Great cities in the middle of the country sometimes get overlooked, but this month we’re here to tell you that dining in Kansas City is just too cool to pass up.
Famously known for its jazz, blues and the red hot Royals, this heartland hub has a quaint, laid-back midwestern pace, with a surprisingly cosmopolitan vibe. Home to many a museum, beautiful fountains (there are around 200 of them!), and a magnificent farmers’ market that could give Pike Place a run for its money, KC is booming with culture and beauty. With more boulevards west of the Champs-Élysées, its been donned the “Paris of the Plains.”
In recent years, there’s been a huge revitalization to Kansas City’s downtown area, and new places are sprouting up left and right, making it more of an exciting place to visit than ever.
Don’t even get us started on the BBQ (this town is a meat lover’s mecca, with around 100 barbecue restaurants!) If you’re never had proper Kansas City barbecue (cooked slow and smoky, with a signature tomato and molasses-based sauce), that there is reason enough to hop a plane.
We recently picked the brains of four food bloggers and proud KC locals, to find out what they claim as their favorite food joints in the city.
Ready? Set? Kansas City, or bust!
*Note* Start planning your trip now, and you can catch the Chopped Conference in October! It’s a one-day food blogging conference right in the heart of Kansas City and the perfect excuse to eat your way through the city.
Megan Kohrs | With Salt and Wit
Megan is a girl after our own food-loving hearts. Her seasonally-driven blog is proof that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring food.
A professionally trained cook, Megan is talented at crafting more nutritious versions of comfort food classics, without compromising flavor. In addition to her stellar recipes, we’re drawn to her totally down-to-earth voice on her blog. Oh, and she doesn’t skimp on the dessert recipes either (chocolate-dipped peanut butter smores, anyone?)!
Megan is actually Kansas City born and raised. She loves the small-town feel of the city, and the endless list of things to do there.
Photo: Beer Kitchen
If beer is proof that God loves us then Beer Kitchen is our way to happiness. From the moment you walk in the door, the pure comfort food aroma, and the Blood Mary’s will get your taste buds watering. Choose from four different flavors of Eggs Benedict, or their signature Dutch Babies. And if the party from the night before hasn’t ended, make sure you grab the Drunken Donuts — mini powered sugar donuts served with a Grand Marnier hot chocolate, for dunking! And if you have a roaring appetite, the 8-Hour Corned Beef Hash is a must. Tender, slow-braised corned beef served with root vegetable, two fried eggs, natural jus and farm to market swirled rye toast. This ain’t your mama’s cooking!
Photo: Urban Table
Urban Table is a chic spot on the top of my list (for lunch and dinner as well!) The décor is farmhouse meets modern, with its chandeliers, white wood walls, metal accents and rustic wood floors. Make sure to start your brunch off with a Grapefruit mimosa or one of their signature cocktails such as Jeanie, which is Lillet Blanc, grapefruit vodka and Campari soda.
Tip: Their small bites are a must. Grab a side of monkey bread, a cinnamon roll or a waffle slider to go with that monster omelet or breakfast tacos! This way you can have your cake and eat it too.
After one visit to Longboards, you will be hooked. With their mind-blowing Hawaiian infused eats, there is something for everyone. From their Thai Hot Noodle Bowl, to their 619 Chipotle Wrap for the larger appetite, (it comes with steak, shrimp, guacamole, pepperjack, pico de gallo, olives, bacon, hard-boiled egg, rice and chipotle ranch), there are items of every flavor.
Tip: Make sure to head out early or after the lunch crowd, because you won’t be the only one with this idea!
Photo: Westside Local
With a menu that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, you are always in for a surprise with each visit you make to Westside Local. Their small on-site garden with vegetables and herbs is proof of their commitment to locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy a light lunch with their local cheese plate, or go big with their loaded kale salad, fixed up with saved Brussels sprouts, slivered almonds, grated parmesan, fried shallots, brown sugar bacon and maple tahini vinaigrette.
Tip: But don’t forget about their Summit Burger to really indulge — a ground rib-eye burger topped with arugula, emmentaler and Dijon vinaigrette, all on a farm to market brioche bun! This is a must for fresh, creative dining!
