Kennedy Concepts restaurants thrive on the experience.
In fact, I know because that’s what their PR team wrote in the “about” section of their website.
Thrive is an excellent word. It sounds so good.
Market tested, thrive is. Works every time.
Kennedy Concepts restaurants feature “chef-driven” menus and “enthusiastic team members.”
Places like the Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina, Johnny Rockets, Puckers Sports Grill and Crawdaddy’s are dedicated to going beyond filling bellies to “create memorable experiences” for each and every guest.
So what does that mean?
The Loco Burro experience
At Loco Burro, it means drinking “margs” and listening to live music from the rooftop patio.
It means getting to ride a mechanical donkey and hosting an international dance night every Tuesday. The Mexican adjacent menu items feature an authentic blend of Mexican cheeses.
It also means that when you open the menu, you’ll see a bean burrito called “El Paso Gaso.” And online, you will find rave reviews by people named Stephanie and Heather and … well, John.
In other words, they’ve been selling the tourists what they want for generations. It’s a great deal for everyone. We get the tourist dollars and they get to have experiences they can’t get at home.
Is the food at Loco Burro authentic?
Authenticity? That’s not what we’re selling. Look, nobody comes to Sevier County for authentic Mexican food or for authenticity in any form, really. That’s not what we do here.
You come here on vacation for fun. Specifically, for exactly the kind of experiences Kennedy Concept restaurants offer, and they’re good at it.
When you and your friends are having a drink along with a crispy beef taco and singing along with the live band or doing karaoke from the top patio entertainment area, all you’re thinking about is having a good time.
Or possibly a great time if someone in your party gets their rump handed to them by the bucking donkey.
I don’t know if I’m a curmudgeon by nature, a cynic by nurture or just a card-carrying member of Generation X.
Do I enjoy watching people fall off a mechanical burro? Why, yes. Yes, I do.
And do I enjoy drinking alcohol on rooftops? That’s a big 10-4.
Finally, do I enjoy a good fart joke? Listen, I was raised on “Blazing Saddles” and have three kids. I work in fart jokes like Bob Ross in acrylics.
So is the Loco Burro worth it?
Honestly, yes. I like all of those things and I really like the Loco Burro. It’s a great place to have a good time.
The only thing I don’t like, I suppose, is the idea that I can be so cravenly marketed to.
I want to be more than a guest seeking an experience.
So if you’re looking for traditional Mexican restaurants, there are other places you can go where they don’t tout their Mexican cheese blend quite so aggressively.
There are places where they serve Asada tacos with cilantro lime and onion and lime and salsa verde on corn tortillas and nobody ever asks if you’d prefer the fresh flour tortillas.
But you come to the Loco Burro for the experience and the rooftop bar. Particularly because it’s fun to have a drink and watch the people buzzing about below.
There are also a vast variety of tequilas and a selection of “ritas” that come in single drinks or by the pitcher. They have wine and cerveza and mojitos and sangria. And they have an escalator so you don’t have to navigate multiple flights of stairs after trying the cervezas and “ritas” and sangrias
You can watch the guacamole being made right there at the table. Right before your eyes with fresh lime and orange juice!
The Chihuahua burrito food challenge
Maybe you stop by because someone in your party thinks they can tackle the Chihuahua burrito. It’s one of the most famous local food challenges in the mountains.
The burrito is 5 lbs. And it’s made with fresh-Mex rice, refried beans, black beans and seasoned beef.
It’s topped with cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, tomatoes and chili con carne. It also has that Mexican cheese blend.
The prize for eating that massive burrito by yourself within 30 minutes is a free ride on the mechanical burro. It seems like an incredibly bad prize considering what you had to do to win it.
Instead of a free mechanical burro ride, you can choose a free beer. But that also seems like something you wouldn’t want to deal with having just consumed 5 lbs. of Tex Mex within 30 minutes.
What should you order at the Loco Burro?
Experience aside, when you visit, try the famous fajitas. Although, I think they’re actually not significantly different than the fajitas you can get at any of a dozen other restaurants in the area.
They offer chicken fajitas, steak fajitas and fajitas made with gulf shrimp. The veggie option has portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, charred sweet peppers, onion, roasted seasonal vegetables and is served with corn tortillas, arroz verde and black beans.
Alternatively, you might choose from a variety of great enchiladas, which can come with seafood, cheese, seasoned beef, shredded chicken, beef brisket or a combination.
Finally, we like La Fiesta Sampler, which has seasoned beef nachos, chicken quesadillas, chicken taquitos, guacamole and queso blanco.
You may also come for the most authentic thing in the house, the Mexican soda. The Coca-Cola is made with real sugar. They also have Jarritos Soda in strawberry, mandarin or pineapple.
For dessert, try the Churros and Fried Ice Cream, which features fried churro sticks rolled in cinnamon and topped with flash-fried vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a strawberry.
It’s all good.
Does Loco Burro offer take-out?
They do have to-go orders. But unless you’re staying in a hotel within walking distance, downtown Gatlinburg may be the least practical place for to-go orders in the world.
In other words, It’s all part of the experience.
And that is why you came.
Loco Burro also has a location in West Knoxville. The Gatlinburg location is along the main strip at 735 Parkway #1.
Have you been to the Loco Burro? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!