What to Eat in Kansas City (that isn’t BBQ) – why Kansas City is a foodie’s dream perfect for exploring! From craft cocktails and artisan coffee, to fine dining, steaks, and unexpected favorites from all over America – Kansas City’s dining scene has so much to offer, now is the perfect time to taste and see it all!
What to Eat in Kansas City (that isn’t BBQ)
This post is sponsored by VisitKC – and me! I used to live in Kansas City during my freshman year of college and my dad’s family lives in Kansas City – and it has always been a little home away from home for me. I was thrilled to partner with VisitKC and encourage you to check out why this city is one of my favorite places to visit, and see #HowWeDoKC !
When you think of Kansas City’s food – there is one thing that comes to mind.
Kansas City is easily one of the best known BBQ towns in the world – for great reason.
Some of the most beloved BBQ in America comes from Kansas City – while I know BBQ varies tremendously from region to region, I have and will always hold Kansas City’s slightly sweet, tomato sauce basted BBQ as the top spot in my heart. It is one of my favorite things to eat on earth!
So you’d think the second I head to Missouri’s western gem, you’d think I’d immediately devour all things BBQ, right? Well, Kansas City has gone through a massive renovation of sorts recently – bringing so many delicious, beautiful, and exciting culinary additions with it.
With so many exciting new delicious options in Kansas City, I was excited to try out some of the best foods around that aren’t typical the typical BBQ, pan fried chicken, and ribs Kansas City is known for. And let me tell you – there is so much delicious food in Kansas City, it is one of the best (and most affordable) choices for a fun foodie weekend – with tons of amazing food to taste your way through the city.
Brunch at Gram and Dun – on the Country Club Plaza
600 Ward Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64112
There is no better way to start off a trip to Kansas City than grabbing brunch at one of Kansas City’s best restaurants for some prime people watching and killer cocktails – and Gram and Dun delivers as one of my favorite brunch spots, ever!
Gram and Dun has a relaxed chic style, with modern classics and a knockout brunch and cocktail program – but their fresh and unique menu sets them apart serving up bright, colorful food and drinks that won’t weigh you down all day.
Kanpachi Crudo –
Brunch Punch – a boozy fruit punch that is sweeter than a mimosa and packs more of a punch – so plan to uber to your next stop after sipping your punch!
-Candied Bacon – slow cooked pork belly that is melt in your mouth tender and topped with syrup and powdered sugar.
-Candied Bacon – slow cooked pork belly that is melt in your mouth tender and topped with syrup and powdered sugar.
Brunch at The Jacobson– in the Crossroads Arts District
2050 Central St, Kansas City, MO 64108
The Jacobson, in the Crossroads Arts District, is known for their trendy interior and menu that delights even the pickiest foodie – and their fabulous patio where people go to see and be seen.
The Jacobson is known for killer cocktails, twists on comfort classics, and a fashionable brunch crowd – its the perfect place to spend a weekend morning!
While there are a ton of items on the Jacobson’s menu, there are a couple brunch classics I loved so much, I still think about them!
-Chicken and Waffles
The hearty standard is served with a delicious and slightly spicy syrup that is out of this world delicious – crisp fried chicken that is juicy and tender over a crunchy and fluffy waffle you’ll think about all week long.
Biscuits turned donut holes? Bronuts are THE thing at the Jacobson!
Served with a trio of dipping sauces – these little bites pack a ton of flavor.
Try out flask service:
If you’re brunching with a bunch of your friends for a fun morning, try the flask service for cocktails to get a concoction big enough to share with the table!
I loved the La Cita cocktail – especially the smoked rosemary swizzle. It was the perfect pretty garnish with a bit of an earthy kick!
Don’t forget to follow up your meal with a deliciously creamy and indulgent butterscotch pudding – it is well worth the extra walking to work it off!
Lunch at Cafe Sebastienne – at the Kemper Art Museum
4420 Warwick Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64111
Kansas City has a spectacular art scene – and browsing world class works all day can work up a big appetite.
Thankfully, the Kemper Art Museum has the fabulously beautiful Cafe Sebastienne – whose painting lined walls are just as gorgeous as the dishes they serve up for a decadent lunch or dinner amidst world class pieces of modern art.
Cafe Sebastienne has fresh, colorful, and delicious comfort classics – like handmade pasta, fresh seafood, and a wine list that is great for a day out with girlfriends.
Dinner at Stock Hill – in Plaza South
4800 Main Street, Ste G-001, Kansas City, MO 64112
For a romantic dinner just off Kansas City’s country club plaza, there is no place like Stock Hill.
Stock Hill’s sleek decor with warm woods and high ceilings makes it a cozy and inviting space that is incredibly sexy and perfect for a nice night out!
I actually visited Stock Hill alone – which was a bit difficult since I wanted to taste everything on the menu and could barely finish all of the delicious food I ordered myself – but despite the romantic setting, I didn’t feel awkward or out of place dining solo.
The waiters and bar staff were happy to chat, the big open space was great for people watching, and it didn’t feel to stuffy or exclusive to couples which is really important to me when I am traveling alone and want a delicious and memorable meal.
I started out with the rock shrimp – a sweet and spicy breaded shrimp perfect to serve up in crisp and cool lettuce cups.
