Anna's Oven
1809 W 39th St.
KC, MO 64111
This comfort food restaurant, specializing in meat loaf, mac and cheese, and lasagna, is very good at what it does.  Although they have no seafood, they do have a few very good vegetarian dishes.  The vegetarian lasagna is excellent, as is their house salad, and their grilled vegetables.  They also often have a vegetarian soup of the day. 

Their policy regarding wines is unusual, but interesting.  If you want wine by the glass, you can choose from the open bottles displayed at the register at typical restaurant prices (currently $7/glass).  But the bottle pricing is very unusual.  The wine list includes many good choices, and the prices are the retail prices you would pay in a liquor store.  They'll sell any of those bottles at those prices, if you do not open them in the restaurant and take them home, as if purchased in a liquor store.  If you want the restaurant to open the bottle and serve the wine to you in the restaurant, they'll add a corkage charge (currently $8).  I like that transparently open way of revealing the premium you pay for wine in a restaurant, and their corkage charge is less than implicit in most restaurant wine pricing. 

They are open Mon-Sat from 11 am - 9 pm.

3404 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66103
This chain restaurant is far from fine dining and has the usual faults of chain restaurants.  Their salads and salad dressings are rather ordinary.  Instead I order sliced tomatoes with vinegar and oil.  In the kitchen, they have both a grill, which they use for steaks, and a flat top, which they use with burgers.  If you want fish or shrimp cooked separately from meat, ask them to use a separate pan.  They have one. which they rarely use, and won't unless you insist.

Recently I've been happy with the salmon.  I have them substitute their whole grains for the potatoes.  The whole granes usually are served only with the steak.  But if you ask and explain what you want, they can provide them instead of the potatoes on any other entree. The wine list is a reasonable one, with the bottles priced slightly better than the glasses.  But it is best to check what bottles they have, which are not on the wine list.  For example, they often have a Merlot or Chardonnay bottle at a lower price than the ones on the wine list.

The tomato soup is vegetarian and very good, especially if you add tobasco.  Also the small Ceasar salad is large enough for a meal, if you also get the soup.

They have an outstanding server.  His name is Dele (pronounced Daylay).  He is usually there on Thursday and Saturday evenings (and sometimes Wednesday evenings) and lunchtime on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

[format (23 or 44)]
900 Westport Road
Its web site
Bluestem is "the talk of the town."  Bluestem is in the Westport nightlife area of Kansas City, right on Westport Road.  They have a small parking lot behind the restaurant, and a rather small dining room.  If you look at the reviews available on the restaurant's web site, you will find that this restaurant has received an astonishing number of rave reviews from local and national critics and publications, nearly from the day it opened.  For example, see the 2005 review in Food and Wine Magazine.  Indeed the two chefs (a married couple) at this restaurant have studied at and worked at some of the best restaurants and chef schools in the United States.  For example, Colby Garrelt has worked at the 5 Star, 5 Diamonds TRU in Chicago as senior Sous Chef; and his wife, Megan Garrelts, has studied at this country's top chef school, the Culinary Institute of America in New York (as did Chef Krause now in Lawrence), and has worked at TRU in Chicago.  It is no surprise that this couple is making a stir in the Kansas City restaurant scene.

Bluestem is the first restaurant that this chef-couple has owned and run themselves.  I tried it soon after it opened.  Is it another TRU?  No, it is not --- yet.  Is it currently the best restaurant in the Kansas City/Lawrence area now?  Good question.  Might Colby Garrelt and Megan Garrelts one day be the owners and chefs at the first five star restaurant in Kansas City?  Could be.  When it first opened, I was surprised that Bluestem was so soon being expected to acquire a higher
Mobil-Guide-rating than Kansas City's American Restaurant, 40 Sardines, Cafe Sebastienne, or Le Fou Frog, or Lawrence's Krause's.  It did not seem to me that  Bluestem would soon dominate those fine restaurants---but the beginnings of the best were there then.

Those who might believe that this restaurant already rates five Mobil Guide stars may never have been to a five star restaurant (or even to Tony's wonderful four star restaurant in St. Louis).  Zagat's Guide rapidly rated this restaurant as having the best food in Kansas City.  I agreed initially with the review by the Kansas City Star's eminent restaurant critic, Lauren Chapin, who ranked Bluestem as 3 1/2 stars in food, service, and atmosphere, as opposed to the best restaurants in the area, ranked by her as four stars.  But she now has raised its rating to four stars, and I agree with that.  Bluestem has improved and now merits four stars.

At the time I was first there for dinner, the Bluestem Wine Lounge next door had not yet opened.  I've now
more recently been to that lounge, and I was very impressed.  For a glass of wine and  some wonderful appetizers in a fine atmosphere, you won't do better anywhere in Kansas City. 

I had not been back to the dining room for dinner in a long time, when a different chef (in Colorado) suggested that I "give Bluestem another chance."  Based upon my experience at Bluestem's wonderful wine bar, I decided to do that, after a long delay.  I was very impressed and more than a little surprised.  Bluestem is now clearly a four star restaurant and is a match for the best of the best in Kansas City.  I have sought out and been to many of the world's greatest restaurants, in Beijing, Paris, San Fancisco, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, NY, Chicago, Brussels, LA, Florence, Lisbon, New Orleans, Syndey, Marseille, London, etc.  I would not yet put Bluestem in the same league with the world's best, and I would not expect it to acquire Michelin three stars soon, but Bluestem already shows more of the signs of restaurants in that league than any other restaurant in the KC/Lawrence area --- and it keeps getting better.  If you haven't been there recently, you should listen to the Colorado chef who told me to give it another try.  He was right.  It has been transformed from a promising restaurant into a wonderful restaurant.

If it remains on its dramatically uphill track, we may lose Bluestem, sooner or later, to a bigger city.  I hope not.
Blanc Burgers & Bottles
4710 Jefferson St.
Country Club Plaza
KC, MO 64112
web site
Moved back to Westport.  We haven't been there since they changed the location from the Plaza.

Best upscale burgers in KC, including mahi mahi burger and lentil burger, both excellent.  Also reasonable choices of wine and outstanding list of beers.  Their least expensive bottles of chardonnay and pinot noir are surprisingly good.  Fixed price lunch is an especially good deal.

The lentil burger is fried, as is the portobella in its sandwich sandwich.  But the mahi mahi is grilled on a separate area of the grill from meat.  But if this concerns you, you can request that they use a skillet.  The butter lettuce salad is excellent, as are the sweet potato fries.  Both are large, and they are happy to split the salad for two into two separate bowls.

This restaurant has moved to the Plaza at 4710 Jefferson next to the Capital Grille.  There is an excellent happy hour from 3 pm to 6 pm on weekdays, including half price wines and other good deals.  But you may have to sit in the bar area, which has only high bar stools. The first time we were there, they would not honor the happy hour prices in the dining room.  The second time, they did.  The happy hour includes wine at $5 a glass, including any of the wines on the wine list.

They have no stemware for wine, so don't bother asking for it.  They use glasses appropriate for red wine, but less appropriate for white wine with no stem.  They have some wildly overpriced Kansas wines on the menu.  Don't order them.  If you have a groupon, be aware of the fact that their defintion of "dinner only" is after 5 pm.  If you order from the dinner menu before 5 pm, they will not honor the coupon.

They have no whole grain bread.  Even the unfiltered wheat bun is not whole grain, but all of their buns and bread are fresh and excellent anyway.  They mostly play loud rock music, but the speakers are in the bar area.  If you don't like the music, you'll like the dining room better than the bar area.  The aircondition tends to be set at a low temperature, so you might want to bring a sweater or sport coat with you.

They do not accept reservations, except for large groups.  It is usually easy to get a table before 5:30 pm.  After 7 pm, there often is a long line waiting for a table.

Blue Koi
1803 W 39th St
KC, MO 64111
This restaurant has difficult competition on the 39th St. Restaurant Row, since a couple of blocks away is Po's.  Both specialize in dumplings.  Blue Koi has a larger dining room, with comfortable booths.  Po's has no booths.  Both have good choices of wine and beer, and both have excellent dumplings.  Blue Koi is particularly popular with vegetarians and vegans.  But some of the non-dumpling dishes at Blue Koi are somewhat disappointing, often with unnecessarily sweet sauces, including the vegetarian lettuce wraps and the crispy tofu with spicy sauce.  I was particularly disappointed to find that the lettuce wraps are served with ordinary iceberg lettuce leafs. The eggplant pockets with vegan filling are interesting, but deep fried in a batter.  Unfortunately they cannot prepare them in any other way. 

There are four entrees that they can prepare without sugar:  Ants on a Tree (comes with soybean noodles), Firebird (very spicy), Pheonix tofu or shrimp (spicy, but extra spicy is better), and Almond Shrimp asparagus.  With all of those, I request extra spicy (two peppers).  Firebird is usually three peppers, but I ask for two.  With any of them, you can ask to add mushrooms and carrots for an upcharge.   Any entree including chicken, pork, or beef can be prepared with shrimp or tofu instead, and it is easy to avoid chicken stock, since many entrees are listed as vegan and are provided with vegetable stock (not just water base). All entrees are listed as served with noodles or rice.  But the options include brown rice and soybean noodles along with the usual white rice, rice noodles, and flour noodles.  Alternatively, they'll substitute fresh (uncooked) spinach for the rice or noodles.  Between the shrimp and tofu, I prefer the tofu here.  The tofu at Blue Koi is really excellent.

Blue Koi has a pleasant counter that is popular with persons dining alone. If you don't want the white rice that comes with many dishes, be aware that there may be upcharges for substitutions.  There is no upcharge for spinach, but a one dollar upcharge for brown rice, and a two dollar upcharge for soybean noodles.

There is a rear entrance from the parking lot behind it, and there are two handicapped spaces virtually at that entrance.  If you have a handicapped sticker, Blue Koi is hard to beat on a rainy day.

The wines are priced reasonably, but are not a bargain.  They are priced about the same as at the Indian restaurant, Taj Palace, across the street.  But the entrees are so large that you can split one order between two persons or figure on take out for lunch the next day.

On balance, I somewhat prefer Po's.  But then there are the dumplings.  The dumplings at Blue Koi are outstanding.  An interesting combination is the seafood and vegetarian dumplings.  One order of each makes a fine meal.  The seafood dumplings are more delicate, without the spinach in the dumpling dough.  You not only get a contrast in texture but also in color (the vegetable dumplings are green, while the seafood dumplings are white).

The Boot
415 Westport Rd
Kansas City, MO 64111
This excellent Italian restaurant, next door to the also excellent Westport Cafe and Bar, is a big step up from some of the old time Italian-American restaurants that are more common in Kansas City.  We ordered the trout, skate, oysters, and the mozzarella and beets appetizer.  Everything was very enjoyable.  Some of the dishes on the menu include butter sauce, but we had that changed to olive oil sauce.  No problem.  Really good.

The restaurant had only been open for a couple of weeks, when we were there, and the inexperience showed.  The server provided excellent fast service, but was clearly nervous and evidently had not been trained in wine etiquette.  She could not open the bottle, so had to bring it to the bartender to open.  She then picked up the glass, poured wine into it, and handed it to me without putting it down on the table.  That would have been OK for beer, but all wrong for wine.  I then told her to leave the pouring to me, since she clearly didn't know what she was doing.  In a European style Italian restaurant, the servers should be better trained in how to serve wine.  But I expect that in future weeks, those problems will be fixed.

Unlike many upscale new Italian restaurants, this one has no whole grain pasta.  Perhaps they'll include one in the future.  I assume the restaurant is named after the appearance of Italy on the map.

There are no booths, but the 4-top tables are fine.  There is a long community dining table down the center of the restaurant.  Along one wall, there is a wooden bench with 2-top tables lined up along it.  The 4-tops along the other side are better.

Boozefish Wine Bar

1511 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111

This wine bar, often viewed as "European," has a good selection of fine wines.  The prices are not a bargain, but all wines by the glass are at $1 off during the happy hours, which are 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm on Tues - Fri, and 10 pm - midnight on Tues - Thurs.  They also have food, but the menu does not fit their image as a European wine bar.  All of the entrees are sandwiches or wraps.  They also have side salads, but not as serious entrees.  The sandwiches and salads are very good, but I don't know where they got the idea that a menu featuring only sandwiches or wraps is "European."  What country in Europe did they have in mind?  I can't think of a European country that would view solely sandwiches to be the entree choices in a wine bar.  That would be the case in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but their wine bars feature tiny sandwiches, not intended as meals --- and of course Argentina is in South America

I'd say that Boozefish is an American wine bar.

