Best Neighborhood Hangouts in Kansas City

Discover — Or Reacquaint Yourself — With These Favorite Neighborhood Pubs, Dives And Watering Holes.

The best way to get to know a town is to explore the mini-cities within it and there's no better way to get to know the mini-communities than by checking out the most popular hangouts. We visited with locals from all parts of Kansas City to bring you a game plan for discovering the nuances and sub-cultures of the Midwest's biggest little city.

Crossroads – The Brick

Whether you’re at The Brick to catch a local music show, partake in cheap tacos (and two for $6.50 margaritas!) on Taco Tuesday or take a hearty dive into the Saturday Brickfast’s biscuit-and-gravy buffet and bloody mary bar, you’ll find yourself in good company at this Crossroads dive. Order a Kansas City Reuben dog, some buffalo Zim’s wings or the meatloaf sandwich and you’ll know what we mean. Don’t forget dessert: The Brick boasts a food coma-inducing deep-fried Twinkie.

The Brick, 1727 McGee St., Kansas City, MO. (816) 421-1634.

Westport – Beer Kitchen

Do you like beer? Good. Do you like burgers? Excellent. Do you enjoy craft versions of both of these items served side by side, making you feel like actual royalty? Well, buddy, you best get down to Beer Kitchen, located in the heart of Westport. Beer Kitchen brings together the most classic American cuisine: premium burgers (you’ll want the smokestack burger with smoked burnt ends, smoked Gouda and a whiskey-barbecue glaze), build-your-own mac and cheese and 16 rotating craft taps. Word to the wise: Come hungry.

Beer Kitchen, 435 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 389-4180.

Plaza – Parkway Social Kitchen

In October, Parkway Social Kitchen opened up on the Country Club Plaza in the former Coal Vines space. Parkway’s kitchen turns out inventive twists on favorite dishes, including pepper jack-stuffed Tater Tots, a protein-stuffed veggie burger and a mile-high prime rib sandwich.

Parkway Social Kitchen, 616 Ward Pkwy., Kansas City, MO. (816) 214-5616.

Crestwood – Aixois Bistro

The shady outdoor patio and authentic French menu are respectively charming and delicious. Whether it’s a morning coffee and quiche, an afternoon Niçoise salad or a hearty dinner of steak au poivre you can’t go wrong. Bonus: Wednesdays feature half-price wine night, so there’s no call to hide away just on the count of it being a school night.

Aixois Bistro, 251 E. 55th St., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 333-3305.

West 39th – Fric & Frac

The family-owned bar and grill opened up in 1976, and since then, everyone from poor college kids to budget-conscious families have shown up for the nightly dinner specials. Our favorites is Tuesday’s 10-ounce KC strip with a side salad and choice of potato for $13.20. If that’s not a neighborhood bargain, we don’t know what is.

Fric & Frac, 1700 W. 39th St., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 753-6102.

Columbus Park – Columbus Park Ramen Shop

Columbus Park Ramen Shop is a neighborhood treasure serving up heaping, hot bowls of ramen. We love the the “Shoyu”, featuring dashi, braised country pork jowl and marinated shiitake (pro tip: add a chili bomb for next-level spice and flavor). On warm spring and summer nights, the garage door gets thrown open and the alleyway patio opens up.

Columbus Park Ramen Shop, 549 Gillis St., Kansas City, MO. (816) 492-5549.

West Bottoms – Lucky Boys

Lucky Boys is the kind of bar perfectly suited to the West Bottoms. Vintage velvet portraits hang from the dark wood-paneled walls, a solid playlist pumps out golden hits from the ’60s and ’70s. You’ll most certainly want to opt-in for the crave-worthy Nashville hot chicken sandwich, served with a side of well-seasoned fries. The fried catfish basket isn’t bad, either.

Lucky Boys, 1615 Genessee St., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 442-8131.

River Market – Kansas City Taco Co.

Who doesn’t love a good taco, especially when some of the options are Thai chili shrimp, Baja fish, Korean pork and steak carne asada. There are also quesadillas, grains-and-greens bowls, smoked egg rolls and chili cheese fries. Make sure you pop in for the killer weekday happy hour, featuring $3.50 margaritas, $2.50 Modelo tallboys and 25 percent-off appetizers.

