Songwriter Kelly Hunt’s 2019 debut album, Even The Sparrow, skillfully weaves folk-tinged stories and imagery, earning it accolades from national press including Rolling Stone. Hunt casts her lilting, wistful voice atop notes plucked on a Depression-era calfskin tenor banjo. While touring across the country, Hunt shared thoughts about life on the road and her favorite local dining spots.
“Touring is both invigorating and exhausting,” she says. “Accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Stas Heaney, we toured through more than twenty-five states over the past year. I’ve put more than forty-thousand miles on my car! We have immersed ourselves in the heart of so many local cultures and communities across America. These collective experiences made me feel so much more connected to my country. I feel more American, really.
“After a month of being on the road, it feels good to come home to Kansas City,” Hunt says. “When I moved here from my hometown of Memphis five years ago, I had no idea that there was such a vibrant, supportive arts community here. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.”
Here are Hunt’s absolute favorite places in town.
Breakfast: Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout I like this place for its good food, sunny ambience and support-local business approach. From the old “Coca-Cola & Sundries” sign to the homey vibe within, this is truly a place where you naturally want to hang out. The menu changes seasonally. The food presented is simple and satisfying, thoughtfully prepared using quality ingredients sourced, when possible, from local or regional farms. Their coffee mugs are handmade by KC ceramicist Paul Mallory.
Lunch: Vietnam Cafe Where I go when I want “comfort food.” It tends to be the first place I go to eat when I get back to KC from a long tour or when I’m sick, weary or out of sorts. Spring rolls and a piping hot bowl of combo pho fortifies me like nothing else can.
Dinner: Le Fou Frog Having studied abroad in France and fallen in love with French culture and cuisine years ago, this place is my French escape in the heart of Kansas City. The food is tremendous; the wine selection is superb; the ambience is so quintessentially French—elegant but unpretentious, cozy and inviting. The waiters are knowledgeable, charming and deeply hospitable. Every dinner I have had here has been a joyful, memorable experience.