Chow Town

Taco Zone will open a permanent shop in downtown Lawrence

Taco Zone serves tacos stuffed with slow-cooked meats. This trio features chicken chorizo, pork braised in salsa verde and chili rojo-braised beef and mushroom.
Taco Zone serves tacos stuffed with slow-cooked meats. This trio features chicken chorizo, pork braised in salsa verde and chili rojo-braised beef and mushroom. The Kansas City Star

Taco Zone, a pop-up taco shop at Lawrence’s Replay Lounge, soon will have a permanent spot in the Kansas college town.

Brad Shanks and brother-in-law Brian Ayers launched Taco Zone a year ago. The weekends-only stand serves tacos stuffed with slow-braised meats prepared by Ayers, a classically trained chef.

Fillings rotate weekly, but favorites include green chile chicken, chorizo and potato, grilled corn and black bean and cochinita pibil — slow-roasted pork shoulder wrapped in banana leaves.

Taco Zone started as an experiment.

“We wanted to see if we could have a spot in the food scene here,” Shanks says, “and it went really well.”

Now the business duo is preparing to open a permanent shop at 13 E. 8th St.

Shanks says the new Taco Zone will be “a glorified taco stand” where customers will order and pick up food at the counter. The expanded menu will feature made-from-scratch aguas frescas, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and chips and guacamole.

“It’s not a bar, but we will carry a very small selection of beers and a margarita,” Shanks says.

The roughly 1,000-square-foot space is still under construction. Shanks and Ayers are targeting mid-April for an opening date.

Shanks is still finalizing Taco Zone’s hours, but he says the shop will be open for lunch and dinner every day except for Monday, when it’ll be closed. Taco Zone will likely stay open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday — so it could become a late-night dining destination for bar hoppers.

Don’t worry, Replay regulars: Taco Zone’s pop-up taqueria will still be posted at the bar on weekends. The stand is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and will expand to Sundays in April.

To read more about Taco Zone, check out Ink’s 2014 Lawrence bar guide or this Q&A with co-owner Brad Shanks.

Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes bar and dining guides for Ink magazine. Contact her via email at sgish@kcstar.com or tweet @sarah_gish.

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