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Things that Kansas City does better than NYC?!?

Hello, 2-3 of us live in NYC and are thinking about a foodie trip to Kansas City during the long weekend in January! A large part of why we chose KC is the amazing time we had stuffing ourselves with BBQ in Austin and Lockhart (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9048...) and since KC is also considered to be a mecca for BBQ, this seemed like the logical next destination :)

KC experts, in addition to BBQ, what else does it do better than NYC? We plan to come down for about 4-5 days and frankly, we'll need a break in the middle from all that delicious BBQ.

We'll have a car so driving to nearby cities is also something that we can consider if it's for something truly delicious!

Thank you!

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  1. It's been several years since I've been to NYC, but I never found street tacos like the ones at El Camino Real in Kansas City, KS.

    Also, you might want to check out the beers at Free State Brewery in Lawrence.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chileheadmike

      I'm not sure how many years is several, but Tulcingo Del Valle on 10th Ave in NYC beats El Camino Real in every category, and I have had superior tacos from random trucks in Washington Heights and Astoria. I vastly prefer the tacos from the Carniceria on 6th Ave in Topeka. I don't recall the name, if there is one, but it's the one furthest West, across from a little tortilleria. Their tacos are as good as any I've had in NY, LA, or anywhere. I don't know that I'd recommend it as trip-worthy on a 5 day food safari, but if you're out that way...

      1. re: daleyshow

        BBQ I think is your thing here. It doesn't get better than LC's, OK Joe's, Jack Stack (lamb ribs). You cannot get this quality anyplace else, I don't think.

        I assume in a place as populous as nyc, there is excellent mexican food, but if not, KC is a good place for it. KCK to be exact. On Central, smoky grilled chickens at El Pollo Rey are wonderful. Also birrerria michoacano nearby for birria made with various creatures. very good. El camino real on 7th & minnesota for mexico-city style marinated rotisserie grilled pork tacos with pineapple.

        I think we have the typical midwestern excellent locavore places, but these are going to be more special in the summer (tomatoes, other local garden ingredients).

        People here cook at home, a lot. it's something that transplants have mentioned to me as notable. I just won second place in my UU church chili cookoff, and I am here to tell you this is glory. ;) Even better, they ate it all - haha, second place and no leftovers trumps first place and a half-full crock pot, as I crowed to the winner (in fun, a great cook he is). I've been having a protracted email conversation with other contestants about how we made broth, which chiles we used, and where we got the ingredients. People BBQ at home too, but the bbq restaurants are definitely special here.

    2. check out Bier Station while you're here - it's a a great craft beer spot with tons of bottles/can and an ever changing tap list updated here: http://www.drafster.com/bars/bier_sta...

      their food menu is small but strong - sausages/brats made locally from Affare as well bread/pretzels made locally by Farm to Market. They have a nice charcuterie selection and they also serve wine.


      1. Jenny Vergara is about their leading foodie. Check out her blog, just scroll down past the cooking recipes. http://www.makingafoodie.com/

        1. BBQ aside, I dont think there is anything in KC that is better/tastier than NYC.

          That being said, food is cheaper, here. I believe that the growing seasons are not the same, so places that are using local produce will have access to different crops. But that probably won't effect you if you come in January.

          Here are a few places that might be interesting:

          Local Pig: butcher/food truck (interesting location)

          Gennesse Royale Bistro
          (tasty breakfasts/ lunches/ Friday drinks/ walk into livestock exchange building across the street for a straight out of Coen brothers film experience


          Lil Freshie
          Superlative snow cones, and tasty food. Tiny & tasteful.

          Lunch menu/ yummy desserts/ fabulous geriatric people watching

          Oddly Correct
          Nano-roaster coffee

          1. What KC does better (or at least differently) than NYC is down home and traditional dining. I always take out-of-towners to Stroud's. Calvin Trillin's recommendation of Jess and Jim's Steakhouse was good enough to get me to make the trip the first time. Peachtree Buffet for Sunday brunch is fun for good soul food and after-church hat watching. Oh, and on another note, I still haven't had a better burger than the Kobe at Blanc, and I have had a lot of NYC hamburgers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: daleyshow

              you nyc-ers might enjoy Rye. It's the midwestern comfort food project of the chef who has created arguably the best fine dining place here (blue stem in westport). it's in leawood, a southern suburb. I've not eaten there, but it has good reviews from my friends - they say the fried chicken is amazing.

            2. Since you have a car, this is certainly worth the drive. Because you will never have anything so good, at such a great price, in NYC.

              Just south of Fort Smith in Pittsburgh, Kansas is Chicken Annie's. This is the second finest fried chicken money can buy. The best comes out of my cast iron chicken fryer.

              There is another chicken place on the same road, but just go to the finest at Annie's. Unless things have changed since my last visit, you have to ask for the gizzards. Well worth the trip.