Kansas City Taco Co., 520 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 214-5390.

Waldo – Red Snapper

You’ll find all the usual suspects here: General Tso’s chicken, lo mein, potstickers — plus an extensive offering of Vietnamese, Thai and Korean cuisine. Chef-owner Casey Chao deftly weaves a thread through hot and sour soup, Korean ribs, Thai coconut red curry, Peking squid, seafood udon, jellyfish and yes — red snapper, served deep-fried or steamed in a variety of presentations. This is some next-level neighborhood pan-Asian and you might as well let someone else do the dishes, right?

Red Snapper, 8430 Ward Pkwy., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 333-8899.

Prairie Village – Blue Moose Bar & Grill

Over 15 years in the neighborhood means that stepping into the Blue Moose is also a lot like visiting a good friend — whether it’s your first time in or your fifth night in a row. Service is friendly, the decor is classy (despite the name) and you can find both kids’ meal options and a martini called “Chocolate Ecstasy” on the menu. Now that sounds like the kind of Tuesday night you deserve.

Blue Moose Bar & Grill, 4160 W. 71st St., Prairie Village., KS. (913) 722-9463.

South Kansas City –  Martin City Brewing Company

There’s truly something for everyone here. The Pub features a wide array of classic American fare, from burgers and sandwiches to elevated mac and cheese ensembles. At the Tap Room, you can tuck into a wood-fired pizza (we heartily recommend the “Black & Blue,” where garlic Alfredo sauce, roast beef, blue cheese and truffle oil steal the show). Let’s not forget the brews either — between the two sides of the restaurant, there are over 50 beers to please any palate.

Martin City Brewing Company, 500 E. 135th St., Kansas City, MO.
(816) 268-2222.

Leawood – Cactus Grill

The Cactus Grill is the “go to” meeting place for Leawood residents before or after any school function or sporting event. It’s the place you’ll run into your neighbors, your doctor and even your mayor. The hands down favorite on the menu is the espinaca con queso. This concoction of jalapeño cheese, onion, tomatoes and spinach served with warm tortilla chips is the perfect way to start your meal. Another neighborhood “must have” is the Veracruz chicken enchilada.

Cactus Grill, 11849 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS.  (913) 345-9933

Overland Park – Nick & Jake’s

It’s easy to understand Nick & Jake’s mass appeal. The family-friendly restaurant dishes up just about any kind of food you could dream up, from premium burgers to jambalaya to meatloaf. (There’s an excellent selection of fresh salads here, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.) There are daily lunch specials and Sundays feature a brunch buffet, which includes, among other things,  an herb-roasted prime rib carving station. Ahem. Yes, please.

Nick & Jake’s, 6830 W. 135th St.,
Overland Park, KS.
(913) 681-8535.

Lenexa – Grinders

Grinders got its start in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District in 2004, and you can still find the original location there. A decade later, chef-owner-artist-weirdo, Stretch, opened his Lenexa location, bringing New York-style pizza and Philly cheesesteaks to the south metro. If you’re looking for a casual joint to let your freak flag fly, this is it.

Grinders, 10240 Pflumm Rd.,
Lenexa, KS. (913) 888-2000.

Olathe – Joe’s Kansas City

Ah, the Z-Man — you can’t mention Joe’s Kansas City without rhapsodizing about its most beloved sandwich. There’s nothing quite like the moment you savor that slow-smoked beef brisket, provolone cheese and crispy onion rings sandwiched between a toasted kaiser roll. The Olathe location is outfitted with booths and ample seating — the kind of place that encourages you to take your time with your meal.

Joe’s Kansas City, 11950 S. Strang Line Rd., Olathe, KS. (913) 782-6858.

Lee’s Summit – Summit Grill

Summit Grill boasts a menu of American classics revamped with flair and created by culinary director Po Wang (see: Togarashi fried shrimp, pot roast nachos, a corned beef brisket Reuben). Neighborhood folk turn up in droves for the daily happy hour (burger sliders are just 95 cents each). Summit Grill’s decor is cozy — exactly what you want out of the ultimate neighborhood hangout.