Photo: Gram and Dun
Gram and Dun – A sister to Urban Table, this is a must hit happy hour spot if the sun is shining. In the heart of the Country Club Plaza, with a massive outside patio, make sure to hit up this popular spot that is known for their ambiance, and seasonally, locally sourced menu. Their happy hour menu is filled with grub that is not your normal bar scene. A must is their Not-So-Standard Potato Chips served with a trio of ketchups, guacamole, vanilla bean and blood orange-habanero. Or their French Onion Dumplings; Gruyere and caramelized onions served with house made brioche and onion jus.
Tip: Don’t forget your cocktail! Their Ginger Rogers with Tanqueray gin, mint leaves, ginger syrup, lime juice and ginger beer is a top seller.
Photo: La Bodega
La Bodega is a local classic must. With its Spanish feel, you will instantly feel transported to Northern Spain, and their menu, of popular tapas caters to socializing. I always order their Pancetta-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo, and the grilled bread with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and a fig coulis. The sweet, spicy and savory flavors hit every taste bud! Washing it all down with their house made Sangria is a necessity — choose from red or white, and cheers to a night of good food and good company!
Photo: Room 39
Focusing on fresh, seasonal and locally grown ingredients, Room 39 is a unique culinary experience! Their traditional theme with heartland flavors makes this a restaurant a date night must for locals. Start your night with fried calamari and kimchi with Korean hot sauce, and move onto a house made pasta loaded with goat cheese, lobster, tender mushrooms, basil and drizzled with a white wine cream sauce.
Tip: Make sure you leave room for dessert because their almond cake with local strawberries, lemon balm syrup and whipped cream is heaven on a plate or goat cheese beignets in caramel soup is the perfect nightcap!
Photo: Filling Station Coffee
With its hipster vibe, Filling Station Coffee is a one-stop shop for baking goods, a juice bar, a sandwich shop and a cup of joe. The passion that each employee holds is what makes this shop feel like home rather than another stop for coffee or your lunch spot. With its diverse menu, it is becoming a favorite local lunch and coffee spot!
Tip: They brew one mean Toddy; the first time I feel in love with this new drink. And their Kale Salad is delicious, topped with sesame oil, pineapple, mango, sesame seeds and a mandarin ginger dressing.
Photo: Oddly Correct
Oddly Correct – With its urban flare, you instantly feel at home among the several-shared tables. The loud music gives the little shop an upbeat feel and the authentic drink creations will have you craving cup after cup. From their Quay Coffee, Mud Pie and Little Freshie roasts, there is a cup for everyone. But don’t forget to grab a pastry, straight from a local bakery, making this must stop for your morning joe.
Marly McMillen | Namely Marly
If you’re looking for amazing vegan recipes, look no further than Namely Marly. We’re not even vegan, and we’re big fans! Her energetic passion for life, vibrant photography, and mouthwatering vegan fare have made us dedicated followers.
Marly grew up in a tiny Missouri town, of just 1,000 people. Her first job after college led her to Kansas City, and she’s stayed planted since (minus a couple years away for grad school). She, her husband, Shawn, and their daughter, Adee, are all vegan, and can vouch for the fact that KC offers tons of vegan restaurants.
Marly loves the friendliness and the convenience of the city, as well as the fact that there’s something for everyone — plenty of green space, beautiful architecture, great culture, and a happening downtown arts district.
There are lots of great breakfast destinations in KC, but one of our favorites is Eggtc. There you’ll find omelettes, crepes, oatmeal, bagels, pancakes, waffles, potato fixin’s for vegans, and the famous Banatella French Toast (think nutella and banans on French toast) for vegetarians.
If you’re in KC you must stop by Füd for a healthy and fulfilling bite for lunch. Füd is all about “eating the rainbow”, and specializes in vegan comfort food. Their mac and cheese menu alone has me drooling like an idiot. I’m a big fan of their wide variety of flavors, as well as their creativity within staple dishes like nachos and an ice cream sundae.
Tip: We highly recommend their vegan desserts. They’re the best!
Of course, we’re thrilled to be home to Cafe Gratitude. There are only two of these restaurants in the world, one in Los Angeles and one in Kansas City. That’s right. We’re a happening place. Vegan, raw, and gluten-free options are all available in an organic, clean-eating meal. Needless to say, we are grateful for Cafe Gratitude!
