KC - Swagger -- gourmet dive bar
I'd seen a couple of things about this place on Chowhound
I'd been there once or twice when it was the Village Lounge, when the hub was playing at an open mic. It was pretty dive-y then, with both kinds of beer -- Bud and Bud Lite. But I'd heard that they were under new ownership, with someone in the kitchen that knew what he or she was doing. We had to swing through Waldo today to run some errands, so we hit it up for a late lunch.
First thing you notice is that, in spite of the year-old smoking ban, the smell of smoke never really goes out of carpet. Second, the MAJOR upgrade to the bar. I'd say that they had at least 30 or 40 beers on tap, including the full Boulevard suite and Tank 7. I also spotted Bells and several Colorado beers. Lots of top shelf liquors as well. The interior looks like it is being upgraded one piece at a time. It had been painted, but still that smelly carpet. Two pool tables.
The folks in the bar when we got there, at about 2 pm on Saturday, were a Waldo cross-section. I think someone in another thread had expressed concern about walking into a place where she couldn't see in the windows. No worries when we were there. A couple of folks from the tattoo parlor next door were getting lunch. Some older folks hanging out shooting the breeze. The music selection was 70s vintage rock on a fairly decent sound system.
So, the food. I had a pulled pork sandwich. The sauce was oddly grainy, with lots of black pepper and curry powder. Very good, but unusual. The pulled pork was perfect. Period. Well smoked, lean, but moist. Good bun. Onion rings that might have been homemade -- a bit more batter than I like, but crispy. Greg got the jerk chicken sandwich. The chicken was spicy, but not very hot, good allspice flavor. Sandwich had wasabi cole slaw that Greg said was good with the chicken. He also got a side of chili, which I was not brave enough to order given the current climate. I was made with beer and chunks of meat rather than ground beef. Also very good.
Both of us got more food than we could eat, for less than $20 with tip.
ETA -- Swagger is at 85th and Wornall.
We've mostly been there for late lunch or brunch (breakfast items served on Saturday), but we were there once on a Friday evening for a meal at the bar. They were having a poker tournament in the next room and both pool tables were in use. A pretty lively mix of people with a range of ages, apparent socioeconomic groups, old and new Waldo. I anyone would feel relatively comfortable, but I wouldn't show up in a suit. BTW, Friday night is the night they run their fried chicken special. I didn't realize this until after I had ordered, but the plates of I saw coming out of the kitchen looked outstanding!
It’s most definitely a bar, first and foremost, but the food is definitely NOT an afterthought. The list of beers on tap is lengthy, but the menu is just as long. Burgers are a highlight, with the specialty of the house being tempura battered and topped with sriracha sauce and wasabi coleslaw. But the hamburgers need no embellishment–the meat is hand ground and extremely juicy. Practically every bite sent juice dripping down the plate (or arm). The French fries are hand cut and lightly seasoned. They reminded me of the old Jake Edwards fries–not a bad comparison in my book. Other menu items include dozens of sandwiches, salads, wings and even breakfast.
We were there at lunch and the bartender took our order. Service was efficient and friendly. Though women would definitely feel comfortable here, this would be a perfect venue for a guys’ night out. The fare is hearty, the bar is well stocked and, though the TVs aren’t huge, they are tuned to sports at all hours.