What does summer in Kansas City taste like?
To us, it’s a smoky burnt ends sandwich dripping with sauce. A BLT topped with crisp bacon and ripe red tomatoes. A S’mores sundae garnished with crumbled graham crackers and torched marshmallow. In other words: crazy delicious.
Ink’s 2016 Spring/Summer Dining Guide is designed to whet your appetite for Kansas City’s food scene. It features 50 mouthwatering dishes, from sweet crème brûlée French toast to savory burgers, fish tacos and banh mi sandwiches. Many were recommended by readers.
Hungry for more? We also have a roundup of 54 new restaurants that includes fried chicken joints, ramen shops and food trucks. Consider it a travel guide for your taste buds.
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Prime rib French dip at Summit Grill & Bar
When Tom Kennedy of Lee’s Summit wants to impress out-of-town guests, he takes them to Summit Grill & Bar for “a 5-star meal at a reasonable cost.” Kennedy’s top menu picks include the pot roast nachos ($9.95), loaded with cheese, peppers and onions, and the prime rib French dip. The hearty sandwich, which costs $14.95 at lunch and $15.95 at dinner, features slow-roasted beef on a fresh hoagie roll with horseradish cream and a side of au jus. It’s “the best in town,” Kennedy says.
Cinnamon roll at Bloom Baking Co.
At the City Market’s Bloom Baking Co., 15 E. Third St., the oversized cinnamon rolls have the soft, flaky texture of a croissant. The rolls cost $3.95 each and are made with layered Danish dough. The rolls are so light and sweet, they practically melt in your mouth. The best part: They won’t weigh you down during your Saturday morning market run.
Pastrami and Swiss sub at D’Bronx
Every year, D’Bronx Authentic Deli and Pizzeria sells 5,000 pounds of pastrami, spiced and smoked beef supplied by Detroit’s Sy Ginsberg Gold Label Pastrami. The heavily marbled, paper-thin slices burst with flavor on the pastrami and Swiss sub ($8.50), a crusty roll layered with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, black olives and balsamic vinaigrette. D’Bronx has locations at 3904 Bell St., 2450 Grand Blvd. #124 in Crown Center, 7070 W. 105th St. in Overland Park and 6846 Johnson Drive in Mission.
Crabcakes at the Grille at Park Place
All too often, crabcakes contain more crumbs than crab. But at the Grille at Park Place, an upscale restaurant at 5270 W. 116th Place in Leawood, the jumbo lump crabcakes don’t skimp on the good stuff. The golden, pan-seared patties are loaded with large, juicy hunks of meat and contain just enough filler to keep the cakes together. The $28 entree is large enough to share and comes with house-made remoulade and two sides. Options include house-cut fries and gourmet mac and cheese made with a blend of smoked Gouda, Gruyere and Parmesan.
Arepas at El Porton Cafe
Jose Garcia grew up in Venezuela eating arepas, flat corn cakes split in half and stuffed with savory ingredients such as roasted pork, shredded beef, sweet plantains and queso fresco. He serves the South American specialty with pride at El Porton Cafe, which has locations at 4671 Indian Creek Parkway in Overland Park and 240 E. Linwood Blvd. in Kansas City. Standouts include De Pabellon ($6), overflowing with spicy shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and salty cotija cheese, and the Reina Pepiada ($6), stuffed with creamy chicken salad and avocado. Vegetarians might prefer De Guasacaca ($6), loaded with guacamole, pico de gallo and sliced queso fresco.
Kalifornia Cobb salad at T. Loft
Going gluten-free? Put T. Loft on your list. The health cafe offers a menu that’s 100 percent gluten-free. Options range from fresh-pressed juice blends to Nutella-flavored protein balls and portable salads. For a light yet satisfying lunch, try the Kalifornia Cobb ($8), a kale and spinach salad that packs 22 grams of protein. On top of the greens: turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese and honey mustard. T. Loft has locations at 8025 State Line Road and 200 W. 47th St. in Kansas City, 5225 W. 116th Place in Leawood and 4801 Bauer Farm Drive in Lawrence.