Parking is somewhat difficult in that area of Westport Rd., but Boozefish has its own small parking lot behind the building.  That is a distinct plus.  But neaby Rudy's Tenampa Tacqueria on that street has a more convenient parking lot next door on Westport Rd, and Rudy's offers more than sandwiches.  I prefer Rudy's to Boozefish, although they are very different.

Broadway Jazz Club
3601 Broadway
Kansas City, MO
Closed on Sundays and Mondays, this jazz club has live jazz on Tuesdays through Saturdays and opens at 4 pm.  They begin serving dinner at 6 pm, but you can order at 5:30 pm.  The online information about when the performers will be there is not always accurate.  For example, when I looked, the site said they have live jazz from 4 pm - 7 pm.  But that was not correct.  It's best to call.  On Fridays and Saturdays, they often have an early band starting at 5:30 pm, but if you get there at 5:30 pm, you probably can order without the band music making it hard to hear, since the band usually doesn't start performing until  5:45 pm.

The club is on the southeast corner of the intersection of Broadway and 36th St.  There is an outdoor protected parking lot directly behind the bar.  The entrance to the lot is from 36th St.  To get to the lot, head east from from Broadway onto 36th St. and turn right (south) into the lot.  There is much space in that large lot.

The menu recently has changed, but we've found all of the veggies and seafood to be excellent.  The entrees include a side plus a salad, so an appetizer is not necessary.  In fact an appetizer, such as the shrimp skewers including rice or veggies could alone be enough for a dinner.  The seafood comes in every day, so hard to go wrong.

Happy hour is until 7 pm and includes $1 off on the house wines by the glass.  You can make reservations using Open Tables.  The service is excellent, but we prefer Camile Kimbrough.  Regarding tables, our preference is table 43/44 in back, but if you prefer to be in front, you could request table 13/14, if you don't mind talking over the loud music.

Cafe Sebastienne

4420 Warwick Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
In the Kemper Museum
Its web site
If there is any restaurant in Kansas City that you should not miss --- this is it.  This restaurant is inside the Kemper Museum of modern art, near Country Club Plaza.  The museum has a disappointingly small collection; but relative to its size, the collection is well chosen.  However, the restaurant is a real stand out.  It has two dining rooms:  the courtyard and the cafe.  They have very different ambiance.  But if you really like modern art, choose the cafe.  The food preparations tend to be somewhat more spicy than at the city's other top restaurants, but to my taste the spice level could not be better.  It is difficult to compare Cafe Sebastienne with 40 Sardines, the American Restaurant, or Le Fou Frog, which have excellent food.  But all things considered, Cafe Sebastienne provides a combination of art and outstanding food that is hard to match anywhere in the Midwestern United States.

In fact, if I were here from out of town, this restaurant might alter my choice of hotel.  While I otherwise would prefer the upscale Fairmont at the Country Club Plaza, or the Hyatt at Crown Center, I would take seriously the modest Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, located a block from
Cafe Sebastienne.  This marvelous restaurant is right down the street from the Holiday Inn, and the Country Club Plaza is a short walk down the hill.  Unless you particularly value the luxury of the best hotels, you can save a lot of money and get better food by staying at the Holiday Inn, while dining at the Cafe Sebastienne and the restaurants at the Plaza.  It doesn't get much better than that---anywhere.

This is not an inexpensive restaurant.  But relative to the food and atmosphere, I'd rate
Cafe Sebastienne as the city's "best buy" in fine dining.  It is not difficult to spend 30% more for no better food or atmosphere at the city's other top tier restaurants.  The chef uses the freshest ingredients available in the Kansas City area, and her preparations are masterful.  But relative to my tastes, she has somewhat of a "sweet tooth."  She often uses brown sugar, figs, and fruit sauces.  But I am sure she would accommodate requests for different preparations.
[format ( [format (35)])
Cafe Trio
4558 Main
Kansas City MO
web site
If you like the feeling of big city restaurants you will like Trio.  The food preparations and quality are not among the very best in KC, but the mix of food, local art on the walls, service, and location marks this restaurant as a special place providing an "experience" that easily merits a try.  The location had long been in Midtown on Broadway somewhat north of 36th St.  But the new location is on Main closer to the Plaza.   Unfortunately, they add bacon to almost everything on the menu.  That is usually the sign of a weak chef, since good chefs do not want the strong flavor of bacon the detract from the herbs and spices artfully added to sauces.  But this restaurant is usually happy to make any changes you request to the preparations.  In addition, there is a separate vegetarian menu offering an admirably large number of choices.  But be careful about upcharges for substitutions.  The restaurant's policies in that regard can be very annoying.

The rest of the review will be about its new Main St. location, which includes much better parking behind the restaurant and an attractive outdoor patio.  The wine bottles are half price on Tuesdays.  During happy hour (2 pm - 6 pm weekdays), all wines by the glass are half price, but only in the bar area or patio, and they don't start serving dinner until 5 pm. The seafood here is usually very good and comes in frequently.   Although open earlier for drinks, Trio does not begin starting dinner until 5 pm.

Regardinig parking, you technically should park in a "customer only" spot, rather than a Parkside Plaza Parking Only spot, since the latter spots are for the shops in that small strip mall.  But you can use a Parkside Plaza spot for the restaurant, if the customer only spots are gone.  This restaurant in its new location not only has an outside deck overlooking the Country Club Plaza, but also a substantial inside bar, if you should prefer to sit at a bar rather than at a table.

The restaurant admirably has a lot of coat hooks, so you don't need to take up space at your table with coats.  But you might not know how to find the hooks.  They are along the wall that faces the outside patio. 


4124 Pennsylvania St.
KC, MO 64111
web site
This large and colorful facility is perhaps better known for its special events in its private dining rooms that for its public restaurant.  But the regular restaurant is very attractive, and the food, although from a rather ordinary menu, is good.  If you like booths, you can ask for "the booth."  They have only one.  If you are not happy with the preparations described on the menu, do not hesitate to ask for modifications.  They do can accommodate many such requests.

In addition to special events in the private dining rooms, they have occasional public special events worth considering, such as the "opera supper" on 3rd Mondays from 6 pm - 9 pm from June through October.  They also have happy hour from 4 - 6 pm on all weekdays, but they do not begin serving dinner until 5 pm.  Their happy hour provides $2 discounts on all drinks from the bar, including wines by the glass.  Of particular note is the Opera Suppers on 3rd Mondays from 6 pm - 10 pm.  Reservations for those events are recommended.

While this is not a vegetarian restaurant, there is a vegetarian chef in the kitchen who is sensitive to vegetarian preferences.  For example, they have separate pans they can use, if you don't want your vegetarian dish or fish cooked on a grill used with meat.  Also they have really outstanding tofu.  It evidently is fried with some sort of spices, and is a real winner.  In addition, the asparagus is really good.  In fact a meal consisting only of the asparagus and tofu, perhaps with a salad, would be hard to beat, if you are a vegetarian.

Chubby's On Broadway

3756 Broadway St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
Chubby's does have one claim to distinction.  It is open 24 hours a day, 6 days a week; and on the other day, Monday, it is open until 2 pm.  But if there were a prize for the worst  food in the Midwest, this place would rank high.  

Its coffee?  Maybe the worst in the country.  They do have some decent tea bags.  So if I have to stop there very late some night when everyplace else is closed, I'll go for the tea.

To add insult to injury, they don't accept credit cards.  This place is a throwback to the worst of the distant past.  At least a Dunkin Donuts would have a decent cup of coffee.

[format (14)]

Copa Room
3421 Broadway St.
Kansas City, MO
web site
Unfortunately this restarant seems to be closed, but perhaps is moving to another location.

Along with Cafe Trio and the Grille on Broadway, the Copa Room is in the Old Hyde Park area on Broadway.  The Copa Room is a block north of Cafe Trio and two blocks north of the Grille on Broadway in a somewhat less crowded part of Broadway.  The Copa Room is a take off on Rat Pack restaurants in Vegas.  The singers in the evenings tend to have the style of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and sing their songs.  The style of food is Italian American.  While that style often is not as good as the styles in newer, more innovative Italian restaurants, the Copa Room is an exception to that rule.  The food here is excellent.  Relative to that familar style, you won't find better in KC.  Also the wine list is a good one, and includes some reasonably priced wines, such as Calina Chardonnay from Chile. 

The basa fish is excellent.  If you prefer to avoid the breading and the butter in the sauce, you can request that the basa be broiled with an olive oil sauce.  The diablo shrimp also is excellent, and is in a wonderful marinara sauce with lots of garlic.  Most dishes come with pasta, but you can substitute asparagus for the pasta with a small upcharge.  I like the portobello appetizer, but would have preferred more portobello and less toast.  If you like high quality olive oil as much as I do, you can get an extra dish of extra virgin olive oil at a charge.  I have not yet tried the house red sauce (sugo), but will do so the next time I am there.

Unfortunately this restaurant has one very big problem for nonsmokers.  There is no nonsmoking section.  While this might fit the old time Rat Pack image, the second hand smoke can be a real problem to nonsmokers, especially in the lounge area in front, where the entertainers perform.  We were told that the best ventilation is in the back, where there are three oval booths.  We sat there and had no problems with second hand smoke.  But we don't know whether there were smokers in that area, when we were there.  Also you will not be able to see the entertainers from that area of the restaurant, although you will be able to hear them.  Maybe KC will ban smoking in restaurants soon ....

There is a small parking lot behind the restaurant.  But access is along a steep one lane driveway.  There is no separate exit driveway.  The restaurant rents spaces across the street (slightly north of the restaurant on the west side of the street) in the Missouri Gas and Energy lot.  I haven't tried it, but the MGE lot may be a better choice than the lot behind the restaurant.

Cupini's Westport

1809 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
Located on the corner of Westport Rd. and State Line Rd., Cupini's specializes in pasta, which they make themselves.  They also have excellent sandwiches, salads, and soups.  The Taste of Italy sandwich is outstanding.  The roasted portobello sandwich and tuna salad, less so.  The spinach salad is a healthy choice, if you skip the blue cheese, but not very interesting.  The sweet mustard vinaigrette salad dressing is not to my liking.  The balsamic vinaigrette is better.  The lemon garlic vinaigrette dressing is best.  The sandwiches are on very fresh baguette bread.  They have no wine, beer, whole grain bread, whole grain pizza crust, or whole grain pasta.  The tomato soup is excellent, but I add some crushed red pepper.  A large bowl would itself be a fine lunch.  The healthiest choice is the large house salad, without the cheese, and with the lemon garlic vinaigrette dressing.

The pizza is surprisingly good.  I got the Adriano.  I had them delete the cheese but add tomatoes and onions.  I got the 6 inch, and also got two of the salads from the deli counter.  They were excellent, but one would have been enough with the pizza.  I added crushed red pepper to the pizza.

To say that the vegetable soup is not vegetarian is an understatement.  It contains bacon.  Since when has bacon become a vegetable?

The Drop

409 E. 31st St.
Kansas City, MO 64108
web site
The Drop has some of the best bar food in Kansas City, outside of bars connected to high end restaurants, such as The American Restaurant and Bluestem.  For example, the house marinated olives are among the best I've ever had anywhere, and the bruschetta are excellent.  They also have various appetizers, salads, panini, and sandwiches on artisan bread. 

The location is somewhat of a puzzle.  It is in an area called "Martini Corner."  Evidently there once was much going on here, but if you walk or drive east, all you will find is blight (i.e., boarded up windows on buildings with large parking lots where at one time there must have been much going on).  It is sad to see.  Evidently the new Power and Light District is taking its toll on this nightlife area.  Martini Corner now is one block, with parking lots on both sides, and a total of four bar/restaurants:  The Drop, Tower Taven next door, Velvet Dog across the street, and the Sol Cantina across the street.  The other three places seem to have a real "edge" to them, especially the Sol Cantina that has an outdoor patio behind it and the appearance of probably a raucus nightlife (I haven't been there after dark).  Well, there also is Mint, which has "bottle service," etc., if you are into that sort of thing.  It is next to Velvet Dog. 

But for food, The Drop is in another league.  Its chef has worked at some excellent restaurants and has certainly done something very admirable by choosing this risky location for his excellent lounge.  Evidently he has seen the potential for a bright future for this location.  I hope he is right.

