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Jun 17, 2007 11:16 AM

KC best new restaurants, trends, and neighborhoods

After a 6 year absence, my husband and I (natives of KC) are considering moving back to our hometown.

KC Chowhouds, what is happening in the food scene right now? What are the hottest new restaurants and trends in the city? Which districts are attracting new restaurants and seem poised for growth? If you were moving in, what neighborhoods would you look at in terms of a good variety of restaurants and best grocery options? (We have two children.)

Of course, we've heard of some of the new developments in town...the Power & Light District and the Crossroads Arts District. It sounds like an exciting time to be returning to KC.

My husband is a chef and we're currently living in Portland, Oregon, so we've gotten used to fresh seafood, bountiful farmer's markets with organic produce, and large Asian / Mexican grocery stores. It will be tough to say goodbye, but at the same time we're looking forward to coming back to the world's best BBQ and lots of sunshine!

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  1. THere is a new shopping center going in off of I-29 I think called the Tulleries (?)...really great stuff in there. Em chamas is a new brazilian buffet that everyone has spoken highly of...a bonefish grill in there as well--for a chain its leaps and bounds above red lobster. Other restaurants are in there too, but I cant remember. Along 169 Hwy, briarcliff development has some nice fine dining establishments (Trezo Mare, Piropos). It also has a Wild Oats Market. And finally, Zona Rosa has some good eats--Bo Lings, ODowds, Swagart, Minskys (though not technically IN zona rosa) . These are all new and are all North of the river. I think this area is a great place to raise a family as it is in the suburbs. Sure downtown has some great eats, but I wounldnt want to necessarily live there. The plaza and crown center have some great condos, but you will pay dearly for it. I think the Northland is exploding in terms of growth. YOu are only 15-25 minutes away from downtown depending on where you live should you ever want to go to a hole in the wall or city market. China Town is right across the river....

    7 Replies
    1. re: asiansensation007

      Thanks, asiansensation...sounds like the Northland has made a huge turnaround since we left. My brother used to live up North and called it a "culinary wasteland" -- I never had many opportunities to check it out for myself.

      I did see some of the recent references to Zona Rosa and wondered where it was. We love Bo Lings and Indian food (which I assume Swagart is) so we'll be investigating the area. Plus it would be nice to be fairly close to the city market and Planter's (I do miss that place).

      Yeah, the condo deal is probably not an option for us right now - expecially after dropping a big chunk of change in Portland. We enjoyed downtown city living for a while here, but it's really not pratical with kids.

      So - exactly where is China Town in KC? I guess I've missed it before.

      1. re: catroo

        Chinatown is at 2nd and Grand in the City Market area. It's one of the biggest ethnic markets, but not necessarily the best. I go there all the time, though. It's convenient. Kim Long, at 5th and Cherry is wonderfully clean and organized. It's very close to Chinatown. There are some great ethnic markets in the Johnson County suburbs that are worth the trip from midtown. Oriental Supermarket at 104th and Marty is one of the best Japanese/Korean markets around. One block over is Indian Emporium. That's one of my favorite stores in all of the area. A fabulous selection of spices and rices. Mexican markets are all over the place these days, not just on the Blvd. Northeast has a growing number of stores carrying hispanic items.

      2. re: asiansensation007

        A few kind corrections here, the Tuilleries has been there for some time.
        Briarcliff Village, or the Village at Briarcliff as some call it has a Green Acres Market, not a Wild Oats.
        Zona Rosa is full of chains, with the exception of Swagat. Bo Ling's at this point is a chain that dumbs down the food depending where they are. The Zona Rosa location serves extremely sweet, watered down versions of Chinese food.

        1. re: zataar

          I agree that the Bo Ling's at Zona Rosa had the poorest quality of food vs. the other Bo Ling's in town. I still think it is better than most local places in town, but the quality is lacking.