Photo: Blue Grotto
Join the girls for a drink and have a seat out on the deck at Blue Grotto. It’s located in Brookside — KC’s bike riding, coffee drinking, big front porch neighborhood. You’ll think you walked into Mayberry, but with a fun, urban twist. Come during Happy Hour (M-F 4PM-6PM and 9PM-Close) and enjoy discounted local beers, wines, wells and some tasty dishes, like smoked baba ganoush.
Tip: If you don’t want to wait for a table, there is open seating in the bar. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for a delicious place to eat that will satisfy everyone’s varied preferences, Blue Koi may be the best place for you! A dumplings and noodles Chinese restaurant, the menu at Blue Koi was developed to feed the comfort food lover in all of us.
Tip: For their dinner selection, we always recommend the Black Bean Sauce dish. You can order it with Tofu (like we do) or with meat options. And it can be served over white or brown rice, or a variety of noodles. They can even make it gluten-free if you need. Everyone we’ve recommended this dish to has loved it!
Photo: Blue Bird Bistro
Fine dining meets organic farm-to-table dishes at the Blue Bird Bistro. We’ve enjoyed going to this restaurant — which boasts locally grown, organic vegetables and produce — for years. The Blue Bird Bistro will wow your vegan and vegetarian friends, but it has a little bit of something for everyone, including steak, fish and chicken. We highly recommend their black bean burger. It’s one of the best we’ve had!
Tip: Call ahead for reservations.
Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse is one of those quaint places that really brightens up your day. It’s run out of an old two-story house in Westport, off of 39th Street, otherwise known to us Kansas City-ans as “Restaurant Row.” Here you will find everything from Asian noodles to New Orleans-style creole, to vintage dress shops or a classic philly. Basically, 39th street is heaven for a foodie. Mud Pie is extra special to me because it’s totally vegan. They have so many vegan pastries it’s not even funny. Think cupcakes, twinkies and savory kolaches. I love going up there in the morning and having a dirty south paired with a vegan muffin and Fud breakfast burrito. They also have different types of plant-based milks, including hemp milk which is pretty incredible.
Tip: My all-time favorite coffee ever is from Mud Pie. It’s called the Dirty South, and it’s a cold-brew chicory coffee, made as a café au lait, topped with cinnamon and nutmeg. I can’t find anything quite like it, anywhere.
Ali Ebright | Gimme Some Oven
Reading Ali’s blog is like having a chat with the girl next door (only if that girl next door were a crazy-good cook)!
From a wealth of easy, fresh, time-saving recipes, to helpful kitchen tutorials, DIY projects and musings on life, Ali’s blog runs the gamut. We love following her adventures, and all of the beautiful time she saves us in the kitchen!
Ali is originally from Wichita, but she’s called Kansas City home for the past 10 years. She moved there for work, but stayed because she’d absolutely fallen in love with the city. She’s a big fan of the city’s vibrant artistic and creative culture, super-supportive entrepreneurial networks, great local food scene, and the most amazing people who call KC their home and make it feel like home to her.
Photo: Beer Kitchen
Beer Kitchen has the best biscuits and gravy in town. And their Dutch babies (especially the Bacon Apple), brunch enchiladas, corned beef hash, and benedicts are killer. Plus, it’s a fun atmosphere in the heart of Westport, especially on weekend mornings.
Photo: The Farmhouse
I may be a little partial to The Farmhouse since I live next door, but it’s easily one of the top brunch spots in town. Farm-to-table food with new menus released each season, and the dishes are all creative and simple and SO tasty. I highly recommend the Corned Beef Hash if you feel like indulging, and you can never go wrong with the quiche of the day.
Tip: This place can be pretty packed on the weekends (people love to visit the City Market, then walk over for brunch), so I recommend making a reservation or being prepared to hang out and wait just a bit.
Photo: The City Market
I always recommend that people come down to the River Market for lunch, especially on Saturdays during the epic farmer’s market. My favorites include Burrito Bros (chicken taco meal deal with “medium” salsa), The Bite (Ko-Fu sandwich, or off-the-menu tacos), Bo Lings (fried rice!), Carrollo’s (any sandwiches), Beignet (mac and cheese and gumbo), or any of the other restaurants.
Tip: There are tons of ethnic restaurants lining the perimeter of the market, and you can’t go wrong at any of them.
Photo: McCoy’s Public House
When the weather’s nice, the patio at McCoy’s Public House, in Westport can’t be beat. Great food (best mac and cheese in town), great drinks (their homemade beers are fantastic) and a great vibe inside and out. Our friends regularly meet up here for lunches, dinners and happy hours, and it never disappoints.