Cafe Seed
2932 Cherry Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
web site
This restaurant is strictly vegan and has no liquor license.  Its breakfasts and brunches are especially interesting.  The brunch menu is available on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm.  The restaurant is about 2 blocks northeast of Martini Corner, which is on 31st St.  Owners Diallo and Africka Kenyatta previously ran a bookstore that served vegan food in NY City.  The neighborhood is not great, but there is much encouraging new construction close to this restaurant, so it is getting better.

This is not a place to go, if you are in a rush.  The service and kitchen are amazingly slow.

Drunken Worm

1405 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111

This new tequila bar has its own rather strange style and atmosphere.  When you walk in, you might be a bit puzzled by the masked heads, strange looking topless masked manikin at entrance, and skeleton figurines.  The theme is a Mexican tequila bar with displays representing Mexican professional wrestlers, who wear such masks.  The menu emphasizes tacos, and the bar drinks emphasize tequilas and Mexican beers.  The selection of wines is minimal.

I particularly liked the shrimp tacos.  All of their tacos come with flour tortillas.  You can request corn tortillas, if you wish, but they are like cardboard.  Stick with the flour tortillas.   I also tried the veggie tacos.  They were good, but rather skimpy on their contents.  The tilapia tacos have a sweet sauce containing honey.  You could try to get them to change the sauce to the shrimp tacos sauce.  But the shrimp tacos are so good, that they'd probably still be better than the tilapia tacos.

Two tacos with black beans are enough for lunch.


554 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
This restaurant is now closed at this location.

Yes, you know this chain.  But as a franchise operation, the managements of the individual restaurants in the chain are not the same.  This one is particularly good.  This Chili's is willing to accommodate unusual requests.  For example, the chain provides no olive oil or any other vegetable oil to its restaurants.  Mostly they use butter.  But they do have chimichurri sauce (cilantro, garlic, lime, and olive oil) that normally comes only with the southwest cedar plank tilapia.  But if you ask for that sauce, they'll bring out as much as you want with no additional charge.  Also if you are a pescatarian and do not want your fish or shrimp grilled on the same grill as meat, they'll do it on the individual wood planks normally used only for the tilapia. 

They have good wines, such as Toasted Head chardonnay, at reasonable prices.  But what is really amazing is the happy hour drinks at big discounts ALL DAY LONG on Sunday - Thursday, and until 6 pm on Friday and Saturday.  For example, their house wines, which are good ones, are prices at $3.50 during their "happy hours."  Meanwhile this chain is good about providing nutritional information about everything it serves and uses, including its sauces and sides.

Eddie Delahunt's Cafe &
4448 Bell Street (at 45th St).
KC, MO 64111
web site
If there were a prize for cafe quaintness in Kansas City, this cafe would win hands down.  It is owned by Irish folk musician, Eddie Lelahunt, who performs around KC regularly, and occasionally at his cafe.  It is located in the "West Plaza" area, which is around the intersection of 45th St. and State Line Rd.  The area itself is super-quaint.  Every single store is an antique store, without exception.  If you were to drive through it, you would not likely guess that there is a cafe there, since Eddie Delahunt's is inside a house.

The decor, music, and atmosphere are Irish, perhaps intended to represent cafes outside Dublin.  I cannot speak to its authenticity, since I've never been outside Dublin, when in Ireland; and never ordered coffee in Dublin, where I drink nothing but Guinness.  This cafe does not serve wine or beer, but serves really excellent coffee and sandwiches.  I got a skinny Macchiato.  They know how to do it right here, unlike most other coffee shops in Kansas City, which seem to think it is supposed to contain some ridiculous syrup and often don't even foam the milk on top.

Oh, and I really liked the sandwich I got there.

El Patron Cocina

2905 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
This restaurant is very popular.  If you arrive at noon for lunch, you likely will have to sit at the bar, and you may have difficulty parking in their lot.  At off hours, you can sit at one of the booths that are along one of the walls.  Virtually everything comes with rice and refried beans.  Although their refried beans are made with vegetable oil instead of lard, refried beans are much higher in fat than regular black beans, which they do not have.  While the prices are modest, this is basically a Tex-Mex restaurant with a few unusual additions, such as oysters.

I much prefer the nearby Taqueria Mexico.

Friends Sushi and Bento Place

1808 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO
This is a very pleasant Japanese restaurant in all ways --- except for one.  The atmosphere is very pleasant, the service is excellent, and the food is good.  But except for a few high stools along the counter facing the window, all of the chairs are unpadded wood.  While the black painted wood chairs go well with the decor, they are not particularly comfortable.

On the  other hand, their sushi chef really knows what he is doing and has some unique specials, such as his daikon roll, which is rapped in a daikon (radish) without rice.  My preference is to have him omit the masago fish eggs.  Two daikon rolls and the agedashi tofu appetizer make an excellent meal.  The Vegetarian Heaven roll also is unusual, but is a meal in itself.  No, it is not just one roll.

Genghis Khan

3906 Bell Street (just off 39th)
web site
Although known for its Mongolian Barbecue, that is not all that they have here.  If you order from the menu, you will find that this restaurant has some excellent Oriental dishes.  This restaurant is particularly good at preparing oriental "hot pots."  The seafood hot pot has an excellent clam base broth, but most of the seafood is in the shell and a nuisance to pick out.  Although most of the entrees, including the hot pots, come with rice, you can request substitution of cellophane rice noodles or vegetables (usually broccoli).  I have been consistently disappointed by the fish at this restaurant, most recently the mackerel teriyaki.  I no longer get fish here.

Unfortunately Oriental restaurants in Kansas City seem to be including more and more sugar and salt in their sauces.  In fact I was told be a waiter in one such restaurant that Americans seem to have a sweet tooth and are happiest with sauces containing much more sugar than would be normal in the authentic Asian preparation. They won't mind, if you order from the menu and ask for no sugar, MSG, and chicken stock to be added, since they don't use much anyway.  But if you want the most basic preparation, ask for "white sauce" on any dish or on any combination of vegetables and meats that you prefer, although it also contains sugar, salt, chicken stock, and MSG, unless you tell them to omit it.  Also ask for the chili sauce with oil to perk it up, since the white sauce is very mild.  A particularly good choice is the shrimp with broccoli and mushrooms.  If you prefer you can ask them to substitute tofu in place of the shrimp, and you can ask them to omit the sugar, MSG, and chicken stock for a surprisingly good vegetarian dish, especially if you add some of  the hot sauce with oil.  Our most recent good experience was with the Curry Tofu Delight.  It was excellent.

You would be surprise by what you can do with the various sauces and spices on the buffet here. 
The buffet includes soup and is not limited to the ones that are out on the tables.  For example, they have a vegetarian soup, but you will have to ask the waitperson to get it from the kitchen.  It is nevertheless included in the fixed price of the buffet.  The buffet table is often closed down between about 3:30 pm and 4:15 pm, for the transition between lunch and dinner.

They have a full bar.  Their house white and red wines are fine by the glass.  The house red is a cabernet and the house white is a riesling.  But if you want something more upscale, you can order a bottle of the chardonnay or pinot noir.  Neither is a bargain, but they are substantially better than the house wines.

Green Room Burgers & Beer

4010 Pennsylvania Ave
Kansas City, MO 64111
The Green Room has among the best veggie burgers in the KC area.  They are on whole wheat buns.  Salads are very good, with clearly fresh ingredients.  The hummus preparation is spicy.  The fries are very good, but they do not have sweet potato fries.  The service was slow, but it was not the fault of the server, who was excellent.  The delays were in the kitchen.

The restaurant is next to a comedy club, which is below a coffee shop in a large strip mall area, including Westport's supermarket, so has lots of parking space

Although they have more beer selections than wine choices, the wines by the glass are good ones at reasonable prices.

The Grille on Broadway
3605 Broadway St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
This upscale, expensive restaurant is in the Old Hyde Park area on Broadway near 36th St, about a block away from Cafe Trio.  The Grille on Broadway has easy parking in an outdoor lot just behind the restaurant.  You can get to the lot from 36th St.  The best table in the restaurant is table #5 (by the mirrors), although the table next to the front window also is pleasant.  Since the restaurant is rather small, getting a good table is a plus.  But for the price, you are likely to be far happier at Cafe Trio.

The mahi mahi had the consistency of frozen fish, but the halibut was much better.  I was particularly astonished with the "wine list."  There was no written wine list.  The waitress said she was the wine list, and rattled off wines without mentioning prices.  When I started asking about prices, it became evident to me that the prices were negotiable.  I've never before encountered negotiable wine bottle prices at any restaurant anywhere.  Even in the Third World, restaurants have fixed prices for wine bottles.  The Grille on Broadway is in the process of producing a real wine list, and perhaps the negotiable prices will soon end.  But meanwhile, I must say I was not at all impressed by this restaurant,which hopefully will improve.

Harry's Bar & Tables
501 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111

There are Harry's bars all over the world, including Jerusalem, St. Louis, Venice, Montreux (Switzerland), Paris, Rome, Florence, London, Singapore, Amsterdam, the KC River Market, and San Francisco.  The name was first made famous by Hemingway, when he wrote about the one in a famous hotel in Venice (which bar, incidentally, is fabulous, but incredibly expensive).  Since the name is not franchised, any bar can use the name.  But traditionally they tend to be innovative and sophiticated lounge bars.  The Harry's Country Club in the River Market does not fit that image.  While that one has an outstanding selection of beers, including some of the world's best Belgian beers, the atmosphere is country and the food pleasant but average and not innovative.  In addition the Harry's Country Club in the River Market has no upscale wines, only a few very modestly priced house wines.

But the Harry's Bar in Westport does fit the image.  I have so far tried the red bean hummus, Sato's guacamole, and the crab and shrimp cakes.  All were unusually interesting and innovative in style.  Also, as is fitting for a Harry's Bar, this one has some excellent wines by the glass, and they are priced at half price from opening to 7 pm each day (they open at 3 pm on weekdays and 5 pm on weekends).  While this bar is not comparable to the awesome one that Hemingway loved, it does resemble some of the others.  It most reminds me the one in Jerusalem.  But while the Westport one is above ground with a great view of Westport Rd and a deck in back for outdoor dining and drinking, the one in Jerusalem (favored by Western media in the Middle East) is below ground with no sign and no way to know that it is there, unless someone has given you the address and you know where to go down the stairs to find the bar.

Now if they could come up with the Jerusalem Harry's famous navy bean soup....

Hamburger Mary's

101 SW Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
This restaurant is part of a chain of gay theme restaurants.  It is a lot of fun for everyone, and its customers are not exclusively gays, although many of the waiters are.  There are even families with children who come to that restaurant.  The novelty may wear off, as the chain spreads throughout the country, but the food is good enough to keep customers coming back.  For example, the falafel patty in the Med burger was so large, that there is no way to wrap the pita bread around it.  The bean burger also is very large, so easily can be served "naked" (without a bun), and still be more than enough.  But if you are a vegan, you should not order the bean burger, which contains cheese.  The tomato basil soup is almost a marinara sauce, so you can order it as a dipping sauce.  It does contain some heavy cream, but if you add Tobasco, it is really an excellent dipping sauce.  The tuna is sushi grade.  I ordered it medium done here.  To me, their medium-rare is more like rare.  It's very good anyway.  I got it blackened with salad, but there are other choices with that tuna, including the sweet potato fries, that I'd probably usually prefer (without salt).  Also they have a very good salad with avocado, sauteed mushrooms, and sauteed onions.  They also can just double the amount of sauteed vegetables that are already included with it, if you don't want the rice that usually is served with it.  In fact the sauteed vegetables are better than the sauteed mushrooms or onions, so the double portion is a better idea.  They provide horseradish with the tuna, and it is excellent.

There is a small amount of parking in a lot next to it and in front of it.  The spots in front are very convenient, if you back into one, so you will not have to back out onto that street in traffic.  The small lot just to the south of the restaurant also is fine.  But since it is in the Crossroads area, parking sometimes can be somewhat difficult later in the evening.  They previously offered wines by the glass at half price during happy hour.  No more.  In fact the cheap wines by the glass are overpriced.  But the bottles are priced right.  The house chardonnay and cabernet are better than the merlot (I like their cabernet better than their chardonnay).  Some appetizers are half price during happy hour, including the fried green beans and fried pickles, which are surprisingly good (perhaps fried in a light oil).  The cole slaw also is better than average, with a light sauce.  The music tends to be loud, but it is part of that atmosphere.

