The 40 best restaurants in Kansas City right now

Corvino is the best restaurant in Kansas City right now/Photography by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden

Updated: December 5, 2022

For the first time since December 2019, we’re presenting a full update to our list of the forty best restaurants in Kansas City. The last version of this list, which dropped just before the pandemic, is the most read and discussed article we’ve ever published.

We’ve done minor updates since, but we didn’t want to do a full refresh until we felt we could execute it to the same standard. This is not a list we just rattle off by whim some afternoon based on Yelp reviews. It’s the product of fresh visits to notable restaurants around the city, paired with extensive internal debate, to provide a snapshot of the city’s best places to have a special experience with food.

How we made the list
 

We went. Our team visited hundreds of restaurants over the past year to pick the top forty. We do not announce our presence and paid for our own food. All listings are based on experiences within the last year. 

We focus on food. We aim to recognize extraordinary food, whatever the format of the restaurant. Service and atmosphere are important, but we’ll overlook hiccups if we’re blown away by the food.

We prefer chef-driven spots. Plenty of successful restaurants are bastions of consistency and tradition. In our rankings, we admit a preference for restaurants that showcase personal touches and a cook’s perspective.

We judge each restaurant on its own merits. We look for restaurants that are good at what they are trying to be, whether that is fine dining or a quick lunch spot. We seek to celebrate the city’s worldly cuisines over very good steakhouses.

 
Price Tags

$: $20 or less per person

$$: $35 per person

$$$: $50 per person

$$$$: $75+ per person

Words by

Dawnya Bartsch, Katy Baldwin, Lisa M. Chism, Martin Cizmar, Natalie Torres- Gallagher, Mary F. Henn, Molly Higgins, Patrick Moore, Tyler Shane, Thomas White

NO. 1
Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room

1830 Walnut St., KCMO. corvino.com

$$$$

There are a handful of Kansas City restaurants that can, on any given night, serve up the best meal you’ll eat all year. Why elevate the six-year-old Corvino above all others?

It’s not that Corvino has changed all that much since our last list, where it was number two. Owners Michael and Christina Corvino took over the five-thousand-square-foot space on the ground floor of a mixed-use building in the West Crossroads with a firm vision.

They wanted Corvino’s Supper Club side to be a place where you could grab a burger at the murdered-out black bar while watching live jazz. The more intimate and rarified Tasting Room would be a place to spend a few hours seated in a padded chair while chatting over a blur of small plates, starting with escargot and continuing through a modern take on a beef rib with a beef fat tamale. Corvino has all that—plus takeout.

Yes, they’ll happily package up their famous seaweed donuts with trout roe or a whole branzino.

So what’s changed to allow Corvino to claim the top spot? We have. Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve developed a deeper appreciation for both Corvino’s lively late nights and its elegance during an evening out with dressy clothes and caviar. Corvino’s duality—and its reliable excellence—make it our favorite spot in Kansas City right now. —MC

The Town Company is a stylish restaurant nestled in the swanky Hotel Kansas City that opened soon after the pandemic and has been generating buzz since.

The spot is helmed by executive chef Johnny Leach, whose resume consists of powerhouse spots like Del Posto, Momofuku and Má Pêche, along with his wife, pastry chef Helen Jo Leach, who has an equally impressive background in places like Eleven Madison Park, Milk Bar and Le Pigeon.

The resumes are long, but the menu is short, consisting of only about a dozen items that rotate seasonally. The kitchen revolves around Leach’s hearth, which is powered by Missouri white oak.

On a recent visit, we started with the Arctic Char crudo, the fish finely sliced and sprinkled with coarse salt. It lays in a vinegar-horseradish base with pickled celery that cuts in with fresh acidity. The fish is topped with seasonal pear, which brings a perfect balance to the dish with a crisp sweetness.

The menu moves to warm dishes from the hearth, like the beef bacon skewers, an inventive take on a Korean Ssam. The fatty beef is slow smoked and then seared, giving it the flavors of a beef-pork belly with a buttery inside and a crunchy caramelized crust. Bib lettuce on the side adds a bit of freshness, and a tomato compote adds a sweet smokiness.

