The Who/What/When/Where of Yoli Tortilleria’s Marissa Gencarelli

To call Marissa Gencarelli a fan of Kansas City would be an understatement. The co-owner of Yoli Tortilleria says we’re “a big city that’s been able to remain feeling like a small town. Great people, food, and Midwest manners. And while the city is spread out, traffic is a breeze.” (Amen to that, sister.)

Gencarelli/Photo credit: Jenny Wheat

Gencarelli and her husband Mark have made it their mission to help elevate Mexican cuisine in the metro. Much of her desire to transform and enhance local experiences comes from traveling through Mexico as a child.

We chatted up Gencarelli to find out her stomping grounds, go-to locales, and other sundry items.

What’s your fave place to see and be seen—socially distanced, of course?
“This is so embarrassing, but truth be told—you will see me hanging anywhere kids are allowed. [Laughs] We love going to The Campground and enjoying cocktails while the kids are running wild.”

What’s your favorite local place to appease your sweet tooth?
“Anything from Blackhole Bakery! It’s so hard to restrain myself that I always buy a smallish box for our house and then buy another box of all the things I wish I could also have for our neighbors or to take to my daughter’s daycare. I just know that it will make people smile.”

What’s your favorite place to people watch?
“City Market during lunch time. I love sitting there and watching how beautiful KC is with all the diversity. The scene is vibrant, with scents of fresh produce, spices, and coffee. It’s perfect.”

What are you binge-watching this second?
“The second season of Lupin. I’m a sucker for detective series in foreign countries. Just dreaming of being a spy in Paris makes me happy!”

Where do you go to get (or stay) caffeinated?
“I’m an early riser—like, 5 a.m. My first cup of the day is at home with coffee from Oddly Correct. During the day, going back and forth between Westside and East Bottoms I’ll have—without a doubt—a Vietnamese Coffee from Vietnam Café in Columbus Park. If I’ve got time, I’ll walk around and watch people skateboard at the park.”

Fave film/theater monologue you know by heart and can recreate on the spot?
“It’s from The Italian Job.
Charlie: ‘I’m fine.’
John: ‘Fine? You know what fine stands for don’t you?
Charlie: ‘Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional?’”

Where is the best local hidden gem? (Shhh, tell no one!)
“I live out south and just love Ramsey’s Burgers. They are perfectly executed. The fries are incredible. So very good!”

What’s your favorite place to order insanely hot food?
“Hot Basil’s ‘hot’ pad Thai with shrimp  is insane. Best in town! I’d highly recommend washing it down with Teutonic white wines.”

Where do you go to chill out/decompress outdoors?
“Nelson-Atkins sculpture park is one of my all-time favorite places to take a walk and just think. I will typically have a good book and a notepad to write and draw.”

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