Dining With Denise Neil

Crunchy insect tacos: They’re on the menu at this new Wichita food business

A few weeks ago, I told you about Tacos El Tlahco, a new Wichita business that serves “pre-Hispanic” dishes like the tlacoyo, an oval-shaped corn tortilla stuffed with beans and topped with cheese, cilantro and cactus.

Now, the business has started selling an even more exotic dish native to Mexico: grasshopper tacos.

Tacos El Tlahco, which is operated by AzTeca’s Botique owner China Pena and her friend Dinna Carrelo, is set up weekends at the Mercadito Hispano Nomar, and it’s one of several new food businesses offering unique Mexican dishes at the market.

They just started serving tacos de chapulines, which translates to grasshopper tacos, at last weekend’s market and will continue to serve them through the season. The market happens from 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

People not used to the delicacy, which is a traditional dish from Oaxaca, Mexico, are unsure what to think but many people have been trying it, Pena said. Mexico natives now living in Wichita are particularly excited to find the dish.

The little grasshoppers are toasted before they’re served and coated with lemon juice and chili powder.

“It’s crunchy, kind of like a potato chip,” Pena said. “It’s kind of a new adventure. You just have to close your eyes and forget it’s an insect.”

Tacos El Tlahco will also spice up its menu over the Fourth of July weekend. It is now selling its tlacoyo on blue corn shells, but to celebrate the Fourth, they’ll serve red- and white- colored shells as well.

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.