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Talk of the Town: Tacos + Thompson Park 

A FÉNIX IS RISING AT STRANG HALL + A STROLL THROUGH NEWLY BUILT THOMPSON PARK  

Article by Heather B

Photography by Heather B

What are your typical Sunday plans? Or better yet - what were your Sunday plans before #Covid? Mine usually involved brunch (whether at home or out with friends) and usually a walk afterwards...to walk off said brunch* (read: bottomless mimosas). With my new goal of finding things to do outdoors, I thought, "what better way to spend a Sunday morning than an outdoor brunch with friends?!"

So this past Sunday, my friend and I met up for brunch at Strang Hall's Fénix, to try the newest taco joint in town.

Upon walking up to Strang Hall, we were pleasantly surprised by the abundance of outdoor seating available. There are tons of picnic tables, Adirondack chairs as well as large covered tables (hint: tables can be reserved for groups!).

Stepping up to the counter at Fénix, we were warmly greeted by chef Brett DeHart. Immediately, I had to have whatever he was making because it looked delicious! It also just so happened to be the weekly special: Hot Chicken and Biscuits.

Needless to say, we were not disappointed with Brett's other recommendations of Soft Shell Crab, Pastor and Vegetarian tacos, as well as a few appetizers for us to share - such as Papa de Comote, Pastel de Maiz, and, of course - fresh guac and chips!

With 6 Pitch Best of KC award nominations, including Best Chef, Best Gluten-Free Restaurant, Best Hangover Cure Restaurant, Best Lunch, Best New Chef, and Best New Restaurant - it is not hard to see why this not-your-everyday-taco joint has been all the buzz lately!

Chef Brett, a KC native, is no newcomer to the restaurant arena. From opening Nara, a sushi restaurant, to opening his own restaurant years later called, Element, "a course dinner/modern tapas restaurant", to then working as an Executive Chef of Cat Cora’s Kitchen and Gordon Biersch for the Salt Lake City International Airport to returning to Kansas City in 2020 to open Fénix - he has a wealth of culinary expertise. It is no wonder why his menu has such a fresh and eclectic take on classic Latin dishes.

Since it was such a perfect and sunny day outside, we decided to take advantage of the cool temps and walk around the newly re-opened Thompson Park. With so many cool things for families to do there - it is the ideal place to get you out of the house, while still practicing social distancing. The park offers walking trails, a playground and interactive water fountain for kids, plenty of covered seating, and even an outdoor performance theater! There is something for just about everyone at this park - even a historical Carriage House!

I even went to my first social distancing birthday party a few weeks ago at Thompson Park. It was a great way to allow people to celebrate the birthday girls' 1st birthday, while also still respecting social distancing measures. With the large covered picnic area and outdoor grills, it provides all of the necessities for a safe and fun outdoor party. Also, how adorable are these decorations my friend did for her daughter's birthday party?!

So the next time you're asking yourself what to do on a Saturday or Sunday, go and check out Fénix - this week Brett is featuring a few things, including a glazed pork belly over a hatch chile, corn and chorizo risotto with his savory mole sauce. Then head across the street to Thompson Park and enjoy some fresh air and the scenery of our blossoming Downtown Overland Park.

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