There is entertainment on some evenings, beginning at 8 pm.  The service is excellent, but we especially were impressed by the service from Melissa.  The most comfortable seating is the booths, but on nights when there is entertainment, they remove the booths.

Hi-Dive Lounge
1411 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
In the location of a closed dive pizza joint, this place does not use the word "dive" in that sense.  In fact it is far from a dive bar, as was immediately evident, when I walked in and saw the bottles of quality wine and beer behind the bar.  Got a glass of Poggio Anima Asmodeus Italian red wine blend.  Any of the wines are available by the bottle at four times the price of the price by the glass; but you may have to explain that to the servers, who are not always aware that they can sell bottles at four times the price of a glass.  Then I got a bowl of the soup of the day, which was tomato basil.  After I had added some crushed red pepper to spice it up, the soup was excellent.  Another outstanding appetizer is the tofu egg rolls, but the entrees are large enough so you can skip the appetizers.  Also got the shrimp salad, which was really good, with surprisingly good shrimp.  But they have replaced that salad with an even better one:  their wonderful mushroom salad.  Also they have different dressings, if you don't want the usual one.  Their best dressing is the sundried tomato dressing on the mushroom salad.  The crispy polenta veggie skewers are excellent, but is only available in the evening, after the regular chef arrives.  The polenta is on the side, not on the skewers.  If you want something else, you could get a small side salad.  But the veggie skewers alone are enough.

We also got a shot of Glenlivet 12 year old scotch and a martini.  Both very good, but not bargain priced.  The potato chips here are to die for (perhaps a good reason not to get them too often).

Yes, they have a pinball machine and TVs, but this is no dive bar.  Hi-Dive is a neighborhood bar in the best sense of the term.  If you want to avoid the crowded driving conditions on 39th St, there is a way to avoid it.  Take 40th St. from State Line Drive.  At Terrace St., take a left.  You don't even need to look for the street sign to find that street.  Just watch for the one way arrow sign at the intersection of 40th St. and Terrace St.  There is a small lot on the left side of Terrace St. at the corner with 39th St.

The last time I was there, it was crowded and noisy with loud music.

2820 W. 53rd St
Fairway Shops
Roeland Park, KS 66205
Pitch review
Yes, this is part of the Houlihan's chain.  So you know that the atmosphere is good, the seating comfortable (especially the oval booths in back), and the food ordinary.  But we like the restaurant a lot.  At present, all of their wine bottles are half price on Tuesdays.  This is a particularly good deal, since their wines are priced moderately by the bottle, even without the discount. 

The salad is not included with any of the entrees, and includes bacon and cheese.  So if you order a salad, expect an upcharge and bacon and cheese.  The vegetables that come with the entrees are adequate, so I rarely order a salad too.  The dressing that they normally provide masks the flavors of the salad ingredients, which really are interesting. 
The grilled shrimp are especially good.  I also really like the fire grilled salmon but I add olive oil onto it and substitute for the mashed potatoes.  The tilapia is very good, if you like its somewhat unusual preparation here (not my favorite).  The scallops are  surprisingly good for the Midwest.  I usually avoid them in Kansas and Missouri, but I  like them here.  The hummus small plate is good as an appetizer,but unnecessary, since the entrees are adequate as a dinner on their own.

All of the soups include chicken stock, including the tomato soup.  If you are a vegetarian, avoid all of the soups, including the ones that might appear to be vegetarian.

Table 1 is a large table in the back corner by the fireplace.  It is too large for a couple.  But the next table, table 2, and the two after it, are good choices for privacy.  My favorite is table 3.  My second choice is table 2.

IPho Tower
3623 Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64111
This excellent Vietnamese restaurant is close to the Broadway Jazz Club, and shares the same parking lot which is behind them.  There also are a few spaces next the the restaurant.  Enter the lot from the Sprint Store parking lot, just south of the restaurant.  Alternatively you could enter the lot from 36th St., but then you'd have to drive through the lot to the far end of the lot to be behind iPho, which is south of the Broadway Jazz Club on the same block.

IPho is exceptionally cooperative about changes.  For example, unlike many Vietnamese restaurants in Kansas City, IPho offers vegetarian Pho.  After adding a small amount of chili oil, we liked it a lot.  If you want, they'll replace the noodles with bean sprouts.  You can also ask them to add shrimp, but they'll then removed the tofu, unless you ask for that too.  The house wines, including the chardonnay and the cab are fair, but the pour is generous.  Either by the glass is fine or a bottle of the chardonnay is fine, but the more expensive wines are significantly better.  Be aware that the more expensive Bouchard chardonnay is from France and is not oaked to the degree to which most Americans (including me) are accustomed and tend to prefer.

They'll serve the spring rolls without the meat that they usually include in it.  The sweet potato and shrimp fritters were disappointing.  They seemed like sweet potato fries in a batter with a few battered shrimp added.  The grilled tofu appetizer is good, and enough for an entree, if you also get something else.  They no longer have salmon on the menu.

The Vietnamese sandwich comes with one add on, such as the tofu or egg.  You can get more than one, but there will be an upcharge.  That sandwich is excellent and large (about the size of a "foot-long" Subway sandwich).  The vegetarian sandwich with tofu is available at a discount during happy hour, ending at 6 pm.

The restaurant has both benches and individual chairs.  Although both are padded, the individual chairs are more comfortable than the benches.  At the last table, you can move one of the chairs to the end, if you don't want to look at the wall.

An excellent choice for two persons would be one veg pho with tofu and shrimp plus two tofu appetizers.  In fact before 6 pm, the tofu appetizer is a bargain happy hour choice, as is the wonderful tofu Vietnamise sandwich.  

[format (50)]
Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen
1823 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO
This is the second restaurant of this Texas chain of Cajun restaurants to open in the Kansas City area.  The other is in the Legends area.  See the "Johnson County, Wyandotte County, and South KC" section for more about this chain.  This restaurant has live entertainment in its back dining room every night starting at 7 pm.  The happy hour is 3 - 6 pm on M-F, with substantial discounts on the appetizers, including the oysters.  But they get their oysters only once a week:  on Thursday.  So don't expect to find any left on Wednesday.  In fact the last of them usually gone by the end of the weekend.  The best days for oysters here are Thursday and Fridays, with Thursday being a fantastic deal.  Not only are the oysters at their freshest on Thursdays, but the price drops to even less than the happy hour price, and for all day, not just for happy hour.  While listed as an appetizer on the menu, you can order enough for dinner (about 1 1/2 dozen will do it) at the bargain price on Thursday.  If you are there after Thursday after 7 pm, you also can enjoy the live jazz.  Can't beat that for a "deal."  But the other fish (salmon, tilapia, and catfish) usually come in on Tuesdays and Fridays.  So almost any day of the week is good for fish, with the possible exception of Monday. 

There is no discount on wine during the happy hour, but the regular price of the house wine is always a bargain.  Wine bottles are half price on Wednesdays, including the already inexpensive house wines. My favorite sauce is the lemon-pepper sauce.  But if you are a vegetarian, you should be aware of the fact that they use chicken stock in that sauce.  They don't use chicken or beef stock in any other sauce.  Another sauce I like a lot is the "Pierre" sauce, but my preference is usually just the Louisiana hot sauce that is on the table.  Lately it seems that the sea food in general has been especially good, including the salmon, tilapia, and shrimp.  A really outstanding dish is their garlic seafood tilapia.  You should be aware that it is in a butter sauce and is breaded, so you might want to ask for the same dish, but blackened instead of breaded; but the breaded version is excellent.  My current preference here is blackened tilapia or blackend salmon with Pierre sauce or the Louisiana hot sauce and with sliced tomatoes and sweet potato fried.  There is a charge for a side of the Pierre sauce, bnt not for the Louisiana hot sauce (which is maybe better).  Also they have a veggie burger.  They usually serve it with cheese, and it is not soy cheese (one waitperson told me otherwise, but not true).  Those sweet potato fries are already seasoned, but not with much salt or anything else I'd want to minimize, so just right.  There is a small upcharge for the sweet potato fries as a substitute, but worth it.  In fact even as an additional side order, the price is reasonable.  The sauce that usually comes with the salmon is a cream sauce that doesn't go well with blackening, but it contains shrimp.  I ask for it to be on the side, so I can fish out the shrimp and avoid the sauce.  The Cajun cole slaw is good.  The sliced tomatoes are good.  The side salad is big and they have no good dressings, so I am not a fan of the salads.

The cajun stir fry seems more Oriental than cajun, with a sauce based on soy sauce.  But I like it a lot.  A half order is a good side to go with whatever else you might order.  In fact one of those half orders is likely to be larger than you might expect.  Instead of the dirty rice, you might prefer the sweet potato salad.  It's really good, so long as you don't mind the potato salad type preparation, which probably includes mayo, but not an excessive amount.  The sweet potato fries are better.  The Garlic Seafood Tilapia is good, as is its sauce.  But it usually comes with a bread crumb coating.  It's better if you ask for it to be blackened instead.  The Tilapia with Devil Crab Stuffing is very good, but the sauce is a cream sauce, and the stuffing includes bread crumbs.  I ask them to substitute the sauce from the Garlic Seafood Tilapia.  I get the Cajun cole slaw and sweet potato fries with either.

The waiter we request, when he is there, is Olaf.  He told us about a sauce that is not on the menu, and we like a lot.  It is called "mamou."  It is a very good tomato sauce.  The chef uses it in various preparations, but you can ask for that sauce itself.  Oddly as a separate sauce, it is not listed on the menu. 
The salmon Lafayette is among their best choices.  It comes with a cream sauce containing two shrimp.  I prefer to ask them to substitute the mamou sauce.  They'll include the two shrimp in that sauce too, if you ask.

I really like the shrimp creole here.  It comes in a light, spicy, healthy tomato sauce.  Instead of the dirty rice, I get the veggies and drop them into the sauce.  On Thursdays, I also get a half dozen oysters on the half shell, since they are very fresh on Thursdays.  Also the band on Thursdays is excellent, but it is best to arrive before 6:30 pm to get a table on that evening, since the band starts at 7 pm.

Kansas Town
1403 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111

I really wanted to like this restaurant, which is in a good location on 39th St., where unfortunately one restaurant after another has failed.  Every dish we ordered was innovative and excellent.  Since it is a new restaurant, I hope it will get its act together and not disappoint.  But the number of problems we encountered was discouraging, and I am not sure we'll return.

Problems started when we arrived and tried to park in the lot along the side of the restaurant.  The owner of another business came and and said we were not permitted to park there, since his business had exclusive rights to four of the spaces in the lot, although there were not signs saying that.  We moved our car.  When we entered the restaurant, I asked the chef about the parking.  He said that to his knowledge, all of the parking in that lot is open parking, and we had not been told the truth by the business next door.  Of course that was not the restaurant's fault, but didn't start the evening off on a positive note.

Next we asked the server to find out when the fish (tuna and corvina bass) came in.  We were there on a Tuesday, and she told us that the fish, including the tuna, served rare, came in on Saturday ---- four days ago.  We asked about some of the preparations on the menu, but the server didn't know how to answer many of our questions, so she brought out the chef.  He did answer all of our questions, but his reply about the fish was that it is not possible to get fresh fish to come in every day, and the fish that came in on Saturday (not frozen) was fresh ---- on Tuesday.  Well, clearly his definition of fresh did not correspond with ours.  No, we did not order any of the fish.  The fish come in on Saturdays and Wednesdays at that restaurant, so we considered returning on a Saturday or Wednesday.

We ordered three entrees and one happy hour appetizer, along with five glasses of the house wines, which we split between us.  The house wines during happy hour are a terrific bargain.  Since the food was outstanding and the happy hour prices on the house wines unbeatable, we were in a good mood, when the check came out.  But it was obviously wrong.  It didn't add up.   The conspicuous overcharge was $16.  I pointed it out to the server, who checked and came back to say that she had listed one of the entrees off by $1.  Clearly that did not solve the problem.  She eventually returned with the correct bill, $16 lower.  Another server then came to the table to ask how everything had been.  I said the food had been terrific, but there had been a big error in the bill.  He seemed totally unconcerned, said he hoped it had been corrected, and walked off.  Our server then came over and said it was her fault.  She had confused us with another table.  Huh?  All of the items on the bill were correct.  She had not listed on our bill anything ordered at another table.  The problem was the addition, which was way off.  We received no explanation for that addition error.

