19 Dishes & Drinks To Devour Now

As the rest of the country wakes up to the wonders of Kansas City as a dazzling middle of the map destination in 2024, in a way it feels like it has been a long time coming. But clearly now it is our time to shine. 

With the Wall Street Journal putting us on its 10 Best Places to Visit in 2024, and the New York Times including us on its 52 Places to Go in 2024, this is the culmination of years of planning and development on many different fronts. 

From city projects, including the new terminal opening at the Kansas City International Airport and the expansion of the KC Streetcar, to more sporting successes, such as the Kansas City Chiefs tackling another Super Bowl, the kick-off of the recently opened CPKC Stadium, and the honor of being named the only Midwestern host for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Kansas City has recently had some big wins.

There are also exciting new entertaining destinations—Rabbit hOle, the long-awaited literature-themed museum in North Kansas City; Pennway Point, home of the KC Wheel; and the Rock Island Bridge, which will connect Kansas and Missouri when it opens this year—not to mention the development in the West Bottoms over the next five years.

As important as all these developments are to raising Kansas City’s overall national profile, it is more important than ever that we support and sing the praises of the smaller, independently owned local restaurants and bars that give our city its own unique flavor. 

Since it’s my job to eat, drink, and report back, this list reflects where I’m eating now, and what to get when you go. This is meant to reflect only this moment in time in food in Kansas City and will change and evolve as our food scene does. 

As the only city in the country whose citizens literally wear their hearts on their chests emblazoned with a capital K and C, this makes us all ambassadors of whatever part of this city you claim to know and love best. For me, it’s food and restaurants. If you feel the same, start with my list, then add your own favorite restaurants to recommend to family and friends when they come to visit—and they will come to visit.  

Wear your pride loud and proud, Kansas City. We have a lot of delicious things to brag about.

The Antler Room

Casual yet infinitely creative, Antler Room is at its heart is a neighborhood restaurant. Owners Leslie and Nick Goellner are industry veterans. Since opening their doors in 2016, she’s managed the front of house and a terrific wine list, while he’s been a James Beard nominee and semi-finalist several times over. Their talented culinary team switches up the menu often to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, which are turned into dishes inspired by the couple’s international travels. 

Eat: Grilled Spanish octopus with green garbanzo hummus, chicory salad, Pedro Ximinez vinaigrette, Kalamata olives, and fried chickpeas 

Drink: A glass of the Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza, Rioja, Spain, 2020 

Café Corazon

A sunny and colorful spot in the Crossroads for Latin-inspired coffee drinks in the morning, empandas or tamales in the afternoon, and a cocktail or glass of wine or beer around happy hour. Miel Castagna-Herrera, Curtis Herrera, and Dulcinea Herrera have created a hub for the community to gather no matter what time of day it is. 

Eat: Ground beef, onion, hard boiled egg, and pepper empanada

Drink: Café de Olla coffee or a Kalimotxo (CAL-EE-MO-CHO) a cocktail made with red wine, cinnamon, piloncillo, anise, lemon juice, and Mexican Coke

Hemma Hemma

The hot line at your school cafeteria never served anything as delicious as the chef Ashley Bare and her team are serving up daily at Hemma Hemma. Go through the line, pick what you want and then grab a seat to eat in the comforting dining room decorated to look like your stylish Grandma’s house.  

Eat: Miso Chicken Meatballs made with local Gerber Amish ground chicken, miso, and ginger scallion sauce on a bed of steamed jasmine rice

Drink: Dram Citrus Blossom herbal sparkling water

Tacos Valentina

Having found a home kitchen inside Torn Label Brewing Co.’s Public House and now serving up tacos at the Fern Bar in the Crossroads, the chefs Kendra Valentine and Pablo Muñoz along with Roger Avila are changing the way we understand Mexican cuisine one taco at a time. They make their own masa daily with heirloom Mexican corn created in small batches using a stone mill.  