Mains include halibut with fresh vegetables that add brightness and a rich lobster cream. The desserts deserve a section of their own, with a buttermilk cheesecake that uses Yoli masa for the shortbread and a passionfruit and tomato sorbet with a pear and sweet shaved ice. —MH

Consider Extra Virgin the edgy, casual sibling of its more upscale sister restaurant, Farina.

Chef Michael Smith imprinted his legacy on the Kansas City dining scene long ago, and Extra Virgin offers the opportunity to enjoy his talent without the big bill.

Both of Smith’s restaurants sit side by side in the Crossroads, but you’ll recognize Extra Virgin by its bustling patio and swanky yet unpretentious atmosphere. The menu is full of Mediterranean-inspired tapas fresh out the wood-fired hearth. The unassuming starter of marinated olives is a great representation of Smith’s ability to execute dishes that are simultaneously uncomplicated and infused with depth.
You can trust that your grilled octopus and bay scallop ceviche are cooked to coastal perfection, but you’re also welcome to indulge in the comforts of a grilled ribeye or trout.

The shareable plates remain casual, with a weekly happy hour that features half-priced menu items along with a stellar wine list. —TS

Antler Room is a family affair.

Husband and wife co-owners Nick Goellner and Leslie Newsam Goellner handle the kitchen and front of the house while Nick’s sister Natasha Goellner devises desserts.

The globe-trotting Goellners acquired bona fides elsewhere—Nick worked at Noma, the Danish restaurant named the best in the world multiple times—before opening Antler Room in 2016.

The small-plate menu changes often but invariably showcases locally sourced ingredients infused with international flavors. Look for the shrimp mousse shokupan, saffron cavatelli with braised lamb and the pork cheek ravioli.

The waitstaff suggests four to six plates per couple and can complement dishes with a pairing from the ample list of natural wines. —TW

I’ve taken multiple first dates to Westport Cafe. I think this French bistro in the heart of Westport is the best date night spot in Kansas City. But I’m also single and alone, so take that with a big grain of salt.

It’s a dimly lit cafe with checkerboard tile floors and a really great bar. The ambiance is off the charts. Their steak and frites are the best in town—I order them every single time I’m there because I’m a creature of habit. There are, of course, veal chops, escargot and oysters with various preparations.

For an appetizer, you can’t go wrong with their cheese plate or the cordon bleu croquettes. And if you have one too many milk punches, you’re right next to the Taco Bell Cantina, where your fourth meal awaits. —PM

Photo by Alyssa Broadus

 
No. 6
Waldo Thai

8431 Wornall Road, KCMO. waldothai.com

$$

The debate about the city’s best Thai restaurant ended with the opening of Waldo Thai. Chef Pam Liberda’s menu is headlined by the Lanna cuisine she grew up with in northern Thailand, which tends to be more earthy and rustic than the fiery southern curries that are more familiar to most Americans.

Among those dishes you’ll find an herby pork sausage with lemongrass, makrut lime leaf and turmeric and Liberda’s take on laab, which blends ground pork and shredded pork skin with herbs like cilantro, fried shallot and dried Thai chilis.

The restaurant is also probably the best place in town to take a vegan if you’re not also a vegan—and those menu markings are also helpful for those of us with shellfish allergies. —MC

 
No. 7
Baba’s Pantry and Deli

1019 E. 63rd St., KCMO. babaspantrykc.com

$

Yahia Kamal (better known as Baba) brings Middle Eastern hospitality to the heart of the Midwest with his bodega-style Palestinian-American restaurant. The family-run deli at the corner of 63rd and Troost got a big lift when it was named among the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit magazine. The restaurant is a proud display of the family’s roots, with its charming interior and traditional kebabs, shawarma and falafel.

Although the menu relies heavily on fresh vegetables and tender meats, the silky hummus is some of the best in the city. Welcoming and warm, the space’s walls are scattered with colorful mosaic-inspired patterns and pictures of Palestinian icons, providing the quintessential backdrop for indulging in the beloved pairing of Turkish coffee and baklava. —TS

Photography by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden 

No. 8
Clay & Fire

815 W. 17th St., KCMOclayandfirerestaurant.com

$$$$

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, journey to Clay & Fire. Travel to the Westside neighborhood and make your way up the narrow granite steps into a little old house adorned with the restaurant’s name in neon signage. Your senses will awaken—your ears from the funky tunes, your eyes from the ornate interior and your nose tingling from smoke wafting off the wood-fired oven.

