Best Lunch in Kansas City

Here's Where to Find Delicious Lunches from Southern Cuisine to Adventurous Flavors

Because hundreds of restaurants in the Kansas City area serve great lunches, we’ve narrowed the playing field for this list and purposely left out barbecue, self-serve or ethnic restaurants. Several iconic eateries are missing too, allowing new owners and/or chefs some time to establish their own style before receiving a review. From the old industrial West Bottoms neighborhood, with several new five-star restaurants, to a decades-old business offering premium sweets and hearty midday fare, these restaurants offer plenty of diversity in their menus and ambiance. If you appreciate dishes that showcase local ingredients, check out Room 39 or The Sundry Market & Kitchen, where nearby shelves stock a plethora of locally made food items alongside produce and other goodies to stock the pantry or frig. Several of this year's local favorite lunch spots serving Southern-inspired food and hospitality include West Bottoms Kitchen, where the small dining room combines bright colors with rustic materials. And breakfast lovers will find several of restaurants where they can order morning favorites at midday too. Enjoy the search and your meal! 


Room 39
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

Affordability is a plus for Rm (Room) 39's farm-to-table-inspired lunches such as quiche of the day with salad or fruit, and complimentary bread plus olives are a pleasant way to begin each meal. Although some dishes have tasted bland to customers creamy cauliflower soup, pumpkin fettuccini and okra calamari salad have drawn great reviews, while folks who order breakfast for lunch like the avocado toast served with poached eggs or biscuits and gravy. With a menu that changes frequently, other dishes have included warm root vegetable salad and Croque Madame. Dessert fans adore the flourless torte and wine drinkers appreciate the expansive menu. Rm 39 gets high marks for its pretty ambiance and patio, as well as casual yet attentive, efficient and informative servers.

Recommended for Lunch because: For more than a decade, Rm 39 has offered tasty food from local farmers who practice sustainability when growing and harvesting.

Lisa's expert tip: Check out daily lunch specials on the web site. A recent menu featured Chili Cheese Steak, Spring Pappardelle, PEI Mussels, Eggplant Fries and a BLT – all price at $15 or less.

Read more about Room 39 →

Johnson County
rye KC
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest, Colby Garrelts and staff create classic Midwestern fare with his wife, Megan, a James Beard Semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Whether you order the spicy crispy chicken sandwich, fried chicken with creamy mashed potatoes or Buffalo wings, there's plenty of tender, juicy chicken on the menu. Customers also applaud the deviled eggs and pulled pork sandwich, cooked beef short ribs and the double patty burger with house made pickles and fries. Baked Potato Soup gets high marks for its layered flavors too. Megan and her staff create must-do desserts, from strawberry rhubarb pie to Blackberry Honey Cake. Sit amid rustic décor, or on the patio overlooking a beautiful lake, while interacting with friendly servers and bartenders. Although some customers find rye KC pricey, many think food quality makes up for it.

Recommended for Lunch because: James Beard-recognized chefs and classic Midwestern fare with contemporary twists are great reasons to check out this restaurant.

Lisa's expert tip: Lunch cocktails are big here, from a Bloody Mary to The Bees Knees (Beefeater 24, lemon honey syrup and sparkling wine). Order from the Lunch menu, or from a limited Midday Menu with options such as BBQ-Dusted Pork Rinds, a Domestic Cheese Platter or a classic Wedge Salad.

Read more about rye KC →

Extra Virgin - Kansas City
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

If you enjoy people watching and have an adventurous palate then Extra Virgin, in Kansas City, Missouri's bustling Crossroads location fits the bill nicely. James Beard award-winning Chef Michael Smith is at the helm. Duck tongue tacos with salty Cotija cheese, sea urchin spaghettini, blue crab fried rice and chicken thighs are recent customer favorites from this tapas menu. Save room for desserts such as Churros & Chocolate Sauce or Peach-Blackberry Crostata too. In addition, there's a hip vibe and knowledgeable wait staff here. And, if you're in the mood for a midday cocktail an expert bartender will craft the perfect match for your meal. Sure, you can find old standbys such as a Sidecar, or order from a nice wine menu, but consider expanding your beverage horizons with a 'Backroad Paths and Beaver Traps' or 'Goonies Never Say Die.'

