Dining With Denise Neil

New Rock Road restaurant tells the story of its immigrant owners, their Wichita success

Mario Quiroz and his wife Mara Garza are about ready to open their latest restaurant, Molino’s Taqueria at 21st and Rock Rd. (December 10, 2018)
Mario Quiroz and his wife Mara Garza are about ready to open their latest restaurant, Molino’s Taqueria at 21st and Rock Rd. (December 10, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

Friday’s opening of the new Molino’s Taqueria at 2035 N. Rock Road will cap a wild year for owners Mario Quiroz and wife Mara Garza.

The couple, whose flagship Molino’s Mexican Cuisine at 1064 N. Waco is regarded as one of Wichita’s best Mexican restaurants, closed their second location at 37th and Rock a little more than a year ago, saying they wanted to focus their energy on a “new venture” they weren’t quite ready to discuss.

That venture, it turned out, was a new mini-taqueria in the just-opened Revolutsia shipping container mall at Central and Volutsia, where Prost and LIttle Lion Ice Cream are now up and running. But just before the couple was about to start work on that project, a new opportunity came along: the chance to open a bigger taqueria in the just-closed Pie Five space on one of Wichita’s busiest thoroughfares: Rock Road. The couple then changed their minds about Revolutsia, opting instead to focus on the Rock Road project.

On Friday, customers can finally try out the new Molino’s venture, which unlike flagship Molino’s, which has tableside service, instead has a Chipotle-like setup, where customers stand in line, decide what entree they want, then choose which toppings they want.

Molino’s Taqueria is opening the old Pie Five location in the strip mall at 21st and Rock Road. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

But there are many key differences between Molino’s Taqueria and Chipotle.

For one, it won’t serve burritos. But it will offer Molino’s famous piratas, which are giant grilled tacos on 8-inch tortillas, plus street tacos, nachos and bowls. And the piratas will be served using tortillas made on the spot courtesy of a fancy new tortilla-making machine that is situated at the beginning of the line. Customers can watch while they wait as dough balls drop in and fresh tortillas slide out. (The restaurant also will serve fresh tortillas to go.)

Diners can order an entree for $6.99 or choose a combo for $8.99. That includes one of the entrees plus a choice of one side, and the options include elote, Mexican rice, black beans, refried beans, a house salad or green pozole, which is a traditional Mexican soup served with hominy.

The meat choices include pork carnitas, al pastor, grilled chicken, asada, grilled fish and fried shrimp. For vegetarians, there’s also portobello rajas, made with portobello strips mixed with corn, onions and cheese. Customers also can choose from Molino’s house-made salsas, including red, green tomatillo or molcajete.

The menu also has appetizer-servings of chips with salsa, guacamole, queso dip or bean dip, and there are also churros for dessert. To drink, the new restaurant offers “aquas frescas,” traditional sweet Mexican drinks, as well as beer and two types of margaritas.

A mural in the new Molino’s Taqueria tells the story of Mario Quiroz’s and Mara Garza’s journey to Kansas. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

Quiroz and Garza took great care designing the interior of the restaurant, and on the back wall is a big mural that has cartoon sketches of Quiroz, Garza and their two sons along with an illustrated story of their journey from Monterrey, Mexico, to Kansas.

“We want to show our pride of being immigrants in Wichita,” Qurioz said.

The hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. The Molino’s on Waco, which first opened in 2013, will continue to operate as normal.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.