The rock shrimp was the perfect way to start a meal – and when it came to the table, I felt a bit guilty, wondering how I’d eat it all myself and then move on to a steak!
The real stars at Stock Hill are the steaks – juicy, cooked perfectly to order, and incredibly fresh. There are tons of knock-your-socks-off side dishes on the menu – but for me, I love to pair a juicy steak with rich and buttery mushrooms.
While I was starting to get full and couldn’t eat a ton of them (though I did bring them back to my room with me for breakfast the next morning, yum!), the mushrooms were amazing – perfectly meaty and buttery and went fabulously with my filet.
Beignet – in River Market
307 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64105
Beignet is a small, often packed, and crazy delicious walk-up in Kansas City’s River Market – a bustling food and goods market often hosting local farmers with fresh produce.
Beignet offers up New Orleans classics – but the star of the menu are the eatery’s namesake – beignets!
I ordered the Pig beignet – a fluffy, indulgent beignet stuffed with gooey melted cheese and bacon – which is absolutely heavenly. I felt a bit like a pig after eating it and considering another – and I still regret not having the second beignet, because it was SO delicious!
Dinner at Novel – In Crossroads Arts District
1927 McGee St, Kansas City, MO 64108
Novel is one of the restaurants everyone hopes to live near – impossibly cool and gorgeous, with an innovative cocktail list and menu- and a fun vibe perfect for hanging out all night with friends over drinks and small dishes to share.
I sat at the bar alone, which I always kind of hate – but at Novel, I felt totally welcome and not at all out of place.
The bartenders were fun and chatty, and made my night really entertaining – the restaurant didn’t feel like a couples-only place, which is very important to me to enjoy a great meal and night out when I am traveling alone.
One of the bartenders insisted I try the pork toast – a lightly battered smoked pork topped with a creamy avocado flower – and it was so good, I considered ordering a second.
My husband would LOVE the pork toast – I can’t wait to bring him back to try it this fall!
I’m a huge fan of mocktails- but the agua frescas (fruit infused waters) were a knockout to pair with my meal.
The sweetbread tagliatelle was on another level entirely – fresh hand made pasta with a creamy sauce and sweet rich sweetbreads – I could eat that pasta every night!
Novel is great for date night, a memorable meal with friends, or even an amazing night solo.
Drinks at Brewery Emperial – In Crossroads Arts District
1829 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64108
Brewery Emperial is one of those perfect divey, kitschy, and hipster bars I could spend all weekend in – with a sprawling patio, fun interior, and delicious beer and cocktail list that is perfect for drinks with friends for happy hour or on a fun saturday!
While Brewery Emperial is a brewery, their cocktails are amazing – with a large list of unique hand crafted beverages and a phenomenal selection of spirits.
Brewery Emperial’s fun atmosphere is set up for spending a great afternoon with friends (and while I didn’t get to try their food out, I am told their pub classics are knockouts!) – making this a fun weekend must-visit!
And don’t forget – Brewery Emperial has a shotski, to really make your bar crawl memorable!
Christopher Elbow Chocolates – in Crossroads Arts District
1819 McGee St, Kansas City, MO 64108
In the Crossroads Arts District, it isn’t hard to find beautiful sights everywhere you look.
When you step into Christopher Elbow Chocolates – you’ll know you’ve hit the best view in town! Peek through the windows to watch handmade artisan bonbons and chocolates being crafted, order some bon bons from the case (there are barstools available in the tasting room), or order up a cup of Kansas City’s best hot cocoa for a treat you will never forget.
Hot tip: Christopher Elbow Chocolates regularly runs sales on BonBons, so watch their facebook page for more info on when to score the best deal!
Quay Coffee – in River Market and at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum
412 Delaware St B, Kansas City, MO 64105
Quay Coffee (pronounced “key”) has two locations – one at the Nelson Atkins Art Museum, and one in River Market.
Quay Coffee prides themselves on a small menu – focused on carefully crafted beverages in a curated guest roaster program so they can focus on only the best beans.
Quay has phenomenal coffees in impossibly cool urban settings – making Quay a relaxing and indulgent space to grab a cup to go, or hang out a while and enjoy your artisan fair trade beans!
Thou Mayest – Crossroads Arts District
419 E 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108
While Kansas City might not be known for coffee, it should be!
With amazing artisan coffee shops popping up Kansas City, there is always something delicious roasting on the horizon – and one stop into Thou Mayest will make you a believer in the bean roasting prowess of the Paris of the plains!
Thou Mayest has funky and kitschy decor mixed into an industrial space – something like a downtown warehouse meets National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
There are vintage midwestern touches everywhere – from old maps and fishing poles, to camp badges, and other homey touches – mixed in with wiry geometric lighting and metal barstools.
I visited Thou Mayest in summer on a hot afternoon – and a pour over was firmly out of the question for me at the moment – but their beans smelled amazing.
I instead opted for a hopped iced coffee and tonic – a heavenly sweet and bitter concoction I could sip on day and night in summer. I seriously dream about that coffee still!
For more on my trip to Kansas City, please visit: What to Do in Kansas City for tons of tips, tricks, and ideas to make your own Kansas City Vacation great!