Good places to eat in Kansas City and northern Missouri?

In a week or two, I’ll be going to the KC area for a four or five day trip. During this trip, I’ll have to make at least one run to Columbia, MO as a side trip. I’m really hoping to tap the wellspring of Doper knowledge and find a few really interesting places to eat. Most importantly, I want different flavors and new experiences. I can find great pizza, steak, burgers and BBQ at home in my small town location. Heavily Americanized Tex-Mex and Chinese cuisine may be tasty but they’re also familiar. Why would I travel just to eat more of the same? None of these interest me.

What’s special to eat in the KC area? Any kind of ethnic or regional cuisine is worth investigating. I’m not optimistic about my seafood options but if there’s a decent option or two then that would be desirable. There wasn’t much there when I lived in the KC area but that was close to 30 years ago and I can’t begin to guess how much may or may not have changed.

What are my interesting options?

Gates BBQ. I was disappointed in Arthur Bryant, it was mostly gristle.

Are you looking for something in kc that you can’t find anywhere else? I’m not sure about what that would be.

I’ve only eaten here once, but I really liked the food. If you like Ethiopian food, give the Blue Nile Cafe a try.

And in KC there’s a ton of BBQ places, the city is noted for it, but I’m not personally familiar with them.

I’m looking for meals that can’t be found in a typical small town. Bigger cities support a more diverse population that may be able to support types of eateries that can’t be found in a less populated area.

I don’t know if I like it or not. Finding new dishes and flavors is what this thread is about.

Your request made me laugh out loud. I’ve worked at where were then several of the top rated restaurants in that city (albeit nearly thirty years ago) and while there is some good food to be had–particularly steak–it is not anything you cannot find elsewhere. There is no distinctive regional cuisine or specialties other than barbecue, and yes, I’ve eaten both Arthur Bryants and Gates but I’ll maintain that Bates City is better than both; just be aware that it will come by default smothered in this overly treacly sauce that is akin to a sugary ketchup, so ask for it bare with sauce on the side.

I had occasion to visit KC earlier this year, and sampled some indifferent Persian at the City Market, and acceptable but unremarkable steak in the P&L district, and some wholly unremarkable tapas downtown. That is not a statistical sampling by any means, but it reminded me of why I have exactly zero interest in living in Kansas City. At least other Midwestern cities have something to distinguish them–I’ve had a fantastic steak in Omaha, ‘interesting’ chili in Cincinnati, and some surprisingly good Mexican food in Cleveland–but Kansas City is remarkable only for its historical connection to jazz and being the home of the Pendergast Machine that gave a failed storekeeper the boost to start a political career that make him the second most accidental president of the 20th Century.


There’s an Irish eatery called Mac Donald’s. Seventeen locations in the area.

Ugh, it’s Scottish, and their haggis is terrible.


I’ve been to the original Arthur Bryant’s location twice and been utterly underwhelmed both times. They don’t smoke the meat enough, and they don’t use a particularly flavorful rub IMO. So it’s bland. Supposedly the sauce is where it’s at, but IMO it’s a poor barbecue joint that has to rely on sauce to make their meat good.

I would like to go to Gates BBQ at some point- I’ve heard good things about it from my uncle, who’s a Texas expat living in the greater KC area.

If you like French cooking, I strongly recommend Le Fou Frog in Kansas City. Expensive but magnificent. Also liked the Michael Smith Restaurant.

But Springfeld is the home of Springfield-style cashew chicken! Sure, it is highly Americanized Chinese. But it is a regional specialization of Americanized Chinese :p!

Springfield is about as far away from Kansas City as you can get and still be in Missouri.


That’s not at all accurate.

It is a ~3 hour drive though, so I wasn’t serious about visiting just to eat a regional American Chinese dish. Just the comment reminded me of the dish and it amused me to bring it up :). It is sorta unique, but( having tried it )nothing particularly special, either.

Missouri was one of the few places I’ve found good rhubarb pie other than Amish country. You might ask for recommendations. Real rhubarb, not some other fruit combination with rhubarb like strawberry-rhubarb. Springtime is best but pies from frozen are fine.

Here’s a link to rhubarb pies in Columbia. Most of my experience was down around Joplin so I can’t vouch for advice.
Rhubarb pie

Not to nitpick the OP… OK, I guess I am… but Columbia is not northern MO, it is pretty much right smack in the middle. I thought you were asking about somewhere up around the Iowa border.

I can’t believe we are having a discussion of Kansas City barbecue without any mention of Joe’s KC (formerly “Oklahoma Joe’s”).

Also if you want more of a high-end barbecue dining experience, there is Jack Stack Barbecue.

From the Kansas City Star, here is a list of about 100 barbecue options in the Kansas City area. In other words, you’re not stuck with a choice between Bryant’s or Gates’.

Actually, you know what? Scratch that. Drive west about 40 miles, get yourself dinner and a couple of beers at Free State Brewing Company in downtown Lawrence KS. Great food, great beer, can’t miss.

Shoeless, we have to have a mini Dopefest like that. Lawrence is a great place for food and beer. Or in Topeka there’s the Blind Tiger Brewery, it has good food as well. I only wish one of their beers, Smokey the Beer, was available all the time.

y’know, I don’t think I understand. KC is known mostly for its style of BBQ. Why would you go there expecting to find Ethiopian food?

it’s like going to Japan to try to find good pizza.

In 2010, the pizza from Nagoya was voted the world’s best Neapolitan pizza. Here’s the link.

As stated, I live in a small, somewhat isolated town with a poor selection of restaurant varieties. I can find decent BBQ, burgers, pizza, steak and such other common American fare where I live. I have to travel to the KC area on business and I was hoping to find new, more exotic flavors and new experiences. It seems logical to me that a larger city like Kansas City might conceivably have a wider variety of menu options than can be found in my town of <5,000 people. I’m aware that KC is known for the BBQ that can be found there but specifically why am I wrong for trying to explore other option? If there ARE no other options then that’s fine. I’m not trying to re-write reality to suit my interest. Trying to find out what my options are does not seem to me to be a confusing question.