Find craft beers and diner-style burgers in the historic downtown Excelsior Springs
BY MARY HENN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CALEB CONDIT & REBECCA NORDEN
THE ATLAS SALOON
Downtown Excelsior Springs is just under a ten-minute drive from Sundance Ranch, and there are many drinking, dining and shopping options—including two breweries, a wine mercantile, a diner and a museum, to name a few. Our favorites include The Atlas Saloon and Ray’s Diner, two Excelsior mainstays that have been intact for decades. Actually, The Atlas has been in the same location since 1894, making it the oldest bar in Clay County and one of the oldest in Missouri.
The Atlas is, as it has been for years, a charming local dive bar, but recently brewmaster Keith Hudson has started making some extremely smooth German lagers in the back. Hudson, a retired engineer, with his longtime friend and owner of The Atlas Jim McCullough, replaced what used to be the bar kitchen with a small brewhouse. Hudson carefully brews a handful of lagers at a time, and each is named after one of the twenty-nine mineral springs that drew people from all over the country for their healing properties around the early twentieth century. Today, Hudson uses the famous waters of Excelsior Springs to brew lagers. When asked if he’s supplying to any local taps, Hudson said, “If you want our beer, you gotta come here.”
Catty-corner from The Atlas is Ray’s Diner, which has served the same classic diner staples—biscuits and gravy, hamburgers, breakfast sandwiches—for many years. Stepping into Ray’s is like stepping back in time. The small diner hasn’t changed much of its interior, the service is impeccable, the food is great, and the prices have remained mostly unaffected by time, too—you can get a hamburger for $2. For the most authentic diner experience, sit at the bar, put your phone down, and chat up the locals.