Recommended for Lunch because: Small plates full of adventurous flavors make Extra Virgin a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Lisa's expert tip: This is a great 'Happy Hour' destination from 4-6 p.m., Mon.-Fri., when select dishes command lower prices, many beers are only $2.50 and wine or cocktails cost $2 less per glass. In pleasant weather, check out the Crossroads neighborhood from the patio too.

Read more about Extra Virgin - Kansas City →

Garment District
Webster House
Photo courtesy of Monica Johnson

Built as the Webster School, in 1885, today Webster House appears on the National Register of Historic Places and offers delicious lunches amid classy surroundings. Dining here can be a little pricey, although lunches are fairly reasonable. Start your meal with Shrimp Toast, Buffalo wings or bruschetta, order a salad topped with lemon herb seared chicken breast, or order the soup of the day. Recent plates have included gluten-free Aguachiles (shrimp, scallop, halibut, salsa verde, cucumber, sweet onion, cilantro and a grilled tortilla) or Filet Pasta (seared filet tips, basil pesto, TORCHIO?, summer squash, white wine roasted tomatoes and Pecorino Romano). Customers have also raved about mouthwatering scallops and fried Brussels sprouts, fall-off-the-bone coq au vin and smoked blueberry cheesecake. Enjoy wonderful service amid fabulous antiques and classic architectural features and then shop downstairs while sipping a cocktail.

Recommended for Lunch because: The Webster House restaurant and shopping options breathe new life into one of Kansas City, Missouri's oldest remaining public school buildings.

Lisa's expert tip: Creative flavor combinations that change seasonally incorporate ingredients sourced from many farmers and artisan food producers operating in and near the Kansas City area. Enjoy great prices during daily Reverse Happy Hour too, available from 8 p.m. to close.

Read more about Webster House →


Elevated comfort food characterizes daily lunches, from delicious quiches to hefty lasagna portions or classic Beef Bourguignon, typically accompanied by a green or other vegetable salad. Freshly prepared quiche is a daily staple. Service is generally quite good, with occasional delays when the dining room gets busy. There's a distinct Old World vibe in this tearoom that seemingly transports customers to a cozy Swiss cabin full of wood beams and paneled walls, with brightly painted folkloric accents. It's a relaxing atmosphere that invites you to slow down from daily life while thoroughly enjoying a hearty meal and, of course, dessert. Whether you choose raspberry filled cake macaroons or chocolate dipped pecan pie, it will be a memorable ending for your meal.

Recommended for Lunch because: Longevity and consistency make this restaurant a great choice for laid back meal.

Lisa's expert tip: If the Country Club Plaza neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri seems like too long a drive, check out the sleek and modern André's Rivaz Tearoom in suburban Overland Park, Kansas.

Read more about André's Tearoom & New Cafe →

Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

Kansas City's industrial East Bottoms neighborhood is home to Pigwich, connected to beloved artisan butcher shop, Local Pig, where it's normal to see a beef quarter or a half-hog ready for prep. This place is about the food, served amid an unassuming neighborhood and décor. With a melting pot of patrons – from hipsters to overall-wearing laborers – the restaurant offers a small menu anchored by its namesake sandwich, the Pigwich. Think a moist and tender pulled pork patty topped with melted Provolone, pickled vegetables and aioli, served inside a soft bun. Brisket and Banh Mi sandwiches have received kudos, as have well-seasoned homemade potato chips. Looking for daily specials? They include patty melts on Fridays, Porchetta (Italian pork roast) on Sundays, and Tortas (braised beef) on Wednesdays. Vegetarians have a tasty option in falafel so good that meat eaters love it too.

