Kansas City, Missouri! A town with deep roots, a diverse and proud cultural history, and no shortage of awesome stuff to see and do. We're very excited to be headed towards Kansas City for this coming weekend's Big Central Regional Barista Competition. Only problem is, we've never actually been there before. That's why we reached out to 2012 SCRBC finalist, Sprudge pal and Kansas City native Caitlin Corcoran, and asked her for a whole mess of suggestions to pass along to our readers. The results have us beyond stoked to be spending some quality time in the city they call KC MO. Read on for dining, drinking, coffee and BBQ suggestions for The City of Fountains, and be sure to check out this week's copy of The Pitch when you arrive in town.
Port Fonda (4141 Pennsylvania Ave) There's probably no more buzzed about contemporary restaurant (read: non-BBQ) in all of Kansas City, thanks to Port Fonda's modern take on Mexican comfort food and stunning interior design. Our suggestion resource Caitlin Corcoran is employed there, and she recommends the chilaquiles, the Port Fonda soup (sort of like a brothy pozole), the lengua tacos, and the Panza – pork belly with mole sauce and tortillas. Highly recommended for brunch!
The Rieger (1924 Main Street) Walking distance to the BCRBC venue, The Rieger is heartland new American food, with the same degree of seasonal obsessiveness you might find at cool new spots in Minneapolis, Portland, or Brooklyn. Think lots of meat, great veggies, and a dish called “The Butcher's Treat” – scrambled eggs and veal brains. This place got a big buzz bump from being one of the few non-BBQ spots featured in Anthony Bourdain's Kansas City “No Reservations” sojourn.
Extra Virgin (1900 Main Street) Also walking distance to the event venue, Extra Virgin is fancy casual Spanish. Ms. Corcoran shouts out EV's great happy hour, good Spanish wine, and excellent cocktail program – their head bartender recently took top honors at Speed Rack, the world's premiere all-female bartending competition (a very cool organization worth checking out).
Grünauer (101 West 22nd Street) Contemporary Austrian cuisine, with another great cocktail program and entire section on the menu for schnitzel. Does not look like a “Light Meal” by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're still bummed you didn't get to travel to Vienna for last year's WBC, maybe this place can help you find inner caloric peace.
Westport Cafe (419 Westport Road) Definitely a drive from the event space, but worth it for the late night happy hour, and serving food til 1. Get the mussels with blue cheese and bacon or the steak and pomme frites. Your classic pseudo-Franco American brasserie, the sort of restaurant every neighborhood should have.
Manifesto (1924 Main Street) Located in the basement of The Rieger, this is the other spot where Ms. Corcoran works. When Manifesto opened 5 years ago it was pretty much the first high-end cocktail bar in KC, and while there are now lots of newer options, they're arguable still doing it best down in the basement. Owner Ryan Maybee was recently named “Bartender of the Year” by Imbibe Magazine – we've been recommended the Smoke & Choke (smoked bourbon old fashioned) and The Emperor (a mezcal negroni). Reservations are suggested, and can be made by text by dialing 816-536-1325
Tannin Wine Bar (1526 Walnut St) This low-key wine bar is walking distance to the event space, and also offers fine cocktails. The food menu is definitely not an afterthought here, with local charcuterie from purveyors like The Local Pig, choice vegetarian and pescatarian options, and a $40 “Executive Burger” with foie gras, truffled crispy duck, and arugula. Yum.
Chez Charlie (3809 Broadway Street) A bit more on the divey side, and glorious for it, Chez Charlie is located at 38th and Broadway (there's no sign outside). They offer soul nights on Friday nights, good Dj's, and stay open until 1:30AM. This is a fun place to go hang out, mingle with locals, and enjoy a PBR and whiskey combo for $5
Oddly Correct (3934 Main Street) The official Saturday night party is going down here, but stop by for conventional service at some point during your weekend in KC. We think Oddly Correct is one of the best small coffee roasters in North America, and we can't wait to finally visit their shop. Highly recommended!
Little Freshie (811 W. 17th St) A quaint soda shop serving Oddly Correct via pour over, and offering up all manner of classic sodas, syrups made in house, and local boutiquey food stuffs to bring back home to your jealous loved ones. Caitlin Corcoran recommends the macaroons.
Parisi Coffee (710 West 24th Street) Along with Oddly Correct, Parisi is a leader in manual brewing methods in KC, and is widely considered one of the city's best local roasters. They also offer great tea selection, and the cafe itself is located Union Station, a gorgeous Second Empire / Gothic Revival building originally opened in 1914.
Latte Land (1201 Main Street) They've got six locations in KCMO, but spot on 12th and Main is close to the hotels were most BCRBC visitors are staying. Latte Land serves Kaldi's Coffee, and they do a great job with it by all accounts. Lots of folks in the KCMO coffee scene have worked for them over the years.
One More Cup (7408 Wornall Road) A little ways south, One More Cup is strongly focused on organic offerings. Our soruce called them “a quaint little shop”, serving coffees from Oddly Correct and The Roastrie, another native KC roasting company with deep roots in the region's coffee community. Pro tip: One More Cup is right near a good cocktail called Remedy (500 West 75th Street) – make your trip a two'fer.
Kansas City-style barbecue is a science, a religion, a passion, an alchemy, and a non-ironic no-joke source of regional pride for folks who call this city home. If you visit KCMO and you don't eat BBQ, you're doing it wrong. There's SO many great spots to choose from, but here's 5 our expert local offered up for starters.
Arthur Bryant's (1727 Brooklyn Avenue) – The most famous, perhaps over-hyped, but also totally worth visiting. Caitlin recommends the Burnt ends and brisket. Arthur Bryant's location at 16th & Brooklyn space is close to the event – just 5 blocks east! You can also bring us back some of this for lunch.
Gates BBQ (1221 Brooklyn Avenue) Also totally world famous, Gates BBQ is a favorite for locals and pilgrims alike. Quite easy to get to from the convention center, maybe 5 minutes drive time top. If you're going with a group, get the mixed plate, but the “beef on bun” is also very popular. A favorite.
Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue (101 West 22nd Street) Maybe a little bit “fancier” in terms of decor and service, Jack's Stack is kind of divisive. Catlin Corcoran is not a huge fan, but go look online and you will read like, love-lorn mash notes to this place. Caitlin does think they have really good sides -“the cheesy corn is a must” – plus lamb ribs, which most places in KC don't do, but these guys do to perfection.
L C's Bar-B-Q (5800 Blue Parkway) – Pretty far away from the event, and by all accounts in a somewhat “rough” neighborhood, but people just go bananas on the internet over this place. We'll definitely be making the trip for burnt ends and ribs. Beloved by locals and worth the schlep. (Are we allowed to use yiddish slang in a pork review?)
Oklahoma Joe's (3002 West 47th Avenue) Also featured in Bourdain's show, Oklahoma Joe's is fun and crazy busy, often with a line out the door, so consider calling in your order. The “Z Man” sandwich is famous – chopped beef brisket, sauce, provolone and two onion rings – and the Carolina pulled pork comes recommended.
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