Monster Burger at KC Smoke Burgers
Andrew Corrao of Gladstone says KC Smoke Burgers, 1610 W. 39th St., serves “the best burger in KC, hands down. And I know my burgers.” The midtown burger joint forms patties out of Angus beef. They’re flame-grilled, smoked and served on a bun branded with a “KC” logo. Corrao typically keeps it classic by ordering the double cheese ($10.99), which comes with seasoned fries on the side. He also recommends the $13.99 Monster Burger “if you want to be full for days.” The Monster lives up to its name, with three juicy patties, five slices of cheese and seven slices of bacon. We’re scared, too.
Fried gizzards at Go Chicken Go
Any regular at the KCK-based fast food chain Go Chicken Go will tell you their go-to order is gizzards and G-sauce. The crispy nuggets are tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and completely addictive when dipped in the sweet and spicy red sauce.
“Our gizzards are like dry-aged steak,” says owner Alex Lowe. Go Chicken Go has locations at 59 N. Seventh St., 8017 State Ave. and 4111 Shawnee Drive in KCK, 1000 S. Harrison St. in Olathe and 5101 Troost in Kansas City.
Cold-pressed juice at Simple Science Juices
Convenience stores are typically associated with unhealthy foods such as soda and potato chips, but Simple Science Juices puts a healthy twist on the grab-and-go model with organic salads, paleo protein bites and cold-pressed juice in a rainbow of flavors.
The juice is made by grinding produce into pulp, then pressing the pulp to extract the liquid. Try the best-selling Calcify ($5 for an 8-ounce bottle or $8.50 for a 16-ounce bottle), a creamy green juice made with celery, apple, spinach, cilantro, dandelion greens, avocado and lemon.
Simple Science Juices has locations at 8126 Floyd St. in Overland Park and 1914 Main St. in the Crossroads Arts District.
Chung King spicy beef at Szechuan Dynasty
China’s Sichuan province is known for its bold and spicy cuisine, which incorporates lots of garlic, chili peppers and tongue-tingling Sichuan pepper. You’ll find those same flavors at Szechuan Dynasty, a Chinese restaurant at 11942 S. Strang Line Road in Olathe that makes a mean — as in, brutal to timid taste buds — Chung King spicy beef ($11.95). The entree consists of peppers, onions and other vegetables sauteed with strips of beef coated in crushed peppercorns and chili flakes. If you’re not sweating profusely after the third bite, you’re not doing it right.
Avocado toast at the French Bee Bakery
The glass case at Parkville’s French Bee Bakery is a feast for the eyes, with thick lemon bars, puffy vanilla scones and pastel macarons in flavors such as green tea-pomegranate. The bakery, in a bungalow at 404 East St., also serves appealing lunch specials such as avocado toast ($8.25), sliced French bread topped with mashed ripe avocado, sliced eggs, black pepper and chia seeds. The best part is the house-baked bread, with its delicate, crusty exterior and pillow-soft interior.
Sausage roll at Pie Hole
Kansas City’s Pie Hole food truck recently added a savory sausage roll to its menu of Australian meat pies. The Pistol is made by baking fennel-flecked ground pork cooked with onions, celery and carrots inside buttery, flaky puff pastry. It’s $3, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. To find out where Pie Hole parks next, check out the calendar at pieholekc.com.
Sweet Cheeses burger at Red Door Woodfired Grill
“Cheeseburger” doesn’t begin to describe the Sweet Cheeses burger at Red Door Woodfired Grill, 11851 Roe Ave. in Leawood. The $12 burger overflows with melty Swiss, aged cheddar, double-smoked bacon, Sriracha mayo and (wait for it) a fried cheese fritter. But the star of the show is the juicy burger patty, a custom blend of brisket, short rib and chuck tenderloin from McGonigle’s Market grilled over flaming logs. Want a deal? Go to Red Door on a Monday, when the Sweet Cheeses and other gourmet burgers are $8.
