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Kansas City's Best (Not Q)

I'll be in Kansas City on the 27th, having dinner with an former girlfriend I haven't seen in a long time. Would like to go someplace really nice, where the food is imaginative and reliable---all the KC high-end restaurants seem to get wildly mixed reviews. Who Can Help?
There was an ancient old-time place downtown, can't remember the name of it, with high ceilings and steaks and booths, out of the 1890's, what was the name of it, that was a high-point of my long ago (1980's) KC dining experience. Would prefer a relaxed, and perhaps throwback atmosphere, not sleek and modern, if modern means austere.
I'll be eating breakfast alone the next morning. Any help there?

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  1. 1924 Main - haven't been but look it up - Rob Dalzell has a great reputation. It's in an old bldg and I think it's got a cozier atmoshphere versus sleek and modern.


    1. Also Lill's on 17th or Michael Smith's - though Michael Smith's might be more modern.

      1. The "ancient old-time place downtown" is probably referring to the Majestic Steakhouse at 9th & Broadway or the Savoy Grille at 9th & Central. Both are downtown and both have high back booths and "old-timey" atmosphere. Personally, I think both are a bit overpriced, but the service is decent and the food, while not incredible, is good quality. Filet dinner is around $35-40 at either place. One place you might consider is Pierpont's in the old Union Station. It's the same sort of atmosphere, but in the old train station a bit south of downtown. It's about the same price. As far as breakfast goes... it's not downtown, but it's some good breakfast...Corner Cafe in Riverside just north of the river. Very reasonable prices. Have incredible cinnamon rolls and all kinds of baked goods. You don't say if your driving or relying on cabs. KC is pretty spread-out, so cab fare can set you back a few bucks. Corner Cafe is okay if you have a car, probably want something closer if you don't.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tbbeer

          I'll have a car. I used to live in Springfield, and for a while Kansas City was my default Big City Destination. Then I switched girlfriends, and had a run of St. Louis.
          Thanks for the tips.

        2. Garozzo's, the downtown location, I like their Italian, and it feels like you have stepped back in time, you expect Sinatra to stroll in,

          Savoy or Majestic otherwise.

          1. PotPie for dinner if you're looking for relaxed- its spot on every time I'm there. The service is my fav in KC. and the food is always prepared well. Try the bread pudding if you go. You Say Tomato for breakfast is a can't miss as well.

            1. The Savoy has gone downhill. Try City Tavern in the frieght district. Pierponts is a good bet. 1924 Main is always excellent but has a high noise level.

              1. I have always wanted to eat at the legendary Savoy but recently it has has some, um, questionable reviews. hhttp//www.chowhound.com/topics/385712 Until I hear otherwise I will probably steer clear.

                I have two KC favorites, Thomas and Bluestem. My husband calls the steak at Thomas the best he's ever had (and I agree, I think). For my b-day we went to Bluestem and had a prix fixe dinner. The highlight of the meal, if I must pick just one, was my wonderful venison dish. Everything was spot-on. I find both places to be casual, intimate and relaxing, probably not old-time, but definitely not modern/austere.


                3 Replies
                1. re: amy_rc

                  I am nominating Savoy for Kitchen NIghtmares! It is SUCH a shame. Finally, a revitalization in KC and that place is floundering.

                  1. re: amy_rc

                    I'm personally not hip on Thomas. I go to school at the med center and many of our functions are at Thomas. I've probably been there 8 or 9 times since August and can't say I've once had a memorably good meal. My steak was overcooked (ordered it rare and it came medium to medium well) and lacked flavor. I've also tried the chicken and it was undercooked. I've also found the service to be below average (long waits for drinks/orders etc.)

                    1. re: pollymerase

                      OK, my friends and I dined at Thomas on New Year's Eve and I was completely underwhelmed...and embarrassed b/c I picked this place. We dined there last year by accident (we made reservations at Matador's and when we showed up the place was called Thomas) and had an excellent meal. I've enjoyed martinis there and a couple of meals since.

                      This year there were 11 of us out to celebrate 2k8. Nine had soup for the first course. Everyone who ordered soup got COLD soup. For the second course I ordered mushrooms stuffed with wild boar. They tasted great other than the fact that they were COLD! The twice baked new potatoes that were served with the main course were under-cooked. My steak was delicious and, thankfully, cooked to perfection.

                      Thank God for the amazing piano player and his rendition of Jay Z's 99 Problems, otherwise the dinner portion of our evening could have been a bust. I'll probably go back, but definitely not for a special occasion. In their defense, the service was great and attentive and no one complained to the server about the food, so they didn't have a chance to fix it.

