Mario Quiroz and Mara Garza met on a salsa dance floor, which somehow seems prophetic. For close to a decade, the two have been treating Wichitans to the culinary equivalent of that dance — passionate, earthy and above all delicious food.
They started in what can only be called humble circumstances: a somewhat decrepit former Taco Tico building along 21st Street in north Wichita.
Customers who braved the lack of air conditioning (or heat, depending on the season) found themselves enjoying standard Mexican dishes prepared with care but also some that were unknown in Wichita, such as the pirata (grilled tortillas stuffed with all sorts of goodness) and Mara’s vast array of house-made salsas.
Today, fans of Molino’s can enjoy the food in comfort at two locations: 7817 E. 37th St. (just off the corner of 37th and Rock) and 1064 N. Waco St. The atmosphere has changed — for the better — but not the owner's approach to food. Molino’s still produces seven different salsas, all of which you can sample for the ridiculous price of $2 during happy hour, as well as the toasty, overstuffed piratas. Street tacos come four to an order, letting you mix and match fillings of chicken, pork, steak, veggies and more.
The Molino’s menu features dishes from all over Mexico, from Durango and Monterrey to the Yucatan and Mexico City. There are fish tacos and ceviche from coastal regions as well as fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, flautas and more. Side dishes such as the charro beans and elote (corn served with sour cream, mayo and lime juice) would be worth a visit on their own.
One memorable entree, Chiles en Nogada, is believed to have originated in state dinners prepared for Mexico’s former president, Porfirio Diaz, in the early 1900s. It starts with a roasted poblano pepper, like your usual chile relleno, but then veers into a whole new and decadent direction: filled with steak, pork, nuts and fruit, smothered in a rich cream sauce, and garnished with tangy red pomegranate seeds.
The east Molino’s location sports a full bar and patio, making it ideal for date nights, while the central Wichita spot has proven a favorite with downtown business crowds.
“We’ve been blessed,” Mario says of the transformation from that old Taco Tico building. “We just wanted a chance to show what we love to do.”