In case you didn’t know, Kansas City has its own native taco style, according to an April article from popular food blog Eater. For people in the Northland, this is not a surprise. Most of them have probably experienced In-A-Tub (8174 N.W. Prairie View Road and 4000 N. Oak Trafficway, both in Kansas City, Mo.), which has been around since 1955.
Originally known for ice cream served in a large tub — the inspiration for the name — the wood-paneled eatery is now most famous for serving tacos topped with a nuclear orange powdered cheese. Those powder-topped deep-fried tacos now account for about 50 percent of In-A-Tub’s sales, owner Aaron Beeman says.
That powdered cheese is bought 5,000 pounds at a time for $23,000 due to its scarcity. “I try to keep everything as consistent as possible, from the powdered cheese to our side items,” he says. Beeman bought In-A-Tub in 1986 when the unique taco was well established on the menu. He has no idea why the old owners used the cheese, but he can’t change it now.
“People would hang me if I got rid of it,” Beeman says.
When you’re one of the only restaurants in the world that sells something relying on a specialty ingredient, there’s no guarantee it can last forever. Witness the fate of In-A-Tub’s famous veggie sticks, which were removed from the menu in 2017 when the supplier was sold.
Beeman hopes to get those veggie sticks — deep fried corn, carrots and peas — back on the menu in years to come. “I always joke that if I somehow found a forgotten veggie stick on the freezer floor that I would consider frying it up,” Beeman says. “I loved those things.”