Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Sam Mellinger's Big 12 Tournament bar and restaurant guide 3.0 (or so)

03/13/2014 9:38 AM

03/13/2014 10:34 AM

Like we talked about the other day

, we don’t count the play-in games around here so Happy First Day Of The Big 12 Tournament.

This is Kansas City’s best week of sports — even without Mizzou, though I wish there was a way to get a one-week exemption for their SEC membership — and if you’re downtown for the games you can’t really screw it up.

But you can enhance the experience.

Here, then, is DKTM’s annual^ Bar and Restaurant Guide, updated for a world in which

Justin Bieber gives no effs

.

^ Sort of, anyway. We did this once, then updated it at least once. So this is DKTM Guide 3.0 or maybe 4.0. Our record-keeping leaves something to be desired.

The world’s best chicken wings are served in a hard-to-find bar in a quiet part of downtown. I’ve taken friends who’ve felt the need to wipe off the table before we eat. The service is as friendly as it is slow, but even if they were jerks it’d be worth it to eat their delicious and enormous chicken wings, dipped in their insanely perfect blue cheese, washed down with cold beer and also fantastic B.L.T.s and chili cheese fries.

You know, if you’re

really

 hungry.

If you’ve lived in Kansas City a while — or, hell, if you just read this blog a lot — you know I’m talking about

the Peanut

.

There are dozens more places like this, hidden Kansas City gems that give this place part of its personality.

You probably know about the

College Basketball Experience, the Plaza, the Power and Light District^, the Nelson-Atkins, and even Garozzo’s and Kelly’s and, of course, a whole big bunch of delicious barbecue joints

.

All great places. All worth your time.

^ Normally, the P would never get an enthusiastic DKTM endorsement. Normally, this is where you go to watch bachelorette parties end in vomit or drunken frat boy d-bags or — true story, saw this with my own eyes one night — two consenting adults use a woman’s stiletto shoe for something very different than footwear.

But this week is different. Very different. Gloriously different. The P will be packed with Big 12 fans, a disproportionate number of them from Iowa, and it will be happy and fun and for the most part lubricated with the right amount of beer.

It’s just that you probably know all those spots. Hopefully there are a few in here you don’t. These are all downtown or a short drive/cab, and if I’m missing something, let me know in the comments

Beer with a screen: The Quaff will take care of you, though I’d urge you to check out the accurate portrayal on their website and go somewhere else if that’s not your thing. Food’s not great, but there’s a lot of (big) TVs, drinks come fast, and there’s an old-school pop-a-shot machine, pool tables, that kind of thing. If you’re in the P, Johnny’s has the best food and McFadden’s is he live-est atmosphere (plus pop-a-shot!). Duke’s is across Truman, if you’re looking for a Mizzou bar, and Minsky’s is a decent enough place in River Market. If you’re in Westport, you probably don’t need to be anywhere but Kelly’s (old, Iowa State hangout, a KC gem), McCoy’s, Harpo’s or Westport Ale House

.

Beer with a vibe: Harry’s Country Club is a very cool and old-school place with a terrific beer menu, knowledgeable bartenders, really good food and nice patio. Also try the Cashew for a cool drinking spot that leans yuppy. Rhythm and Booze

is worth a try, too.

Beer with a song: The best-kept secret in Kansas City might be the Phoenix, or I might just be saying that because it’s around the corner from where I sleep. Either way, live jazz every night, pretty good food, and cigars on the (heated) deck out back. Also try the Majestic for better and more expensive food, or the semi-famous Plaza III

for one of the best steaks you’ll ever have and live music on Saturdays.

Pizza: Caddyshack is a hidden gem, with a friendly staff, unpretentious feel, back deck (cigars!) and a fantastic pie. Pizza 51 is also very good, and The Other Place and Minsky’s

are worth a bite.

Mexican food: Go down Southwest Boulevard and pick a door. My favorite is El Patron, particularly the tacos and especially if it’s nice outside (good deck upstairs), but a logical case can be made for Manny’s or Ponak’s

.

Breakfast: The best Sunday brunch in town is at the Bristol brunch (they have EVERYTHING). The best regular breakfast is Room 39, including the best coffee in town. Succotash (pack an appetite) and Classic Cup

are also terrific.

Nice dinner: You will never be disappointed at Grand Street Cafe, a long-time Kansas City mainstay across the street from the Plaza. Also try Le Fou Frog or Osteria Il Centro, or Extra Virgin or La Bodega

for small plates if you have a good-sized group.

Late night hunger: The rule on 2 a.m. cravings is to eat whatever’s close, but if you can make it to Town Topic, you’ll give yourself the best chance at soaking up a night of fun with greasy burgers. Speaking of burgers, the best in town during normal human hours is Westport Flea Market.

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