The restaurant is not open for lunch.  Tuesdays through Saturdays, they are open from 3 pm and serve dinner from 5 pm.  On Sunday, there is brunch from 10 am - 3 pm.  Much of the seating is hard wood with no cushions, or seats without backs.  There are a few exceptions, such as table 44, which is one of the three tables with comfortable chairs.

Yes, the food here is wonderful.  But if you go there, check your bill carefully.  Both of us would be very hesitant to risk another such experience at this restaurant, and may not return.

McCoy's Public House

4057 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
Definitely the best bar food in Kansas City, by a rather large margin!  I  have consistently been impressed by the freshness of the ingredients in all of their food.  In addition, the menu includes an admirable number of vegetarian choices.  Also they have good beers, which they brew themselves.  I especially like their India Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat.  I am less enthused about their dry stout.  But the wine choices are a bit odd.  They have moderately priced house wine, of moderate quality, and a good choice of better wines --- that are overpriced.  So if you want wine with your bar food, you are stuck either with a fair house wine or better wines priced suitably for a fine dining restaurant, which this is not.  The smart move is probably to order beer with dinner, at not too late an hour.  But if you are there between 4 pm and 6 pm on a weekday (happy hour), the house wine is $3 a glass, and well worth it.  Late in the evening on a weekend, this restaurant can get very crowded.

I have enjoyed the Sake Salmon and the Moroccan Stir Fry.  Both come with a glaze that is too sweet for my tastes.  But you can tell them to skip the glaze and provide olive oil instead.  The salmon is listed  as Norwegian, but is farm raised.  This is rather unusual, since most farm raised salmon is Atlantic salmon.  It's typical quality farm raised salmon.  It's fine, but don't get your hopes up for fresh Norwegian salmon.  I request that it be wood fire grilled with cajon spices and olive oil instead of sake glazed.


427 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
Matsu and Ichiban are Japanese restaurants that are (or have been) in central Westport on Westport Rd.  I can only conclude that Westport is not a good place for Japanese restaurants.  Ichiban is closed.  I went to Matsu on a very hot day.  It was hotter inside the restaurant than on the street.  The waitress told me there was nothing wrong with the airconditioning, but it was very hot out and there was too much body heat inside (there were people at only two other tables).  Someone brought food out from the kitchen and similarly said the airconditioning was working, but it was really hot in the kitchen.   The waitress told me the heat was "driving me crazy."  She offered to bring out ice.   Huh?

Next time I want Japanese food, I'll go to Kabuki at Crown Center.  At least the airconditioning is adequate there.

New Peking Chinese Restaurant
540 Westport Road
Kansas City, MO 64111

This restaurant serves some of the best Chinese food in Kansas City.  As is necessary for fine Chinese food, the ingredients are very fresh and the sauces excellent.  The menu is not very innovative, especialy the lunch menu.  The choices at dinner are much better than at lunch, but still tend to emphasize the Chinese dishes that are the most well known in the US.  The dining room is very pleasant and comfortable with many booths.  I especially like the booths on the upper level.  The choice of authentic Chinese teas is especially noteworthy.  I especially like the Hot Plate Seafood Combination here, but I ask them to skip the squid and add more of the shrimp, scallops, abalone and vegetables.  The Eight Treasure Seafood is similar.  If you don't want fake crab included, you'll need to tell them.  A really big winner from the authentic side of the menu is the Pipu Braised Tofu.  It is in a light batter, and includes no other vegetables, but is really excellent! The orange roughy with lemon sauce is fried in a batter and very large.  The lemon sauce is OK, but nothing special.  Better yet is the sliced orange roughy in black bean sauce.  After adding chile souce, it is excellent.  The seafood roll appetizer is fine.  The spring rolls are OK, but nothing special. The flounder is served with bones, so probably not worth the trouble.  The dried fish and eggplant hot pot is enough for two.  The eggplant is good, but we did not like the salted dried fish. This restaurant leans toward Cantonese style dishes, but there are a few spicy ones on the menu.  The traditional menu is at the back of the regular Americanized one, so the choices are substantial.  The portions are very large, so you won't likely need an appetizer, unless you are planning to take home enough for another meal. 

The service here is always excellent, but there is one server who really stands out.  Her name is Hong.  Unfortunately she is not always here, but we ask for her.  Other surprises are the quality of the seafood.  The shrimp are especially excellent.  The scallops do not match the same standards, but are much better than at most Chinese restaurants, and are very good.  We've tried the scallops with garlic sauce, and we liked them.  Usually those are breaded, but I had them prepared without the breading.  The jade scallops are made in a ketchup sauce, so unavoidably contains a lot of sugar, so I have not tried it.  They come with a tomato sauce and fewer vegetables, but may be worth trying.  The double delight shrimp are excellent, including both a spicy sauce and a stir fry shrimp.  But even the spicy version is very mild, so definitely ask for it to be made spicy and get extra chile sauce to add. 

If you are a vegetarian, you'll have to inform the waitperson, since they use chicken stock in most sauces.  But they are able to provide water-base sauces that are really first rate, if you make clear your preference.  Also it is best to request no sugar added to get closer to an authentic Chinese sauce  A good sauce that works well with water base is the garlic sauce or the garlic-ginger sauce.  If this seems aukward to request, you may wish to consider the fact that in some places in China, it can be difficult to get waitpersons to understand that chicken stock and pork are not "vegetarian," unless you claim to be a Buddhist.

The house wine is available by the bottle at four times the price of the wine by the glass.  It is OK.

There is a parking lot directly in front of the restaurant and a garage across the street.  Unlike many Chinese restaurants, this one has good wine choices.  The restaurant is across the street from Gold's Gym in Westport, and is usually open normal hours on all holidays, including Christmas day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve, but without reservations the line can be extreme.  Instead go around the corner to Asian Fusion Buffet on those days.  They have no wine or beer, but no wait.  That buffet is near the supermarket in Westport.

Beer Kitchen
435 Westport Rd
Kansas City, MO 64111
This restaurant evidently has the same ownership as the other restaurants at this intersection. If you go into the Beer Kitchen restaurants and order food to go, you will find an up-charge on the bill for the cost of packing the food to go.  If you ask why, they'll complain about how much it costs them to pack food to go.  I would never pay one penny for NOT using the restaurant's table space, or the dining room overhead, or silverware, or plates, or the restaurant's service. In Lawrence, one restaurant tried to institute that practice, but stopped when no one would pay the up-charge.  I guess in Lawrence people are too smart to put up with such an absurdity.  

The practice is an insult to the intelligence of its customers.   If it were not for that, I'd be a big fan of this restaurant.  The Beer Kitchen is very innovative, interesting, and vegetarian friendly.  Evidently the owner figures that KC diners are getting smarter about their food choices, but remain gullible about billing tricks.


900 West 39th St
Kansas City, MO 64111
Owner's personal phone:  913-461-4828
Owner is Joe Perez

This restaurant is in a location where many restaurants have failed, although the location is excellent, with one of the best parking lots in the 39th St. area.  This lot is a few blocks east of restaurant row.  While I am less than sympathetic with the failure of some of the restaurants that have been at this location, I do believe that this one has real potential.

The walls of this restaurant are covered with the impressive art of Alexander Austin.  The paintings are huge and impressive.  Also the sound system providing music to the restaurant is first rate.  You have to come to this restaurant to appreciate the atmosphere of the dining room.

The current menu is for the new restaurant's opening.  Much more is planned.  We have had the house salad, the caprese salad, the hummus, the veggie market pizza, and the Margherita pizza.  We were very happy with everything, including the service.  The wine options had improved dramatically.  All of the wine bottles are priced the same, and all of the wines by the glass are priced the same.  The prices are reasonable and the wines are very well chosen.  So far we have tried the chardonnay, the pinot noir, and the Italian merlot.  All are excellent.  We got the margherita pizza, but the veggie Market pizza was better .  We also got the hummus.  It was good, and the pitas were made by the restaurant from the ingredients used to make the pizza crust.

There is somewhat of a problem with the booths.  Evidently they are not new, since the cushions sink in as if they had been used for many years.  Perhaps the owner can come up with some sort of cushions that can compensate for inadequate support from the booth seating.  

3063 Southwest Blvd at 31st St
Kansas City, MO 64108
This Latin American restaurant has much improved and now is among the best in Kansas City.  The service is excellent.  The parking lot is fine early in the evening.  The dining room is attractive with two tables in an alcove at the left as you enter.  If you can't get one of those tables, the tables along with windows are also good choices.  They also have outdoor tables on a patio along with windows

The wine list is good, with some moderately priced wines.  The Evodia grenache is modestly priced with a mild flavor similar to pinot noir, but with its own character.  They have a similarly modestly priced chardonnay bottle.  The happy hour prices do not include discounts on wines, but the wines are already reasonably priced.

The mahi mahi tacos are among the best I've ever had.  They are normally served in two tortillas:  one soft corn tortilla and one crispy flour tortilla.  I asked for both corn, with one crispy and one soft.  The result was outstanding.  The "puffy tacos" also are good, but I like the others better.  I was less impressed by the Mayan shrimp tacos.  The chile rellenos are really excellent, the best I've had in KC or Lawrence.  You can't go wrong with the chile rellenos, which they make themselves using mostly egg batter, rather than flour.

They will add salmon to the salad, if you ask.  The result is a very large plate, so figure on having some packed to go.  Alternatively you can get the tequila tomatila salmon entree with rice and beans, but I have not impressed by the salmon on more than one occasion.  In fact it was not good at all.  Don't get salmon here without first finding out when it came in and was defrosted.  The last time, I was told it came in two days ago and was recommended.  But the tilapia, which comes in frozen and are defrosted each day are often better.  The mahi mahi comes in with the salmon, so better check when came in and defrosted.  They claim that all of the fish comes in fresh and they freeze them, then defrosting some each morning.  I doubt it.  But I have been told that the mahi mahi comes in as a large chunk of fish, which they slice and freeze, so probably a very good choice.

They will substitute vegetarian black beans for the refried beans, if you ask.  The plantain chips with guacamole are an excellent appetizer.  The veggie tamales are even better.  The southwest salmon appetizer comes with smoked salmon, but I was less enthused with it.  The crab cakes have very little bread crumbs, so perhaps a very healthy version, but needs a lot of hot sauce to pick them up.  I was not greatly enthused by them.  Another very healthy choice is the black bean pones entree, which is vegan, but I'd probably have preferred them with cheese.

Port Fonda
4141 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO 64111
This Mexican restaurant in Westport has one of the most uninformative web pages I've ever seen.  The page is a photograph of one of the restaurant's walls.  There is no information at all on the page, other than a very small link to the restaurant's Facebook page, which similarly contains very little information.  So if you want to see the restaurant's menu, don't bother looking.  It is not online.

The restaurant is not stereotypical Tex Mex, but is similar to many of the newer Mexican restaurants in the big cities of Texas, as along 6th St. in Austin.  In fact stereotypical Tex Mex food is now at least as popular outside Texas (e.g., in Paris, France) as inside Texas.

The vegetarian tacos are really excellent.  I haven't tried the veggie fajitas, but I'd guess they also are very good.  The guacamole is another winner.  In terms of seafood, the oyster tacos are worth a try, but be aware that the oysters are deep fried.  The seafood soup (chilpachole) is another good choice.  If you are a vegetarian or pescatarian for health reasons, you will likely enjoy the restaurant.  But if you are a vegetarian or pescatarian for ethical reasons, you will not likely be happy here at all.  There are paintings of violence against animals on the walls and windows, and many of the selections that you will see on the menu are likely to offend you.  In that case, you will probably be much happier walking across the street to the Thai Place Grill.

The wine choices are minimal, including a few kinds by the glass, not including chardonnay or pinot noir, and not listing the prices by the bottle.  You'll need to ask to be quoted a price by the bottle.  Unlike most Mexican restaurants in KC, there are no cheap wines.  Figure on about $30 a bottle for the few choices they have available. 

They open for dinner at 5 pm, right around the time that parking starts to become difficult in that part of Westport.  But once you get there, you will find that the service is excellent.  Our server was Josh, and the service could not have been better.

