When is Upscale not Good?

Typically, never. As long as the food is good, the atmosphere swell and the price just right, upscale dining has a place in our dining culture. I also believe that any food type can use an upscale slant. I don't care if it's Italian, German, Indian... even Mexican, upscale eateries provide something different. Something good.

Except when upscale is not really upscale. That seems to be the initial problem with El Patron Cocina & Bar ( This relatively new Mexican place is nestled along one of my favorite Boulevards (2905 S.W. Blvd, KC, MO) in America. Yes, all of America. The great flavors coupled with vibrant diversity makes this area one of my favorites.

El Patron has seemingly billed itself as more of an upscale Mexican joint as opposed to its neighbor across the street (I mean Boulevard), Ponak's. The problem is that is just isn't very upscale and it's food lacks the flair that would prompt someone to take a "step up" from its many Mexican Restaurant neighbors.

I've been there multiple times in a genuine effort to make El Patron one of my favorites. But it just hasn't delivered. On my last foray to this location I was greeted with the appetizing aroma of bleach as the manager (perhaps owner?) sloppily waved a mop around the tiny dining room floor. After a few smacks of the back of my bar stool by the mop wielding server (all without an apology or much less an acknowledgment of her accidental mop whackings) I was greeted by the bar server. As I was in the midst of Happy Hour I inquired about any specials. After the obligatory Mexican specials (meaning Margarita's and Mojitos) I asked about a simple beer special. Nope. No luck.

So I paid the $4.50 for my Dos Equis bottle and sought out some of that smelly stuff they give you to slap on your upper lip when you walk into a morgue to try and overcome the bleach smell.

I won't waste anymore space detailing the slightly overpriced, uninspiring food, but suffice it to say that the experience had me staring out the window longing for Ponak's.

In closing, the people at El Patron seem nice and they seem like they are trying hard to succeed. Unfortunately they are failing to establish a much needed niche for upscale Mexican in Kansas City (I may be the only one who truly misses Canyon Cafe on the Plaza). I wish them good luck. I also wish they could establish their identity. Upscale? Probably not.


Jason said...

wow. bad take. Have been there 10+ times and never had a bad experience. How exactly does a restuarant "seemingly" bill itself as "upscale"? There is nothing pretentions about the place, unless you consider a great selection of tequila and mezcal pretentions. Despite popular theory, just because a place is on the blvd, it isn't required to look like a craphole. Sounds like you have an axe that needed some grinding. late.

kc food guy said...

I've been there twice. The first time I went they had only been open about 2 months. As we walked in the place it was entirely empty. The bartender yelled across the room, "Sit anywhere you like!" and went into the kitchen. Right on, we did. That was the last we saw of anyone for the next 15 minutes before we walked out. I swore not to go back, but I did.

I think it was a Saturday night the next time I went in. It was crowded, noisy and full of touristy looking hipsters. The food was neither upscale, authentic or good.

It's a place to see-and-be-seen. There are dozens of places to get better Mexican food within a few miles of this place. If you want safe "JO" style everything, it's the place for you.

Midtown Food Guy said...

Jason, thanks for your comments. No axe to grind, I just feel like my dining experience should be a good time with all of the options KC has to offer. Maybe sometimes I do feel cheated by a place when the experience is bad...

Also, I'm just one lowly reviewer and I'm glad that your opinion of the place is different. But I still stand by my review.

I'm also surprised that KC Food Guy agrees somewhat with my take on the place as we rarely agree on such things.

Jason said...

thanks for responding. You guys do good work and i enjoy your blog. Of all the mexican places, i was just surprised to see el patron get a negative review. Anyway, agree to disagree. (although you can shove the "jo" style comment; any midtowner knows there is no such thing. Its called mediocrity). have a good weekend.

Fresh Fish Creative said...

I love El Patron but I agree the service is a little on the shitty side. I think it comes from the immigrant-family operated mindset of "our food is good, to hell with service." They probably don't even understand how good service affects the dining experience. And I'm saying that because my own immigrant parents who ran restaurants were just like that!

And one more gripe, their takeout takes FOR-FREAKING-EVER!