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Dinner at These Great Kansas City Area Restaurants Is Memorable and Mouthwatering



Whether dinner out is a weekly date with your beloved, social time with your best buddy, or a special celebration, independent restaurants in the Kansas City area deliver terrific dining experiences. From among local restaurants, 10Best narrows the options to those places that serve primarily 'American' cuisine, which have the most appeal and the best reputations. And that's no small task. In recent years, Kansas City's exciting and evolving restaurant scene has landed on numerous travel and food 'best' lists. Its chefs have also received nominations and awards from the James Beard Foundation.  There's plenty of focus on farm-to-table cuisine and otherwise sustainable food prep and operations too. In addition, ambiance varies widely, from chic, contemporary surroundings to an elegant vintage vibe. There's no shortage of great choices for memorable evening meals. In some locations, well-priced and expansive happy hour menus, sumptuous brunch offerings or prix fixe dinners offer a terrific value. Available preset wine pairings up the ante for great taste. With this list, we've culled Kansas City's enormous restaurant selection down to 10 popular spots, where food, drink and decor create unforgettable evenings.


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The Farmhouse - Kansas City
Photo courtesy of Alistair Tutton


Set amid Kansas City's renowned River Market neighborhood, this farmhouse-inspired restaurant's wide planked floors and large, weathered wooden tables create quaint surroundings for weekend dinners. Locally and regionally sourced, seasonal ingredients-many from small producers-infuse dishes at The Farmhouse with fresh flavor. The Assorted Local Cheese Plate with house-made crackers gets high marks; so has spicy carrot soup – a Soup Du Jour. Popular cold weather dinner entrees have included tender 365-Day Aged Hanger Steak or Rabbit Fricassee with braised seasonal vegetables. Roasted Quail is another favorite, served with cheese and thyme grits, marinated grilled kale and gooseberry glaze. Rum cake, tiramisu, or unusual goat cheese cheesecake, have been popular desserts, on the restaurant's frequently changing menu. Servers and bartenders are generally knowledgeable, attentive and friendly, although service can be slow when the dining room is full.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: It isn't often that you can savor fresh, contemporary fare in a rustic environment.

Lisa's expert tip: There's a lot to like about weekend brunches at The Farmhouse, when entrée pricing is $15 on the high end. Available Saturday or Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the menu has featured Veggie Benedict and Daily Quiche alongside Corned Beef Hash, Stuffed French Toast or Biscuits and Gravy.

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Story


Since May 2011 the restaurant has served customers amid minimalist décor, white tablecloths, and candlelight. However, there's no music playing, which some customers found odd. A 2013 James Beard semifinalist nominee for Best Chef Midwest, Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen was also Food & Wine magazine's 2014 winner of The People's Best New Chef award. He uses the freshest, 'interesting' ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible. The small eclectic menu has featured starters such as ceviche or smoked duck empanadas. Recent popular entrees have included halibut with potato puree, braised beef short ribs with gnocchi, or shrimp and grits. Donut holes and German chocolate cake have previously appeared on the dessert menu. In addition to somewhat pricey wine, story., offers hand-crafted cocktails and house-made limoncello. Well-portioned food and generally friendly, attentive service are the norm here. In warmer weather, enjoy pleasant neighborhood views with your meal.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Amid suburban Prairie Village, Kansas, story. offers patio dining with wonderful views of the bustling yet quaint commercial neighborhood.

Lisa's expert tip: For special occasions and $75, the tasting menu offers a broad 'tour' through the regular menu, from beets with smoked walleye, burrata, apple and mustard vinaigrette to swordfish and beef short rib dishes. Salted caramel doughnuts with vanilla pastry cream and passion fruit capped a recent version of the menu.

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The Rockhill Grille
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray


Quickly becoming a food and drink fixture in Kansas City, Missouri's Crossroads Arts District, this casual yet elegant spot also provides great views of the vibrant surrounding neighborhood - especially at night, from the second floor lounge. Customers appreciate the friendly and attentive staff and expert bartender. Favorite starters have included smoked salmon dip with just the right amount of smokiness, as well as 'Pig Wings.' Must try' House-made Tater Tots arrive with house-made jalapeño cheese, garlic aioli, and catsup. Generous portions of fresh, flavorful and beautifully plated entrees have included Filet Mignon, Pork Chop or Crab Cakes. Customers love the bruschetta while dessert lovers have appreciated fresh-tasting lemon scones. Cocktail fans can enjoy locally sourced spirits in various mixed drinks too. Add in friendly, happy staff, and well-paced service for a pleasant downtown dining experience.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Two floors and beautiful urban views create an unusual space to enjoy a meal.

Lisa's expert tip: Full of raw wood and comfortable seating, the second level lounge is a great place to enjoy 'Social Hour' (also available downstairs). There's a small appetizer menu plus well-priced beer and wine; or try specialty cocktails such as The Rockhill Collins, Local Water (using local gin) or Drunken Rum Pumpkin.

