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KC Farmer's Market - Worth a Stop?

Hi Kansas City Hounds,

I'm going to be in town for a mere 24 hours and wanted to know if the Central Farmer's Market is worth a stop.

Also planning on trying to get into Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ for dinner and am thinking about lunch at Lidia's as DH loves good Italian. Are those reasonably good choices for BBQ and Italian? Both websites looked pretty commercial...all we really care about is fresh authentic pasta, and some finger-licking spicy BBQ.

Thanks!

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  1. I don't live in KC, but we were just there about two weeks ago. I liked the Farmer's Market. There were quite a few vendors (more than I would have expected this early in the season). Lots of people; the place was pretty lively!

    We love Jack Stack's for BBQ. Their has been consistently good. I dream of their beans. They're a must! and a meal all on their own. On the downside, most of the time the service we've experienced has fairly unfriendly, not rude, but just . . . I don't know, each time we've been there it seems the staff would rather be somewhere else. Maybe it's just bad luck on our part.

    I've not been to Lidia's; it's on our to-try list.

    1. I eat at Jack Stack on average once per week. I find the food to be very good and the service to be ok at best. The various locations can have a big difference in quality IMHO. I like them in this order:
      1. 135th & Holmes
      2. Overland Park, Kansas
      3. Freight House District
      4. Plaza

      My one meal at Lidia's was very good. The service was decent. You may want to get a reservation though or be prepared to eat at the bar.

      1. I'm kind of so-so on the City Market, though I know lots of other people enjoy it- I prefer the Overland Park farmer's market, though I wouldn't consider it a destination... although, I would consider old downtown OP to be a destination. Anyway, if you do go to the City Market, make sure you make a stop at Planter's Seed and Feed Co. right down the block- amazing selection of herbs, spices, dishes, etc.- I would consider that to be a destination, at least for me! I just get the feeling at the City Market that there really aren't that many local farmers there and that makes me sad.

        Do go to the orginal location of Jack Stack's on Holmes... it has more character. I've never had bad service there either.

        15 Replies
        1. re: Katie Nell

          I'm sorry, I cannot let the remark about no local farmers go unchallenged. I go to City Market every Saturday morning. In addition to local veggies and fruit, I also get local bread, cheese, meat, eggs, and honey. Starting right about this time of year I do hardly any "regular" grocery shopping at all.

          It's true that around the outer ring of the market there are mostly wholesale produce vendors with non-local goods. However, the central part of the market is almost completely local (I can only think of one vendor who's not). That's dozens of local vendors.

          And when I want other interesting stuff, you can find me at Chinatown market, or Al Habashi, or any of the other many cool shops ringing the Market.

          I believe it's probably too late for the OP, but I am a passionate City Market partisan and I had to do a little cheerleading!

            1. re: lora

              I'm sorry, but I don't read "no farmers" anywhere in my reply.

              1. re: Katie Nell

                Sorry for my imprecise language - I was responding to your comment "I just get the feeling at the City Market that there really aren't that many local farmers there and that makes me sad."

                I respect your opinion on these boards enormously, Katie Nell, and I suspect others do as well. So I jumped right in and typed too fast. I'd be happy to show you "my" market some Saturday - there's some great stuff!

                1. re: lora

                  No big deal... I just feel like the "exterior" vendors, if you will, outweigh the farmers a lot, but I haven't been back in quite a while either. I'm glad you love it, and I have to admit, when I've been there I've not seen meat or cheese from the local farmers so that excites me! Maybe I just like the smaller, more quaint markets too- I love Topeka's market! I've always found the City Market to a bit overwhelming, although my favorite part of our British Columbia trip was Granville Island.... hello! a whole island farmer's market!!

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    The meat and the cheese are both relatively new (only started seeing them at the end of last summer). I like the meat from Pisciotta Farms (http://www.pisciottafarms.com/). It's frozen, which allows them to offer a pretty large selection for a market stall. The cheese is from a creamery in southern Iowa. The real star in their lineup is cheese curds - my daughter goes through a pound a week some weeks!

