If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Kansas City guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Kansas City for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like O'Dowds Little Dublin Irish Pub to busy places like Kelly's Westport Inn that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Westport area? No fear - we share all the facts!

12 Baltimore Café
An upscale destination for the 5 o'clock crowd, this attractive lounge is arguably home to some of downtown's tastiest, most potent martinis. The bar features an impressive selection of light lunch and dinner dishes, including everything from specialty appetizers and salads to sandwiches and homemade desserts. A terrific place to see and be part of the scene, 12 Baltimore is a popular pre- and post-theater destination as well. (816-221-7000, 800-433-1426)

Swank black and cherry-toned decor and a marble-topped bar might seem out of place in a bar owned by a former Major League Baseball player, but the varied crowd the establishment attracts doesn't seem to mind. Specializing in cocktails (bartenders are reportedly impossible to stump), Kelso's offers plenty of lounging space wherein college folks, young professionals, and sophisticated hipsters can mingle. Live music on weekends and a better-than-decent pizza menu keep everyone happy. (816-221-8899)

The Other Place
Founded in 1970, The Other Place chain was the brainchild of Don Landeau, who set up a friendly watering hole in Cedar Hills for patrons to relax, drink beer, and enjoy good food. The Overland Park location opened in 1997 and is the chain's sixth incarnation, replete with the original's charm and personality. Terrific pub grub includes a seasoned taco sub and buffalo wings, along with chili gumbo and baked lasagna. The youngish crowd can get a little loud at times, especially if the Chiefs, Jayhawks, or Royals are tuned in on big-screen TVs. Wednesdays are Bike Night, a favorite of motorcycle-riding patrons. (913-652-9494)

Kelly's Westport Inn
Located in what may be the city's oldest building (it was once owned by frontiersman Daniel Boone's grandson), Kelly's has been providing a touch of Irish charm for more than 50 years. Within one of the Midwest's most famous watering holes, cozy booths flank a traditional bar, and you'll likely have a bit of trouble finding an available spot to park yourself. The place is decorated with a lifetime's worth of memories, from framed newspaper clippings to photographs and plaques. Best of all, your favorite brews are on tap, and Guinness and Harp are so tasty, you'd think they came straight from Dublin. A superb pub menu attracts a good mix of lunchtime regulars. There's usually no cover except on Friday and Saturday when there is a live band. (816-561-5800)

O'Dowds Little Dublin Irish Pub
Experience a small taste — or is it a sip? — of the Emerald Isle at this popular Westport pub. O'Dowd's offers an authentic Irish look and feel, thanks to its dark wood interior, antique bar, and tap o' Guinness. Live Irish folk music is featured weekly, and the place is a frequent lunch hangout with the downtown business crowd. A scrumptious pub-style menu features traditional favorites — fish and chips, potato pancake boxty, Irish stew, and, if you're so lucky, corned beef and cabbage. On a hot summer's day, few things could be finer than sipping a frosty mug of stout and hanging out on their open-air deck. (816-561-2700)

Mike's Tavern
A favorite with the UM-KC student body, this collegiate joint has the look and charm of a time-seasoned neighborhood hangout, which is pretty much what it is. Mike's virtues include big-screen TVs, a jukebox armed with classic tunes, steel darts, skee ball, classic video games, golf, bowling, shuffleboard and of course, some of the coldest beer around. Live music is frequent, and bands usually cater to the younger crowd. Adding to the experience, Mike's features terrific bar food, including grilled hamburgers, "real" hot wings, and brilliant fries. (816-437-9400)

Velvet Dog
This swanky cocktail lounge, billing itself as KC's only supper club and martini bar, offers a refined setting. As a result, it's hugely popular with a young business crowd. The eccentric "Dog Menu" features international and American regional dishes, including Cajun shrimp, BBQ chicken pizza, rigatoni with Italian sausage, and a portobello burger. While the menu does in fact feature intriguing options, what really brings in crowds is Velvet Dog's impressive martini list, which features everything from traditional Manhattans and Cosmos to "rarer" Chocolate and Neapolitan varieties. A patio offers fresh air and a great place to pass warm Midwestern nights, especially if you've got bocce on your mind. On weekends, the place gets crowded quickly, so expect a wait. (816-753-9990)

Record Bar
Asking customers to "eat hear," this food-lover's bar/music venue appeals to a mixed clientele — both gourmands and devotees of the latest local band. Record-related paraphernalia covers the walls and beyond; take note of the record sleeves recycled as menus. Drinks range from basic beer to high-end vodkas, while food options include custom-created pizzas that garner rave reviews. Live rock, dinner shows, weekly trivia, costume parties, benefits, and a roster of themed events keep the scene fresh and lively. (816-753-5207)

Maps and Directions

12 Baltimore Café 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Hotel Bar, Lounge
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Kelso's 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN NORTH
The Other Place 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Sports Bar
Neighborhood: OVERLAND PARK
Kelly's Westport Inn 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours
Neighborhood: Westport
O'Dowds Little Dublin Irish Pub 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours, Live Entertainment, Live Music, Pub
Neighborhood: Westport
Mike's Tavern 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Live Music
Neighborhood: UM-KANSAS CITY
Velvet Dog 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Record Bar 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Live Music
Neighborhood: Westport
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