Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri are often confused with each other. Although the name Kansas ties them together, they have distinct and individual personalities as reflected in their food, culture, and attractions that draw millions of visitors each year.
Kansas City, Missouri: Where to Eat
Barbecue is serious business in these parts. Perhaps this is the reason that Kansas City, Missouri has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation, with more than 100 in the greater metro area.
For many locals, however, there is one name that stands out among true connoisseurs: Arthur Bryant’s. It isn’t unusual to see a line of hungry customers queued up outside the door, and after patiently waiting their turn, folks can pick from a simple menu offering barbecued brisket, ribs, burnt ends, sausage, and ham, as well as side dishes.
Part of their success is their slow pit process of smoking meat over hickory wood for 14 to 16 hours. The result is tender and flavorful meat that, when combined with your choice of the three varieties of sauce, becomes a taste temptation hard to resist and easy to remember.
La Bodega Tapas & Lounge
You might find it hard to believe that you don’t have to travel all the way to Spain to enjoy good tapas. Just drive over to the crosstown areas of Kansas City to La Bodega for some of the best tapas you will ever have.
Locally owned for 17 years, La Bodega has won several awards for best ethnic food and happy hours, the latter of which features their very popular fruity and cold sangria by the glass or the pitcher.
You can choose from quite a variety of cold and warm tapas, and one of the most popular is their solomillo con Cabrales, made with grilled beef tenderloin encrusted with Spanish bleu cheese. Another is crespelle de feta y puerros, featuring ultra-thin crepes layered with feta cheese, leeks and basil. This is smooth, creamy and delicious and will melt in your mouth.
With more than 30 selections plus mouth-watering desserts, La Bodega Tapas & Lounge won’t leave you hungry.
Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate and Glacé
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make your way to Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates on the Missouri side of the city. With a passion for all things cocoa, Elbow creates one-of-a-kind chocolates that are almost too pretty to eat. Each one is a work of art and has intense flavors such as Venezuelan spice, tequila lime, cherry pistachio, and caramel infused with French lavender.
Once you have indulged, head to Glacé, another Elbow creation featuring ice cream made with hormone free milk and fresh, natural ingredients. Try the Farmer Bob’s Sweet Corn flavor as well as the coconut-lime sorbet.
Kansas City, Kansas: Where to Eat
Joe’s Kansas City BBQ
While you are filling up at the Shamrock Gas Station, you might notice the line of people spilling out the door of the adjacent building. Park your car and get in line for Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, a Kansas City, Kansas culinary institution.
Many people seem devoted to their particular brand of smoked meats and this one certainly has a loyal following with wait times varying from 30 minutes to an hour.
Specialties include pulled pork and brisket, the latter of which is smoked over Missouri white oak for about 17 hours. One of their most popular items is the Z-Man sandwich made with slow cooked beef and smoked provolone cheese and topped with two crispy onion rings on a toasted kaiser roll. Of course, you will want to drench it all in their homemade KC-style sauce (available also for purchase in their shop) for the ultimate BBQ experience.
Enjoy a prehistoric dining adventure at the T-Rex Cafe, located in the Legends Outlets shopping center. As you enter, you are greeted by a gigantic, animated T-Rex, which will delight kids of all ages.
The entire restaurant is designed to look like a prehistoric rainforest, complete with tropical foliage and huge salt water fish tanks as well as moving dinosaurs, dragonflies and even lady bugs. Every half hour there is a meteor shower where things start glowing and changing colors and fire erupts from various parts of the volcanic-style walls.
The food at T-Rex is no less amazing with large portions and excellent quality and presentation. For dessert, be sure to try their Chocolate Extinction featuring brownies with gooey centers and ice cream served with a smoke erupting (dry ice) glass in the center.
Strawberry Hill Povitica in Merriam, Kansas
You may not know what a povitica is, but this baked confection has millions of loyal fans. Originally located in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, the bakery relocated to Merriam where you can watch the povitica being made and sample the 14 flavors.
This treat is made of sweet bread dough rolled very thin, spread with one of the 14 fillings (the most popular of which is English walnut), and baked to a golden brown. The loaves are lovingly packaged and sent all over the U.S. and Canada. Order them online or find them at many Costco stores across the nation.
Cocoa Dolce at the Prairiefire Mall, Overland Park, Kansas
Prairiefire has a number of retail shops and restaurants and offers a fun and unique shopping experience. Here, an artisan chocolate maker offers confections to satisfy your sweet tooth. Some of their top selling melt-in-your-mouth treats include salted caramel and crème brûlée.
The people of Kansas are very proud of their communities, regardless of which side of the river on which they reside. To locals, it isn’t even an issue as to them, it is one large metro area filled with fabulous attractions, culinary delights and cultural treasures that are just waiting to be shared.