Eat & Drink

Chefs know where the good values are for eating on the cheap

Chef  Jennifer Maloney of Cafe Sebastienne (left) shared a table and an order of Lucia’s  Restaurant tacos with owner Lucia Briggs last week in Independence.
Chef Jennifer Maloney of Cafe Sebastienne (left) shared a table and an order of Lucia’s Restaurant tacos with owner Lucia Briggs last week in Independence. SHANE KEYSER | THE KANSAS CITY STAR

There are no white tablecloths in Swagger. There are no sautéed veal sweetbread appetizers or thyme roasted diver scallop entrees. The most exotic menu item is the Suribachi burger — tempura Angus beef with wasabi coleslaw ($9.95).

But when Charles d’Ablaing, executive chef of the Webster House restaurant, wants to fill a craving without emptying his wallet, Swagger is one of the places he likes to go.

Like anyone else, Kansas City’s top chefs sometimes want something really, really good to eat at a place that is going to be quick, casual and — let’s say it — cheap.

The happy hours or bar fare for their own restaurants can be a great value, but top chefs also agree that many places have great food that is inexpensive. Many suggestions involve ethnic cuisine. Almost all of the places mentioned are locally owned.

The chefs we talked to — from d’Ablaing to Jennifer Maloney (Café Sebastienne) to Jonathan Justus of the celebrated Justus Drugstore: A Restaurant — said the places they return to time and again generally emphasize fresh, flavorful foods that set them above similar places.


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