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novel kansas city
Photo courtesy of Paul M. Ingold, Photography by Ingold


Small rooms in a Westside Kansas City vintage home create a classy yet cozy ambiance for novel Kansas City. It's the brainchild of owner/Chef Ryan Brazeal, who learned the culinary ropes at New York City restaurants. novel is known for fresh, clean, simple and seasonal ingredients incorporated into understated, yet creative and inventive cuisine. 'New American' cuisine also takes cues from Southeast Asian, Caribbean, South American, Middle Eastern and Western European traditions. Attentive and knowledgeable wait staff serves seasonal favorites, from Crispy Egg or Grilled Lamb Sausage, to chilled corn soup or Duck Neck Dumplings as well as huge Duroc Pork Chop and Pork Belly and perfectly Seared Diver Scallop entrees. Be sure to leave room for desserts such as Fried Pumpkin Pie or Peanut Butter Custard too. An enormous wine menu and craft cocktails complement your meal too.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: This is destination dining in one of Kansas City's evolving culinary neighborhoods.

Lisa's expert tip: Offered Tues-Thurs. and priced at $55 ($80 with wine pairings), gourmet prix fixe meals here are easy on the pocketbook. Just be sure to make reservations and remember the restaurant closes at 9:30.

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Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room
Photo courtesy of Bonjwing Lee


This is one of only two Kansas City restaurants to receive a AAA Four Diamond rating. Inside The Supper Club, Chef Michael Corvino creates 13-course tasting menus that have featured spicy tomato gnocchi to short rib steak, and Whipped Chicken Liver to Wild Striped Bass. Supper Club guests also enjoy live music nightly. With specific seating times available on Tuesday through Saturday nights, and room for only 18 guests, the Tasting Room presents patrons with cuisine reflecting the Chef's Pacific Northwest roots and fresh ingredients. The staff is well trained and expert wine pairings enhance the evening. The menu changes almost daily, but recent offerings have included king salmon with smoked buttermilk, turnip, grapefruit and dill; or wagyu ribeye, huitlacohe sauce, charred onions, wasabi. Peruvian chocolate cookie with ganache and paw paw ice cream with warm caramel, were two recent sweet endings.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Two distinctive dining experiences under one roof incorporate fresh ingredients, unusual flavor combinations, professional servers and upscale ambiance.

Lisa's expert tip: If you're a night owl who loves burgers, enjoy a fancy version from the late-night Supper Club menu. Seaweed Donuts and oysters may also show up there. During Happy Hour, nosh on appetizers and cocktails, priced at $8 or less; or for ultimate decadence, savor 'Champagne & Caviar for Two.'

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Reserve Restaurant & Lounge
Photo courtesy of Reserve Restaurant & Lounge


Boutique lodging in Kansas City, Missouri's downtown area, the Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, Autograph Collection houses the classy Reserve Restaurant and Lounge. Dine amid cream-colored upholstery and tufted booths that complement high ceilings and 1920's architectural details. In 2017,Yelp named this restaurant among its Top 50 Places to Eat in Kansas City. Enjoy classic American cuisine inspired by dishes prepared on the farm owned by Chef Eathan Jaax's family. Perfectly cooked salmon, amazing truffle fries, and filets, accompanied by sauteed winter greens, apple-wood smoked bacon and red wine reduction, are fall offerings. Order a custom Cheese Flight, featuring your choice of cheeses, savor fresh mussels, or for a culinary twist, try a Grand Reserve Burger topped with an egg. Tasty signature cocktails showcase locally produced liquors, by purveyors that include J. Rieger Kansas City and Tom's Town selections. Friendly service and live jazz are other perks of dining here.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Reserve Restaurant and Lounge deftly defies the stereotype that hotel restaurants aren't typically worth bragging about.

Lisa's expert tip: Seasonal food and wine pairings are available too, at three courses for $45 or five courses for $65. Add wine pairing for $30 or $40. In late fall, menu itmes included Bruschetta, and grilled Octopus, plus Wild Boar Sausage Bolognese, Prime New York Strip and Chocolate Pots de Creme.

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The Antler Room
Photo courtesy of Zach Bauman


Only open since 2016, The Antler Room has already landed among YELP's top 50 Kansas City Restaurants, and on Bon Appetit's long list of Best New Restaurants in America 2017. Husband-and-wife team Nicholas Goellner and Leslie Newsam Goellner incorporate their many years of restaurant experience from across the country and the globe. The focus is fresh ingredients used to create boundary-pushing flavors and small plates. Service is professional and the ambiance is chic. Recent fall menu options have included Rigatoni, duck confit, broccoli rabe, mushrooms, ricotta; Beef Tongue, enoki mushroom, XO sauce, celery, buckwheat; and Octopus, curry spice, bitter greens, almonds, pickled onion, papadum. Ultra-fresh scallops and Broccoli Baba Ganoush have received high marks too. Guests at this family-owned restaurant also benefit from sweet confections created by Nicholas's sister Natasha Goellner, who runs her nearby Natasha's Mulberry & Mott bakery.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The multi-faceted restaurant experience of this couple translates into memorable meals that take their cue from global flavors.

