Kiosco gets the nod for hustle and scope

by Brian Clarey

It was almost exactly a year ago that I sat in a caf’ in Tucson, Ariz. eating the best breakfast burrito of my life that I registered a serious complaint against the Mexican restaurant cabal in the Triad.

Why, I wondered aloud, could I not get a burrito like this in my hometown? It was a simple affair of spiced scrambled egg, salsa, cheese, beans and a little sour cream on top — nothing prohibitive — but I had never seen anything like it on a menu around here.

I had a similar revelation while eating fish tacos in a restaurant in New Orleans last month.

Not that we suffer from a dearth of Mexican restaurants — there are dozens of them, to be found in every neighborhood in the Triad. But I’ll be frank: All too often the menus are indistinguishable from one another — myriad, uninspired variations on the same old same-old. Seasoned beef, chicken, steak tips, shrimp. Flour and corn tortillas. Shredded iceberg lettuce. Gooey white cheese. I ceased looking for excitement at area Mexican joints long ago.

But I became intrigued by Kiosco Mexican Grill after readers nominated it as Best Mexican Restaurant this year, so much so that I made the drive down Spring Garden Street to give it a shot.

The first thing I noticed about Kiosco is that the floor manager is on it. The guy materialized as soon as I walked in the door and was ever present during my visit, pouring salsa into my little bowl, refilling my water glass, making sure my order had been taken and inquiring about the food. Guy’s a dynamo, and he’s one of the things that separates Kiosco from the rest.

Another is the scope and size of the menu. Kiosco serves everything you expect, from queso dip to every possible incarnation of meat, cheese, sauce and tortilla. But the vastness is remarkable. There are

more than 50 lunch specials on Kiosco’s menu, dozens of entrees and scads of miscellany tucked into the margins and white spaces of the document. There are two different seafood soups, for example, and like a dozen shrimp dishes. Like the hands-on floor manager, Kiosco simply tries harder than most other Mexican restaurants in the area.

Because I was looking for something different, I made a move for the sopa de papa, a sort of potato-corn chowder with cheese and white wine. And, because I was pretty hungry, I tacked on a spinach and mushroom quesadilla. They came out rapidamente, as is usually the case in Mexican places, and I tucked right in.

First a word on the quesadilla, which true to Kiosco’s form came absolutely jammed with spinach and mushrooms, making up for the limitations of the dish with sheer volume. It did well dipped into the salsa which the floor manager kept refilling.

And the soup was unlike anything I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant, golden and rich with cheese and potato, a hint of sweet corn, a delicate redolence with nary a hint of gratuitous spicing. I loved it, and will surely order it again.

Again true to form, Kiosco boasts almost twice as many desserts as most Mexican restaurants, including staples like flan but also several variations on the fried ice cream theme. Alas, I made my way out of there before the overactive floor manager could talk me into something sweet.

wanna go?

Kiosco Mexican Grill 3011 Spring Garden St. Greensboro