Eat: Suadero tacos made with confit and seared brisket topped with tomatillo, jalapeño cream, fresh cilantro, and diced raw onion 

Drink: Cobre Especial, a dark, amber-hued Mexican lager made with heirloom corn provided by Tacos Valentina

The Town Company

Located inside Hotel Kansas City, The Town Company is worth a visit for its cozy hearthside cooking vibes and a seasonal menu created by the dynamic duo of the James Beard-nominated chef Johnny Leach and pastry chef Helen Jo Leach. 

Eat: Grilled sardines on a bed of crispy potatoes topped with tartar sauce and a drizzle of chermoula

Drink: A glass of Chateau La Rame rosé, Bordeaux, France, 2022

The Prospect

As the founder and executive director of The Prospect, the chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant is changing lives by helping the community get access to fresh food and by training people for careers through her culinary training program. The Spot is the café arm of her nonprofit that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in her open and airy dining room at 2010 Vine Street.  

Eat: Clubba Hubba, a take on the club sandwich filled with crispy bacon, oven-roasted turkey breast, and roasted sweet red peppers, along with the soup of the day 

Drink: Bloody Mary

Harp Barbecue

Tyler Harp opened his first brick-and-mortar location for Harp Barbecue in Raytown, and as the sign says, he is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until sold out. Making his Texas-style beef brisket and serving it thick and juicy is just one of the things that makes his place stand out against the Kansas City barbecue competition.  

Eat: A meat platter with pork ribs, brisket, sausage, and burnt ends—and don’t forget to order coleslaw and cheesy corn

Drink: Any beer made by Crane Brewing, its next door neighbor

Fortunati Pizza

What started as a pizza-party night at Lucky Boys, a bar in the Stockyards District of the West Bottoms, has now become a full-fledged pizza place located only two doors down. The chef Justin Norcross, owner of Fortunati Pizza, makes his 12-inch and 16-inch sourdough-crust pies for dine-in, carry-out, and delivery, or you can order them from the comfort of your barstool at Lucky Boys and they’ll walk them over.  

Eat: Pep Boi with pepperoni, hot honey, and jalapeños

Drink: Any ice-cold beer from Lucky Boys

Billie’s Grocery

The fresh vibes and a flexitarian menu created by Robin Krause and her team are just one reason to hit up Billie’s Grocery, now with two locations—one in Midtown and the other in Leawood. They are open seven days a week; just make sure you get a sweet treat from their amazing bakery on your way out. 

Eat: Spring Roll Bowl with marinated rice noodles, jalapeño-pickled mushrooms, organic carrot, Asian pickled cucumber, purple cabbage, sauteed shrimp, zesty lime peanut sauce, and sesame seeds 

Drink: A glass of the house rosé wine

Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room

The thing about Corvino Supper Club is that it is always open with a bar seat just waiting for you on nights when so many things in the Crossroads are closed, which makes it quite convenient and impossible to resist. With chef/owner James Beard semifinalist Michael Corvino manning the kitchen and Christina Corvino running the front of house and serving as the wine director, you can expect to find live music, fantastic cocktails, a tempting wine list, and inspired small plates. You’ll leave with all of your senses perfectly satiated.

Eat: XO fried rice with daikon pickles and bonito and Chinese broccoli with whipped tofu and topped with chili crunch

Drink: Karma Queen, a cocktail made with vodka, dragon fruit, rum, and bitter orange

Earl’s Premier

Who knew that a seafood joint with only a handful of seats located in the heart of land-locked Kansas City with a tiny raw bar and a cocktail bar serving frozen drinks along with beer and wine would become the social hub of the city. Todd Schulte and Cory Dannehl have created one of the best places to see and be seen no matter what time of day it is, you’ll always run into someone you know, and that is half the fun. 

Eat: A bowl of clam chowder and Crispy Cod Sando topped with shredded lettuce, American cheese, and jalapeño dill tartar sauce

Drink: Frozen gin and tonic

Of Course Kitchen & Catering 

Owner and executive chef Swetha Newcomb’s superpower is harnessing the flavors of her Southern India heritage and using them to season American ingredients. People are still buzzing about her restaurant and menu located in the southernmost reaches of Overland Park.