Baked Hamachi Roll at Bob Wasabi Kitchen
If you like loaded sushi rolls, look no further than the Baked Hamachi Roll at Bob Wasabi Kitchen, 1726 W. 39th St. The $16 stunner starts with a classic California roll — cucumber, avocado and crab wrapped in sticky rice and nori, or seaweed sheets. The roll is wrapped with hamachi, or yellowtail, and topped with plump seared scallops, scallions and tobiko, or flying fish eggs. It’s satisfying enough to split, but why would you want to?
Veggie Philly at Grinders
Grinders serves Philly cheesesteaks like the ones served up by the City of Brotherly Love — steak, grilled onions, green peppers, banana peppers, mushrooms and, of course, Cheez Whiz. Carley McGinnis of Kansas City vouches for the vegetarian version, a traditional Amoroso’s roll loaded with grilled green peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and a molten layer of cream cheese. The meat-free sandwich costs $9.25 for a whole or $5.75 for a half. Grinders has locations at 417 E. 18th St. and 10240 Pflumm Road in Lenexa.
Brussels sprouts salad at RND Corner Grille
It’s not easy to make raw Brussels sprouts lust-worthy, but RND Corner Grille manages to do just that with its Brussels sprouts salad ($9).
The new restaurant at 801 Massachusetts St. in downtown Lawrence makes the springy salad by mixing shredded sprouts with spicy arugula, crunchy pecans, tart dried cherries and creamy gobs of goat cheese. A drizzle of rich, nutty brown butter ties it all together.
The salad is large enough to split, and even more filling when you add a fillet of seared salmon for $7.
Strawberry knots at Munchers Bakery
In Lawrence, doughnuts are synonymous with Munchers Bakery, a no-frills sweet shop at 925 Iowa St. that’s open 24 hours a day. Munchers is known for its mini orange rolls (45 cents each) and an impressive array of doughnuts that includes blueberry fritters, long johns and strawberry knots. The pale pink knots, which cost 95 cents each, are delightfully fruity and fluffy, with sweet glaze coating every curve.
Pig pie at Mr. Bacon BBQ
At Mr. Bacon BBQ, a hole-in-the-wall smokehouse at 846 Illinois in Lawrence, the small menu changes daily. But you can always count on the Pig Pie ($6.99), a customer favorite that tops Fritos corn chips with pulled pork, barbecue beans, shredded cheese and cole slaw.
“It’s the ultimate stoner food,” says owner Jeff Frye.
The best part of the Pig Pie might be the light and crunchy slaw, made in-house with cabbage, red peppers and carrots dressed lightly with oil and vinegar.
Grilled cheese sandwich at Best Regards Bakery & Cafe
Best Regards Bakery & Cafe, 6759 W. 119th St. in Overland Park, is famous for grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread. Customers choose from six varieties — French country, rosemary, whole wheat, Asiago cheese, marble rye and Udi’s gluten-free. They also have their pick of 20 cheeses and add-ons such as avocado and Black Forest ham. You can’t go wrong with the Espinaca sandwich ($6.49), stuffed with four cheeses (Havarti, pepper jack, cream cheese and Provel) plus sauteed onions, diced tomatoes and fresh spinach. With a cup of San Marzano tomato soup ($2.50), it’s lunch, perfected.
Burnt end sandwich at McGonigle’s Market
Before food trucks were trendy, McGonigle’s Market had “McGoo Q,” a trailer in front of the meat market that served hickory-smoked meats. The tradition continues at McGonigle’s, 1307 W. 79th St. If you’re a McGoo newbie, here’s how it works: Customers order and pay inside, then pick up their ’cue at the trailer and grab a seat at a picnic table. One of the best-selling sandwiches is the house-made Italian sausage ($5.99), but Joel Thorman of Kansas City can’t get enough of the burnt ends sandwich, which costs $6.99 and is available only Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Crème brûlée French toast at Tavern at Mission Farms
When you’re in the mood for a decadent brunch, it doesn’t get much sweeter than crème brûlée French toast ($9) at Tavern at Mission Farms, 10681 Mission Road in Leawood. The sweet entree is made by saturating thick slices of Texas toast in custard-like batter, then searing both sides until they’re golden. With sweet maple syrup and smoky bacon, it’s heaven on a plate. Crème brûlée French toast is served during brunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday) at Tavern at Mission Farms and its sister restaurant, Tavern in the Village, 3901 Prairie Lane in Prairie Village.