          1. re: zataar

            I don't know that this is true at every Bo Ling's location, but you can ask them to make you items off the menu at the 95th and Quivira or Plaza locations. These used to be on the back of the menu (years ago, probably before 2003?) called something like "traditional." I'm sorry I don't recall many specifics as we haven't been to Bo Ling's except at lunch or dim sum (Plaza loc.) for quite a while. They made steamed flounder with garlic or other sauces, salt and pepper shrimp (head on,) a great Szechuan eggplant (sha cha sauce, forgive my garbled spelling,) and various hot pots. I hope they're available at other locations, might be worth a call.

            BTW, all the Bo Ling's locations are owned by Richard and Teresa Ng, who also used to have a restaurant in Florida, I think it was. That one's been closed, and their only resties are here in the KC area, so it's a local chain. I think they do the Americanized food b/c that's what many of their customers want. It seems like a successful business strategy for this area.

            Catroo, I certainly don't have my finger on the pulse of the city, living in far northwestern Johnson county, KS. I know little about the Missouri side, but it seems there are more choices in groceries in the past five years. The conventional groceries are diversifying and making niches for themselves. Hen House, for example, is focusing on marketing themselves as purveyors of locally produced foods. They are operating a CSA with Good Natured Family Farms co-op, which is remarkable for a conventional grocery, IMO. There are many CSAs to choose from now, and farmers markets of varying quality and quantity are held in many of the smaller communities that make up the KC metro. There are natural foods grocers to chose from all the way from the Northland down to 119th and Metcalf. Some of the ethnic markets are doing quite well, too, with more produce and more variety. We have a great artisanal bakery, with the prices to match, at Fevere (17th and Summit on the west side.) Some restaurants suffered and closed following 2001, but we have award winning chefs (Colby Garrelt, Bluestem; Celina Tio, The American) as well as Korean BBQ and Japanese izakaya, along with the ubiquitous chains and barbecue joints. I daresay matters have improved for chowhounds in KC.

            1. re: zataar

              oops. thanks for the correction. I meant green acres but for some reason i wrote wild oats!

              i agree that zona rosa is full of chains, but I believe that for the northland they are much better than what we used to have (uh applebees, olive garden or chilis anyone?) It used to be a total culinary wasteland up here, but it is getting much better.

              I just moved up here a year and a half ago....from what i remember the tulleries was there, but not many restaurants had taken up residence. again, im new so I could totally be wrong.

              yeah, zona rosa bo lings is probably the worst of all bo lings locations but i think it is leaps and bounds from the typical buffet chain everywhere around here...

              1. re: asiansensation007

                Yes, I do have to remind myself that the Northland has much, much better offerings than it did when I was growing up there! Most of my family still lives North of the River. Getting together for a restaurant meal isn't nearly as arduous as it once was. It truly is getting better all the time. There are 2 Thai restaurants, maybe three, and a Vietnamese restaurant, too! Some of the Mexican food I've had has been very good.

          2. I live near the Plaza (six blocks) and I can say that it's a great place to live and raise a family. Housing prices are actually very reasonable in the West Plaza and Volker neighborhoods (particularly compared to Portland!).

            I can walk to the Plaza and 39th street restaurants and the SunFresh grocery store. I can ride my bike down the Trolley Track Trail to Brookside if I want to go to Cosentino's market. City Market and the Crossroads are a very short drive or bus ride away.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lora

              I live in the Volker neighborhood. We raised our family here and are very loyal to the area. Couldn't do the public schools, though.
              It's great to have more than 17 different restaurants, all no more than 2 -3 blocks away.
              There are 3 new restaurant that have just opened on 39th street in the last few weeks. Spitfire, Scotty's on 39th, and Po's Dumpling Bar, in addition to Miami Ice. We haven't been to any of those yet, but plan on working in some visits.

              1. re: lora

                oh my gosh...39th street has amazing stuff...if i could walk there and eat every night i would be broke...and pleasantly plump.

