We have been exploring cities together for many years now and it never fails to be what connects us, to each other and the world around us. We love the nooks and crannies of small river towns and the Midwestern cities for their history and hospitality. We love to strike up conversations with other travelers and the locals. I love to use trip advisor to hunt down the best food options. We prefer to eat local, non-chain restaurants whenever possible for the unique variety.
You can read about where to stay & what to do in the previous two posts. Today, it’s all about the food and drink. I will repeat some info that was included in the last post, as they overlap and if you don’t click back, you’ll miss it – and we don’t want that!
While there are many terrific options of what to eat & drink in Kansas City, and we didn’t get nearly enough time to do all there is to do, this is what I can say we did AND what I can recommend. I will only highlight the best of our adventures here, the places that I think are worth your precious exploration time, things that we enjoyed.
The place to go if … you are looking for a great cup of coffee and some education on the coffee industry.
The coffee aroma and taste is top-notch, just as is their bean selection, roasting, brewing, and cupping processes. Roasterie proudly takes coffee to an art form level.
Check the out the menu.
“The Roasterie goes to great lengths to bring you the best coffee in the world. And nobody does it like we do.”
The place to go if … you are looking for a shot of caffeine and delicious sit-down coffee and baked goods to rest in between shops.
It seems Kaldi’s is indeed a chain that has locations outside of Kansas City, but we don’t have any in our area – although my husband will be thrilled to know that they orignated in St. Louis, MO – we go there about once a year – he says that was the best latte he has ever had. Not too sweet and just exactly the right flavor. We both had the vanilla latte with half the syrup. It was an amazing cup of coffee, and we shared two bakery slices – a chocolate banana zucchini bread, and a sunflower bread – we loved the sunflower – so don’t miss that one. It was the perfect baked good balance to our vanilla lattes.
If you are looking to do some shopping, both Kaldi locations in the K.C. area are in the Country Crown Plaza shopping center. The stunning 1920’s Spanish-influenced architecture of the buildings, mosaics and water fountains make the area well worth the stroll, even if you are not that into shopping.
We stopped in a few shops that we don’t have in our area, like Anthropologie, but, honestly it was way too beautiful to be inside that day.
Gate’s Bar-B-Q is featured prominently in the lyrics and video of rapper Tech N9ne‘s song “O.G.” The title and cover of the 2010 album the song is featured on, The Gates Mixed Plate, make further references to the restaurant. Tech N9ne has also referred to Ollie Gates in numerous songs over his career.Gates and Sons is referenced in lyrics for Sir Mix-a-Lot‘s song “A Rapper’s Reputation” from the 1992 album Mack Daddy.
That would have been enough to seal the deal for us.
Speaking of which – does anyone know how to get a tour or Tech N9ne Headquarters? I’m on a mission to get my husband through those doors. He’s a big fan, and after reading an article on Travis O’Guin’s business savvy, I am in awe of him. Dude bought the car wash down the road from the HQ because he didn’t like the way they were running it. That’s some boss shit right there. The kind of dreams you have about running things the way they should be run, like, “Naw, that ain’t how it should be done…let me show you…”
In that article O’Guin cops to being a near Howie Mandel germ-a-phob and a freak about organization. My husband is a high performance building services supervisor on a large campus of 28 academic buildings, so I have decided this is a dream job. I’m (kind-a-sort-of) kidding about the job, but I’d do almost anything to get my husband a tour of Strange Music Headquarters. He sees TechN9ne, Ritz, and MayDay whenever they come within range of our hometown and he’d be in Strange Music Disneyland if I could manage to pull that one off.
The place to go if … you are looking for a Authentic European cuisine/ new experience.
Authentic Germanic cuisine offered in the heart of Kansas City. The restaurant is the second iteration of the family’s popular and long-lived restaurant of the same name in Vienna’s artsy Neubau neighborhood, and they bring much of the same inspired Austrian cooking, hospitality and atmosphere to downtown Kansas City.
One of my top ways to finds what’s good to eat in a new area is to check out trip advisor’s restaurant recommendations for what’s the best food near me. I scour the reviews for places nearest me that aren’t touristy chains, that have high star ratings and interesting descriptions and/or stories. When I hit on this one, I fell for it hard.
I have never been to Europe. I have never been to a biergarten. I am approximately 85% German lineage, long since unobserved. Both my father’s family and my mother’s family are of German descent, but the cultural practices aren’t observed in any particular ways.
My husband saw the light in my eyes and agreed to go, though he teased that the beirgarten was likely just a patio. To which I responded, yes, that is what a beirgarten is, a patio in which food and drink are served.