              1. Hello everyone, we're finally thinking about doing this. Any suggestions on what area to find a hotel in if the objective is to be as close as possible to BBQ and Mexican/Latin American food, as well as local bars/breweries (not the cocktail & belgian/german beer bars that are common in NYC), etc? We'll have a car but would like to minimize the amount of driving that we need to do (and have a designated driver :). Thanks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: indiefoodie

                  If you stay at Jefferson House B&B you can get Fervere bread in the morning.



                  For Beer:

                  Check out cinder block brewery:

                  The Green Room- nerdy bar, good beer selection, lackluster fries

                  Bier Station recommended previously.

                  Bridgers Bottle Shop- Opening soon
                  I suspect the food will be good, too.

                2. Hello everyone, I've been reading a lot about Stroud's fried chicken. Is it really that good or is it an over hyped tourist trap? How is it compared to the fried chicken at say Rye? Thank you!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: indiefoodie

                    Stroud's can be uneven, which is irritating since the minimum wait to get in is one and a half to two hours and it takes forever to be served because the chicken is fried to order. We went one time last summer and the chicken and the pan gravy (the gravy is my favorite thing) both had that slightly burned taste that it gets when the oil is too hot or needs to be replaced. However, we were there just this last weekend and the chicken tasted like it had been fried in heaven and delivered by angels. Blazing hot, juicy meat, crisp skin. Totally delightful and some of the best fried chicken I had ever eaten in my life. It's good chicken either way, depends on whether or not you can budget the time. Not a tourist trap really, a different experience than Rye.

                    1. re: indiefoodie

                      There are people who LOVE their Stroud's, and not just the tourists. If you like pan-fried chicken, it is hard to beat. I don't care for the texture of the crust -- it's too crispy for me. But their livers and gizzards are fantastic. Plus, you won't go hungry. It's fun if you go in a group, because they serve family-style and everyone can share.

                      The south location in Fairview doesn't have anywhere near the same wait, unless you go for Sunday brunch or right in the middle of a weekend dinner rush. It is also closer than the north location if you are staying in the Plaza area.

                      If you can drive, I'd second the above vote for Chicken Annie's in Pittsburg. The "other" place down the road is called Chicken Mary's, and they have quite the rivalry going.

                      But it's not the best fried chicken in Kansas in my opinion. For that honor, my vote goes to the Brookville Hotel, in Abilene, two hours west of KC. The menu is fixed, served family style, and all fresh. It's one of the best meals of my life.

                    2. This Chicagoan is planning a trip to KC later this month, and I've done a lot of research for food during my visit. Even if the food (other than barbecue) isn't necessarily better than in Chicago (or NYC) or unique to KC, I'm looking forward to a lot of really great food. I swear I've looked at web menus for 40-50 restaurants, as well as reviewing discussions here on Chowhound. I've found a lot of places whose menus make my mouth water. Check out the menus and maybe you'll want to work them into your itinerary too. Here's what I've got planned:


                      Jack Stack for barbecue (I compared the menus here and at Oklahoma Joe's, and this menu was the big winner) - www.jackstackbbq.com
                      The American for fine dining - www.theamericankc.com
                      Story for finer dining - www.storykc.com


                      Beignet was the easy pick here - www.beignetkc.com
                      Runners-up were Succotash www.succotashkc.com and eggtc www.eggtckc.com


                      Natasha's Mulberry & Mott - www.natashasmulberryandmott.com
                      Andre's - www.andreschocolates.com


                      I'm not even sure I'm going to have lunch per se, since I'm dining early (before Royals games). I may just have a late breakfast (or pastry) and an early dinner. But these are the lunch places on my radar:

                      Extra Virgin - www.extravirginkc.com
                      Room 39 - www.rm39.com
                      Rye - www.ryekc.com
                      Affare - www.affarekc.com

                      Oh, and for you folks from NYC - if you get homesick, there's a Dean & Deluca in suburban Leawood. :)

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        I'm back from my trip to KC. I had three awesome dinners, that I will describe in separate posts below. Each was a great representative of KC cuisine.

                        FWIW, I didn't get to any of the above lunch places. I went to Beignet for breakfast, which was just okay (not enough corn meal in the supposedly cornbread pancakes). I also went to Natasha's, in Country Club Plaza, for pastry; it was very good indeed, although the selection of items other than French macaroons was somewhat limited.

                        Oh, and Country Club Plaza deserves mention. It was built in 1922 as the first automobile-focused shopping center. It features Spanish architecture and sculptures everywhere. The eateries are high-quality places such as Jack Stack for barbecue and Coopers Hawk Winery, many in funky repurposed spaces consistent with the architectural theme, as you can see in the photos below.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          THE AMERICAN RESTAURANT

                          This was my first dinner in KC. The American is an iconic fine dining restaurant that has been around for forty years, and has been well known over the years as THE place to eat in Kansas City. It is part of the Crown Center, a complex that also includes Sea Life and Legoland Discovery Center, as well as the Hallmark (Cards) Visitor Center.

