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The Kansas City Taco Trail now features 60 restaurants across Wyandotte County

Closeup photo of a plate of soft tacos with a lime wedge.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Chicken, carne asada, and beef tacos with a side of rice from the kitchen of Las Palmas Restaurante in Kansas City, Kansas.

Visit KCK relaunched the food rewards program this week to give newcomers and frequent visitors a chance to explore Wyandotte County via its eclectic Hispanic food culture. It has added new prizes for potential “Taco Champions.”

Just in time for the NFL Draft, the KCK Taco Trail is back. After completing its first run last year, the online passport program will pick up again from now until April 2024.

“The Taco Trail is our first of many initiatives to encourage people to visit the city of Kansas City, Kansas,” said Celeste Lupercio, director of Marketing and Community Engagement for Visit Kansas City Kansas.

“We decided this would be a great way to get people to explore those areas through a food challenge,” she said.

The revamped rewards program now includes 15 new restaurants, bringing the grand total to 60. The list spans every region of Wyandotte County.

It’s a new twist to the program that Lupercio said was purposeful.

New Taco Trail participants include Paleteria Nevelandia, at 908 N. 18th St., and Pollos el Junior, just next door.
Luke X. Martin
KCUR 89.3
New Taco Trail participants include Paleteria Nevelandia, at 908 N. 18th St., and Pollos el Junior, just next door.

“Most of the time people will visit Strawberry Hill on the east side, or they go way over to Village West for a Sporting match,” she said. “They tend to not really explore the middle of this city, and hopefully this program breaks that trend.”

Instead of downloading an app like in the first run, users can now check in to restaurants and earn points directly from the Taco Trail website, after signing up for an account.

Since most of the businesses are immigrant-owned, with primarily Spanish-speaking employees, Lupercio said, the easier check-in feature helps to not alienate them.

A man is shown standing with his back to the camera. In front of him is a large menu hanging from the ceiling showing a menu of different photos of Mexican food. A buffet line can be seen below the sign where a server is preparing a dish.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A customer at Bonito Michoacan places his order on April 28, 2023.

“We want to make it easy for them to get more business, and we don't have to worry about training their staff to use the app,” she said.

The game-like process of the trail draws more people to the city’s diverse Hispanic food scene, Lupercio said, and helps small businesses gain new customers.

“Cultural food is primary to their business, so we don't do any chain restaurants,” she said.

While most spots on the list are authentic Mexican food, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and other culinary cultures are represented.

Photo of theBronze greeting placard right next to the entrance of Las Palmas Restaurante on 825 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. Its one of 26 authentic Mexican restaurant's located in Downtown KCK.
Lawrence Brooks IV
KCUR 89.3
The bronze sign greeting customers at the entrance of Las Palmas Restaurante, at 825 Minnesota Ave. Its one of 26 authentic Mexican restaurants located in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

According to Lupercio, more updates are planned for the program for the Cinco de Mayo weekend.

“The grand prize is still to be determined, so we haven't revealed that yet,” Lupercio said. “But that's going to be revealed after the holiday weekend.”

“We have a couple of restaurants that offer $5 taco plates on Cinco and that'll be our way to get people to go out,” she said.

As KCUR’s race and culture reporter, I work to help readers and listeners build meaningful and longstanding relationships with the many diverse cultures that make up the Kansas City metro. I deliver nuanced stories about the underrepresented communities that call our metro home, and the people whose historically-overlooked contributions span politics, civil rights, business, the arts, sports and every other realm of our daily lives.
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