Triple P sandwich at Woodyard Bar-B-Que
Pork lovers, Woodyard Bar-B-Que has a sandwich just for you. The secluded smokehouse at 3001 Merriam Lane in KCK makes its Triple P ($9.95) by stacking a soft white bun with smoky pulled pork, ham and crispy bacon slices. Melted provolone cheese melds it all together. The tall sandwich comes with a side of beans, coleslaw or crispy shoestring-style fries, and pairs perfectly with a cold can of PBR.
S’mores sundae at Betty Rae’s
When you’re nowhere near a campfire, the next best thing to roasted S’mores is the S’mores sundae at Betty Rae’s, 7140 Wornall Road in Waldo. The sundae ($5.50) is made by topping two scoops of house-made ice cream (in any flavor) with crumbled graham crackers, hot fudge and marshmallows. The server uses a hand torch to scorch the marshmallows, which gives them that roasty, toasty campfire flavor. Not sure which ice cream flavor(s) to pick? Go for one scoop of peanut butter and one scoop of cinnamon. You won’t be disappointed.
Saratoga club sandwich at Genessee Royale Bistro
Club sandwiches can be a little, well … basic. But the one served by Genessee Royale Bistro, 1531 Genessee St. in the West Bottoms, is anything but. The Saratoga Club ($12) layers toast with creamy house-made chicken salad, lettuce, tomato, thick and smoky bacon, zesty mayonnaise and crumbled potato chips, which add a nice crunch. The impressive sandwich is served in a stack next to a small salad. Order a side of super-crispy fries ($5) for the table if you know what’s good for you.
Ice cream at Decade
Decade, a neighborhood coffee bar in east Lawrence, is known for pour-overs and espresso. But the shop at 920 Delaware St. has slowly been expanding its offerings by adding cocktails, snacks and house-made ice cream. The ice cream flavors rotate often and range from classics such as whole bean vanilla and Dominican chocolate to adventurous mashups such as orange coriander and lavender lemon. Decade usually offers a vegan scoop, too: If they have it, try the avocado-coconut, which is luxuriously creamy without cream. A single large scoop costs $4; a sampler of five smaller scoops costs $7.
Forty-Ten burger at Green Room Burgers & Beer
Green Room Burgers & Beer’s spring menu features 13 burgers, from classic diner-style to gourmet versions with toppings such as goat cheese, horseradish pickles and balsamic aioli. Kansas City rapper Greg Enemy’s go-to is the Forty-Ten ($11): two beef patties adorned with fresh avocado, bacon, American cheese, Dijon mustard and grilled jalapenos for a spicy kick. Green Room is at 4010 Pennsylvania in Westport.
Mini tacos at Zócalo
Searching for a summery happy hour spot on the Plaza? Zócalo, a modern Mexican restaurant at 620 W. 48th St., offers mid-day deals from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The happy hour menu features $4.50 margaritas, $3 16-ounce Bud Light cans and $2 chips and salsa. Hungry for more? Try the mini tacos, which come in five fillings. The Pescado San Diego mini tacos ($6 for three) are an ideal summer snack made by layering soft corn tortillas with Pacifico beer-battered white fish, spicy habanero slaw and cool avocado. If only there were a beach nearby.
Señor Chang sandwich at the Bite
When KiShawn Mack is in the City Market, she makes a beeline for the Bite, 23 E. Third St., a chef-driven sandwich shop that also serves Mexican specialties such as tamales and pozole, a hominy stew. Mack, who lives in Kansas City, is all about the Señor Chang ($9), a signature sandwich stuffed with tender, slow-roasted beef short ribs, queso fresco, candied jalapenos, pickled onions, radish and cilantro. A smear of Sriracha crema adds nice spice — because Sriracha makes everything more delicious, right?
Thai ‘Noodle’ Salad at Houlihan’s
Cutting carbs during swimsuit season? You can still indulge in “pasta” at Houlihan’s, which serves a wildly popular salad made with spiralized zucchini noodles, or zoodles. The Thai “Noodle” Salad ($13.95) overflows with color and flavor. It swirls spiralized zucchini with mango, red pepper, snow peas, tri-color quinoa, fresh basil, mint and almonds. The spicy Sriracha peanut sauce makes the whole mix taste like really good pad thai. Houlihan’s has locations in Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, Fairway, Leawood, Overland Park and Olathe.