Chef Brent Gunnels and owner Adam Jones have collaborated on a Near Eastern menu filled with delights such as guajillo hummus, tender kabob platters and plenty of charred veggies. Most dishes come straight from the open fire to your table—including the Grandma pizza we named “pie of the year” back in March. With its minimal ingredients of white cheese, robust and acidic homemade tomato sauce, basil and olive oil, the pie is truly unparalleled. —TS

Photo courtesy of Verbena

No. 9
Verbena

4901 Meadowbrook Parkway, Prairie Villageverbenakc.com

$$$

Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village aims for “East Coast beach resort vibes.” You’ll see that in Verbena’s menu, which includes lobster bisque, raw oysters and fried crab. Those who aren’t in the mood for seafood will be very happy with the Royale with cheese, a smashburger on a bun covered with so many seeds you could use it to start your own farm. The interior of this upscale restaurant is lovely, but on a nice day, the shaded patio offers views of the nearby pond and an eighty-acre public park. —MFH

 
No. 10
Fox and Pearl

2143 Summit St., KCMO. foxandpearlkc.com

$$$$

While Fox and Pearl has the finer touches expected of a place that calls its mashed potatoes “pomme purée,” this hip Westside spot’s music encourages a fun time. It’s upscale but not stuffy, and its unique layout features a lower level that gives an intimate speakeasy feel. Chef Vaughn Good is the man pulling smoked porchetta and a Denver steak off the wood-fired hearth, but Good doesn’t ignore the meatless with entrees like a mushroom ravioli with a root vegetable ragu. Reservations are highly recommended. —LMC

Kansas City was in desperate need of quality dumplings, and Katie Liu answered the bat signal. Liu was born in Taiwan, and her youth was filled with multiple cross-continent moves that left her on a constant search for the feeling of home…. For more on Chewology, our Best New Restaurant of 2022, click here.

Photography by Caleb Condit & Rebecca Norden

 

No. 12

Housewife

801 Main St., Suite 104, Grandview. housewifekc.com

$

Sleepy downtown Grandview is home to the DMV, a barber shop, a model train store and an amazing and thoroughly unexpected scratch-made breakfast and lunch spot. That’s Housewife, where owner-chef Anna Sorge’s enthusiastically Midwestern menu includes memorable daily soups and croissants that shatter into buttery shards upon impact.

The menu is full of humble-sounding dishes made special by Sorge’s touch. Witness the avocado toast: Ubiquitous for the last decade now, here it’s special thanks to seasoned smashed avocado, roasted chipotle-tomato jam, cilantro-pepita pesto, pickled red onion and cotija cheese. —NTG

  Dry-aged steak at the new Acre in Parkville/Photography by Caleb Condit & Rebecca Norden

 
No. 13
Acre

6325 Lewis St., Parkville. acrekc.com

$$$$

Acre’s chef-owner Andrew Longres bills his menu as “modern Midwestern cuisine,” with most produce grown locally and most meat coming from the Midwest. If Acre has gotten a surprising amount of attention since opening in a blandly commercial stretch of Parkville, that’s likely due to Longres’s resume, which includes three years at Napa Valley’s renowned French Laundry before moving back to KC to head up Bluestem and The American.

The cooking is precise and occasionally theatrical but Acre is not a fine dining restaurant (note the burlap and fried cheese curds). Longres’ aim was upscale-casual, which means that as long as you’re down to pay seventy dollars for a dry-aged ribeye, you’re welcome to wear flip-flops. —NTG

 
No. 14
Lula Southern Cookhouse

1617 Main St., KCMO. lulakc.com

$$

Lula Southern Cookhouse is a personal endeavor, named for co-owner and co-chef Bradley Gilmore’s granny, Lula Mae Bryant. It is, Gilmore says, a restaurant for “real Southern food—not Midwestern Southern food.”

