Kansas City, MO near Country Club Plaza
As a Philadelphian coming to Kansas City for the first time (family wedding) , I need some advice. I will not ask for the best BBQ restaurants, etc., but am asking for the best places near the hotel I am staying in. We will be at the Kansas City Courtyard Country Club Plaza. Since this is a new city for me, I don't know which "best" restaurants are even near me. Yes, I am looking for a BBQ place as well as a southern/soul food place. In addition, are there any other food items that are indigenous to KC or that cannot be found many other places (e.g. Goo Goo Clusters in the South, fried pickles in Jackson, Mississippi, New England clam chowder in the Boston area or, most famously, cheesesteaks in Philly)? How about any ethnic food that is well-represented in KC? Philadelphia has one of the great restaurant scenes which includes a great breadth of ethnic foods, but we don't have Burmese or Swiss restaurants, for example. Any particular foodstuffs (e.g. candy bars, snack cakes, salty snacks, hot sauces) found in a supermarket that I cannot get on the East coast? When going to a restaurant, I would like everything within a 20-30 minute trip from my hotel and would like to avoid a hassle with on-street parking (as an out-of-towner). I know that I can only get information like this from my fellow Chowhounds, so thanks in advance. When you are ready to visit Philadelphia, just write and I'll share my favorites.
On the plaza and within walking distance you can you can get breakfast at "The Classic Cup". Jack Stack (plaza location) would be a nice lunch or dinner option. You are a medium distance walk to Andre's, a swiss restaurant and chocolate shop. They have a fixed price menu every day. Always a nice experience. You are not a far drive from "The Peachtree". They serve Southern soul food. They get great reviews. Of course the plaza has several chains as well, PF Chang's, Houston's and etc.... Lots of great choices and I am sure you will get several great ideas.
While not "ethnic" award winning Eden Alley Cafe in the Unity Temple basement (not typical church basement!) has great vegetarian/vegan food. Lunch and Dinner are great..and brunch on sat! (Sunday closed)...
It's near the Courtyard hotel.
In Westport, there is a decent Indina buffet (karma sutra), a burger/rare soda joint - Blanc Burgers, and Bluestem (rather eclectic posh cuisine) - about 10 min from your hotel. Bluestem has gotten good reviews on Chow.
And, I am a JackStack BBQ Fan too. (watch for flying shoe - every KC'tian has their fav). It is on the Plaza and yum. Make sure you swap out fries & slaw (unremarkable) for beans and cheesy corn bake (awesome and so much better - and I think for no swap charge).
They are known for their lamb ribs - I always order those - or you can get a KC combo (bit of all)...
You can buy their sauce there - I love it. However, you should actually buy the Arthur Bryants sauce in the grocer - it's not near your hotel at all, but the sauce is tasty.
Bo Lings Chinese has a decent dim sum Brunch Sunday (close to your hotel). Probably nothing like the east coast...heavy on dumplings/rice/noodles.
The key to good dim sum at Bo Lings on the Plaza is to get there when they open at 11 am. This way, the carts haven't been rotating long and everything is fresh. If you can, get seated on the right side of the diniing room, as you face the back wall. Most carts go in that direction coming from the kitchen, and they might sell out of your favorites by the time they get to the left. (You'd be surprised how many times I see a family order all of something on the cart to take it home in boxes, rather than asking a waiter for a special to go order.) Timing and seating make a difference in your experience. Saturdays are considerably less hectic than Sundays, and nothing has sold out that day, too.
I would second Andres for swiss lunch - neat place. Also, as far as snacks go....Topsy's popcorn is local and there's a location in the Plaza. Tons of hot sauces and BBQ sauces can be found all over town - most grocers close to the Plaza have a decent selection. Candy Bars....Valomilk...yum. I'm sure I'll come up with some more.
I'm still thinking of other places to go, but I wanted to chime in quickly about BBQ and hot sauces. Remember that you will have to either ship these or put them in your checked bags. I've seen lots of thrown-away Gates BBQ sauce at the airport.
Buy some Valomilk candy. Although they are available at Cracker Barrel Country Stores outside of KC, they are a KC original and a truly great chocolate covered marshmallow cup. This puts any candy of this type to shame. The other local candy with which I am familiar is Cherry Mash, but the Valomilk is the best by a long shot. http://www.valomilk.com/
Indigenous to KC are Burnt Ends. Small end of the brisket, chopped up, resmoked until slighty charred, BBQ nirvana. I think I have the basic procedure correct. I can't make em, but I can eat em. Who's are best is a matter of constant debate. I like LC's, but they aren't close to you. Haven't had Jack Stack's version(I had the lamb ribs). I doubt that anyone does them poorly, so if you see them, try them.
It would be a shame to be staying at the Plaza and not take in a b-b-q at Oklahoma Joe's. It's due west of the Plaza about 2 or 3 miles, in an old gas station building, and it has the best pulled pork around. You simply can't go wrong in that place. GO, Go. go!!
One other suggestion: save dessert and head up to Westport to Murry's ice cream shop. Everything is homemade, and it's the best ice cream on the planet. She can be a little touch-&-go, but then genius has it's allowances. (they give you samples b/c it's almost impossible to decide.) Absolute heaven.