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Aug 19, 2009 08:04 AM

Kansas City Eats


I am an East Coast foodie visiting Kansas City for five days in September...

- What are some of the foods that define KC that I absolutely have to try?

- Also, what are the best KC restaurants for:

1. BBQ (Should I really go to Jack Stack's or Smokehouse?)
2. Cheap Eats (under $8 for an entree)
3. Ethnic (Asian, Mexican, Indian, etc. - I eat everything!)
4. Fine Dining
5. Breakfast/Brunch
6. Dessert/Bakery
7. Reasonably priced drinks/wine
8. Your absolute favorite KC restaurant

Thanks in advance!

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  1. 1. No, both are overrated.. Go to LC's or Oklahoma Joe's. For off the beaten path BB's Lawnside after 9pm for barbecue, blues, and beer.
    2. Grinders
    3. El Taco Nazzo, El Camino Real. Lots of good Mexican in KCK, get away from SW Boulevard.
    4. Bluestem
    5. I dunno, Who's got the best biscuits and gravy in town?

    6 Replies
    1. re: chileheadmike

      I'll second Bluestem for fine dining.

      1. re: chileheadmike

        The best biscuits and gravy I have had in town is at Happy Gillis. Down on the corner of 5th & Gillis in Columbus Park.

          1. re: beauxarts

            God I've been waiting for a recommendation like this. Any other suggestions on B&G spots? By far my favorite breakfast item. And I love when it is made with spicy sausage.

            1. re: beauxarts

              Oh, I will have to try to go there then!

              This is not my first trip to KC. The first couple of times, I did lots of touristy things, but now I decided I should do a food tour!

              I have to have biscuits and gravy everytime I am there though... it's nearly impossible to find on the East Coast.

              1. re: beauxarts

                I loooove the Corner Cafe for B'z&G'z. They also have incredible hot rolls and cinnamon rolls the size of your head. Literally. And the pies....when you open the door, the smell of the pies nearly drops you to your knees! I live in San Francisco--used to live in KC--and each time I go back, I journey to Corner Cafe at least once for breakfast for the Bz&Gz....and ideally, again for the chicken livers with gravy. Heaven for the soul.

            2. Michael Smith/Extra Virgin for fine dining or drive to Lawrence, if you can, and eat @Pachamama's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: inbiz

                Yes, I am planning on going to Extra Virgin for their half-priced happy hour specials - thank you!

              2. First, go here for BBQ recs:
                I haven't lived in KC for a long time, but I've never even heard of Smokehouse. Never been to Jack Stack's, but that's because I'm too busy at LC's, Gates, Bryant's, or OK Joe's. Something bothers me about "upscale" BBQ places anyway (though I've been told that Jack Stack is good). Any exploration into KC BBQ must start with Bryant's or Gates. LC's is my favorite, though.

                The flea market burger is great.
                Potpie is good for good, casual, solid food (full disclosure: the owner is a friend).
                The City Market has good ethnic eats and decent breakfast.

                1. It would also help to know where you are staying. KC is very spread out (just for reference, the drive from the airport to the restaurant hub at 135th and Metcalf is roughly the distance from Providence to Boston).

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: heatherkay

                    I am staying with a friend who lives in Glen Arbor, but she does not mind driving

                    1. re: malyna

                      I've lived here the majority of my life and have no idea where Glen Arbor is, but if your friend doesn't mind driving, you should check out Pachamama's in Lawrence. it's only 30 min from KC and more than worth it. You could spend the day there. Lots to do.

                      1. re: inbiz

                        I think that's the neighborhood south of Red Bridge Rd. just east of State Line. Jackson county, inbiz.

                        Malyna, as noted before we are a big metro area, very spread out for our 2 million folks in many counties. Justus drugstore will be a good drive up in Smithville, and you'll wants reservations if you want to eat inside with the full menu. It is by far the best fine dining, if you're focused on the food, drink, and service. For breakfast/brunch, I'm partial to Room 39, either on 39th St. or in Mission Farms, which will be more convenient to your friend's home. They do eggs particularly well, make good fries, and use a lot of local produce. The best bread is from Fervere at 17th and Summit, but no desserts or pastry there. As for ethnic eats, I'd second the recs of One Bite, Cho Ga or Rainbow (where some dishes will also qualify for cheap eats.) One that hasn't been mentioned is Flavor of India, where they make both northern and southern cuisines. It's on 87th just west of I35, fairly new and undiscovered as of yet. I'm afraid I can't be much help with other categories. Hope you enjoy your stay, and please tell us about any highlights. We love feedback!

                        1. re: amyzan

                          I have a few quick questions regarding Justus Drugstore (I hope this is not too off topic). Do they have tasting menus available? If so, what is the cost and can they accomodate vegetarian tasting menus?

                          1. re: michaelstl

                            I'd suggest you call ahead. I've not seen tasting menus, but it's worth asking in advance.

