By Kevin Collison
Carlos Mortera comes from a long line of restauranteurs, going back to his childhood days in Querétaro, Mexico.
“I’ve been cooking for awhile,” he said. “My dad and grandpa had restaurants in Mexico.”
Now, his dad Carlos Sr. is helping him fire up the oven with cherry wood at his new place, Poi-ō, at 1000 W. 25th St., tucked off Southwest Boulevard near Boulevard Brewing. It remains a family affair with his uncle and brother helping on occasion too.
Poi-ō is mostly about roasted chicken, with Filipino-style baby-back ribs thrown in for good measure. Mortera marinades the chicken, pre-bakes it to let the marinade soak in, and then grills on cherry wood to get juicy chicken with a nice charred skin.
Mortera moved to Kansas City 20 years ago as a kid.
This is not his first food place. Five years ago, he opened The Bite in the City Market, which specializes in sandwiches with Mexican and Korean flavors.
His vision for Poi-ō was to open a restaurant where families could enjoy a great meal without breaking their budget
“What we wanted was an affordable restaurant where a family of four can eat for $30 with fresh ingredients,” he said. “It’s a community restaurant for this neighborhood.”
Not that he doesn’t welcome everyone.
On a recent afternoon, a group of artists and construction workers stopped by for a meal. One wall features a cool mural that Mortera commissioned from an artist.
In addition to the chicken and ribs, sides include charred broccoli, black beans, kimchi fried rice, and elotes, a traditional Mexican street food of corn, lime, mayo, chili and cheese.
Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Poi-ō plans to begin deliver service soon through Postmates and Uber Eats. a website is expected to be up in a couple weeks, poiokc.com.
Mortera also has applied for a license to sell beer and wine. He plans to offer Mexican craft beers, not the usual Corona. Boulevard and Torn Label beers also will be on the menu as well as wine.
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