What’s new in kansas city food & drink: April 2023

Photography by Alyssa Broadus.
Tacos Valentina finds a home

Tacos Valentina has been popping up at local breweries like Alma Mader and Casual Animal, gaining a loyal following thanks to their stone-ground, hand-pressed nixtamal tortillas and authentic street food tacos. Now, the popular pop-up is officially setting up shop inside a different brewery, Torn Label Brewing Company (1708 Campbell St., KCMO).

Officially open on March 22, Tacos Valentina will be operating out of Torn Label’s Public House side of the building, serving lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. The menu will combine departing head chef Vince Brink’s legacy dishes (like the Best of KC-nominated Belgian frites) with Tacos Valentina’s menu. As the menu is being finalized, customers can look forward to Mexican-style smashed patty hamburgers and a range of creative vegan offerings. 

“We tend to view our food menu much like our beer program,” says Torn Label CEO Rafi Chaudry. “We want to give people a mix of staples they know and love, as well as rotational items that keep both us and our customers excited.” 

As far as future taco and beer pairings, the brewery’s already brewing up a few ideas, but it may be several months until we see them due to Torn Label’s brewing schedule. In the meantime, patrons can enjoy “a cascabel-seasoned potato taco with our citrusy flagship beer, Alpha Pale Ale,” Chaudry says. 

Bean to bar
Photo provided by Christopher Elbow.

Renowned chocolatier Christopher Elbow has been working on a new project to give the public a deeper look into the history and origins of chocolate: The Christopher Elbow Cacao Experience.  

Christopher Elbow is one of the few chocolate companies in the nation to specialize in bean-to-bar chocolate. The new experience, expected to be open this June, will offer guests the opportunity to see the chocolate-making process for themselves, starting with raw cacao beans.

The experience will take place in the back part of the crossroads retail shop (1819 McGee St., KCMO). Some may remember the space as the production facility where you could see chocolatiers working behind the glass wall. Along with chocolate-making, the experience will also provide an in-depth look into cacao’s origins, starting with its beginnings in South America as one of the most revered foods in Mesoamerica. 

“Almost everyone is familiar with chocolate, but very few really get to learn the history of its origins and its importance to certain cultures, as well as the challenges that cacao farmers currently face in order to bring this sweet confection to the stores around the world,” Elbow says.

The project has been a long time in the making, having been pushed back several years due to Covid. Of course, there’s a chocolate tasting for those who attend. “People will also get to taste chocolate from different countries and discover just how different they can be based on where it originates in the world,” Elbow says.

Brew on Vine
Photo provided by Vine Street Brewing Co.

Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery, Vine Street Brewing, opened this March and is hosting an official grand opening event in April. The highly anticipated space has been (ahem) brewing for a while: Owners Woodie Bonds Jr. and Elliott Ivory began as home brewers who have collaborated with twenty different breweries across the metro. Now, they’re transitioning into a commercial-scale brewery in the Jazz District and are excited to offer a taproom that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the 18th and Vine Jazz District (2000 Vine Street, Building 2A, KCMO).

A range of high-quality and innovative craft beers will be offered, with particular excitement for their debut beer, Jazzman. “It’s a crisp and flavorful black lager that will make its debut at the restaurants, bars and self-pour stations at the new KC airport,” says co-owner Kemet Coleman. “It represents the foundation of our brewing style and the unique flavor profile we strive to achieve.” 

The brewery won’t be offering food, but Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant’s food concept, The Spot, a fellow building tenant, will help provide food and beverages for Vine Street customers. 

Pizza permanence

Jhy Coulter has been making waves in KC’s pizza scene with her pop-up Devoured. The mobile shop specializes in charred woodfire pizzas with fluffy crusts. Her flavorful pies also won her Hulu’s Best In Dough contest. Now, she’s giving her pop-up a permanent location with her micro concept, Orange By: Devoured. “It’s a place to vibe out, meet a friend and enjoy tasty food,” Coulter says.

Although still in its early stages, Coulter has a plan and has started a campaign with community investors through Mainvest. She is still in the process of securing a location in the Union Hill area. The official pizza shop location will focus on slinging Devoured’s staple pizza combinations such as the Cheesy Bae, Martyz $pecial and Herbie Birdie. Snacks will be offered and are intended to be quick bite options inspired by her travels, such as rosemary, lemon, and mushroom risotto bites and gambas al ajillo. 

“Orange By: Devoured is focused on being the favorite neighborhood pizza shop,” Coulter says. “We believe that quick food doesn’t have to sacrifice quality or experience. We strive to be authentically ourselves while forming and creating connections within the community.” 

Proud Souls

Barbecue retail store Proud Souls has partnered up with local pitmaster Richard Fergola to open its first location in the barbecue capital of the world. 

In addition to selling an extensive variety of barbecue equipment, the store will also offer competition barbecue classes taught in the store’s kitchen. Proud Souls already has two locations in Colorado, but the Northland Kansas City location (8646 N. Boardwalk Ave., KCMO) will provide a unique experience in collaboration with Fergola.

You might better recognize Fergola from his brand name, Fergolicious BBQ, under which he sells barbecue rubs. He has been featured on Food Network’s Chopped: Grillmasters. His expertise, forged by his competition background, will be seen in the KC flagship store as he teaches barbecue classes fit for all levels of barbecuing.

According to Fergola, Proud Souls is offering something entirely unique to our barbecue-obsessed city. “It’s such a well-rounded group of individuals,” he says. “Not only are they good at the retail piece as far as business goes, but they also cook barbecue. We have some of the best competition cooks in the world on our team.” 

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