                    There's a sausage maker at the market with dynamite sausage (which you can sample), but I don't know where their meat comes from.

                    1. re: lora

                      Is the cheese Northern Prairie Chevre, by chance, because that would get me super excited?! We'll have to check it all out this year then. There's an awesome vendor at the OP market that has all kinds of sausages and brats too.

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        No, unfortunately, I do not believe it is. In addition to the curds, the block cheese is basic cheddar and other mild American varieties. It's tasty though.

                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          I've been missing brats? I'm a regular at the OP market, but haven't seen any sausages. Where am I not looking?

                          1. re: larkspurKC

                            Well, I don't know this year... we haven't been yet, but he was always there last year! I hope he's still there! :-( I'll see if my husband remembers the name of the farm.

                            1. re: larkspurKC

                              We don't remember the name of the farmer, but I'll scope it out next time I'm there... maybe he moved over to the City Market since lora has been getting sausages there??

                          2. re: lora

                            Is that the old Italian market/meat shop on the corner in the market? We live in Chicago and I miss that place a lot.

                            1. re: stellamystar

                              That place is still there, but there's also at least two stalls also selling sausage.

                              1. re: lora

                                Yea! I cannot wait! The veal parm in the deli case was very tasty.

                    2. re: lora

                      Lora... what a difference a year makes! We didn't go the City Market at all last year, and it's changed a lot since the year before that! I like it much better now, and I do think my sausage guy from the OP market has moved over to the City Market. (Although, my husband thinks he's always been at the City Market, I think he's wrong!) We picked up some jalapeno and cheese brats. We also got some cheese from the Iowa guys- the Prairie Breeze cheese and the tomato garlic curds were really tasty, so we bought some of each and the white cheddar as well. Really wanted the aged gouda but they were sold out. My faith is renewed in the City Market- I didn't even see a lot of the non-farmers that were there a couple of years ago! Thanks for pointing me there again!

                      We also made it to the Brookside market on Sat., and bought some of the organic energy bars- wow, are they amazing! I've never even liked energy bars before, but these were fantastic!

                  2. If you only have 24 hours, I would think you might be better served to spend it roaming the Plaza area. I like the Market, but it really isn't that big of a deal. At this time of year at least, most of the produce is no better than you would get in the grocery store, and looking at the boxes under the tables, that is exactly what you are getting.
                    As far as Italian, I would go to Garrozo's downtown. If you don't want to travel all over the city, Jack Stack in the Freight House District is just fine, and you are close to Crown Center, Union Station.

                    1. While you are down at the River Market, I highly recommend a little restaurant called Succostash, be prepared to wait it gets very busy, but it is well worth it. Being a former Lidia's employee I highly recommend the food there. Classic northern cuisine, so dont expect to find things drenched in red sauce and cheese. Lunch is the best bet by far, and it never hurts to make reservation. Although Lidia's is know for the pasta trio, I would instead order one of the special salads ( the menu is altered 3-4 times a year) and a seafood frico or if they have it the veal shank! MMMM Heaven! But since you are in wanting some pasta Go for the trio, for lunch it is only $15 and you get caesar salad, 2 fresh and 1 dry pasta dishes (served tableside) and desert. They also have patio seating if the weather is nice. I would steer clear from the Plaza-The majority of the restaurants there are the same ole chains you'd see anywhere else (p.f changs, pizzaria uno, bucca de beppo etc) there are only a few remaining independent restaurants left, instead may I suggest exploring the 39th street area. Bell Street Mama's makes a mean breakfast and for a special dinner try out Room 39. I took some friends in town from Japan there and we split the Squab and the most succulant steak I have ever had in my LIFE!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: msofmerch

                        I would llike to chime in with a recommendation for Thomas, also located in the 39th St area. We spent New Year's Eve there this year and had a wonderful meal.