                  2. Shame I didn't see this until now. I'd have recommended Blue Stem...it's been *really* well-received by other foodies I've spoken with. If I had reason to go to KC, that'd definitely be a destination for me.

                    1. I'm looking for a nice place for dinner too. But, I don't have the throwback atmosphere requirement. Blue Stem seems a little out of my budget, and Sarah's seems a little new. I'd sort of like to eat at a high end spot that does regional food well. I'm not from the KC area, so what are your recs?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Danimal

                        You could go to PotPie, which is next door to Bluestem. Nice but not vancy, and I think the food is very good.

                        1. re: Danimal

                          There are some truly great locally-owned restaurants in KC that deliver terrific atmosphere and food at a moderate price point (meaning less than Bluestem . . .although when you are willing to splurge, please do go to Bluestem . . .you would not be disappointed.)

                          For my top 4 picks, I would recommend the following:

                          1) Justus Drugstore - The website doesn't have much but their Smithville address, but this restaurant is so worth the drive in terms of foraged local ingredients used in creative yet, completely accessible dishes. A charming and hip place and reasonable price points. As a bonus you get priceless access to the Chef Jonathan Justus. My pick for the best restaurant in 2007. http://www.drugstorerestaurant.com/

                          2) La Bodega - a sexy Spanish tapas restaurant in downtown, always my fall-back, all-time favorite place for small plates, sangria and Spanish wines. http://www.labodegakc.com/

                          3) Room 39 - Now with two locations, the original on on 39th Street and the new one out south in Leawood, Chef Ted Hariger and Chef Andy Sloan continue to stay true to their vision of using local ingredients to make some of the most interesting and tasty food. They opened to rave reviews and continue to deliver. http://www.rm39.com/

                          4) Pizza Bella - Chef Rob Dazell's dazzling pizza place is gorgeous inside and out with terrific authentic Italian pizza and wonderful roasted veggies antipasti and a mostly Italian wine list rounds out this two thumbs up recommendation. http://www.kansascitymenus.com/pizzab...

                          Other Honorable Mentions: Mango Room (Downtown), Thai Place (Arun's downtown or Westport locations are the prettiest), BoLing's (River Market Location), Kaiyo's Japanese restaurant at 119th and Potpie and 1924 Main, already mentioned, are also great places.


                          1. re: jvergara

                            La Bodega is nice - until 6PM they have "happy hour" where sangria & tapas are 1/2 price. Saves some serious money.

                        2. Room 39 for breakfast.

                          1. This is too late to help Mr. Waterslide, but I had dinner right before Christmas at the Savoy and it was terrible! Horribly overpriced and the food was just bad.

                            There are too many wonderful places in KC for both seafood and steak to waste money at the Savoy.

                            Also, went to Thomas around Thanksgiving. The food was not great, but the piano player made the experience so fun. Where else can you get Pink Floyd and Neil Diamond?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: SFLisa

                              How about the golden Ox or the herford house both are excellent steak houses

                            2. Thanks, everyone. I have to come back to KC when the Nelson-Atkins does the next installment of their American Photography series. The new addition is an Absolute Knockout, btw---restores my faith in the profession of architecture.
                              We went to 1924 Main and had a fine time. The food was good, not extraordinary, but the service was first-rate, and I liked the room, and, well, a fine time was had by all.
                              Went to Sharp's 63rd St. Grill (not recommended here) and was distinctly underwhelmed, though it's not a chain, which is a plus, in a number of senses. If I were staying next-door, and there were ten inches of snow on the ground, I'd go there.
                              There was some snow, snowing as I drove in from the airport, and then three inches the next day, and all of that added to my festive mood.
                              You Say Tomato was underwhelming also, though friendly in its way. A good neighborhood coffee house. The Corner Cafe was a little hard to find---had an upscale-truck-stoppy feel about it. Decent omelet, decent hashbrowns (request crispy;I forgot to). An excellent place to go if you've got a large group.
                              I also ate happy-hour food at McCormick & Schmick's on the Plaza. You folks in Kansas City maybe forget how pleasant your city can be. Oh, and I stayed at the Hilton President downtown, and that was really nice. Of course, I work in a Hilton brand hotel, so my $39.00 a night tab didn't hurt.
                              Again, one and all, thanks. In a year or so, I'll be back.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mrwaterslide

                                If you really want to do it up right next time, I say make time in your schedule for bluestem. From everyone I've heard from, it's a destination spot in KC, not to be missed. I've seen pictures, and every time I do, I get hungry.

                              2. Room 39 is very good for breakfast and have a great coffee blend