Restaurant Guide of KC™ - Kansas City Food + Travel Blog

  • Smokehouse BBQ

    Brazilian Steakhouse

  • Kansas City’s traditional,

    hickory-smoked barbeque

  • Family atmosphere. Barbeque favorites

    can be catered or delivered

  • Offers a menu in the bar area

    for those in the mood for a lighter meal

  • Smokehouse Bar-B-Que’s pit experts h

    fave been preparing authentic barbeque for 30 years

Wine of the Month

This wine flaunts the diversity and elegance of Central Coast Grenache, leading with aromatics of raspberry cobbler, white pepper, Moroccan dates, tart cherries, cocoa powder, brown sugar and Provencal lamb stew. In the mouth are subtle shadings from blood orange, eucalyptus, fresh ground espresso roast, thyme, forest floor and grilled venison. A pleasant, dusty herbaciousness rounds out the palate, recalling rosemary, sage and tarragon. It is a wine with... the complexity of offerings twice its price.

A lively nose of jasmine, honeysuckle, snap pea, thai sweet basil and belgian farm ale spicing, leads in to a luxurious, viscous palate. There are flavors of ginger ale, cucumber water, candied grapefruit, wild strawberries and junmai sake, that are have depth in saline-rich minerality. Finishes with elegance, marked by acidity that can handle diverse food.

You can find this one at Ensminger Liquor Store - more information


Stuffed Round Zucchini

Summer is all about 'les légumes' - and one of the vegetables we enjoy working with is: the round zucchini. They are super versatile and perfect for stuffing!  Create your own recipe and share it with us.

  1. Heat the oven to 350
  2. Chopped all vegetables
  3. Sauteed vegetables in olive oil
  4. Stuffed zucchinis
  5. Place in an oven dish with broth at the bottom. Cook for about 1 hour.

Bluestem gets a brand new look

Bluestem,  one of Kansas City’s premiere dining destinations, has reopened last week with a brand new look.  After a brief close for renovation, space in the sleek new kitchen was reconfigured so that diners can watch their food as it is plated in the open kitchen area. The pastry kitchen, located at the back of the lounge, is also an open layout, inviting glimpses of the expert chefs creating bluestem’s decadent desserts.

Dining Room



Dining room

Photos by Bonjwing Lee

bd’s Mongolian Barbeque by Chris Becicka

 A Sunday or so ago, current husband and I trekked out to Independence for a chance to create our own bowl at bd’s Mongolian Barbeque. There’s also one in Overland Park, but I was determined to go east because I’d heard about their enormous beer selection – good enough reason to go, said my obliging hubby.

 First the food – there’s lots of it, you get to choose what you want, and it’s all quite tasty. There are a couple of different price points, depending on just how hungry you are, and you can eat it there of course, take it to go, or eat it there AND take it to go all very, very reasonably. I think big eaters really like it here. Once you’ve filled your bowl(s) with meats and /or fish (Surimi aka Krab, mussels, shrimp, calamari), vegetables of all varieties, and more other stuff than I can remember, you create your sauce (there’s recipes on the walls for the challenged) from a huge variety of oils, sauces and spices, and take it all over to the grill where a young man (that’s all I saw anyway) entertainingly with huge, long, sword- like metal spatulas (for lack of a better term) cooks your food on a 600° grill – in about three minutes it seemed to me, but I didn’t time it. I know that’s a pretty packed sentence – but it reflects those bowls. You take it back to your table and chow down. Your rice or noodles are waiting for you.

Oh, there’s also appetizers, salads, sides and desserts. The picture includes a huge-ish bowl of fried rice but we wer
e too full to try dessert. Unless you can call another beer dessert – it was so delish we started drinking it before I remembered to take a picture. So that’s what’s left of the Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from the North Coast Brewing Company – it was beautiful to behold!

They have 58 craft beers on tap and 150 more in bottles in “The Library,” which is a mini-package store – you can either drink one in the very attractive restaurant or buy three (minimum by Missouri Law under what rationale it’s hard to tell) to take home and sip responsibly there. The beer selection depends on the season and what’s available and what’s fresh. The managers, like Brett, and bartender are especially knowledgeable about what each tastes like – a terrible responsibility I know. Their “growlers”” are a hoot – a refillable 64 ounce mug ($5+ beer or the baby “howler” at a mere 32 ounces for $4+beer) which can be taken home – and brought back again. And again.

