I guess you could say that Columbus Park is my true home in Kansas City.
By LOU JANE TEMPLE
I lived there for 17 years, and though I’ve been gone from there more than a decade, when I drive down Fifth Street, heading east from the Rivermarket, I feel the familiar, sad, exciting twinges of great memories.
Columbus Park has always been the first stop of immigrants arriving in Kansas City.
It was an Irish neighborhood at the turn of the last century, turning into an Italian neighborhood, then, Vietnamese called it home. It is a melting pot. And the restaurants reflect this in the nicest way.
Go to Columbus Park and eat your way through Kansas City history. And think of me at the corner of Fifth and Campbell streets.
(526 Harrison Street, 816- 221-2455)
No place reflects the Italian-American menu in the Midwest better than Garozzo’s. Mike Garrozzo is a St. Louis native and in 1989, opened this restaurant that mirrored “The Hill” across the state. There are now several Garozzo’s outposts around town, but you’ll want to go to this one. It will take you back in time.
(549 Gillis Street, 816-471-3663)
When I lived in the neighborhood, this location was the home of Chee-Bay’s, a sundry where you could get a pint of bourbon from Cheebay, the owner, and probably place a bet on a sporting event. The street is even named Chee-Bay Way. Now it is the uber-cool Happy Gillis, a breakfast and lunch hang out. It is known for its soups, such as watermelon-tomato gazpacho and sweet corn-potato. Sandwiches like a black bean burger or a tuna white bean salad with lettuce and tomato on nine-grain bread rotate on the menu. There is a soup-to-go outlet next door, The Uncommon Stock.
Kim Long Asian Market and Restaurant
(511 Cherry Street, 816-221-8892)
511 Cherry Street was, for many years, the home of Jenny’s, an iconic Italian restaurant with a real Jenny cooking. Now, in a reflection of the neighborhood, it is a large oriental market, with a café tucked inside. Get your fish sauce and have a bowl of Pho at the same spot.
(910 East Fifth Street, 816-421-2189)
The spirits of three generations of the LaSala family echo through this place. Once a small grocery store that sold sandwiches on the side, through the years it morphed into more prepared food and less groceries. Now, under new owners, it has become a deli/café. The Poor Boy and Rich Boy sandwich loaves still remain.
(538 Campbell Street, 816-569-3663)
And another Italian deli popped up a block or so away from LaSala’s. Very nicely appointed, with umbrella tables out front. Could we be in a cozy neighborhood in Sicily?
(522 Campbell Street, 816-472-4888)
Vietnam Cafe is one of my favorite places to eat in the whole city. And judging by the constant crowds, I am not alone. Pho, Bun, basil chicken, crispy sweet potatoes and shrimp, you name it and they have it for a very reasonable price. Try the Chef’s Salad. Viet food is low in fat and high in flavor. Perfect for 2013.
Lou Jane Temple’s road to food has been a long and winding one. First as a rock n roll caterer back stage to the stars, then with her own Kansas City based catering company, Cafe Lulu, food writing, novelist, private chef. Lou Jane has written and had published nine culinary mysteries and one cookbook. She recently moved back to Kansas City and eagerly awaits the next chapter of her food career.