What does that look like? Here, grits are cooked down with heavy cream and whisked with white cheddar and lots of butter. They are dreamier than any truffle risotto, silkier than any fairytale porridge and soothing enough to drown out the sounds of your conscience telling you that it would be rude not to share.

Not everything is straight out of Pittsboro, North Carolina—take the sous vide pigtails, which slow-cook for a full twenty-four hours before being breaded with rice flour, flash-fried and plated with sarsaparilla barbecue sauce. —NTG

No. 15
Niecie’s

6441 Troost Ave., KCMO. nieciesrestaurant.com

$

There’s nothing stopping you from ordering hot wings and a waffle at Niecie’s, the long-running soul food spot on Troost. There are plenty of other things to pull your attention on the menu and specials board—oxtails, soft and rich mac and cheese, delightfully salty country ham cut a half-inch thick, batter-fried catfish, grits, a pig ear sandwich—but if you want to get one of their double-thick waffles with a butter scoop the size of a ping pong ball and hot wings smothered in Buffalo sauce, they’ll let you do it. —MC

Photo by Jeremey Theron Kirby

No. 16
Sichuan Dynasty

7206 W. 119th St., Overland Park. sichuandynastyop.com

$

Sichuan food comes from southwestern China and tends toward blast-zone spice levels thanks to its namesake peppercorn, which numbs the tongue and mouth. If you’re here and can handle some spice, you’ll be tickled (literally) by the mapo tofu and the dry hot pot chicken.

The Chung king spicy beef at Szechuan Dynasty—this humble strip mall restaurant uses both Anglicizations of its name interchangeably, but fret not, it’s the same place—is likewise alive with fire. —MC

 
 
No. 17
Café Provence

3936 W. 69th Terrace, Prairie Village. cafeprovencekc.com

$$$

To get a feel for Prairie Village’s Café Provence, consider the onion soup. Chef Philip Quillec has had it on his menu every day since the restaurant opened twenty years ago. It’s mostly traditional, made from beef broth and caramelized yellow onions. But Quillec does add bacon in what he calls “an Americanized touch,” and he doesn’t skimp on the layer of Emmentaler and Gruyère cheeses. The menu makes a few such overtures to Midwestern sensibilities (lightly smoked duck breast, a very rich gratin), which has helped make this homey French bistro a staple. —MC

 
#18
Earl’s Premier

651 E. 59th St., KCMO. earlspremier.com
$$$

There’s something deeply familiar about Earl’s Premier, and not because there are any remnants of previous tenant Chai Shai left at this corner space in Brookside.

Todd Schulte and his business partner Cory Dannehl opened Earl’s in May 2022 with intentions of making it “a neighborhood American bar and grill.” And it is. But Earl’s also has oysters flown in daily from Maine and the West Coast and a classic shrimp cocktail with plump black tiger prawns poached until soft and dusted with Old Bay.
The menu at Earl’s Premier is not large, and while it emphasizes shellfish, there is a roasted half-chicken with a peppery piri-piri sauce, a classic cheeseburger and a handful of pretty salads. —NTG

 
No. 19
Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio

830 Kansas Ave., KCK

$

Seemingly everyone in these parts has a favorite KCK taco spot, usually recommended with a hushed enthusiasm as though you’re being let in on a secret. Most of those recommendations (Taqueria 7 Leguas, El Camino Real, Tacos El Guero) are solid picks. But allow us to whisper about our own: Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio, a little taqueria and market with a butcher counter in the back, pinatas by the coolers and sturdy log furniture that looks like it was salvaged from the set of Ponderosa.