 Bd’s is a really pleasant experience. There is a new enclosed patio area that is perfect year-round for one of those beers and some good company. The service was excellent. And I timed our return at about 30 minutes to the almost far edge of Shawnee, so the big trek just wasn’t. Spouse doesn’t want to go to the much closer one in Overland Park, he’s going for the beer. I’ll drive.

BD"s Mongolian 
19750 E. Valley View Parkway
Independence, MO 64057
Ph. 816-795-5430  

Perfectly Grilled Chicken Recipes - Check it:

BD's Mongolian Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Al Fresco by Chris Becicka

Who is Al Fresco anyway and when can I meet him? 

Em Chamas
After our so-called spring (really, snow forecast for April 14th?), it’s time to dine outside. Any time you can, in Kansas City, you should.

No, you must. Even if you are in the anti-outside contingent, therefore likely a member also of the “I hate picnics” cabal, at least once a season you should choose to dine under the stars, among the cars, outside the bars. Why? you ask. For goshsake’s why?

Meet Al Fresco. Actually it’s a what, not a who. Sometimes written hyphenated or as one word, alfresco, it originated in the 1700s in Italy: literally meaning ‘in the fresh’ and it often referred to mural painting, on fresh and not-so-dry plaster. The English adapted the fresh part and added it to air, hence dining outside or in the open air.

Several reasons come to mind. First, in our beloved Kansas City, chancing
McCormick & Schmick's
upon a day that’s still glorious when you have chosen to eat out is almost like winning the lottery. The sheer fact of limited opportunities makes the rarity more precious. (From the other side: inaccurate weather forecasts can lead to inaccurate staffing – sometimes you have to be patient.)

 Second, despite humidity, heat, cold, and wind, there exist many great, mostly umbrella-ed, restaurant outdoor spots that make the meal seem more special and taste even better. Third, until you become part of the outdoor crowd, eating outside somehow seems more exotic and glamorous. “Look,” you’re saying to the world, “Look at grown-up me, having fun as an adult, doing something a little bit different and yet still acceptable and I’m in my grown-up clothes, too.” Fourth, the air is not stale air conditioned or reheated molecules, it’s fresh.

Oh, I could go on and on. So I will. Another nice thing about dining al fresco in Kansas City is that a number of restaurants have really gone above and beyond to create a wonderful, relaxing ambiance, usually one where it’s not so easy to hear your neighboring diners’ conversations and the vibe is a bit more relaxed. (From the other side: this also means people may linger . . . and patio seating is really luxury seating.)

Sasha's Baking Co.
Several restaurants have brand new accoutrements – or have redone their patios entirely. Em Chamas north of the river with a skating rink (in winter) beside it, has a brand-new, secluded patio next to its lounge which is ready for this summer. It’s covered, saving you from blazing sunlight. Heaters (necessary too long this year), fire pit, live music, string lights all help create a European-style courtyard. Sasha’s Baking Company, a coffee shop, bakery and lunch spot downtown in the “Library District,” has created a homey, intimate space for 10-14 people with a striking lion’s head fountain, bistro tables, and abundant flowers. Ninth Street and traffic noise disappear as you relax with some of the best baked goods or sandwiches in any town. BD’s Mongolian BBQ in Independence has a patio located right off its taproom (w/over 200 craft beers) as well as misters, couches, fans, and a pellet stove for heating on cool nights. Oh yeah, and 70” HD TVs . . . what more could you wish for?

People dine al fresco for other reasons than ambience – a big one is to people watch. A long-time fave for that? The Classic Cup, where the sidewalk dining is the ultimate in interactive viewing and whose vine covered patio in the back offers a different kind of respite. Other people-heavy views (not to be confused with heavy people views) can be yours at Bo-Lings in the Market, several of the KCP&L restaurants, and Thai Place in Westport. Among others.

Grunauer - Biergarten
Rather look at trains? Go to Fiorella’s Jack Stack and Grunauer’s Biergarten across from Union Station’s active tracks. Can’t leave home without your dog? Try Westside Local downtown or take Fido on a little vacation to Lawrence where both La Parrilla and Pachamama’s cater to canines – or at least let them on the patio.

I have to add that I’m anxiously awaiting the new patio (attached to his new restaurant) that Jimmy Frantze is building. JJ’s will have a prime location in the Plaza Vista (aka Polsinelli) building, and the city scape overlooking Roanoke will definitely be an intriguing one.

