More than Just Barbecue


Going to Kansas City? Prepare for a wagonload of good food beyond barbecue. Look for farmers’ names cited on menus across the city, which reflect the restaurants’ strong commitment to local, seasonal food producers. This, coupled with a youthful chef community and the earnest ingenuity that shows up on plates, makes it obvious why James Beard Award winners are numerous in Kansas City. Here are choice picks:

Go meat: Arguably the top steak stop in town is Plaza III, the Steakhouse, in the glamorous Country Club Plaza shopping center. Their prime strip au poivre earns raves. Get it charred on the outside, with a ruby center, and be sure to have a side of homemade kettle chips topped with melted Roquefort.

Organic and vegetarian: Anyone in need of healthful options will delight in Kansas City’s generous offerings. Blue Bird Bistro is devoted to local, sustainable natural and organic foods; standouts include the house-cured salmon sandwich and the baked polenta topped with sautéed vegetables, goat cheese, and olive tapenade. Café Seed serves a robust, peppery butternut-squash soup and a hearty vegan tofu-and-cheese club sandwich. Eden Alley specializes in raw, vegan, and gluten-free plates. Their primavera is loaded with fresh baby spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, mung bean sprouts, and peppers, all in a creamy cashew-dill sauce. In the City Market, Succotash wows with breakfast dishes like hotcakes made with fresh pears and pecans.

First-class comfort: In the River Market is Le Fou Frog, a casual classic French bistro with lovely onion soup gratiné, cassoulet, and lamb shanks, plus a smart, affordable wine list. Peachtree Restaurant of Kansas City, a swanky soul-food bar-and-grill in the booming new downtown Kansas City Power & Light District, seduces with cheesy collard-greens dip with tortilla chips, a plate of meat loaf with okra and tomatoes, and a fancy cocktail menu.