The perfect order is a burrito on the freshly pressed flour tortillas stuffed with the shredded beef known as deshebrada. Grab a Mineragua and splash on salsa from the bar. —MC

No. 20

Mesob

3601 Broadway Blvd., KCMO. mesobkc.com

$$

Mesob’s name is derived from an elaborate Ethiopian breadbasket symbolizing prosperity, unity and creativity. These notions permeate the new Broadway location, a place of warmth, vibrancy and joy.
Mesob highlights both Caribbean and Ethiopian cuisine—the respective birth countries of co-owners Cherven Desauguste and Mehret Tesfamariam. Utilizing fine-dining techniques, Desauguste presents alluringly red wine-braised oxtail, red lentil misir wot and a sapid array of tibs served with spongy injera. The bar features an unrivaled rum list. —TW

 
No. 21
Cosmo Burger

8750 Penrose Lane, Lenexa, and 7438 Wornall Road, KCMO. cosmoburgerkc.com

$

When Cosmo Burger owner Jacob Kruger was laid off from his job at a notable beer bar during the pandemic, he started plotting a new path. Kruger was a longtime burger snob and thought he might be able to build a better mousetrap. So he set about trying with an intense focus on every detail. At Cosmo, it’s not just about the choice of potato roll (softer than other buns) but the way it’s toasted (on a separate flat-top from the meat) and even how it’s served (wrapped in paper for a steamy finish.) It is, in our opinion, the best burger ever served in the city. —MC

 
No. 22
Taco Naco

8220 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. taconacokc.com

$

Taco Naco is a casual, quick-service restaurant that looks unassuming. But step inside this Overland Park taqueria and market and you’ll find it’s so much more. Chef Fernanda Reyes started Taco Naco as a farmers market booth before opening as a brick-and-mortar store in 2021. The shop still has a full-service mercado with limes, spices, canned El Pato sauce and bottles of Mexican Coke. The fridge is stocked with handmade products to take home, including a vast array of beautiful salsas, tamales and hearty pozole that’re perfect for colder months. The tacos steal the show. A favorite is Reyes’ pork al pastor, which is marinated in adobo and topped with a creamy cilantro aioli that is cut by an acidic, fresh pineapple-onion relish on top of local favorite white-corn Yoli tortilla. The slow-cooked barbacoa brisket taco is perfectly balanced thanks to a chipotle aioli. Reyes also serves up breakfast tacos and now has a bar specializing in margaritas and other agave-based cocktails. -MH

 
No. 23
Affäre

1911 Main St., KCMO. affarekc.com

$$$$

When the pandemic hit, Affäre’s owners, husband-wife duo Martin and Katrin Heuser, began training their children to be part of their kitchen staff, making the restaurant a true family affair. But there is no mistaking this modern German restaurant in the Crossroads for your run-of-the-mill ma and pa shop.

Martin is a master chef, having worked in multiple Michelin-starred establishments in Europe, while Katrin is a certified sommelier with a global background. Their ever-changing seasonal menu pays homage to their German heritage with rustic old-world flavors of gamey meats and rich sauces. European comforts range from mushroom terrines to lobster poutine, and, of course, the classic Wiener schnitzel. With Katrin’s expertise in wine and spirits, you can confidently venture out of your comfort zone with an orange wine or Vermouth flight, and the cozy outdoor courtyard, nestled between two buildings, offers a quick getaway from the bustling Crossroads neighborhood. —TS

 
No. 24
The Savoy at 21c

219 W. Ninth St., KCMO. thesavoykc.com

$$$$

Savoy chef Brandon Brumback is a native Kansas Citian returning to his roots after stints at two high-profile Napa Valley eateries, Bouchon and the French Laundry, as well as Chicago’s Grace and Ria, both of which were named the city’s best by Chicago magazine. Brumback brings French technique to an inventive menu that puts heavy emphasis on seasonal fare like the butternut squash tortellini served with pecan, shallot and sage or porcini-dusted pig ears with a Dijon-spiked cold egg sauce. —KB

Photography by Zach Bauman

 
No. 25
The Peanut on Main

5000 Main St., KCMO. peanutkc.com

$

Why is a dive bar where you enter through a back door that passes through the kitchen on this list? Because that dive bar is the original location of the Peanut—with different owners than the suburban locations—and it has the best chicken wings on the planet. Take it from this wing snob who’s been through Gabriel’s Gate and the other meccas of western New York: The Peanut reigns supreme. The BLT is also notable and has a massive cult following, but I’ve only not ordered “three wings with cheese fries” once, and all I could think about was wings. —MC

 
No. 26
Shagan’s Chicken & Paranthas

14521 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, and 8436 Ward Parkway, KCMO.
instagram.com/shagansrestaurant