Eat: Golden Beet Carpaccio with orange vinaigrette, cashews, curry leaf pesto, toasted paneer, arugula, and pickled daikon

Drink: Nanhattan made with Rittenhouse Rye, spiced banana liqueur, orange and angostura bitters 

Vita’s Place

Ryan and Jenny Sciara have opened a new wine bar in the Crestwood Shops to go with their wine shop, Underdog Wine Co, located just around the corner. This convivial neighborhood spot is the perfect place to settle in for a fantastic glass of wine and some meaningful meat, cheese, and dessert plates. 

Eat: Mortadella, ricotta, and preserved lemon along with cannoli for dessert

Drink: A glass of Soellner, Grüner Veltliners  

District Biskuit

He made a name for himself by using his mother’s recipe to make tall, fluffy biscuits, and today owner and chef Guroux Khalifa is at the helm of his brick-and-mortar restaurant in North Kansas City, selling his big boy biscuit sandwiches, mac n’ cheese bowls, and milkshakes, with lines out the door on weekends.  

Eat: DB Hash with crispy hash brown potatoes, chicken sausage gravy, bacon jam, shredded cheese, and chives, and get one of his famous biscuits to eat on the side

Drink: South Side Shake, a milkshake made with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, topped with crispy fried potato bits and whipped cream—add a shot of booze of your choice to your milkshake for only $2 more 


Tucked in a quiet corner of the Crossroads, Novel continues to reveal itself like a good book, slowly page by page. The chefs Ryan Brazeal and Jessica Armstrong and their team continue to delight with bowls of interesting pastas, delicate fish, meaty entrées, and seasonal soups, salads, and desserts along with a full bar and wine list in their right-sized dining room.  

Eat: Blue crab tortellini with coral pasta, tarragon, and calamansi butter

Drink: A glass of Château Routas, rosé, Provence, France


With the chef Katie Liu-Sung receiving her first James Beard nomination this year, all eyes are on her cool, contemporary Taiwanese restaurant located on Westport Road. Using local seasonal ingredients, she’s creating dishes enjoyed around her own family table. The menu features dumplings, noodles, and bao dishes paired with a full cocktail bar.   

Eat: Mala Hot Pot, cooked tableside by dunking a selection of raw meats and vegetables in a Sichuan chili-flavored hot broth 

Drink: Sake-Wrench cocktail with Lucky Dog Maneki Wanko sake, Bronson’s Milk Punch, salted plum-lemon bitters, and soda water


Just underneath the I-35 on-ramp in the Westside is an eye-catching two-story brick building now with a fresh coat of white paint and quaint outdoor patio transformed inside and out by owner Cait Marie into a salon upstairs and a little European-inspired coffee shop/bookstore downstairs serving pastries, breakfast burritos, and Maps coffee.

Eat: Pain au chocolate croissant from Blackhole Bakery

Drink: Cortado coffee using Maps coffee beans

Taco Naco Westport

At its second location in Westport, the chefs Fernanda Reyes and Brian Goldman have expanded not only their menu but also their customer base. The new spot came with a full bar, where they are now pouring fresh and frozen cocktails, including palomas, pina coladas, and margaritas to go with their tasty tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos.    

Eat: Brisket Birria ramen soup, ramen noodles in birria broth topped with pulled brisket, cilantro, and onion and served with two birria-style brisket tacos on the side. 

Drink: Spicy pineapple margarita

The Campground

As patio season is upon us, The Campground owners Christopher Ciesiel and Cristin Llewellyn have done a masterful job doubling its seating by reimagining the parking lot as a campsite. Take that and pair it with a clever craft-cocktail program and the culinary stylings of Jeff Workman, who received a James Beard nomination for Emerging Chef this year, and you have the kind of “roughing it” I can get all about.  

Eat: Cauliflower with hazelnuts, scallions, dates, and chili crunch

Drink: Orange negroni made with Campground orange vermouth, Campground Amaro blend, and Banhez Ensemble mezcal  

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