              2. I’m going to suggest lovely Roeland Park, Kansas, or some other small suburb in the 66205 area code. The further east and north the better. We live there now, and it’s very chowish. We have, within walking distance (granted, we’re fairly robust):

                • Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, some of the best BBQ in town
                • The Plaza, although we don’t eat there a lot, mostly trips to Bo Lings
                • Westport Flea Market, still the best burger in town
                • Cupini’s Italian Market at 45th and State Line, with homemade ravioli for sale in bulk or as an entrée (also excellent pastries) – very good and very kid-friendly
                • Record Bar, if you miss hipsters after you move from Portland – good pizza and sandwiches
                • All the usual suspects in Westport, including the Thai Place (our default eat-out), Murray’s ice cream (our default stop after the Thai Place to kill the chiles), one80 (not-so-small small plates and great cocktails), and Cancun Fiesta (fantastic street tacos and legitimately hot salsa)
                • All the usual suspects on 39th Street, including Room 39 (fancy breakfast), Mama’s (dive-y breakfast), Blue Koi (Asian fusion with crispy duck and great noodles), d’Bronz pizza, and a variety of changing restaurants
                • Sol Azteca and Tacqueria Mexico on the southwestern end of Southwest Boulevard
                • Best of all, the Price Chopper market in Roeland Park, which has the best selection of Mexican and Latin American staples (including an in-store tortilleria, a big range of meats, spices, dried chiles, etc.) and excellent produce, and a little Hen House, where you can get a CSA pick-up – both of these stores participate in the Good Natured Farms program with local produce, meats, eggs, and prepared foods (e.g., jam)

                If you want to go to bikes, you can zip over to Brookside Blvd, where you can get to:
                • Pizza 51, a great pizza place in a renovated gas station and a big UMKC hangout
                • On Johnson Drive, Werner’s German deli (the best wurst), Jersey Shore bagels (the only real bagels I’ve had in town), and a Wild Oats (that I am hoping turns into a Whole Foods)
                • The Mixx, fancy salads, soups, and desserts
                • Aixois, French bistro cooking
                • And all the usual suspects in the Brookside shops

                And you can get on I-35 and get downtown or to the Crossroads in less than 10 minutes. I’ll leave that to you for more searching.

                Not to get to far afield, but it’s also in a great school district (Shawnee Mission), with lots of cute, smallish houses with full-grown trees. I think it would be a great place to have chowish children.

                1. Over the last 13 years we’ve lived in Waldo, Brookside, & Southern Johnson County - finally landing in the Northland – where we plan to stay. However, we certainly didn’t choose the Northland because of its great chow. We have a lot of room for improvement – but we’re getting there. (And the Park Hill School District is outstanding.) Some of our Northland favorites are Swagat’s, Ixtapa & Piropo’s. (And In-A-Tub for hangover heaven). I’ve yet to try LC’s for hamburgers – we tried to go the other day but they are not open on Sundays.

                  The food scene in KC seems to improve with each passing year – from Brookside, Westport, 39th St., the CrossRoads, to the City Market. I personally love Carmen’s, Sung Son Vietnamese Bistro, Korma Sutra, Blue Koi, La Bodega, 1924 (fantastic!), Le Fou Frog, The American Restaurant, Jack Stack and The Brick – to name a few.

                  Based on what I’ve read on the board, Johnson County seems to have some exciting new options, as well. Mostly ethnic – I rarely make it down there anymore – but have thought about making a special trip just to try a couple of the places that have received some good buzz (Ruchi (Indian) and One Bite Japanese Grill). And I’ve yet to try Spin Pizza – which is suppose to be fabulous.

                  I know absolutely nothing about the eastern suburbs.

                  We chose the Northland mostly because of our social contacts. The majority of our friends live up there and we were getting sick of making the 45-minute (each way)drive up there from Olathe. And we just never jelled with Olathe. Loved our house and that was about it.

                  Loved, loved, loved Brookside – however at the time we needed to make the move to a bigger house and we just couldn’t swing the next step up in that housing market. Not to mention the cost of private/parochial school.

                  Get a great real estate agent with a pulse on the entire KC housing market and good luck!