From a little house on 10th Street to the iconic Sylvanie Street castle and a second location on Frederick Boulevard, Barbosa’s doesn’t shy away from its roots.
Angie Ransom, the current owner of the popular Mexican restaurant, says that she remembers her aunt and uncle starting the restaurant in their own home back in the 1960s, housing around seven tables in the dining room.
“Back in the day, I guess you could do that,” Ransom laughs.
And they were all of her grandmother’s recipes, from the rice, beans, red chili (a favorite among regulars), tamales and enchiladas. Even the fideo, angel hair noodles in a tomato-based sauce with garlic and onion, have a special place in the hearts of many customers.
Ransom’s aunt and uncle would move to the Castillo location at 906 Sylvanie St., a building developed by a Mr. J.B. Moss and a number of local architects in 1891. The building itself reflects a Romanesque-Gothic motif and even included a roof garden.
“There was a lot of write-up in the Kansas City newspaper and here the day that they opened, because J.B. Moss’ son, I think, came and ate in the restaurant, and a lot of wealthy people came in to eat at the opening,” Ransom says.
In 1980, they would buy the second Barbosa’s location at 4804 Frederick Boulevard for added customer convenience.
Various additions to the menu include avocado dip and, of course, the restaurant’s signature chips.
“The chips were kind of made by accident,” Ransom says. “My grandmother would hand-make the tortillas ... to make the tacos. Well, a lot of times when you make tortillas, they’re not always perfectly round. So, they would take a cutter and just cut them so that they were evenly shaped and throw the scraps away. Well, my uncle said, ‘We’re not going to waste that. Throw them in the fryer.’ Then they got so popular, now that’s all we do for about 6 hours a day is make chips.”
From 8 a.m. to about 2 p.m. each day, around six members of the staff will make several barrels of chips, so much that Ransom says around $50,000 is spent on labor alone ... just for the chips.
Now in her 60s, Ransom began waiting tables at Barbosa’s when she was 21 and says that she’s seen a number of children grow up and bring their own children to stop in for a bite to eat.
“And I feel like if we had a Barbosa’s reunion for all of the workers, we’d have thousands of people,” she laughs. “And they all become family once they start working here.”
With a full bar and numerous food items tied to her family’s history, Ransom says she and her staff take pride in what they can provide at Barbosa’s.
“We really put a lot of work into this food,” she says.