$

Most local Indian restaurants have menus that are large and fairly similar, offering a smattering of greatest hits from the subcontinent’s varied cuisine. Shagan’s Chicken & Paranthas is the opposite. Shagan Bajwa’s restaurant focuses on the foods of her native Punjab region in Northern India, where bread and curry take center stage. The menus at both the original location in south Overland Park and the new location on south Ward Parkway are written on a white dry-erase board every day and are based on what Bajwa feels like cooking. Rich butter chicken with a deep cumin flavor and an earthy chicken curry are typically offered along with several specials. Both locations are sparsely decorated and do brisk carryout business. —MC

No. 27
801 Chophouse

11616 Ash St., Leawood, and 71 E. 14th St., KCMO. 801chophouse.com

$$$$

801 Chophouse has perfected a specific brand of luxury to the extent that there’s a strong case to be made for it being the best special-occasion dining experience in the city. The woody dining room is a sanctum where the world feels far away for a few hours. The menu is familiar fare of surf and turf. The former is headlined by a two-plus-pound live lobster, crab legs by the pound and various preparations of oysters.

On the steak side, there’s Wagyu, wet-aged steaks and dry-aged steaks—some of those cuts spent the entirety of the Game of Thrones spin-off series in the cooler. All are better than they need to be and can be embellished according to taste with cognac cream, bone marrow butter and the like. At the end of the meal, the server will give you his business card and you’ll hope to see him again the next time you’ve got something to celebrate. —MC

 
No. 28
Pizza Tascio

Various locations. pizzatascio.com

$

At Erik Borger’s new project, Pizza Tascio, even the logo is D.O.P. The “Uncle Tascio” character seen on the sign of the rapidly expanding New York-style pizza chain was given to him by the Palermo Visitors Bureau. Pizza Tascio is a passion project for Borger, who founded the Neapolitan-style spot Il Lazzarone before selling it to employees. The native New Yorker’s new spot started with testing dozens of tomatoes before settling on California-grown San Marzanos from a farm run by Phoenix pizza king Chris Bianco. After starting with 00 flour, Tascio now uses “some super old-school bagel flour.” Borger is a tinkerer whose stated goal is making the best New York-style pie—not in KC, which he did opening day—but anywhere. He’s on his way. —MC

 
No. 29
Q39

11051 Antioch Road, Overland Park, and 1000 W. 39th St., KCMO. q39kc.com

$$

Q39’s Philip Thompson has a resume unlike any other local pitmaster. The British-born culinary school grad spent a decade in fine dining, including heading the kitchen at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.—better known as the “Hinckley Hilton” because it’s the hotel where Reagan was shot—where he cooked for high-profile events like the famed White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He did a lot of sous vide there—which he says is basically just barbecuing in water. Thompson took over Q39 after the passing of legendary founder Rob Magee, who rewrote the book on running a barbecue restaurant, cooking meat hotter and faster to keep it fresher. Thompson is adding his own stamp, too, as we saw with the achingly tender beef ribs served at a recent chef’s dinner. You can argue there’s better barbecue in KC, but when it comes to a full restaurant experience, Q39 stands alone.—MC

 
No. 30
Hummus and Pita

8039 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park. hummusnpita.com

$

Baba ganoush is made from roasted eggplant, but it tends to be creamy and beige. The “real baba’’ at the new Hummus and Pita in downtown Overland Park is a different beast altogether. It’s darker and chunkier, but it retains some of the purple fruit’s original form after being smoked, mashed and blended with pomegranate sauce, lemon, olive oil, walnuts and tomatoes. What’s difference? “I made it,” says Dhiaa Eid, a Palestinian raised in Jordan who owns and operates this bustling Middle Eastern spot in the former Snack Shack. Shawarma is served alongside an earthy and rich avocado shake, a specialty of Jordan, and chicken tikka that’s brightened with a creamy yellow sauce. Everything other than the pita is scratch-made, which has catapulted it above some of our old favorites. —MC