Po's Dumpling Bar
1715 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO

Its web site
Sadly the excellent Circe restaurant, which previously had been at this location, has closed.  It now is Po's Dumpling Bar, which has excellent Oriental food.  I was particularly impressed by the steamed dumplings that are comparable to those in the best restaurants in Beijing. Also the hot chile sauce that you can request on the side is much better than usually available in Kansas City.  It reminds me of the XO sauce that is available in the best restaurants in Hong Kong.
[format (stage=11; 12+13)]
904 Westport Road

As suggested by its name, this restaurant has a "down home" theme, as evidenced by the country and western music they often play on their sound system and the one pot pie that is always on the menu.  But don't be fooled.  This no place for chicken fried steak or other typical country food.  In fact it is a very good restaurant with very good food.  But it is not secret, as evidenced by how crowded this enjoyable restaurrant often is, especially on weekends.  I especially like the fish and shellfish here.  The scallops are served only for dinner, but the mussels and one fish are usually served both at lunch and dinner.  The lunch portions are smaller than the dinner portions, but much less expensive.  A lunch entree plus a side salad is a great deal.  In fact the house salad is garden fresh and hard to beat.  The preparations use more butter and less olive oil than I like, but still really good.  What really surprises me here is how fresh the sea food is, including the mussels, which usually disappoint me in KC, but not here.

Its location is right next door to Bluestem.  They share a small parking lot behind the two restaurants.  I've heard that you alternatively can park in the Sonic Parking lot in the evening when the Sonic is closed at 5 pm.  The Sonic is on the other side of Roanoke Street from Bluestem and PotPie, all three being along Westport Road at Roanoke.  Alternatively, there is a large parking lot at the Old Westport Plaza just west of the  SW Trafficway about 2 blocks of the restaurant, if you don't mind crossing the SW Trafficway on foot.

PotPie does not close between lunch and dinner, but they do not switch from the lunch to the dinner menu until about 4:45 pm.  Lunch from Tuesday to Friday is 11 am - 4:45 pm.  Dinner from Tuesday to Thursday is 5 pm - 10 pm, and Friday and Saturday 5 pm - 11 pm
(but usually available at 4:45 pm).  Closed Sundays and Mondays.

All of the chairs are padded, but still rather hard and not that comfortable, except for the benches by the window on the raised "stage."  There is a small 2-top table there (table 11) and a comfortable 4-top (which is tables 12 and 13 normally pushed together).  The latter is the best in the restaurant.  If you are alone, there is a bar area, which is pleasant and not a problem.

100 W. 39th St.
Kansas City, MO

This BBQ restaurant has an award winning chef.  In fact an entire wall is covered with his awards.  Clearly the chef deserves all those awards, since the food is excellent.  But there are two quirks to this restaurant.  All of the seating is wooden chairs without cushions.  While that is fine for lunch, it is not conducive to relaxed evening dining.  The wine list is a bit pricey for a BBQ restaurant, even one with such excellent food.  So I asked whether there is a  house wine.  I was told yes, and the waiter pointed to one of the wines on the wine list.  But it was not the least expensive wine on that list.  The Round Hill Merlot was, so I ordered a bottle of the Round Hill Merlot.  The house wine is not the least expensive?  That's a new one on me.  I wonder what this restaurant's definition of "house wine" is.

The salmon is excellent, and the veggie burger is fine.  The mixed vegetables include a lot of corn, but are good, and the cheese fondue is very good, especially if you ask them to provide sliced cucumbers.

Rhythm & Booze
423 SW Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64108
This is a genuinely interesting bar that merits support by its customers.  I was told that they have stopped serving lunch, since they weren't getting enough business at lunch.  But it has only been in business at that location for a few month, so hopefully its business will pick up and will succeed.

This bar has a very good bar atmosphere and environment.  I liked it.  Also the ingredients that they use in the food on the menu are very good, although there is nothing upscale about the preparations.  I got the fried cod sandwich and liked it a lot.  That surprised me, since I usually do not like fried fish sandwiches.  Instead of using the mayo that comes with it, I asked for the horse radish mustard.  You get a surprisingly large number of options for the side that comes with it.  That really impressed me, since many restaurants give you a choice of one vegetable or nothing (without an unwelcome upcharge, which always rubs me the wrong way).  The brussel sprouts are really good.  The next time I was there, I got the fish tacos.  We both liked them a lot.  But they come with cole slaw that contains too much mayo.  You might want to request a substitute.  Also they have hot sauces varying from "wimpy" to "el diablo."  You might want to use very little of the el diablo, but the one called "hot" is fine with me, if you get enough of it. 

The bar choices are limited, but fine.  They have the same house wine as Hamburger Mary's about a block away.  The cabernet is better than the merlot here.  The chardonnay also is fine.  They do not have wine by the bottle. 

Parking in this area by the Crossroads Art District can be tricky.  There are many lots, but you need to know which ones you can use.  There is one right next to this bar.  But you should not use it, since it is owned by a different business.  There is a huge lot directly behind Rhythm & Booze.  You can use it, and you can enter the bar directly from that lot through the bar's back entrance.  But to get to it, you will need to drive around the block and continue to the lot that is up against the bridge behind Union station.  Be careful to avoid the smaller lots that have signs limiting parking to other businesses.  In short there is an exceptionally large amount of free parking available for this bar, but you need to know where it is.  The restaurant is on a corner.  You easily can get to the large lot by making a right at the corner from Southwest Blvd coming from the south, just before the restaurant, and then a left into the alley just past the restaurant into the large parking lot behind the restaurant. 

Rhythm Lounge
3535 Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64111
Puts Kansas City on the map!  If you are accustomed to really big cities, like New York City and Paris, you will appreciate this club/restaurant/bar.  It is located where Trio previously was.  There is a multilevel garage directly behind it, with the entrance immediately to the north of the entrance.  The decor is upscale, the live entertainment is excellent (currently on Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 8 pm), the small plates provide good food (although a surprising number of the menu entries were not available), and the full bar is what you would expect in a fine lounge.  On Wednesday evenings the wine is half price.  People in the know, drive to the upper levels of the garage and back into a space, since it is a tight garage and can be hard to exit otherwise.

But there are puzzles.  It was written up in Ink on October 7, 2009.  The article was titled "This sexy jazz spot keeps a low profile."  The article mentioned that there is no sign on the front, no web site, and no advertising for this jazz lounge.  It is located in the historic Old Hyde Park area, which has not so far done well at making its expected comeback, other than the Uptown Theater across the street a few blocks away.  There still is no sign on the front of the Rhythm Lounge, no web site, and no advertising.  There is a Facebook page and a very large number of Facebook fans.

When I went there, the owner walked over to me and asked whether I lived in the neighborhood and had walked there.  No, I do not live in that neighborhood.  I can see why, with no sign in front, he might have thought I lived in the neighborhood.  Perhaps many of the customers do.  But I am sure many do not.  There are far too many Facebook fans to be from that neighborhood. 

The customers are very different from those who previously had patronized Trio in that location.  Those customers were from the burbs and mostly had driven long distances to get there.  Now they do not have to drive so far, since Trio has moved to the Plaza.  In contrast, the customers in Rhythm Lounge are mostly upscale African Americans and interracial couples.  Did I feel out of place there, being one of the very few white people in the Lounge, other than the servers?  Not a bit.  I loved it there.  I'll be back. 

There is an entrance from the garage directly into the lounge, so in bad weather you need not even walk outdoors.  If you arrive after the entertainment starts at 8 pm on Friday or Saturday, seating may be limited.  I did notice many reserved signs on the best tables.  But there were a few other tables available and a few seats still available at the bar.

Now I know that Kansas City has made the big  time.  It's no longer necessary to drive to the historic Jazz District to be among the sophisticates, who know what they are doing with their nightlives.   If you are in that neighborhood, are accustomed only to small towns, and have bad taste, go across the street a few blocks away to Chubby's.  You'll feel right at home.  If you have good taste, go to the Rhythm Lounge. 
format (13)]
Room 39
1719 West 39 Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site


10561 Mission Road
Leawood, KS 66206
Room 39, named after the location of its primary location on 39th St, is arguably the best restaurant on the 39th St. Restaurant Row.  But it has its problems, not the least of which is its "attitude."

There is another location in Leawood.  In addition to the fact that the quality of the food, preparations, and service are first rate, this restaurant has an unusually well selected wine list.  For example, if you like white wine at a reasonable price and without the woody taste of American chardonnays, this restaurant offers Cuvee Centenaire Domaine Lafage Cotes Due Roussillon at a moderate price.  On the other hand, if you are "politically incorrect" on this matter and actually like American Chardonnays (as I do), you might prefer those on the list at similar prices and qualities.  In short, you can find on this wine list whatever you like and at reasonable prices. 

While the seafood selections on this menu are limited, they are genuinely fresh.  This is among the few restaurants where I can order entrees prepared exactly as described on the menu --- with no requested changes at all.  This restaurant can be excellent.

Oh, and there are other positives here:  the walls are covered with excellent local art, and there is a parking lot about two doors to the east on the south side of the street (at the 39th St. location).  I also like the recorded music on their sound system.

Now for the negatives.  There are no booths or tables that provide privacy.  All of the tables in this small restaurant are close together.  Also the chairs are wooden without padding.  The service is variable.  In short, they need a larger dining room with more comfortable seating for a restaurant of this quality.  To make matters worse, the last time we were there, most of the restaurant was empty, but we were told that the only available table was the least desirable table in the restaurant.  In fact, we first were offered a better table, but when I agreed to it, the hostess changed her mind.  I am not accustomed to being treated that way and did not like it.  We immediately left for Thomas, which always treats us right. 

Unlike many of the other restaurants on 39th St that open for dinner at 5 pm or earlier, this one opens at 5:30 pm. 

Rudy's Tenampa Tacqueria

1600 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
If you are from the Southwest and don't think that the Mexican restaurants in Kansas City meet your expectations, then try this one.  Rudy's was the first to bring fish tacos in Kansas City.  They are good, but a big chunk of fish in a tortilla easily can break through.  They would be better, if they cut up the fish into smaller pieces.  But the shrimp tacos are better, although more expensive.  I've also tried the quatro taquitos, and I was impressed.  I was very impressed.  But the restaurant is small, so you might want to try it at an off hour, when it is easier to get a table.

They are very willing to accomodate different preferences.  I said I did not want rice or refried beans.  They gave me the whole beans I wanted and substituted a fourth shrimp taco plus more lettuce for the rice I didn't want; and those tacos are wrapped in real corn tortijas, instead of the deep fried flour tortijas used by the chains.  The side of grilled vegetables is very good.  Two shrimp tacos plus whole beans and grilled vegetables makes a good lunch.  The hot sauce is the real thing, so there is no need to ask also for habaneros.  In fact, if you do, there will be an upcharge, and they will be extremely hot.  Also they have their own parking lot next door on Westport Rd.  But there isn't an entrance to it from Westport Rd.  Also you cannot make a right turn onto the street on the side of the lot, since it is a one way street.  You will have to drive past the restaurant and make a right onto the next street (Wyoming) and then into the parking lot.  But better yet, when you get to Wyoming, make a left from Westport Rd into the parking lot on the other side of the street.  It is a large parking lot associated with the Emanuel Church.  The restaurant has arrangements to permit its customers to park in that large lot.
While not "interior-Mex," Rudy's is a match for the Tex-Mex, California-Mex, or New-Mexican-Mex that you might expect in the Southwest.  They have four booths that are very comfortable.  One is a large oval one.

Now for the down side.  They have no wine by the bottle.  The house wine by the glass is OK, but the price is not a bargain, unlike the house wines at most Mexican restaurants.  They up charge left and right for almost any change.  For example, if you ask for tortillas instead of chips, they will upcharge.  If you ask for a change in a side that comes with the entree, they'll upcharge.  If you don't want rice, since it contains chicken stock, you may be disappointed.  They put rice in the shrimp tacos and in who knows what else.  So just saying you don't want rice is not enough.  You'll probably end up with some in your entree anyway.  So what is my view on balance?  Negative. 

Sabor y Sol
542 SW Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66103
This new restaurant has opened at the location of the former Sol Azteca, which closed as a result of labor disputes.  I was at the new restaurant two days after it opened.  They have renovated the restaurant extensively, and it now is very attractive with many comfortable booths, including some by big windows with a view or the nearby grain elevator (if that grabs you).  The food was really good, and they can do things that are not on the menu.  For example, the only beans they list on the menu are refried beans (very unhealthy).  But they have excellent vegetarian black beans.  The service was amazingly confused, but this was only their second day.  It may take a few weeks for them to get their act together, but I am confident they will.  With such a good menu, excellent food, large parking lot, and attractive dining room, this Mexican restaurant is a very welcome addition to an otherwise rather unattractive part of Southwest Blvd.   I especially liked the excellent tilapia empanizada and the guacamole ranchero.  

