Boston Chowhouder heading to Kansas City
Go to Room 39 at 39th and Bell no matter what! My favorite restaurant hands down. Lunch is a casual affair, and it's my favorite.
Vietnam Cafe at E. Missouri Ave. and Campbell Street in Columbus Park is another one not to miss. It's crowded as hell at lunch, but with good reason.
Near the Marriott, visit 12 Baltimore at, well, 12th and Baltimore. And you can walk a few blocks south to Pizza Bella at 18th and Baltimore for the best pizza in town.
I'm not a fan of any restaurant at 17th and Summit other than Los Alamos market/cafeteria, though many others disagree.
1719 West 39th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
1810 Baltimore Ave, Kansas City, MO 64108
106 West 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105
As a Chowhounder, you'll want to stay away from the Power and Light District - it's very "corporate".
Michael Smith is one of the best local "celeb chefs," and I think his namesake restaurant at 19th and Main is quite good - I've taken out-of-towners there. Smith also runs Extra Virgin next door on 19th Street, which is more "vibe-y" and trendy, and also has an excellent happy hour with half-price tapas.
1900 Main, Kansas City, MO 64108
BBQ seems to come down to Arthur Bryant's, LC's or Oklahoma Joe's from most people. Lots and lots of good BBQ, though. Just visited KC a month ago, and had a great time. Just be careful heading south of I -70 and East of The Paseo. Found some pretty rough neighborhoods. Probably some good Chow out there, but I would have a guide for that area unless you know where you are headed. Course, you are from Boston, so maybe you are okay with that, I am not from such a large town.
For BBQ, I'm an Arthur Bryants devotee, the one on Brooklyn in the 18th & Vine (Jazz) district. Best pulled pork sandwich, but for burnt ends go to Oklahoma Joe's.
For high-end (and I mean really high end) dining, go to Bluestem. One of the best restaurants I have ever been to, period. Something more affordable and fun is Extra Virgin, the new tapas restaurant from Michael Smith.
For Italian, I love Lidias in the crossroads. It's owned by Lidia Bastianich and always serves delicious Italian food. Plus the restaurant is gorgeous and the whole district is great.
For a great local greasy spoon, hit up Town Topic Hamburgers on Broadway or Baltimore (2 locations). Delicious after a night of drinking (or during it). Or try a classic steakburger and skyscraper chocolate malt at Winsteads, just off the Plaza.
If you like Thai food, try Lulu's Noodle & Satay Bar on Southwest Blvd. Delicious tom yum and thai iced coffee.
And finally, my favorite indulgence is to hit up Christopher Elbow chocolates on McGee. He's a nationally recognized chocolatier and his chocolates are out of this world. Plus the shop is really cool.
Hope you have a great time in KC!
900 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111
2013 Broadway St, Kansas City, MO 64108
1900 Main, Kansas City, MO 64108
I took some friends to a truly great lunch at Lidia's recently. The grilled octopus salad was perhaps the most tender, flavorful octopus I've ever eaten, and another diner's salmon sandwich made her do a backflip. While I rarely eat pasta as my main dish, our other companion had so much of the three offerings in that day's pasta tasting that he was in happy agony afterwards.
Extra Virgin has some wonderful stuff as well, but I wouldn't classify it as "affordable," myself. Those small plates are rather small, and they add up, as they do at any such establishment. If it's still on the menu, the crispy pig ear salad is FANtastic, though.
I like Lulu's a lot too, even if it isn't terribly authentic. They have a couple of salads on the lunch menu that are perfect for anyone trying to be virtuous but not boring, and their lad nar is delicious -- but I think they've taken it off the menu. Too bad!
And reubensandperrier, I like Pho KC a ton as well. The food is actually quite different from Vietnam Cafe's, but it's pretty much impossible to knock. I've never had a bad bite there.
Still, I've absolutely never had a better bowl of chicken soup than the one served with the com tam at Vietnam Cafe. And the char and caramelization they get on their grilled meats is hands-down the best in town for my money (which goes ridiculously far there). Ugh, and those crispy shrimp rolls. I could seriously eat three orders on my own.