Spicy Szechuan lettuce wraps at the J Bar
Asian fusion is the theme of the menu at the J Bar, a “gastro bar” inside the new Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel at 10401 S. Ridgeview Road in Olathe. The J Bar, a sleek space that exudes a club-like vibe at night, serves cheesesteak egg rolls, Korean pork burgers and miso chili wings. If you’re sipping your way through the cocktail menu, try the delightfully light spicy Szechuan lettuce wraps ($9) — tender butter lettuce leaves filled with stir-fried chicken, hunks of Chinese sausage and pickled veggies.
Berry Strong shake at Ruby Jean’s Juicery
It’s impossible to leave Ruby Jean’s Juicery in a bad mood. The juice and health food cafe at 4001 Broadway is filled with light and citrus colors, and the juice blends make you feel like Popeye after he has had his spinach. If you’re coming from a workout, check out the “performance shakes” section of the menu. The Berry Strong shake ($7) is a powerful mix of protein powder, strawberries, blueberries, mango, green apple, Greek yogurt and coconut milk. A splash of orange juice and agave nectar add a touch of sweetness. It’s a satisfying drink that gives back: Ruby Jean’s donates 10 percent of proceeds from Berry Strong shakes to cancer research.
Coconut crème brûlée at Torched Goodness
It’s hard to top crème brûlée — rich custard with a shell of hard, sweet caramel. Thanks to Torched Goodness, a local food truck, you don’t have to go to a fine-dining restaurant to indulge in the decadent dessert. Torched Goodness serves several torched-to-order flavors, from traditional vanilla ($4) to coconut ($5), sea salt-caramel custard topped with toasted coconut flakes and drizzled with caramel. For location updates, follow Torched Goodness on Facebook.
Pea ravioli at Westport Cafe and Bar
For reader Andrea Garcia of Kansas City, bar food doesn’t get better than pea ravioli from Westport Cafe and Bar, 419 Westport Road. The hors d’oeuvres features house-made pockets of pasta filled with delicately sweet pea filling. The ravioli are adorned with shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of lemon-infused brown butter.
The vegetarian-friendly ravioli costs $12 at dinner but is discounted to $6 during happy hour, daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close. Garcia says she loves “how fresh and light it is.”
“Also, it’s a smaller portion so you don’t feel heavy after eating it.”
Q’Banh Mi at Plantain District
In Kansas City, Cuban fusion food is something you can find only at Plantain District, a food truck that serves Cuban sandwiches alongside Hawaiian-style barbecue sliders and a Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich called the Q’Banh Mi. The colorful $8 sandwich features a whole-wheat hoagie layered with ground beef, a touch of Vietnamese caramel (sounds weird, tastes great), serrano-Sriracha mayo, carrots, cucumbers and pickled veggies. Fresh Thai basil and cilantro add fresh-picked flavor. Order one with a side of plantain chips ($2) and you’ve got yourself a meal on the go. For location updates, follow Plantain District on Facebook.
Steak Oscar at Carmen’s Cafe
Have a big appetite for surf and turf? Head to Carmen’s Cafe, an Italian and tapas restaurant at 6307 Brookside Plaza, and request the Steak Oscar. The $29 entree is quite the catch: Picture two charbroiled beef medallions topped with shrimp and scallops in a garlic cream sauce. The meal comes with asparagus, a house salad and mostaccioli pasta in red sauce. According to reader Eric Ford of Leawood, it’s well worth the splurge.
“The beef medallions are always cooked perfectly, with a tiny amount of char,” he says.
Ford also recommends Carmen’s Cafe’s Gambas ala Plancha, a $9 appetizer of bacon-wrapped, charboiled shrimp served with spicy Diablo sauce.