I was a bit puzzled by a sign on the entrance door, saying that Yelp loves the restaurant.  It had not yet been reviewed by Yelp in its new incarnation.  Perhaps the sign was based on reviews of the former Sol Azteca.  But I read that Sabor y Sol has a different owner from the former Sol Azteca, so that sign seems a big odd.  No problem.  I am sure that as more and more Yelpers try the new Sabor y Sol, the current somewhat premature sign will become entirely accurate.  It is a sure winner. 
Burrito Joe's
1403 W 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
In location of former Szechuan House.  Specializes in burrits and tacos in soft shell flour tortillas.  No seafood, so no shrimp or fish tacos.  But if you are a vegetarian, you can do surprisingly well here.  They have three vegetarian plates, including veggie burrito, bean burrito, and grilled Mexican veggies.  I like the veggie burrito and the grilled Mexican veggies.  If you want the veggies grilled on a skillet, so not on a surface used with meat, they'll do it.  The Mexican rice contains chicken stock, but you can substitute white rice or black beans.  I went with the beans, and they are very good.  I also got a side of guacomole.  Oddly the only beans listed on the menu are refried beans, but they have black beans, if you request.  The flour tortilla's here are much better than the corn tortilla's, which are the kind used to produce taco shells (resemble cardboard).  The flour tortillas are very thin, so you'll not likely want to try to pick up one of flour tortilla burritos.  But they are excellent, if eaten with knife and fork.  Don't change to the corn tortillas here. 

Their regular salsa is very mild, so I also got their hot sauce.  The two combined are good.  They don't yet have a liquor license, and estimate that they won't for about 45 days.
Spitfire Grill & Wine Bar
1809 W. 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64114
web site
This restaurant has closed.  It appears that it will be replaced by a BBQ restaurant (groan).

Sung Son

Vietnamese Bistro
4116 Pennsylvania Ave.
Kansas City, MO
In my opinion, this is the best buy in Vietnamese food in the Kansas City Area, and among the better restaurants in the Westport area. Sung Son is open Mon - Sat 11 am - 10 pm and Sunday noon - 9 pm.  In addition, as is common in the U. S. , Vietnamese food tends to be a bargain, so you can get an enjoyable meal here at a very modest price.

This is an exceptionally vegetarian friendly restaurant.  The menu includes an entire page of vegetarian dishes, and all on that page are genuinely vegetarian (no chicken stock).  The Canh Chua Chay soup is wonderful and enough for two persons.  It contains tamarind spice, which is excellent. Be careful about adding extra spice to this soup, since you easily can overwhelm the subtle flavor of the tamarind spice. The Dan Hu Sot Ca is not spicy, even though the menu says it is.  In addition, it is a bit sweeter than I'd prefer.  The Gia Xao Dau Hu is not at all spicy, but has a delicate flavor that is improved by addition of the hot sauce that is always supplied in a bottle, or their own chile sauce, that you will have to request.  They call it hot oil.  The Vanh Cuon Chay in steamed rice crepes is unusual, and worth a try.  It is a full meal, despite its modest price.  It could be shared as an appetizer, but is too much as an appetizer for one, despite its modest price.  The Dan Hu Cai Xao in brown souce is listed as a Vietnamese dish and is fine, but seems about the same as many common Chinese dishes in brown sauce, so not at all unusual.  There are so many choices that you are sure to find some you will like.  They also have many seafood choices.  I've tried the Ca Sot Ca Chua (salmon with garlic tomato sauce with basil).  The salmon is only fair and the sauce is sweeter than I prefer.  Although they provide rice with most dishes, you can request rice noodles instead, and their rice noodles are worth requesting.  The spring rolls (Goi Cuon Chay) are very good.

Parking is somewhat difficult on that part of Pennsylvania Ave., south of Westport Road, but there are nearby parking lots on Pennsylvania Ave north of Westport Blvd.  Also there is a lot behind Streetside Records on Broadway, only a block away.


4730 Rainbow Blvd.
Westwood, KID 66205
This is a neighborhood Italian-American restaurant.  There is no pretension here of being upscale or fine dining.  They don't even have a pepper mill.  But for what it is, I like it a lot.  I would be a bit happier, if they had fish on the menu, or some entrees other than pasta.  But that is not the nature of Sutera's.

Surprisingly, you can do very well here as a vegetarian.  The veggie wrap is simply outstanding, and is in a whole-wheat tortilla, so is a very healthy choice.  I have gotten it with the rigatoni with red sauce, which is excellent.  They also have an olive oil with spices sauce.  The mini vegetable supreme pizza with a side house salad is a good choice.  Their house Italian dressing is a winner, but it contains cheese and probably sugar.  What I request is olive oil with oregano, basil, and garlic.  It is good on their salad, on sliced tomatos, on steamed vegetables, or in the veggie wrap instead of the salad dressing.  While I am not usually a fan of salads that emphasize iceberg lettuce, this one is an exception to the rule.  Their sliced tomatoes alone are a good side order, since they use small tomatoes. 

On Wednesday's, their house wine bottles are discounted, and their house wine is a good one:  Delicato.  If instead ordered by the glass, they provide generous pours on any day of the week.  I really appreciate that, and I don't at all like the tendency of some upscale restaurants to charge top dollar for cheapo small pours, which they claim are "standard."

A few blocks away, Cupini's has better pizza, but no wine or beer.  If given a choice between Sutera's pizza with reasonably priced, good wine or beer and Cupini's pizza with iced tea, which would I choose?  Easy choice.  You know the answer.

On Friday, the daily special is blackened salmon Caesar salad.  It's their best dish, but only available on Friday.  But you can get blackened shrimp Caesar salad any day of the week, and it is a match for the blackened salmon Caesar.  I ask them to bring out their Italian dressing (in a bottle) along with the Caesar dressing.  The combination is excellent.

They have a blackened shrimp salad, which is very good.  Instead of their house dressing, I have them provide olive oil, vinegar, and herbs, which I mix myself.  Instead of the bread, which they provide to everyone, I ask them to bring out a toasted whole wheat tortilla.  There is no upcharge for that substitution.  Although the house wine is a good buy on Wednesdays, I've tried both the Candoni Pinot Noir and the Cavit Merlot on other days.  The Candoni is better and worth the slightly higher price.  The clam chowder does not contain chicken stock, but contains potatoes and heavy cream.  I don't especially like it.  Perhaps the best choice on the menu is the Caesar salad, if you ask them to add anchovies.

Taj Palace
1706 West 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111

Indian food uses some of the world's most interesting spices, and emphasized healthy ingredients --- with two exceptions:  the use of coconut oil widely in south India and the use of ghee (clarified butter) in north India, both being highly saturated oils.  But the Taj Palace uses neither.  Instead they use vegetable oils.  I love this place.

Their curry sauce is especially outstanding.  They do not use curry powder.  They  make their own curry sauce, and chop up fresh spices, some acquired from Chicago.  I request the curry dishes prepared "spicy," which is just right for me (on their scale of spice, that is #7 spice level).  In fact that is my preferance with everything on the menu.  But you might prefer "moderately spicy" (level #5 on the spice scale).  The tandoori  dishes also are excellent here, since they have a genuine tandoor oven.  But the sauce they usually use on their tandoori dishes are somewhat more sweet and not spicy enough for my tastes.  However, they are happy to provide alternative preparations to your tastes.  The curry sauce is excellent on the tandoori dishes.  If you like very spice sauces, try the vindaloo sauce.  Although both the vindaloo and the curry sauces may appear to have tomato base, the curry sauce's red color comes from the paprika in the sauce.  The vindaloo sauce does have a tomato base.  Never ask for vindaloo "extra spicy" or "very spicy," since vindaloo sauce is always very spicy, since it contains vinegar.  Also avoid vindaloo sauce, if you don't want potatoes, since potatoes are often added to dishes that include vindaloo sauce.

The ingredients are sometimes not exactly as on the menu.  For example, the vegetarian baingan bhurtha (baked egg plant) sometimes includes potatoes, even though not mentioned on the menu.  But this is not normal for this excellent dish, and probably resulted from the fact that I requested substitution of vindaloo sauce, which often is served on dishes including potatoes.  The shrimp mushroom is very good but seems to have changed under the latest owner. 
The shrimp bhuna also is very good, and includes vegetables in the sauce.  For a change, you might want to try the chholle saag (chick peas with spinach) aand the dal makhni (black lentils).  They have a different kind of preparation that seems somewhat creamy, and indeed they both contain dairy.  But they are happy to prepare it without dairy, if that is your preference.  Similarly the mushroom mattar makni (mushrooms and peas) comes with a cream sauce, but you can request that it be changed to the curry sauce, if you are a vegan.  It's excellent either way.  I especially like the fish curry, which contains bite size chunks of catfish in their outstanding curry sauce.  But the sauce contains no vegetables.  If you request the chutney spice tray, that helps.  But you might want to ask for vegetables to be added to the sauce or order a side order of a vegetable dish to go with the fish curry.  While I usually don't like okra, the bhindi  masala (spiced okra) is surprisingly excellent.

In addition to having Taj Mahal beer, which I consider to be among the world's best, they have a reasonable wine list.  Their wine bottles are a better buy than their glasses.  The Kendall Jackson chardonnay wine is a good match for spicy Indian food (and less filling than beer), despite the controversies about " overly woody" American chardonnays with European foods.  After dinner, I order the Indian tea (chai).  It contains dairy and interesting spices.  If you prefer the vegan version, you can request it without the dairy.  In fact the flavor of the spices is even more evident without the dairy.

Most dishes are served with a large dish of basmati rice, which is among the world's best and most healthy kinds of rice.  The tandoori dishes are served with nan instead.  But personally I prefer the whole wheat flour tandoori roti bread to either the rice of the naan, and I often request that substitute.  I always start with a soup.  The muligatany soup is excellent and is a famous Indian soup.  But you might want to try the lentil soup, which I like even better (spice level #7 for my preference).  The tomato soup contains dairy and is good, but you can request it without the dairy, if you wish.  I find the other two soups to be more interesting.

At lunch, they offer a buffet.  You also can order from the menu at lunch, but some items on the menu are only available at dinner.  For example, the roti whole grain bread is available at lunch, but the prantha whole wheat bread with spinach or cauliflower is usually available only at dinner.  On the other had, partha bread usually contains much oil and often butter, but roti (especially if you make clear that you do not want butter) is a very healthy whole grain choice.

Unlike many Asian restaurants, this one is not open continuously all day.  They have separate hours for lunch and dinner.  They begin serving dinner at 5 pm.  If you are looking for an earlier dinner, then there are other restaurants on 39th St. that are open all day.

They are closed on Tuesdays.

Our most recent experience here was terrible.  We asked for the remaining Roti bread to be wrapped to include with our take-out food.  The server picked it up with his hands, wrapped it in paper, and put it into the take-out box ---- with his hands on the Roti!!! 

Taqueria Mexico

3300 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66103
This restaurant, at the corner of Rainbow and Southwest Blvd in Midtown is part of a chain providing an excellent collection of choices of Mexican food.  If you are there at lunch, make sure to look at the back of the menu, that includes lunch selections.  Regarding their seafood soups, I much prefer their shrimp soup to their fish soup, that contains only chunks of catfish including bones and skin.  But the shrimp soup is rather bland and boring too.

They have an especially nice outside covered patio, with two unusually comfortable tables along with other more routine metal tables and chairs.

There are some new additions to the menu that we really liked:  the tostadas de ceviche is excellent, on an open face toasted taco shell.  You can pick it up with two hands.  Alternatively, you could ask for it to be on a regular corn tortilla, so you could wrap it.  The chile rellenos are good, and rather unusual, because of the kinds of cheese they use.

What's conspicuously missing from the menu is black beans.  They have refried beans. The only whole beans they have include pork.  They do not have vegetarian black beans.

Also the wines by the glass are fair at the reasonable prices and large pours. The restaurant can be very noisy.  The most comfortable area is the back room, which also has more comfortable chairs.  If they will permit you to sit there, go for it.

