Can we talk Mexican food?

Ole!

I recieved another e-mail from the ever-thoughtful foodie Mike Levand, most famous (to me) for the love letter to cake he sent this summer.

This time, Mike wants to talk Mexican food.

First, he wonders if there is a Mexican buffet being served in Wichita. The only one I’m aware of is at Cortez Mexican Restaurant at 344 W. 29th St. N. It offers an all-you-can eat Mexican buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Second, Mike asks for a top-five list of local, non-chain Mexican restaurants. I get the feeling he mainly wants Tanya Tandoc’s recommendations, but this is not Tanya’s blog (ha ha). So mine will have to do. Though Tanya, please do chime in if you are reading this.

I know that Tanya would agree with me that Frida’s, the restaurant that closed last year, was at the top of the list. The owners have promised to reopen, but my hope dwindles daily. Besides Frida’s, my favorites include Taqueria El Paisa, an authentic restaurant at 2227 N. Arkansas, and Ruben’s, 520 W. Douglas, which is more of a Tex-Mex standard but sells delicious flour tacos and a killer carintas dinner.

I’ve always sort of liked El Patio, 424 E. Central, too, though I tend to overeat there so must approach it with caution.

That’s only three. Who has other suggestions? Remember, Mike wants local.

Teeny, tiny, tasty

manawokdiningroomWhy do I love teeny tiny restaurants that serve good food? Is it because they’re cute and tiny, like puppies? Or because the teeny tininess of them makes me feel like I’ve discovered a true hole-in-the-wall treasure?

Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to Manna Wok, a delicious little (emphasis on the little) Korean place at 4865 E. Harry. This place is tiny — so tiny it has room for only eight tables and only two people standing up at the same time. (I’m exaggerating on that last part, but it is a weeeee little place.)

The food, however, is big on flavor, especially the Korean dishes such as beef bul go kee, shown here. mannawokbeef

Manna Wok has been in business for 18 years, and the dining room is plastered with pictures of people enjoying meals there. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and offers lunch specials.

Today I met Cat Poland, the marketing and communications manager for Girl Scouts KS, for lunch at Manna Wok. I had the beef bul go kee, which is incredible. She had what looked like an equally incredible shrimp with ginger sauce. manawokphotos

(Cat and I, by the way, were meeting to talk about a very cool restaurant event she helps to organize called Cocktails & Cookies. It’s a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts, and I’m going to emcee the event at the Marriott on March 3).

Other teeny tiny restaurants I love: El Patio at 424 E. Central and Thai Five at 1523 S. Seneca.