Recommended for Lunch because: There's nothing fancy but everything tasty about this no-frills restaurant born of a classic butcher shop.

Lisa's expert tip: Want to sharpen your skills for cutting big portions of beef or crafting charcuterie? Check the Local Pig web site for class schedule.

Read more about Pigwich →

The Sundry Westport Commons
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

Re-opening in a new space at the new PLEXPOD Westport Commons at the end of September, popular The Sundry Market & Kitchen will offer an expanded menu, and hours that stretch through dinner service. Customers already appreciate high quality ingredients that include house-made bacon, pickled vegetables, sausage and even craft soda with flavors such as Lemon Cardamom or Basil Mint Ginger Ale. In its original location, the creative though limited lunch menu has featured a delicious BLT with pickled fried green tomatoes as well as a Reuben and a turkey-bacon club sandwich. Biscuits and gravy, a Korean beef bowl and Wild Mushroom Cassoulet have been other popular dishes. Check the web site for a list of daily specials or gluten-free dishes that are always on the menu. Friendly wait staff serves your food quickly and The Sundry has added a bar too.

Recommended for Lunch because: Always evolving, The Sundry will work with CultivateKC as they develop an onsite urban farm, and open a Food Lab for product development and collaboration.

Lisa's expert tip: Be sure to leave some shopping time before, or after, your meal. If the previous location is any indication, The Sundry will still include a multifaceted market full of locally made artisan foods, local meats, locally grown produce and even local beer.

Read more about The Sundry Westport Commons →

Happy Gillis
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

Offering 'Cozy. Craft. Cuisine.,' Happy Gillis café & hangout has become a Columbus Park neighborhood dining staple. From the blackboard-only menu to a roll of butcher paper and crayon-filled mugs scattered throughout the space, it's a charming spot to grab a bite Co-owners, Chef Josh and Abbey-Jo Eans, moved their young family here too, when they assumed ownership about four years ago. The couple strives to make individual ingredients – often sourced locally – shine with beautiful presentations. Widely known for terrific breakfast and brunch dishes, Happy Gillis offers tasty lunch options too, from savory, creamy shrimp and grits to delicious Cubano and nicely portioned steak sandwiches. Kale salad and fresh cookies also receive high marks. Feeling adventurous? Try unusual dishes such as Smoked Trout salad served on locally crafted Ibis Quinoa bread. The plate includes 'dilly beans,' olives, hard boiled, arugula salad too.

Recommended for Lunch because: Warm, friendly and funky, this little eatery consistently delivers tasty, 'pretty' food served with a smile.

Lisa's expert tip: If you're somebody who would happily eat breakfast food morning, noon, and night, you'll love the fact that Happy Gillis café & hangout now offers breakfast dishes from morning to close, in addition to more traditional lunch options.

Read more about Happy Gillis →

EJ's Urban Eatery
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray

First, EJ's Urban Eatery operates in the funky, historic West Bottoms neighborhood. Second, these guys are passionate about the food they serve and welcoming their customers. Third, the restaurant will soon offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and even brunch. Most importantly, the food is amazing. Slightly spicy biscuits and gravy, ½ Herb Roasted Chicken, or Blackened Salmon with fried green tomatoes are several offerings. Meat and Three is a great way to sample mouthwatering sides that include amazing braised local greens flavored with pork, onions and jalapenos as well as roasted Brussel sprouts with green apple accents or baked macaroni and cheese. Other tasty sides include dirty rice, Creole Seasoned Fries and other Louisiana-inspired options. Or try signature white BBQ sauce atop perfectly cooked, espresso crusted brisket; plus Southern greens and rice with fall-off-the bone ribs. Customers love this place.

Recommended for Lunch because: Amazing food in a surprising location where staff makes sure that every customer feels welcome make this a must-do destination.

Lisa's expert tip: Already a great place to find tasty breakfasts as well, watch the EJ's Urban Eatery web site for updates regarding new Saturday brunch and dinner offerings that are slated to begin soon.

Read more about EJ's Urban Eatery →


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