Summit Grill, 4835 NE. Lakewood Way, Lee’s Summit, MO. (816) 795-1299.

Lake Lotawana – Marina Grog & Galley

Dinner with a view: That’s what Marina Grog & Galley offers its loyal diners. Situated right on the edge of Lake Lotawana, this restaurant has been delivering classic surf-and-turf plates since it opened in 1993. Marina Grog & Galley doesn’t have quite the casual vibe (or bargain prices) that a few other neighborhood joints on this list boast, but the historic building does have an unmistakable charm — no doubt helped along by the open-air deck seating.

Marina Grog & Galley, 22 A St.,
Lake Lotawana, MO. (816) 578-5511.

North Kansas City – Chicken N Pickle

North Kansas City is undergoing a bit of a revival at the moment and the arguable centerpiece may be Chicken N Pickle — an indoor/outdoor game and entertainment complex-meets-restaurant and social club. You can guess what this place is about by its name: wood-fired rotisserie chickens are the star of this menu, but there are also some solid sandwiches, salads and kid’s menu items. The “pickle,” though, is a reference to pickleball — a sport similar to tennis, with wooden paddles in place of racquets. Chicken N Pickle offers eight total pickleball courts plus assorted lawn games and in case you’re more of an observer than a participant, plenty of TV screens for sports watching. There are endless fun combinations here — all you have to do is show up.

Chicken N Pickle, 1761 Burlington St., North Kansas City, MO. (816) 537-1400.

Independence – Ophelia’s Restaurant and Inn

Ophelia’s Restaurant and Inn has quite the background: Originally built in 1907, it first housed a hardware store before an additional structure was added on in 1948 as Katz Drugstore. Katz closed in 1974 and it wasn’t until Ken and Cindy McClain purchased the building in 1999, that the structure had a new purpose. Today, the restaurant is the cornerstone of Independence Square. Ophelia’s menu offers a wide range of American classics. We suggest indulging in the lobster and crab fondue or keep it light with the “spa” menu (the chili-glazed salmon gets our vote).

Ophelia’s Restaurant and Inn, 201 N. Main St., Independence, MO.
(816) 461-4525.

Brookside – Carmen’s

All the best parts of Spain and Italy merge at Carmen’s Cafe, a Brookside staple for over 13 years. We recommend ordering both gambas a la plancha (bacon-wrapped shrimp), veal parmesan, Bilbao chorizo and mozzarella sticks all in one sitting. Do yourself a favor and don’t skip dessert — Carmen’s has some of the best tiramisu in town.

Carmen’s, 6307 Brookside Plaza,
Kansas City, MO. (816) 333-4048.

South Plaza –  Osteria Il Centro

In March, the neighborhood eatery celebrated its 23rd anniversary, marking over two decades of bringing universal Italian classics like eggplant parmesan, veal meatballs, and chicken pesto tortellini to the masses. Wine Il Centro is also a favorite of wine aficionados, and for those smart enough to enroll in the OIC Wine Club, there may be no greater reward than access to the over 10,000 reserve bottles.

Osteria Il Centro, 5101 Main St.,
Kansas City, MO. (816) 561-2369.

Shawnee – Paulo & Bill's

It’s hard to know what we like best about Paulo & Bill’s in Shawnee. It might be the pizza, fired in a brick oven and blessed with a delightfully smoky, charred crust. It could be the generous pasta portions, large enough to satisfy us for at least a good 48 hours. Perhaps the extensive happy hour selection — including a $6 plate of lasagna — available every weekday is the draw. The delightful patio, where we can be transported to a terraced Tuscan garden for an afternoon, is certainly enticing. Most likely, however, it’s the fact that every time we turn up, we feel like we’re being folded into the loving arms of our very own Italian nonna. We’ll take it.

Paulo & Bills, 16501 Midland Dr., Shawnee, KS. (913) 962-9900.

Categories: Features, Food