Photo: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Okay, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que will always be known as “Oklahoma Joe’s” to locals (they recently changed their name), but it’s definitely my favorite bbq joint in town. And based on the long lines (come early on the weekends), everyone else seems to agree. They have a few locations now, but the original restaurant — located in a remodeled old gas station in Midtown — is the place to go.
Tip: Order the Z-Man, or any of the sandwiches. Also, the fries are a must.
Photo: El Patron Cocina & Bar
It’s no secret I’m obsessed with Mexican food, and El Patrón Cocina & Bar is my friends’ favorite place to happy hour. Super affordable prices, killer good (and very strong) margaritas and mojitos, a beautiful rooftop deck when its warm out, and the food is terrific.
Tip: I always order the happy hour chicken nachos.
I absolutely adore Julep. This new whiskey and cocktail bar is beautifully designed and nestled right in the heart of Westport, and their whiskey (and scotch!) selection is extensive and well-curated. Happy hour is a great time to try out some nicer whiskeys, as they are all 25% off. And their wine and Boulevard beers are also 50% off. They also have some great $5 cocktails.
Tip: I’m a big fan of the happy hour Old Fashioned and their spicy bar mix, which is insanely addictive.
Photo: The Westside Local
The Westside Local is definitely my favorite place to enjoy a nice, seasonal, locally-sourced dinner. The restaurant is located in the cute Westside area, they have a beautiful patio out back, very kind and helpful servers, and the food and drink menus are updated seasonally.
Tip: I love their salads, beers, and you absolutely must order the fries.
Photo: Il Lazzarone
Il Lazzarone is a new pizza shop just opened up in the River Market, and I’m such a fan! They feature certified Neopolitan pizzas that are made with the tastiest soft dough, and are meant to be folded up “wallet-style” and eaten with your hands. The La Rughetta, Bruxelles, Uovo, Crepa, and Pepperoni pizzas are my fav! (Oh, and the owners are the coolest couple ever.)
Photo: Quay Coffee
Anyone who follows my blog knows that Quay Coffee is my “home away from home” It’s a peaceful, lovely space to hang out with a friend or work. The baristas are friendly and play great music. And I happen to think their coffee is the best in town (especially their iced pour-over). Say hi for me if you go visit!
Photo: Thou Mayest
Thou Mayest is a coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night (with fantastic happy hour specials), and a great place to meet friends anytime. Plus, any place named for a passage in a Steinbeck novel immediately scores a few extra points in my book.
Kate Taylor | Cookie and Kate
Kate Taylor has been entertaining us with her seasonally-inspired vegetarian recipes, and photos of her precious pup Cookie for some time now and has even been a guest editor to the pages of FoodieCrush magazine.
We love that her blog is a goldmine of healthy, diet-friendly recipes, and vibrant, sun-drenched food photography. Kate’s originally from Oklahoma, but moved to Kansas City for a change of pace and scenery. She’s drawn to its beauty, its affordability, and the fact that it’s just the right size. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s not too far from home.
When Kate’s not cooking, blogging, or spending time with Cookie, she enjoys exploring different parts of the city — from the Crossroads, to the River Market, to the Plaza and more!
Photo: Classic Cup Cafe
Classic Cup Cafe on the Plaza has a lovely French café-like atmosphere and tons of outdoor patio seating when the weather’s nice. I love their veggie omelets.
Photo: Eden Alley Cafe
Kansas City has tons of fantastic bars, so this is a tough call. Julep is a newish bar in Westport that has a great atmosphere and offers $5 Manhattans and old fashioneds at happy hour. Sold!
Photo: Gram & Dun
The Rieger has an amazing traditional-meets-contemporary atmosphere (it’s built into an old hotel and has an open kitchen) and they have a fantastic, locally sourced menu. I also love Gram & Dun (on the Plaza) — they have the best patio!
Photo: Coffe Girl’s Cafe
This post was compiled and written by FoodieCrush contributor Hayley Putnam. Follow Hayley and her foodie tastes and other flights of fancy on Pinterest and Instagram.
Kirby lives in Brooklyn, by way of Chicago. When she’s not drawing, she can be found doing other’s makeup, watching movies, cooking meals with five ingredients or less, and dancing! Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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