Breakfast pizza at Clock Tower Bakery
British fare such as cottage pie and sausage rolls is the specialty at Clock Tower Bakery, a cozy cafe at 7911 Santa Fe Drive in downtown Overland Park. But owner Teresa Gebbett also makes delicious pizza from scratch. The customer favorite is the breakfast pizza ($7.95), which tops a soft and chewy crust with scrambled eggs, ham, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Add grape tomatoes and red onions for an extra 25 cents.
The Whole Porkin’ Thing at Red Wattle
Earlier this month, while in Kansas City for his “Eat Your Science” tour, Food Network star Alton Brown stopped by the new Red Wattle food truck at 3014 Southwest Blvd. The retro aluminum RV anchors the new Little Piggy food truck hub and serves charcoal pit-roasted meats. Brown ordered everything on the menu, including the Whole Porkin’ Thing ($8.50), a whopper of a sandwich that stuffs thick slabs of Farm to Market ciabatta bread with crispy shredded local pork, fried shallots, house-made chimichurri and buttermilk aioli. After taking a bite of the sandwich — which demands two hands and a fistful of napkins — the generally loquacious Brown had only two words to say: “Oh my.”
BLT at You Say Tomato
If summer had an official sandwich, it would be the BLT. You Say Tomato, 2801 Holmes St., builds beautiful BLTs ($7.95) from four kinds of bread: white, wheat, rye and sourdough, the customer favorite. The bread is toasted to order and loaded with a gloriously excessive number of extra-crispy bacon strips and wheels of salt-and-peppered tomato. The neighborhood cafe and market also sells bread and tomatoes to go.
Crab and black bean quesadilla at Cocobolos
The open-air bar at Cocobolos, 5621 W. 135th St. in Overland Park, is a great place to sip on a cocktail that ends with the letter “a” — as in, margarita, sangria and paloma. The perfect spicy accompaniment to those drinks is a crab and black bean quesadilla ($12, or $6 during happy hour), a flour tortilla folded over crab meat, black bean salsa and Monterey Jack cheese. The quesadilla is grilled until it’s crispy on the outside and served with jalapeno-ranch dip. Adios, hunger.
Fettuccine porcini at Cupini’s
Emily Dye spends most of the year in Manhattan at Kansas State University, but when she’s back home in Kansas City, you can find her at Cupini’s, 1809 Westport Road. It’s “a no-brainer for Italian cuisine,” she says. Her go-to order: Fettuccine porcini ($9.99), fresh pasta in a light cream sauce with onions, prosciutto, earthy porcini mushrooms and plenty of black pepper. She ends most meals at Cupini’s on a sweet note with zuccotto ($4.59), a domed dessert cake swirled with raspberry and spiked with Grand Marnier orange liqueur. That’s amore.
Pupusas at Anita’s Cuisine
When Ana Iris Rodas was growing up in El Salvador, she loved helping her grandmother prepare pupusas — thick, handmade corn tortillas stuffed with melting cheese, beans or shredded pork. Rodas carries on her family tradition at Anita’s Cuisine, the six-booth restaurant she opened at 5816 Merriam Drive in Merriam last summer. The plate-sized pupusas cost $2.25 each and are served hot with a side of curtido, a slaw made of carrots, cabbage and onions.
Pappardelle at Grand Street Cafe
Grand Street Cafe’s corporate executive chef Aaron Wells-Morgan is passionate about fresh pasta. You can tell by the deliciously addictive pappardelle ($16 at lunch or $19 at dinner), which consists of thick, soft ribbons of house-made pasta tangled with zucchini in a citrusy tomato sauce. Lemony ricotta, fresh basil and plump sauteed shrimp top off the perfect pappardelle, which is available at Grand Street Cafe at 4740 Grand Ave. in Kansas City and 8815 Renner Blvd. in Lenexa.
Laguna Krab wrap at Longboards Wraps & Bowls
Longboards, a locally owned chain known for its surf shack vibe and adventurous burrito-style wraps, is one of Sarah Soderlund’s favorite places to visit when she’s back home in the KC area. The Minneapolis-based forensic psychologist is crazy for the Laguna Krab wrap ($6.59), a cold deli-style wrap that stuffs a spinach tortilla with imitation crab, pepperjack cheese, guacamole, olives, pico de gallo, lettuce and sweet and spicy sauce. Like a lot of wraps on Longboards’ menu, the combo of ingredients sounds strange until you try it. Longboards has locations at 6269 N. Oak Trafficway, 1173 W. Kansas St. in Liberty and 5415 Johnson Drive in Mission.
