By Dave Greenbaum
Photo by IndieFit Staff
The Bite, a small sandwich shop nestled between Farm to Table and Taste of Brazil tucked in the northwest corner of KC’s City Market, serves a fusion of world cuisine with a Mexican flair designed by chef and owner Carlos Mortera. Like most of its adjacent peers, the Bite has a food truck vibe. The menu and seating are limited, but that’s fine by me, I like to make a regular grub crawl out of my City Market outings, patching a meal together from multiple venues. On a recent visit that started at Quay Coffee and ended with a decadent detour from my diet at Beignet, I sat in one of the small two-person tables and admired their selection of artsy skulls and wacky décor that mirrors the sweet, savory, and spicy weirdness of the menu.
Before Mortera started the Bite, the space housed a series of mini-restaurants including versions of Foodo, Nabil’s, the Grille on Broadway, and Mr. Good Chicken. I was intrigued by the promise of Korea meets Mexico – a potentially rife combination in my opinion – but balance wins out at the Bite. The menu has three basic items: sandwiches, tamales, and sides. I’m a mushroom fan, so I ordered “The Toadstool,” a potent layering of mushrooms, red onions, and a savory sauce stuffed into a sliced bolillo (a Mexican hoagie roll). Crusty and chewy, it didn’t turn to mush with the sauce and fillings. My dining companion ordered the “Kickin’ Chicken,” a straight-out-of Mexico City dish loaded with slow-cooked chicken carnitas and queso fresco – until it’s plated up and slathered in Korean BBQ sauce and sriracha crema.
Other sandwiches feature pork, chicken, crab and a few vegetarian options. Everything is heavy on the eclectic. Next time I return I want to try the “El-Vez,” a far-out combination of peanut butter; prosciutto, banana, and Nutella(!).
The sandwiches and tamales are pretty darn filling, but that didn’t stop us from trying a few side dishes, especially the “Patatas Bravas”: quartered potatoes topped with chipotle mayo and garlic oil alongside fresh cilantro and – I’m going to have to revoke your Yelp Visa card if you don’t know what’s coming next – kimchi! This kimchi is mild enough that it blends in nicely with the potatoes, providing a crunchy tang at the finish. I also tried both the maduros (fried plantains topped with queso fresco) and the “Bite Greens.”
The drink selection is limited to bottled and canned pop; they have San Pellegrino, Mexican Coke and a selection of Jarritos that includes pineapple and tamarind. I was in the mood for an iced tea, so since this is the city market I popped out and returned 3 minutes later with my drink. A jug of té helado con limón would be a welcome addition in my opinion.
The Bite is a lunch place and closes at 4 p.m. most days. They run out of items sometimes, so be prepared to come up with a second choice or have a menu on hand when placing a carry-out order.
It’s not hard to stick to a healthy plan at the Bite. Gluten free options include plain corn tamales and corn tamales with spinach and black beans. Both are topped with mole, queso fresco, sriracha crema, pickled onions and a side of sesame slaw. You can add other meats or veggies. I tried the crunchy smoked tofu, but pretty much all the sandwich fillings are available on the tamales as well. Both kinds of tamales can be prepared vegetarian or vegan, and there are several vegetarian sandwiches. Meat items are clearly marked and the kitchen is happy to remove dairy from almost everything on the menu. Overall the Bite is a tasteful flavor-fest that fits in nicely with the eclectic buzz of the City Market, and health conscious diners will find options even though the menu, and space, are small.