                          What struck me about The American, and what makes it unique and special in Kansas City, is the dramatic space and the view. The main dining room is about four stories high, and you enter by descending a staircase from the bar area. The view looks out at other Crown Center buildings and the fountains in the plaza. See photos below.

                          It's worth mentioning that some places with a special space, setting, and/or view also have terrific food as part of "the complete package". Places like Everest and North Pond in Chicago, and the Four Seasons and the late Windows on the World in NYC. The American definitely fits into this category, with delicious food and excellent service to go along with the special space that is pure Kansas City.


                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            FIORELLA'S JACK STACK BARBECUE

                            This was my second dinner in KC. I had read the posts here, in which two places got the most plaudits for the best barbecue in town: Jack Stack and Oklahoma Joe's. I looked at the menus, noticed the onion rings and barbecue short ribs at Jack Stack, and the choice was easy.

                            There are four Jack Stack locations. I went to the one on 22nd Street, across the tracks from Union Station. And oh my gosh was it good! I had wondered how they could charge $5.95 for three onion rings, and now I know - they're as big as a cantaloupe! I loved the barbecue, particularly the short rib. The cole slaw is one of the best anywhere. You can find excellent barbecue in other cities too, of course, and I'm not sure this was significantly different or better than the best places elsewhere. But it was absolutely delicious, and there's no need to compare. When you come to Kansas City, you expect to eat barbecue - there are barbecue places on every corner - and if you're looking for the best, look no further than Jack Stack.


                            1. re: nsxtasy


                              This was my third dinner in KC. How did I decide on Story? My other two dinners were easy; I had heard of the American for years, and wanted to hit a barbecue place. Beyond that, I had read and heard recommendations for 40-50 other restaurants, as noted above; Story came to my attention when I read that it, and Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen, had won this year's Best New Chef award from Food & Wine magazine. (Yes, best new chef in the entire country - see www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2014/4/2/me... ). So I looked at the menus on the websites for each of those restaurants, and the menu for Story sounded absolutely terrific, amazing even, much more so than any other menu I looked at. So that's how I decided to have my third dinner at Story.

                              And I can't even come up with the words to adequately describe my dinner. This was an incredible dinner, with one "WOW! DELICIOUS!" dish after another after another. It was so amazing, I was absolutely blown away. I had a feeling it was going to be good from the moment I sat down and they brought slices of two of the best restaurant breads I've ever had to the table. (I confirmed with my server that it was baked in house.) There were so many dishes on the menu that I wanted to try that it was tough to choose; I decided to have four of the starters (beets, mussels, sweetbreads, foie gras) and a dessert (donuts), no entrée. They were all so incredibly delicious, I can only conclude that anything else I had chosen would have been equally delicious.

                              Going back to the original query above, was Story something that Kansas City does better than NYC? Not exactly, but let's put it this way. I've had some outstanding meals in some of the finest restaurants in NYC as well as back home in Chicago. My dinner at Story was spectacularly wonderful, on a par with the best food in either of those cities. And that's the highest compliment I can think of.


                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                Just curious - what did you eat at the American Restaurant?

                                1. re: SFLisa

                                  The meal started with a complimentary amuse bouche of smoked salmon with what I think was crème fraiche. I had a miso-white asparagus soup with a poached egg. The entrée was sea scallops topped with forbidden rice and dried fennel. There was then a complimentary dessert amuse bouche (I forget the word - gourmandises?) of crème brulee topped with a piece of coconut cake. The standout dish of the meal was the dessert I ordered, the only dish I had that is on their website menu: "cinnamon streuselkuchen - grilled peach. sour cherry. peach fritter. tobacco ice cream". Finally there was another dessert amuse bouche consisting of a blackberry jelly, a mocha truffle, and a brown butter financier.

                                  The peach dessert was pictured in my previous post; the other dishes are shown below (with the exception of the blackberry jelly, which I ate before I remembered to snap the photo).

                                2. re: nsxtasy

                                  Now that I have posted photos of all the food at my other dinners, I realize that I need to do so for my delicious dinner at Story as well. In my previous post above I posted one of the dessert (donuts with vanilla pastry cream and passionfruit syrup). Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the foie gras (served with strawberries, almond pancake, bacon, and balsamic glaze) or the veal sweetbreads (with cabbage, Asian pear, jalapeno vinaigrette, bleu cheese mayo). I can tell you that the preparation and taste of the latter dish were reminiscent of a classic southern fried chicken.

                                  I did remember to take photos of the roasted beets (with smoked walleye, stracciatella cheese, apples, and dill-mustard vinaigrette) and of the mussels (with fava beans, radish, wild rice, and white wine sauce), so here they are.