorites is Pizza Al Fresco ($14), a crispy wood-fired crust studded with smoked chicken and shrimp and topped with pico de gallo, alfredo sauce, cilantro pesto and cheese.
“I’ve never seen it replicated anywhere,” said Latty, who worked up the street from Manhattan’s Coco Bolos as a KSU student and frequently ordered the pizza. “With the optional habanero sauce, it’s truly one-of-a-kind.”
Nestled in the colorful Prairiefire shopping, dining and entertainment district at 135th Street and Nall Avenue, Coco Bolos’ bright, airy interior has personality galore. Boasting animated murals created especially for the space by Kansas City artist D. Ross “scribe” and massive garage doors that open to an outdoor bar and wraparound patio — offering diners a front seat to Prairiefire’s street life — it’s an escape from the ordinary.
Adding to the vibrant atmosphere are signature cocktails, including house ($7) and classic ($8 and up) margaritas made with fresh-squeezed juices and refreshing from-scratch red sangria ($8), plus a full spirits, wine and beer menu.
Weekly specials include half-price on all bottles of wine on Mondays (and kids eat free); 2-Buck Taco Tuesdays; Classic Wednesdays ($5 classic cocktails); and Getta-Burger Thursdays (half-price Bolo burger). Happy hour is from 2 to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Coco Bolos serves up diverse options for the kids: PB&J, mac and cheese, grilled steak or cheese quesadilla ($5, served with a side of fruit, tortilla chips or french fries).
Sweet endings are a Coco Bolos specialty. Coco Bananas ($7), reminiscent of the New Orleans-born dessert, bananas Foster, is the restaurant’s best-selling finale. Running a close second is the apple empanadas ($6) — pillowy, sweet pastries filled with apples, drizzled with honey and crowned with vanilla ice cream.
And if those crave-worthy dishes aren’t enough, another Coco Bolos visit will ensure a tasty deposit in your food memory bank.
Location: Prairiefire, 5621 W. 135th St., Suite 2610, Overland Park
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday (summer hours), 11 a.m. ‘til whenever Friday-Saturday.
Don’t Miss: BBQ shrimp po’boy ($10); Jamaican jerk chicken wrap ($13), Bandera burrito ($12).
Gluten-free: Thai Pan BBQ pork ($18); grilled mahi-mahi ($25); al Fresca salad with grilled chicken and smoked shrimp ($12), among others.
Vegetarian: Bolos fajita quesadilla with Portobello mushroom ($12); Cox Boys burrito with sautéed veggies ($12); house salad (half, $6; full $9), among others.
Special for the summer: Enjoy the Prairiefire Summer Music Series from Coco Bolos’ wraparound patio (7 -10 p.m. each Thursday through Sept. 8).