Lisa's expert tip: Ignite your tastebuds during recently added weekly brunches. Enjoy Bananas Foster waffles with caramel sauce, bacon, and cornflake ice cream plus Moroccan-inspired, egg-based Shakshuka or Smoked Whitefish Tartine. Fresh pastries and craft cocktails complement every bite. Additional hours include Sunday, 5-10 p.m. and Wed., Thurs.,Fri. or Sunday Happy Hour.

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Justus Drugstore


Wood and warm colors create an inviting environment inside this one-time drugstore, on Smithville, Missouri's tiny town square. Detail-oriented servers plus an award-winning bartender enhance meals. The Kansas City Star, Bon Appetit and Time Magazine have praised this restaurant for Midwestern dishes that deliver inventive and tasty twists on seasonal ingredients. Dozens of farmers and staff-forages help to create fresh flavors, year-round. Fall offerings have included Smoked Bass and Egg on Brioche, as well as Local Duck Breast with leek/potato puree, superbly prepared skirt steak, or Berkshire Pork 2 Ways. Try Freshwater Hybrid Bass and Crawfish, or the complex Horseradish Blue Salad, featuring arugula, parsley, mustard/horseradish, blue cheese, tomato gelée, crispy new potatoes, potato glass, and caramelized white chocolate. For a sweet ending order delicious desserts such as Carrot Cake Beignets, fried apple pie and daily ice cream or sorbet.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: At the end of a long drive from the heart of Kansas City, MO, enjoy Midwestern ingredients and flavors prepared with loads of TLC.

Lisa's expert tip: Once relegated to warm weather dining, only, the Bar Side Menu has become a well-priced year-round staple. Think an Eastside Reuben, Duck Fat Preserved Chicken Gizzards, house-made hummus or an Olive Bowl with marinated peppers and potato chips made on-site.

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Westport
Bluestem
Photo courtesy of Bonjwing Lee


Under the direction of Chef Colby Garrelts, 2013 James Beard Award-winner for Best Chef Midwest, guests at this elegant yet un-fussy Kansas City, Mo. restaurant may order fixed price meals of three, five or seven courses. First to second course options have included fairytale pumpkin soup, with green apple and pepita, to exceptional rabbit cappelletti. Third and fourth course dishes have highlighted sturgeon, scallops, duck and ultra-moist ribeye. Fifth course offerings have showcased the creativity, of Colby's wife, co-owner, and renowned pastry chef, Megan Garrelts. Sweet endings may include dark chocolate mousse or pumpkin and spice cake with goat cheese, pecan, sage and brown butter ice cream. Perfect wine pairings chosen by a highly experienced sommelier and knowledgeable, friendly servers enhance your meal too. It's no wonder bluestem was named a James Beard Semifinalist for "Outstanding Restaurant" in 2015, 2016, & 2017, where reservations are a must.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Great service, sleek surroundings and a predetermined wine pairing option make dining at bluestem a special occasion - no matter when you visit.

Lisa's expert tip: Look for Happy Hour specials on bottled wine, cocktails and beer, Tuesday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. For information about special events, such as a Cider Dinner or Autumn Tea, check the bluestem web site.

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The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange
Photo courtesy of The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange


Original tile floors, high ceilings and vintage bathroom fixtures remain in this cozy 1915 building, once a favored hotel among traveling salesmen, railroad workers and others. Customers at the counter have a front-row seat to the open kitchen, which serves a fresh, innovative and seasonal menu paired with professional and attentive service. In fact, menus routinely list local food purveyors and farmers represented in current dishes. Tantalizing cold-weather creations have included seared foie gras, grilled octopus atop hummus and rabbit polpettine with rabbit meatballs. Full of melted gruyere, pork confit, and chiccarron, Pork Soup is one delicious, year-round staple and steaks get high marks here too. Happy Hour offerings may include Roasted Root Vegetables or Left-Handed Butcher Soppressata Omelet. Cocktail lovers should also make a reservation at one of Kansas City's favorite bars, Manifesto, operating behind a 'hidden' basement entrance.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Old school ambiance plus attentive service plus tastebud-expanding dishes create a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Lisa's expert tip: Make dinner reservations, and then check for well-priced menu specials on the web site. While you're there look at well-priced Happy Hour classic cocktails, wines and beers, available Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. Pair your libations with soups and salads, snacks and small plates most often priced at below $10.

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Meet Lisa Waterman Gray

Lisa Waterman Gray moved to the Kansas City area 35 years ago and has written professionally for 20+ years. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, she's excited about the...  More About Lisa

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