Salade de Saumon Fume at Cafe Des Amis
If you find yourself in downtown Parkville, scale the narrow wooden staircase that leads to Cafe Des Amis, a charming French bistro on the second floor of a 172-year-old building at 112 1/2 Main St. The restaurant serves gorgeously plated food such as the Salade de Saumon Fume ($10.50), a salad topped with salmon that’s cold-smoked in-house over smoldering beechwood and rosemary. The salad is almost too pretty to eat: Picture pink slices of soft, smoky fish draped over bright baby greens and garnished with a lemon cut in a geometric tulip shape.
Pig wings at the Standard Pour
The pig wings at the Standard Pour will make you believe that pigs can, in fact, fly. The gastropub at 1511 Westport Road serves the trio of pork shanks lollipop-style. The pig wings ($14) are coated in a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce and sprinkled with fresh cilantro leaves. Pat Mullin of Overland Park raves about them: “Those wings,” he says. “Oh man, those wings.”
Dumplings at O Cafe
Looking for delicious dumplings? You’ll find them at O Cafe, a Korean restaurant in a strip mall at 1530 W. Sixth St. in Lawrence.
O Cafe’s veggie-filled dumplings are served steamed or fried. They’re plated in a fan shape around a crimson stack of spicy cabbage slaw sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions. The steamed dumplings are pillow-soft and packed with flavor, especially when you pile on the tongue-tingling slaw. Four dumplings cost $6.95; six cost $8.95.
Other menu standouts include Jap Chae ($9.95), sweet potato noodles with spinach, carrots, onions and mushrooms, and fried beef noodles ($10.95), a hearty stir-fry with beef, onions and cabbage.
Lucky Elixir kombucha at Unbakery and Juicery
In 2015, Amy Goldman and Sean Galloway set out to open a brewery and bakery called the Brewkery. Then they fell in love with kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea that’s easy to brew and even easier to drink on a hot summer day. Their Lucky Elixir kombucha hit stores this spring and comes in four flavors: ginger-lime, spiced, aroniaberry and citrus hop, which is infused with the same citra hops used in IPAs. You can buy 12-ounce bottles of Lucky Elixir for $3.99 at Unbakery and Juicery, 634 E. 63rd St., and several other local health food stores.
Thai chicken pizza at Classic Cup Cafe
One of the best patios in Kansas City is outside Classic Cup Cafe, 301 W. 47th St. There, you can sip sweet and fruity sangria while drinking in the beautiful Plaza views. Hungry for an app? Get the Thai chicken pizza ($12 at dinner), a baked-to-order pie that’s perfect for sharing. The warm disk of fresh bread is dressed lightly with peanut sauce, shredded carrots, chicken, scallions and melted mozzarella. It’s substantial, yet light — so you’ll still have room for a second glass of sangria.
Flavor Burst at Dips & Sips
At Dips & Sips, an old-school scoop shop in downtown Mission, regulars are all about the Flavor Burst — vanilla soft serve swirled with one of eight flavors that include chocolate, strawberry and butterscotch. Flavor Bursts cost $1.50 to $2.50 depending on the size, and are served in a cup or cone. The butterscotch version tastes like a sundae, but is way easier to eat while strolling down one of Johnson Drive’s freshly paved sidewalks.
Strawberry shortcake sundae at Andy’s Frozen Custard
Andy’s Frozen Custard is celebrating summer with a strawberry shortcake sundae ($4.89) that’s available for a limited time. The sundae starts with house-baked shortcake. Fresh frozen vanilla custard — churned hourly at Andy’s — goes on top with a scoop of ripe, red strawberries. Customers can substitute blueberries. Andy’s has custard shops at 1200 Westport Road, 598 N.E. Missouri 291 in Lee’s Summit and 1000 N.W. Missouri 7 in Blue Springs.