It was a beautiful evening. We sat in the beirgarten and sampled four different Austrian brews – 2 for each of us. We enjoyed them all, and took the recommendations from our server, Shawn.
I can’t recall which beers we went with. Just check over the menu and let your server know what you like – light, dark, ale, hops, etc and they are very educated in pointing you in a good direction.
The menu is in German, with descriptions in English, so we needed a lot of guidance. Shawn was happy to oblige, and very accommodating with our questions.We ended up with a really delicious appetizer (from the bar food menu) of cheese and sausage fritters and two different schnitzels for our main course.
Whoooooa! That potato and cucumber salad was so good! It was refreshing and flavorful, I’m going to need to look up a recipe for that. My schnitzel was delicious as well, mostly a breaded pork tenderloin without the bun – but the seasoning was really good and the meat was tender and tasty as well.
Cordon Bleu Schnitzel
Breaded pork cutlet stuffed with smoked ham and swiss cheese with red cabbage
I’d also have liked to try the
but there is only so much room in one beer-filled belly. Just another reason to return!
The place to go if … you are looking for a good ol’ fashioned Speak Easy.
As soon as I saw that Speakeasies are a thing in KC, I knew I had to go. I made a reservation via text, and was confirmed for 11pm Sunday night. To get there, you walk around the back alley to past the trash dumpster, around the dark corner, up the old stoop and ring the buzzer. The hostess will let you in and seat you in a cozy dimly candle lit room in the basement, where the capacity is 48 people.
The mixologists will make you a craft cocktail from the seasonal menu, and if you are lucky and keep trying hard enough you’ll get a conversation going with the bartender that will send a ripple effect that gets you talking to the entire bar.
Mario had Black Bamboo Ash followed by Stiggin’s Cure.
I started with The Man with the Golden Aeroplane followed by Queen B.
Soju – Manzanilla Sherry – Dolin Blanc – Lotus Flower – Bamboo Ash
Plantation Pineapple Rum – Falernum – Honey – Cinnaomon – Lemon – Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch Whiskey
the man with the golden aeroplane
J. Rieger & Co. Gin – Yzaguirre Vermouth Blanc – Kina L’aero D’or – Angostura Orange Bitters
Ransom Gin – Chipotle Mead – Lion’s Tooth Dandelion – Lemon – Juniper
We had a fantastic time here, chatting up the bartender and the craft cocktails are really superb. I had as much fun reading the menu as I did sippin’ my drinks. And the history! The Rieger Hotel and the old speakeasy of the day has hosted the likes of Tom Pendergast and Al Capone.
The place to go if … you are looking for some live jazz music to accompany your drinks.
After having just the right amount of a good time, we bid adieu to our new friends at the bar and walked several blocks to the Green Lady Lounge, for I was determined to hear some late night live jazz music while in Kansas City. The Green Lady had been recommended to us several times in the past two days, and the walking distance was a bonus since we had uber’d in.
Never a cover charge, always open seating and live jazz 7 nights a week. What do ya got to lose?
The staff at The Green Lady Lounge was phenomenal. There are a lot of bodies in there wanting a dink, and they are rather busy running back and forth to the bar, and tables and keeping the tables cleared. Mario ordered a drink, took one sip and decided not to drink it – he just wasn’t a fan. When the waitress came back over, she noticed he hadn’t drank much of it, asked how we liked our drinks, and made him another drink – no charge.
I thanked her sincerely, and she just waved it off, ‘No, We want to be sure everyone likes their drink, or we don’t charge them.’ She was insistent, and we were grateful.
I had a Dark & Spicy Mule and Mario ended up with a Juarez Mule.
We sat there, snuggled together in a booth, letting the jazz happily drift around us, tapping our toes to the rhythm and watching the band get down to their own groove.
So much good food and crafty drinks in Kansas City – I will definitely love to go back! For me, the food and drink make the location and elevate the trip to the next level.
I can’t end this post without letting you know our favorite tip for exploring an area: Ask the locals. Everywhere.You.Go.
We play this game with our servers, the shop owners/retail workers, the hotel concierge, and the shuttle bus drivers.
You can’t come to Kansas City and NOT do _______________________________.
The hands-down best Barbecue in Kansas City is _________________________________.
The place to see live jazz in K.C. is _______________________________________.
My favorite go-to restaurant (overall) is _______________________________________.
To Good Eats & Cocktails to Drink,
ACTIONABLE STEP: Explore Kansas City virtually by checking out the trip advisor restaurant reviews – OR – if you have a next spot on your radar, check out the restaurants of that locale ahead of time. You may be able to go in the near future, you may not be able to, but half of the fun is in the planning and the browsing. The next time you have a free weekend, you’ll already have an idea tucked away for just the right occasion.