Ink

City Guide: West 39th Street

Photos and Story by Katie Knight, Ink

Blue Koi's vegetable and noodle soup is a filing, vegan meal with cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and chunks of corn cob.
Blue Koi's vegetable and noodle soup is a filing, vegan meal with cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and chunks of corn cob. Ink

You can find a lot of things along West 39th Street — from bizarre and somewhat dark artwork tucked away in Noir Arts and Oddities, to steaming hot bowls of noodle soup from Blue Koi — but boredom isn’t one of them.

Frequently referred to as Restaurant Row, one of Kansas City’s most walkable dining and retail areas is sandwiched between two residential areas, with the University of Kansas Medical Center a few blocks to the west.

Each third Friday of the month, West 39th Street hosts an art walk, where shops and restaurants are open to showcase what’s new in this eclectic neighborhood.

eat

Aladdin Cafe

3903 Wyoming St.

With dishes spanning all of Mediterranean countries (Greek gyros, feta and olives; Middle Eastern curry chicken with carrots and potatoes; and Egyptian falafel and shawarma), Aladdin Cafe aims to provide a taste of authenticity. The decor lends itself to the worldly experience: Some walls are draped with multicolored Middle Eastern cloths, others are lined with sculptures of camels or Egyptian kings.

Blue Koi

1803 W. 39th St.

This upbeat, modern Asian restaurant has plenty of the classic dishes — such as chicken lettuce wraps and wonton soup — and some other unique dishes, including Chinese style pot roast. The restaurant itself is bright-colored and open, and a seat by the window is the best spot in the house. Beware: As delicious as the vegetable noodle soup may be, it comes in a bowl bigger than your face.

Miami Ice

1624 W. 39th St.

Miami Ice’s claim to fame is snow cones with a big, delicious twist. Instead of just shaved ice with syrup poured over it, Miami Ice starts with sweet vanilla custard and plops the “snow” right on top. Don’t be put off by the custard and fruity syrup combination — it’s exceedingly wonderful. If you’re not into the snow cones, they also have creamy homemade ice cream in such flavors as rocky road, cinnamon peach cobbler and peanut butter fusion.

shop

Shimmerwyck

1607 W. 39th St.

In the spot that used to be Cheap Chic, Shimmerwyck offers unusual accessories with an edgy, punk rock vibe. Think guitar pick earrings and chunky, spiked necklaces. If rocker girl isn’t your style, they also have boho chic pieces, including beaded necklaces and pretty, cloth flower broaches. All of their products are handmade locally.

Herb Garden Too

1607 W. 39th St.

Wedged between Dizzy Dames and Shimmerwyck jewelry, this charming shop could be easily missed if you aren’t looking for it. The shelves are filled from top to bottom with various herbs, spices and handmade jewelry and gifts, many of which incorporate milky pink or blue crystals. They also offer eye-reading services — similar to palm reading — and various books on holistic health.

Noir Arts and Oddities

1609 W. 39th St.

This spooky shop is stuffed with intentionally offbeat paintings and sculptures to catch your eye and suck you into the story. Shelves lined with antique black and white photographs, old baby-dolls with disconcerting faces and a few animals soaked in formaldehyde give Noir Arts and Oddities a creepy-but-cool edge. With new artists brought in every month, there’s always new materials to explore.

hang/play

Prospero’s Books

1800 W. 39th St.

A KC institution, Prospero’s shelves are lined from floor to ceiling with different kinds of used novels, magazines, almanacs, biographies and more. On the corner of 39th and Bell streets, the shop has both a basement and a newly finished upstairs lounge area, complete with couches, chairs and a kitchen spot.

Vinyl Renaissance

1415 W. 39th St.

Vinyl Renaissance provides a relaxed, rocker atmosphere for music lovers. One half of the store is dedicated solely to vinyl records ranging from classical to rock, with the other being stacked with CDs. The walls are lined with vintage Grateful Dead and Bob Marley posters, and other quirky items like a guitar-shaped lamp, created by Dan Leap. Two doors down, the store’s sister venue, the Sandbox, is a great hole-in-the-wall concert hall.

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City Guide provides an insider’s guide to eclectic neighborhoods. Join us to explore the best of Kansas City dining and shopping in a different area each month. Know some place we should feature? Email ideas to info@inkkc.com.

 

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