Cacao brings authentic tastes of central Mexico to Prairie Village

The bar at Cacao in Prairie Village.

You won’t find any dishes on Cacao’s menu featuring gobs of melted yellow cheese.

That may be a disappointment for patrons used to Tex-Mex interpretations of Mexican cuisine. But the new Prairie Village restaurant’s offerings of traditional ceviches, tamales, enchiladas and — yes — cacao-infused meats will be a welcome addition to diners looking for the authentic flavors of central Mexico.

Proprietors Ivan Marquez and Victor Esqueda opened their new venture to the public Monday after a few days of soft operation last week. Cacao occupies a fully renovated space in the building that housed Kokopelli Mexican Cantina from 2004 to 2014. Gone are the dark carpet and wall colors, replaced with a wide-open dining area featuring natural wood, bright white walls with turquoise accents and colorful wall decorations.

Marquez said he’d taken many of the lessons he learned from opening and operating Frida’s in south Overland Park and applied them to creating a more finely tuned concept for Cacao. The partners worked to assemble a menu that was straightforward and offered flavorful dishes at affordable prices. Most lunch entree prices are from $8 to $11. Most dinner entrees are $9 to $15 (a notable exception being the steak cacao, which is $24).

Marquez was born in Mexico City, but grew up in Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. He says the flavors on Cacao’s menu are common to Jalisco and its central-Mexico neighbors Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla.

“We are 100 percent Mexican cuisine,” Marquez said.

The menu’s options tend to be gluten free, and Marquez said they are more than happy to cater to vegetarian requests. You can find the restaurant’s website here. The menu is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Colorful woven baskets adorn the wall of the main dining room.
Colorful woven baskets adorn the wall of the main dining room.
Cacao's private dining room, available for parties.
Cacao’s private dining room, available for parties.