It was an unexpectedly cold and wet day in the middle of Kansas. We arrived at Taco Shop for an early lunch with our new friend Janet Kuhn. Our visit to Hays was winding down to the last few hours, so this would be our last get together. It was fitting that our last meal was in this long-running eatery. What had started out 50 years ago has grown into a local haunt that draws in crowds from all around. Now it was our turn to sample the menu.
We want to thank Hays CVB and Taco Shop for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Beating the Crowd
When we stepped through the door, we found that we had the place almost to ourselves. There were a couple of students from the nearby university who were picking up lunch to go. The clean lines and basic seating arrangement spoke volumes of a business that passes through their doors every day. You just don’t make it in the restaurant business for 50 years and counting without growing a huge cult following. This requires attention to detail and the ability to deliver consistency.
Make it Easy
Another key to longevity is making life as easy as possible for your customers. One way that Taco Shop does this is by providing visual assistance to its menu. We loved that we could see examples of each of the dishes. It is a well-known fact that we eat first with our eyes. Seeing all of the choices laid out in front of us actually made it more difficult for me. After all, I wanted so bad to sample a variety of them but knew that I had to remember to keep my eyes in check with my stomach. Displaying photos of menu items can be a very bold move. This means that you have to replicate the look time after time, so as not to face the ire of an unsatisfied customer.
A Dab of This
After spending some time staring at the options, I decided to go with a classic, the Taco Salad. My last version of this dish had come from a Mexican restaurant in KCK. Taco Shop serves theirs up in a crispy tortilla bowl that is just as delicious as the fillings. Crystal selected Combo Dinner #2. It combines a trio of classics that gives an excellent cross-section of Tex-Mex dishes. They start with a crispy hard-shelled taco that rivaled my salad. They toss in an enchilada and burrito to boot. Diners get to choose the protein for the filling, and as expected, Crystal picked chicken.
A Pinch of That
Janet is a veteran of Taco Shop dining, so she definitely helped guide our selections. She went straight for the Nacho Supreme, which combines a plethora of flavors. The base is a bed of Mexicali Rice, which they cover with a hearty helping of corn chips. Now it gets interesting. Shredded grilled chicken, shredded Monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream, and chili con queso are piled on top. Then they cap it off with another helping of the rice. That’s a lot of great flavors all rolled into one dish.
50 Years and Counting
To be a mainstay business for 50 years and counting is not something that happens by accident. Taco Shop prepares its fresh ingredients daily so that they are offering their customers top-quality dishes. Even with this attention to detail, they manage to keep their prices down, so as to be affordable for the local student population. Something we have discovered in our years of traveling is that college towns have some of the best restaurants. This place is a solid reminder of that principle.