                            1. re: michaelstl

                              I wouldn't go to Justus Drugstore and ask for anything "special". Jeff Justus yelled at me for putting cracked pepper on my chowder. I've eaten there since then, but the ticket times keep getting longer and the service worse. They also lost the fabulous pastry "chef" they had in the beginning. The desserts have never been the same.

                              1. re: inbiz

                                You know, this is the second story I've heard about the chef there! I called ahead because I have allergies, to be sure I wouldn't have to ask for subs, and everything went fine. But, yeah, he seems to have a bit of a reputation, which is unfortunate. We didn't have dessert last time we were there fall '08, because I had a cake at home waiting. I'm glad to know to make another home dessert next time we go!

                                We were there on a weeknight, if I recall accurately, and though dinner wasn't totally smooth in its timing, we had no complaints. I wonder if it's worse on the weekends?

                                On Pachamama's, I remember some discussion here lamenting the loss of the old location. Some hound went and had an underwhelming experience in the new site, though that may have been a good while ago. We just didn't like the fishbowl look of the new place, but we shouldn't let that stop us. Honestly, we are mostly in Lawrence during the day, and mostly eat lunch at Wheatfields since it's so reliable, accommodating, and reasonably priced.

                                1. re: amyzan

                                  I'm the one that wasn't as happy with Pachamama's after the move. And no I haven't been back since that visit shortly after the move. Lawrence has so many great local places to eat that are less expensive and less fish bowl like.

                                  Still saving my pennies to try Krause Dining some time!

                                  1. re: KansasTravel

                                    Krause was $300 w/gratuity per person last time we ate there. You might have to open a new line of credit. It is nice, but I swear Pach's has better food and I leave there quite sated for around $50. If you want to read something funny, look up Justus Drugstore on Yelp.

                                    1. re: inbiz

                                      I was hesitating at the $140/prson for food and wine before tax & gratuity I thought it was.

                                      1. re: KansasTravel

                                        It was a b-day celebration. We had every addition to the prix fixe menu possible and expensive wine. We also left 30%. I'm sure reasonable people could get out of there for much less. It's still crazy, though.

                                  2. re: amyzan

                                    We've been three times, all on Saturday nights- every year for our anniversary. We've had nothing but good experiences and exquisite food. My only complaint last time was that it was absolutely freezing- difficult to be romantic when your teeth are chattering! ;-) At any rate, we've spoken with the chef 2 out of the 3 times and I cannot imagine him pitching a fit for any reason. Not saying that it's not true, but he sure seemed laidback and down to earth. I love his passion for local foods and the ability to find amazing ones at that.

                                  3. re: inbiz

                                    I loooooooove Justus. I've been three times (I live in CA, so that says something!)...and it's been awesome every time. I hope your experience was an off-night!

                                2. re: amyzan

                                  That's funny. I grew up down the street. Hasn't anybody on this site ever eaten at Pachamama's? It's never mentioned. The service, atmosphere, ticket times and surrounding town trump Justus Drugstore easily. The only reason I'm quibbling is because it would take less time to get to Lawrence than Smithville, especially from south KC. Jeff Justus can put out some good food (albeit excruciatingly slow), but there are just too many other problems w/eating there. Another caveat- forget about having anything to drink and driving back from Smithville.

                                3. re: inbiz

                                  I googled it and I think it's also called foxtrot?

                                  1. re: malyna

                                    Foxtrot, yeah, I think that's the same neighborhood. East of State Line and south of 435, right?

                            2. 1. Oklahoma Joe's. Unless you want burnt ends, then LC's.
                              2. El Cipote (Mexican and Latin American).
                              3. One Bite (Jpn), Cho Ga (Krn), Masala's (Indo/Chin), Blue Koi (Mission Farms).
                              4. Blue Stem.
                              5. Lydia's (brunch).
                              6. Andre's.
                              8. Too tough to call. All based on mood and who is with me.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: jm054

                                Unless you want burnt ends.
                                Well, if you want KC, you want burnt ends. And I agree, you want LC's burnt ends.
                                After, you can wonder why you rarely see burnt ends outside of Kansas City. Everyone else does.

                                1. re: Bobfrmia

                                  Bob, the burnt ends at Gateway Market in Des Moines are pretty good, actually. I also love burnt ends. Ordered them at Gates and wasn't impressed. Haven't been to LC's yet...

                                  1. re: jhojati

                                    I like Gates a lot. But the last time I ordered their burnt ends they tasted like scrapings from the bottom of the smoker, with a little extra fat thrown on top for good measure.

                                    I do like their brisket though. Never again on the burnt ends.

                                    And what's with that peach flavored tea crap?

                                    1. re: chileheadmike

                                      Exactly my experience with the burnt ends. Seemed like the spooned out what was on the bottom of a roasting pan. I wasn't impressed. Not like I won't be back, just won't order that. I have yet to be disappointed by OK Joe's

                                    1. re: ulterior epicure

                                      I recently ate the burnt ends at LC's, and they were a disaster. Mostly fat, no bark at all - just very slimy meat. I was so disappointed.

                                      1. re: jhojati

                                        So sorry to hear that. I think the most troubling thing with barbecue restaurants is the lack of consistency.