Thai Place Grill
4131 Pennsylvania

Web site
The best times to try this restaurant are during their happy hours, from 3 - 6 pm on Monday - Friday.  They offer discounts on appetizers and $2 off on all of their wines by the glass, although none of their wines are cheap.  On Wednesdays, all wine bottles are half off.  Otherwise, as Thai restaurants go, this is not an inexpensive restaurant.

This excellent Thai restaurant is one of five in a local chain.  For more informaton about it, see the
"Johnson County, Wyandotte County, and South KC" section.  Among the surprises at this very enjoyable restaurant is a well chosen wine list. 

Among the highlights on the menu is the volcano soup, which is a very good Thai soup.  But if you are a vegetarian, you should check whether they are using chicken stock in the soup.  A year ago, they were.  But recently I've been told they are using vegetable stock.  Check anyway.  Unless you tell them to make it spicy, it will be very mild and you will need to add spice. In terms of seafood, the best choice in this restaurant is the scallops.  Their crab meat is the imitation kind.  They have fresh fish choices, but usually only on weekends. They have many stir fry choices.  We've tried the spicy ginger, spicy garlic, and Thai spicy stir fries.  We like the spicy garlic best so far, with the garlic pepper second, but there are others.  Between the spicy basil seafood and the spicy seafood lemongrass, I like the latter one better.  But they don't use as much lemongrass in that preparation as I'd prefer.  They provide a large scoop of rice with everything. If you don't want the rice, you might see if they will substitute something else.  They do not have brown rice.  They say that they do not use chicken stock or beef stock in any of their sauces, which use soy sauce, seafood stock, and vegetable stock.  But unfotunately that might not necessarily be the case with all of their soups.

The Thai Place has its own parking lot next to the restaurant (on the south of the restaurant) on Pennsylvania St, but it is a rather small lot.  There is another one just north of the restaurant, but it is usually full after 6 pm.  There is another lot just past it, but it is only for the stores that surround that lot, except when the stores are closed.  Continuing further south on Pennsylvania, the street becomes a dead end.  But in the evening, parking near the dead end is a possibility.  Perhaps the easiest place to park nearby is the lot behind the former Streetside Records on Broadway, only a block away, but be careful about the end of the lot that has private parking signs.

Regarding spice level, they offer four choices, numbered from 1 to 4.  I recommend level 3, called spicy.  I sometimes add my own choice of additional spice to level 3 from their tray of four kinds of spice.  Level 4 is called Thai hot, and is too hot for me. 
1815 W. 39th St.
Kansas City, MO 64111
web page

AOL web site
Thomas restaurant is back!  This restaurant had been among my favorites, but drifted downhill for a few months.  Their best server, Aaron, left.  In addition, the wine prices were increased, but not reflected in the restaurant's web page, which continued offensively to list the prior lower prices.  I was less than pleased and stayed away.  Well, Aaron is back --- now as a manager.  The wine list is improved, and  there are no longer any discrepancies between the online wine list and the one in the restaurant.  Thomas now is better than ever.  The secco sparkling wine is a good buy and the Benegas Chardonnay/Sauv. blend is an even better choice.  Also they have a reasonably priced pinot noir.

This neighborhood restaurant on the 39th St. Restaurant Row can be a very pleasant place to stop for good food and entertainment.  You either can order from their entrees or from their small plates.  In either case, they are happy to make changes to your tastes.   The sauce that I especially like here is the olive oil and garlic sauce that they serve with their bruschetta.  They'll substitute it for whatever they usually provide on any of their other dishes.  I also request a small amount of their diablo (marinara) sauce on the side plus some crushed red paper, to add spice.   Also they have very fresh vegetables, and I often request substitution of their mixed vegetables for the rice or potatoes included with many of their entrees.  Here the mixed vegetables are first rate.  Also the spinach is excellent, especially with the olive oil and garlic sauce.  As an appetizer, I like their hummus, but I ask them to substitute slices of fresh green and red peppers for the pita bread.  Outstanding.

They are happy to make things to order.  I often request blackened scallops with spinach or blackened shrimp with spinach.   On the other hand, their usual preparation of scallops is really excellent.  But if you don't want meat in your sauce, don't get that sauce. They are very cooperative with requests, and they do have good quality shrimp and scallops.  The scallops come in on Mondays and Thursdays, and on those days the scallops are as good as it gets in the Midwest.

On many evenings they have a pianist, Vince Cook, who can play anything on a list of hundreds of songs, currently close to 1000.  He often slightly mumbles some of the words (who could get all the words right for a thousand songs?), but he gets the music right and has a pleasant singing voice:  great background music for dinner.  You can request any of the songs on his amazingly long list.  Thomas's has a rooftop deck that is open in good weather, but smoking is permitted on that deck. 

If you want to add spice to any of their preparations, you can request crushed red pepper or horseradish on the side.  They do have Tobasco and a ferocious hot sauce called Death (skip it).  The crab cakes here are good, but not to my taste.  I like them when mostly crab.  Here they include bread crumbs, crackers, vegetables, and eggs, as well as crab.

They open for dinner at 4 pm and they offer small plates that can compete with the best tapas in the city, at better prices and larger portions.  They do also have entrees on the regular menu and daily special fresh fish entrees that are available only on Thursday - Saturday.  Unlike many restaurants with daily specials, this restaurant has its specials available for dinner from the time that they begin serving dinner at 4 pm.  Many others will not provide their daily special until they've been serving dinner for at least an hour.  They are closed on Sundays.

This is a unique place, well worth a try.  You could easily miss it, since it is not listed on KC Originals or on OpenTables.com.
3934 Rainbow Blvd
Kansas City, KS 66103

This pizza restaurant operates in an unusual manner.  The counter is set up as an assembly line, somewhat like a Subway sandwich shop.  Their system is very efficient.  Once you get to the counter, they can make a pizza to your preferences in five minutes.  But that can be after a half hour wait in a long line to get to the counter.

Once they have produced your pizza, they'll either box it for you to go or bring it to your table, if you choose to dine there.  They also have salads, soft drinks, and beer.  All of their ingredients are fresh.  The crust starts out thin, but tends to pop up in the oven an unusual manner.  I'd rate their pizza as average.

If you like spice, ask them to add the inferno blend, consisting of Cajun spices. 

Vietnamese Restaurants on the 39th St. Row

Saigon 39


Vietnam Cafe 39th
2200 W 39th Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66103
web site
While Sung Son in nearby Westport is outstanding, the Vietnamese choices on the 39th St. restaurant row are surprisingly restrictive in what they offer.  For example, Saigon 39 at 1806 1/2 W. 39th Street, while having a good reputation for its food, has no liquor license.  They do not accept American Express but do accept Visa and Mastercard.  They have a large selection of soups, but all contain either chicken broth or beef broth.  They have no vegetable or seafood stock, so will substitute water, if you don't want the chicken of beef stock.  You will lose a lot of the flavor from that substitution, if you are a vegetarian or pescotarian.  Their concept of "seafood dumplings" is rather odd.  They contain chicken.

In contrast, the Vietnam Cafe 39th at 2200 W. 39th St (at corner of Rainbow Blvd) accepts credit cards (but not American Express) and has a liquor license, but only for beer (not even wine).  While the Vietnam Cafe includes a separate page of vegetarian dishes, the menu is more complicated for vegetarians than might otherwise seem to be the case.  For example, they have no vegetable or seafood stock to use with soups or sauces.  So if you don't want chicken or beef stock in your food, you will need to ask for "water base."  The restaurant seems confused when you ask.  They do not seem to understand that good can have a taste without chicken stock, which they put in everything, including the one dish that they call "vegetarian."  While the restaurant's specialty is a soup called pho chay, they cannot provide that with water base.  In fact they have only one soup that they will prepare with water base (if requested).  That is Canh Chua Chay (Tamarind Soup with tofu and veggies), but that Tamarind Soup is outstanding and spiced just right although with more sugar than I like. Regarding sauces that they can prepare with water base, the oyster sauce here is really excellent.  For example, I especially like the tom xao rau (shrimp and veggies in oyster sauce).  The tofu vegetarian dish (Dau Hu with lemongrass) is good, but they don't use enough lemongrass.  I am sure if you asked for extra lemongrass when you place the order, they'd be happy to accommodate, and I would ask for a lot of extra lemongrass.  But when I've done that, the spice level continued to be too low.  In fact it is rather bland, and somewhat unnecessarily sweet.  The booths on the lower level are more comfortable than the booths on the upper level.  The restaurant has many statues of Buddha.  Perhaps they do not know that serious Buddhist are vegetarians.

If your preference is for wine with your Vietnamese, you can drive to nearby Westport to Sung Sun, or call in for takeout food from Vietnam Cafe.  They will not deliver, but have a substantial business selling take out food (pick up at the bar near entrance).

[format (404 best,502 second best)]
Westport Cafe & Bar
419 Westport Rd
Kansas City, MO 64111
web site
HEAVEN.  A dream come true. 

Since I moved to this area, I have been looking for a bistro having food and drink meeting European standards at reasonable prices, not inflated by phony pretension and arrogance.  The last time I thought I had found such a restaurant, it was in Georgetown (Washington, DC).  I brought a friend there from Aix-En-Provence in France.  He began speaking French to the waiter, who was confused and brought my friend into the kitchen to talk with the chef.  My friend walked out of the kitchen shaking his head saying, "these people do not know what they are doing."  Yes, I have been to better restaurants in the US, Europe, Asia, North Africa, and South America --- at two, three, or four times the price.  The Westport Cafe & Bar provides some of the best food and drink I've ever experienced relative to the surprisingly reasonable prices currently being charged at this wonderful restaurant.  If you have money to burn, you can do better.  But at these prices, not a chance.

We did not know what to expect when we went here, so we ordered one course at a time, starting with the roasted fennel soup, which is a dairy based soup, but does not seem to be heavy cream based.  It was wonderful.  So then we ordered the tomato fennel mussels.  Wonderful.  Then we ordered the spring tomato pea ravioli.  Wonderful.  Then a jumbo shrimp.  Wonderful.  Then the daily oyster.  Wonderful.  Then the arctic char entree.  Wonderful.  We usually do not order desserts, but this all was so good that we went ahead and ordered one.  Got the pot de creme.  Wonderful, along with coffee (not espresso, but very good in  large cups at modest price). 

Oh, and then there is the wine.  As in Europe, they not only have good wines at reasonable prices by the glass and by the bottle, but also by the carafe, although you get more per dollar by the bottle.  I've heard that the mixed drinks are outstanding here, but our preferences are European (wine, not cocktails), so we have not tried the cocktails.  Maybe another day.

The second time we were there, we orderd the tomato fennel mussels and the arctic char entrees again.  We also got the tuna entree.  The mussels were as good as the first time, but the arctic char was not as fresh as the first time.  In the future, we shall ask when each of the fish on the menu came in.  The tuna was good, but next time I'll order it medium.  I got it medium-well, and it was cooked a bit more than I usually prefer

The third time we were there, we got the mussels again and the striped bass along with the spinach and the mushrooms.  The mushrooms are excellent, and the spinach fine.  The mussels were not quite as good as the previous two times.  The striped bass was very good.  It definitely pays to check on when the seafood comes in.  They bring it in as needed, not on particular days, and not all comes in on the same days.

The fourth time we were there, we got the arctic char and the scallops.  The arctic char was much better than the previous time we got it.  The scallops were fine.  We asked for a change in the preparation of the arctic char.  We asked that the chef produce a Mediterranian style sauce.  He came out to talk with us about it.  What he did was outstanding.  In the future, I'll always ask for that sauce.  In fact I suggested that they add it to the menu.

The fifth time we were there, I go the bouillabaisse.  It was typical Midwest quality --- not a high recommendation. 

The sixth time I tried the grilled sardines as an appetizer.  They are frozen, but good as an appetizer.  I probably would hesitate to buy the sardines entree.  As entree, the chef recommended the trout.  He was right.  The trout was excellent.  I also got one daily oyster (excellent), and the carrot soup.  The carrot soup is vegan without the cream, but it is best with the cream.  They can provide the cream on the side, so you can decide how much to add.

There are no cushions on the wooden chairs, and it can be extremely noisy.  Best to avoid dinner time on weekends.

Happy hour is 4 to 6, and includes a few appetizers, including the oysters, and a few wine glasses at discounts.

Westport is back!  Power and Light District?  Forgetaboutit.

I can be reached by e-mail at barnett@ku.edu
Return to First Page