 
No. 31
Sayachi

6322 Brookside Plaza, KCMO., sayachikc.com

$$

Sayachi made a splashy entrance when it opened just before the pandemic. Jarocho owners Carlos Falcon and Sayaka Gushi Falcon tapped a pedigree Japanese chef for the space in the heart of Brookside, putting an emphasis on high-end Edomae-style (soy-cured) sushi. That chef was gone in a matter of months, and while the pretty murals of cherry blossom and maple still grace the walls, the restaurant has become a more casual neighborhood spot with a conspicuous lobster tank and a very nice lunch menu headlined by a bento box and ramen. The sushi was among the best we’ve had in KC on a recent visit, which was soundtracked by the sound of knives being sharpened from the open kitchen and a Japanese indie pop act called Aiko. —MC

 
No. 32
Lotus Hot Pot

6591A N. Oak Trafficway, Gladstone

$$

As the name implies, hot pots are hot. How hot? My server at Lotis Hot Pot can’t tell the exact temperature of the rich broth tossing dried chiles around at a rolling boil on the induction burner in front of me, but she points to a recent battle scar on her chin. “I bent over and got too close,” she says. “So, yes, they are very hot.” There are a few places offering Chinese DIY soups in the city, but this spot deep in the Northland stands out for its massive menu and flavor-packed broths. The Lotus menu includes more than a hundred ingredients—the meats alone include everything from Spam to pig heart and mushrooms. Meatballs and tofu get their own sections. —MC

 
No. 33
Wah Gwan

6228 Troost Ave., KCMO. wahgwantan.com

$

Tanyech Yarbrough’s Wah Gwan opened just before the pandemic hit. The Brooklyn-raised Yarbrough was born in Jamaica and has always loved cooking and entertaining. But when she opened her restaurant on Troost, she wanted to expand the menu beyond traditional Jamaican food staples and offer Nigerian dishes, too. Yarbrough’s partner is Nigerian and helped inspire the restaurant’s unique fusion of flavors and influences. Part of that Nigerian influence includes egusi, which is similar to gumbo and made with melon seeds, African spices and chicken or goat and typically served with fufu, a dough-like ball of cassava. —MFH

Photography by Caleb Condit & Rebecca Norden
 
No. 34
Buck Tui BBQ

6737 W. 75th St., Overland Park. bucktuibbq.com

$$

Smoke dominates the menu at Teddy Liberda’s Thai barbecue spot at 75th and Metcalf, but the brines and rubs go a long way in setting the flavors apart. Buck Tui’s house rub—a combination that includes coriander, garlic and palm sugar—is generously applied to pork butts, pork ribs and shrimp. The ribs are particularly good: A combination of smoke, sweet fat and ruby-red meat is barely contained by the sticky sheen of a tangy ripe cherry glaze.

Of the smoked meats, the Amish Gerber chicken is the greatest accomplishment. After its extended brine, the chicken is smoked for up to five hours before being flash fried to order, rendering the skin crispy and shiny. It is seasoned to the bone, so when you break through that sleek casing, you are rewarded with meat so delicate that its journey to your mouth is blissfully weightless. —NTG

Photo by Jeremey Theron Kirby

 
No. 35
Grünauer

101 W. 22nd St., KCMO. grunauerkc.com

$$$$

If you are craving authentic Austrian-German style fare, Grünauer’s ornate dining room in the Crossroads’ Freight House will not disappoint. The ambiance here feels like you’ve been transported to Vienna, and the restaurant delivers refined versions of truly delectable dishes like classic Wiener schnitzel and an assortment of traditional cucumber, tomato, cabbage and carrot salads. The sausage sampler is highly recommended, as is the Schweinebraten—pork loin and shoulder roasted until tender and plated with bread dumplings and red cabbage. The Bavarian-born executive chef, Matthias Seyfrid, changes the menu seasonally. Grünauer’s drink menu features some very fine German beers and pleasing but rarely seen Central European wines. The gluten-free menu is also extensive. —LMC

Clockwise from top left: The spiedini Georgio, with crushed tomatoes, garlic and spinach over angel hair pasta, is a tribute to Garozzo’s son-in law; the original spiedini Garozzo, served with amogio sauce; the spiedini Samantha, named for Garozzo’s niece, is served over fettucine with alfredo sauce and artichokes; Garozzo named the spiedini Gabriella for his daughter, who likes a spicy diablo sauce/Photo by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden

