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Coronavirus Holiday Gatherings | Kansas City's Taco Trail

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Dinner tables this holiday season may remain empty to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

A safety-first approach to a holiday season unlike any other, and a new food trail mapped out courtesy of Kansas City, Kansas.

Segment 1, beginning at 5:31: Some advice for preserving physical and mental health as we look for ways to gather with loved ones.

As we approach the holiday season, we will have to weigh the importance of wanting the traditional family dinner and gatherings against the risk that could pose to ourselves and others.

Segment 2, beginning at 32:50: Officials in Kansas City, Kansas, are turning a food favorite into an engine for culinary tourism in the city.

From street tacos to Tex-Mex, from strip malls to bar and grills to food trucks, the city’s tourism bureau is inviting visitors to a year of discovering not just the local restaurants with tacos on the menu but the neighborhoods where they reside as well. Get a glimpse of what you'll find on the Taco Trail.

Some recommendations from Kate McLiney to get you started on the KCK Taco Trail:

  • El Menudazo - Birria Tacos. These tacos are the reason they call the owner of El Menudazo the hangover doctor, and they have a cult-like following in KC. A line starts to form every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. full of people desperate for a cure to being overserved the night before. And for good reason! The meat for Birria tacos (beef or lamb) is cooked for hours to produce a rich juice from the marinade and seasonings. The tacos are pretty simple — slow-roasted beef or lamb and the creamiest cheese you've ever had, all wrapped up and fried in a homemade tortilla. They are good plain, but the real pros dress theirs in cilantro and onion and dip it in the juice from the cooking process. An instant hangover cure!
  • El Camino Real - Poblano Tacos. As a regular meat-eater, I was skeptical about these meatless tacos. But I couldn't have been more wrong! These tacos are filled with sautéed poblanos, onions and covered in cilantro. The spices used in the cooking process make the peppers and onions so rich and flavorful that you don't find yourself missing the meat at all. All tacos at El Camino Real are great, but I am constantly adding at least one poblano taco to my order because the flavor is so distinct. You can't get these anywhere else!
  • Bonito Michoacán - Tacos Al Pastor. The phrase "Al Pastor" references the style of cooking and the tacos are cooked as a tribute to how they cooked pork on the farmland in Mexico. Seasoned pork is slowly spit-roasted, often with pineapple on top to flavor the meat as it's cooked. Topped with cilantro, onion and a squeeze of lime, these are truly as authentic as it gets.
  • Slap's BBQ - Burnt End Street Tacos. This concoction is what happens when a BBQ big shot shares a neighborhood with some of the best street tacos in the city. Served only on Tuesday, these tacos are filled with deep-fried burnt ends, sautéed peppers and onions, and topped with cilantro, onion, and Slap's taco sauce. These are a must-try for all KC BBQ fanatics.
  • El Torito - Asada Tacos. Part supermarket, part restaurant, El Torito feels like a quick trip to Mexico for the afternoon. All the food here is phenomenal, but the showstopper has to be the asada tacos. These tacos are made with marinated and grilled steak and topped with the classic cilantro and onion combo. They are some of the most authentic tacos you can try this side of the border. After you fill up on tacos, be sure to check out the supermarket. The shelves are filled with Mexican treats and they always seem to have perfect avocados by the register year-round. It's a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Brian Ellison is a guest host of talk shows, newscasts, special coverage and community events for KCUR. Follow him on Twitter @ptsbrian.
Mackenzie Martin is a producer for KCUR's Up To Date, Real Humans By Gina Kaufmann, and A People's History of Kansas City. Reach out to her at mackenzie@kcur.org or on Twitter @_macmartin.
Danie Alexander is the senior producer of Up To Date.