Country music fans are gearing up for Garth Brooks 2.0.
The country icon, who is following up a nine-show extravaganza here in 2007 with a seven-show stint over this weekend and the next, has sold more than 115,000 tickets. All those fans who will soon flood the streets may want to extend their party at some of the area’s more permanent attractions. For a list of can’t-miss KC spots and/or spots near the KC streetcar line, keep reading.
Part of Brooks’ appeal may derive from his down-to-earth nature. Music writer Timothy Finn recalled a meeting with Brooks in 2006, detailing the star’s friendliness and sincerity — “the kind of guy who looks you in the eyes as he shakes your hand.”
Aside from personality and persona, the music must pass a certain muster to become the all-time best-selling solo artist — a title Brooks holds, with more than 135 million albums sold in the U.S. alone.
And this weekend, he brings that prestige to the Sprint Center. If you’re new to the area or plenty familiar with it, the following spots should be on your radar.
▪ Burnt ends: — barbecue gold — are a quintessential Kansas City experience, cut from the pointed end of a brisket and then barbecued to their charry best. (Or cut after cooking. Chef’s choice.) Some places serving burnt ends within 7 miles of the Sprint Center: Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque on Brooklyn Avenue; Char Bar; Q39; Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue; Gates Bar-B-Q; Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Plowboys Barbeque.
▪ Beer: On this side of Missouri, we’re all about Boulevard Brewing Co., which was founded by John McDonald in 1989. Boulevard (now owned by Duvel Moortgat USA) is the largest craft brewer in the Midwest and a beloved KC brew. Biggest seller: Unfiltered Wheat. You can take a free public tour of the brewery, located less than 2 miles from Sprint Center; and the facility also has a visitor center and beer hall.
Several small craft breweries also dot downtown: try Double Shift Brewery, Border Brewing Co., Brewery Emperial and Torn Label Brewing Co. For one-stop variety, Flying Saucer and Yard House at the KC Power & Light district have huge selections on tap. Or you can try KC’s only self-pour bar at nearby Ruins Pub.
▪ Craft cocktails: If you’re more into old-fashioneds or mules, KC has plenty of those options nearby: Lifted Spirits, SoT, P.S. Speakeasy at Hotel Phillips, Manifesto at The Rieger, Tom’s Town Distilling Co. If you want to read more about our craft cocktail scene, check out this link.
▪ College Basketball Experience: You won’t need to drive to this one. The museum, located next door to the Sprint Center, offers a basketball “experience” in which fans work up a sweat by running, jumping and taking shots in interactive drills. Whether you’re a big kid or a little kid, this place will have you up and moving.
▪ Museums: The star of KC’s museum scene is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which recently opened a new gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist art donated by Henry Bloch, founder of H&R Block. Outdoors, the Nelson also houses the famous “Shuttlecocks” and a glass labyrinth. Nearby, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art recently opened an exhibit by contemporary artist Rashid Johnson.
▪ KC Streetcar: If you’ve got a minute, take a free ride on Kansas City’s streetcar, which has been a hit since it opened in May 2016. The streetcar runs for 2.2 miles on Main Street between Union Station and the River Market, which features a farmers market and several ethnic restaurants (Ethiopian, anyone?). Here’s a list of where to eat and drink and what to do along the line.
And speaking of the streetcar...
Last summer, shortly after the Kansas City streetcar opened to riders, The Star’s Jeneé Osterheldt wrote about her favorite places within walking distance of the light-rail route:
Opera House Coffee & Food Emporium
500 Walnut St.
If you begin your day at the start of the line in the City Market, make your first streetcar stop the Opera House Coffee & Food Emporium, where breakfast is served. Omelets, pancakes and all of the early-morning munchies await diners at this charming eatery. I’m all about the Belgian waffle ($5). It’s served with whipped cream, strawberries, butter and syrup. Simply good. I washed it down with with a Pineapple Power ($6) — pineapple, lemon and celery. I added kale. You can get lunch, dinner and all kinds of drinks, too. You pay before you eat, and you can literally see (and hear) the streetcar coming. It makes it easy to grab your stuff and go. OperaHouseKC.com
412 Delaware St.
The pizza is great all day, but the late-night happy hour is key. From 10 p.m. to close (1:30 a.m. every night except Sunday when they close at midnight) you can get 20 percent off drinks (the boccone dolce has strawberries and bubbles) and $6 margherita and marinara pizzas. Plus you can watch the Royals play and listen to Jay Z. It happens. IlLazzarone.org
Posh KC Blow Dry Bar
1211 Main St.
Sometimes you need to make a quick turnaround between play and more play. Maybe your outfit transitions from day to night, but your hair or makeup isn’t doing what you like. Posh has mastered the quick and fast braids, up-dos and blowouts. For the fellas, they do a $15 wash and style. Ladies in a rush, go with “the quickie.” They don’t wash your hair, but you can get a quick fishtail braid or something fun for $25. They offer makeup services too. Beauty-on-the-go is real. PoshKC.com
1610 Main St.
If you like your burgers big, round and juicy, enjoy the ride to Anton’s. It’s great for a business lunch, and if your pockets run deep, this grass-fed beef is cut to order in the restaurant’s butcher shop. (You’re welcome to buy your meat and take it home to cook, too.) I filled up on the huge house burger ($13) with sharp cheddar, pickled onion and bacon. Except I subbed the bacon for mushrooms. Why not? AntonsKC.com
1617 Main St
This sushi spot has one of the best happy hours downtown, but that’s not new. Let’s talk about the streetcar roll ($16): sweet, Kansas City-inspired sushi, rolled into a sticky rice streetcar of sorts. I’d call it abstract art. But whether you think it looks like our newest transit system or not, it tastes delicious, with tempura shrimp, jalapenos, cream cheese and eel sauce topped with a fatty white fish and peppers. I only shared one piece. Did I mention I heard En Vogue, Mariah Carey and Calloway? Yes, Calloway. As in the “I Wanna Be Rich” one-hit wonder. Next stop: ’90s. Love it. NaraKC.com
1911 Main St.
Everyone loves the brats-to-go at Affäre, but we all know I’m most fluent in brunch. And this German restaurant does it up right on the weekend. Bottomless mimosas for $10? Oh, yes. This is a perk of riding the streetcar — I can have more than one drink and safely enjoy the buzz all the way home, thanks to the free designated driver. A must-order: Kaiserschmarrn ($14). These chopped up pancakes are artfully plated with almonds, rum raisins and caramelized apples. It’s the Heidi Klum of brunch plates; I swear it works. AffareKC.com
Kathy Lu, Leah Becerra, Tim Engle and Jeneé Osterheldt contributed to this story.