 
No. 36
Garozzo’s

9950 College Blvd., Overland Park, and 526 Harrison St., KCMO. garozzos.com

$$

Is Garozzo’s the best Italian food in Kansas City? Probably not. But it is my favorite. The pasta isn’t handmade, the chicken isn’t organic or free range, and you’re gonna hear Tony Bennett or someone from the Rat Pack over the speakers every time. That’s a beautiful thing. It’s dimly lit, and the servers wear puffy tuxedo shirts and dark pants. They also give you free chicken spiedini on your birthday—I get a Spiedini Samantha-style over fettuccine alfredo every year. I usually only go to the downtown location on Harrison Street. The tables are uncomfortable and too close together, but it’s all part of the experience. If you’re out to dinner with a boring date, eavesdropping on other tables is very easy to do. It’s actually unavoidable. Their Sicilian Stuffed Artichoke is the move for the appetizer—stuffed with shrimp, prosciutto, bread crumbs, garlic butter and melted provolone cheese. Those are all good things. —PM

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jax Fish House Kansas City (@jaxkansascity)

 
No. 37
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

4814 Roanoke Parkway, KCMO. jaxfishhouse.com

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From the abundance of fresh seafood displayed on ice inside the front door to the beautiful aquariums with colorful fish dancing around, Jax is as enjoyable for your eyes as it is for your palate. This Country Club Plaza restaurant has the sophistication and menu of a fine dining experience, but it’s family friendly and has a daily happy hour. It can be difficult to find good fresh seafood in the landlocked Midwest, but Jax has fresh choices flown in daily. —LMC

Photo by Zach Bauman

No. 38
The Restaurant at 1900

1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, therestaurantat1900.com

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Our crew had mixed experiences at this fine dining restaurant at the old Lee Jeans headquarters in Mission Woods over the past year, so the solemn obligation of ducking in for a glass of Champagne and a quick bite at the bar fell to me.

The mid-century modern building is striking, and the beverage program is directed by Doug Frost, the city’s best-known somm. Frost picks very nice but budget-friendly wines from around the world with confidence (a bottle of Lubanzi Chenin Blanc can be had for $35). That high-low theme continues through a dinner menu that opens with potato chips (with salmon roe and Dungeness crab) and an obscenely rich grilled cheese sandwich with braised short rib, pickled giardiniera and rosemary dijonnaise on sourdough. —MC

Ca Va in downtown Kansas City Photography by Caleb Condit & Rebecca Norden.

 
No. 39
Ça Va

4149 Pennsylvania Ave., KCMO. cavakc.com

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Ça Va is a gem in the heart of Westport. Along with the city’s most extensive selections of grower Champagnes—that is, Champagne produced by the estate that also owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown—you’ll find a seasonal menu of small plates and creative appetizers imagined by chef Howard Hanna. A tin ceiling weathered to perfection, marble bistro tables and low mood lighting are the perfect backdrop for a celebratory glass and nibbling on duck fat kettle corn or the bar’s signature deviled eggs. A delightful brick patio serves as the perfect backdrop for a Sunday mimosa with fresh squeezed juice and an apple butter and Chantilly crème crepe. —DB

 
No. 40
Café des Amis

112 Main St., Second floor, Parkville. cafedesamiskc.com

$$$

Tucked away on the second floor of an old brick building in quaint downtown Parkville, French restaurant Café des Amis makes you feel like you’ve made an incredible culinary discovery. This restaurant, which fashions itself as an authentic French bistro, has been around for years. Part of its charm is its frontman and owner, the very French Guillaume Hanriot, who has curated an extensive wine list that pairs nicely with its traditional menu. On a warm day, sit on the outdoor patio surrounded by trees, sip a glass of Champagne, and nibble away at the cafe’s signature salad, a small plate of baby greens topped with roasted red bell pepper, portabella mushroom, bleu cheese, candied spiced walnuts and a dijon vinaigrette. Menu highlights are the pan-seared wild scallops served with fennel, cherry tomato and shallot confit, and of course, the crème brulee. —DB

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