Meet for dinner and drinks where? You have got to be kidding.
Your friends moved to the suburbs, but they always drive back to your favorite spots in the Crossroads. Now they say you are meeting in Lee’s Summit.
No! Your heart races and breathing constricts. Surely there is nothing good to eat in Lee’s Summit. Drinks? Forget it. The vibe? Missing.
They insist and finally you give in. Against your better judgment you make the 30 minute drive south and east. Your breathing eases as you park along the cute, tree-lined old streets in downtown Lee’s Summit.
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People of all ages are everywhere, walking and enjoying the night. You don’t want to admit it, but it is cute and has an inviting draw, one that maybe your parents or grandparents would enjoy.
Surely this spot is not for you. But wait. There are groups of millennials racing into those doors. And they look very happy about it.
Are food and drinks hiding behind those antique storefronts? Are real, tasty, dare-we-say trendy nibbles, noshes, beers and cocktails lurking in this picture-perfect (think old and family-friendly) neighborhood?
You bet! Here are five food and drink surprises you will find in downtown Lee’s Summit. Plus, each is crammed with fun. The relaxing, friendly atmosphere may just compete with hipster bars in the Crossroads and keep you coming back to this suburb.
1. Happy hour time. Libations & Co. is a fantastic new shop that is worth a stop. It is a shop where you can explore upscale, artisan, small-batch spirits, especially those from the Kansas City area, buy a drink or a bottle and discover how to make your favorite cocktail. If you tell owner Seth Allen your favorite drink, he will make sure you have the knowledge and confidence, as well as the spirits, tools, glasses, bitters and supplies you need to make it at home.
While it’s not a full service bar, you can buy a shot, purchase a glass of classic liquor on the rocks or enjoy the daily featured cocktail Allen will soon be offering. Stop in before dinner, as it is open only until 7 p.m., and while there, ask about upcoming cocktail classes. Libations is at 23 S.E. Third St., and the beautiful décor and big leather chairs will entice you to come in, sit, relax and sip that drink.
If you want some quick culinary gifts, or even a piece of Christopher Elbow chocolate, run into A Thyme for Everything, a great little kitchen shop at 229B S.E. Main before it closes at 6 p.m. on Friday or 5 p.m. on Saturday.
2. Dinner choices. The gold standard for dinner in downtown Lee’s Summit is Third Street Social at 123 S.E. Third St., and it won’t disappoint. Freshly made and more-than-generous servings mean fantastic dining. Personal favorites include the fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, the meatloaf, chicken fried steak and pot pie. Come hungry.
Reservations are necessary for this chef-driven American restaurant. The bar is first-come, first-serve, so if you arrive without a reservation, check the bar and if you are lucky, grab a table.
But if you are on the hunt for an alternative, there are several local favorites to choose from. Smoke Brewing Co., 209 S.E. Main St., a microbrewery and barbecue gastropub, serves up craft beers and a full menu of smoked, competition-style barbecued meats. What more could you want?
Around the corner, at Bricks Pub & Grub, 18 S.E. Third St., you will discover a warm, easy feel that has the vibe of your favorite Crossroads hangout and serves burgers, Reubens, wings and a host of typical bar food.
3. Dessert. No matter where you eat, definitely stop at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House, 307 S.E. Douglas St. The tiny shop makes some of the best ice cream and frozen custard in all of the metro, so be sure to save room for dessert. You may have had a scoop unknowingly, as several Kansas City restaurants have discovered Poppy’s delicious homemade ice cream and serve it. The flavors change daily, but all are winners.
For those wanting espresso or coffee, Poppy’s has that, too. It is open until 10 p.m., so you have plenty of time for dessert.
4. Beer time. Fringe Beerworks brews its own beers and has many others from local and guest breweries on tap. This small, friendly spot even features a crowler, so you can seal a can of your favorite beer and take it with you. You will find Fringe Beerworks at 224 S.E. Douglas St.
5. Speakeasy time. If signature cocktails are more your thing, then The W can’t be beat. But even if you don’t typically order novel bourbon, whiskey, gin or other spirit-laced drinks, this mysterious speakeasy is so fun you won’t want to miss it.
The upscale bar, open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, is hidden up steep, narrow stairs behind an unmarked door, and reservations are required. The address, 6 1/2 S.E. Third St., reveals a wooden door, angled so it is just out of sight, where you will find a call button so you can ask permission to come in. Once inside, you will discover a small, dark, luxurious bar with an experienced bartender blending seasonal cocktails. Text 816-287-0000 for reservations.
Kathy Moore is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is “Delicious Dump Cakes.” Other recent books include “Slow Cooker Desserts, Oh So Easy, Oh So Delicious” and “The Newlywed Cookbook: Cooking Happily Ever After.” She develops the recipes for the Eating for Life column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of les Dames d’Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com