Like I said, I could go on and on. But I can’t – so definitely see our complete chart, including who has live music, heaters, which have what views, which are covered, and much, much more. Detailed chart of amenities that each patio offers.
 Al Fresco rocks!

Join Coach Dick Vermeil at The Majestic

Vermeil Wine Dinner at The Majestic Restaurant Wednesday, May 14th 2014 6:30pm

Join Coach Dick Vermeil of Vermeil Wines at The Majestic on Wednesday, May 14th at 6:30pm for a four course wine dinner featuring Vermeil Wines and a paired menu prepared by Chef Liz Huffman.  Coach will be on hand to talk about the wines during the meal and autograph bottles for sale after the dinner.  
$60 per person - reservations required.  Call 816-221-1888 or Online Reservation

First Course
 Poached and Chilled Wild Maine Mussels, Green Curry Aioli, Sugar Snap Peas, Red Bell Peppers, Romaine Hearts

Vermeil Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Second Course
 Savory Duck Confit Tart, Braised Leeks, Red Chard, Herbed Velouté

Vermeil XXXIV Red Blend 2009

Third Course

Grilled Petite Filet, Shiitake Mushroom Risotto, Fried Spinach, Roasted Garlic Oil

Jean Louis Vermeil Frediani Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Fourth Course 
Baked Gougeres, Red Wine Aged Goat Cheese, Fresh Blackberries, Pear Reduction

Vermeil Frediani Vineyard Zinfandel 2010

Food, parties in conjunction with race weekend

Driver meet-and-greet; patio post race party; live music; and Turn 2 Sports Bar specials are all celebrations at Hollywood Casino in honor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race weekend.

Chefs and staff at Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway have created a full weekend of activities for race goers as well as those looking for an exciting way to celebrate gaming, racing, food and nightlife throughout the venues at Hollywood Casino.

Kansas Speedway will host its first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race on May 10. In addition, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will run under the lights the evening before for the first time on Friday, May 9. Festivities are planned throughout the weekend at Hollywood Casino to coincide with the races debut.

"We've scheduled a variety of specials, restaurant events and parties that will appeal to race goers, casino guests and local Kansas Citians alike. Many people during a race weekend might be curious about the fanfare or race goers may be looking for a great after-party. We've got something for everyone," said Dean Doria, Vice President of marketing.

Hollywood Casino Race Weekend Events:

Thursday, May 8
Brad Keselowski, NASCAR Driver Meet-and-Greet at Turn 2 Sports Bar & Restaurant, Hollywood Casino The public is invited to Turn 2 Sports Bar between 7:30 and 9 p.m. to mix and mingle with NASCAR Driver Brad Keselowski, who will sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. As the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Car, all Miller Lite 16 ounce aluminum bottles will be on special for $3.

Turn 2 is inside Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kan. The bar and restaurant is situated along the second turn of Kansas Speedway. Guests access the bar/restaurant from the escalator off the casino floor, and it offers sweeping views and a balcony of the entire Kansas Speedway. The sports-themed restaurant features dozens of TVs, a lounge setting, and a superior casual menu. Guests must be 21 to enter the casino.

Friday, May 9
• Turn 2 Sports Bar & Restaurant will be open during the day for viewing of the time trials and driver's practice runs.
• Marquee Cafe, a casual contemporary cafe featuring traditional American favorites, will be open until 11 p.m. Friday for late night dining following the race.
• Final Cut Steakhouse, located just off the casino floor at Hollywood Casino, is the fine dining steakhouse restaurant with an intimate, romantic, upscale ambiance and spectacular views of Kansas Speedway. Open until 11 p.m. on Friday.

Saturday, May 10
Following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race, the band, Outlaw Junkies, will take the stage for an after party on the patio overlooking the Speedway. This is the first time the patio has been open to the public during race weekend. Drinks will be for sale on the patio and food will be served until 1 a.m. inside Turn 2 Sports Bar. (the post race patio party is subject to weather cancelation)

Sunday, May 11 (Mother's Day)
Moms love racing and gaming too. Why not conclude the weekend with a trip to Epic Buffet at Hollywood Casino? Between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., the buffet goes all out for this special day honoring mothers. For $32.99, those 21 and up can enjoy the best of the best from snow crab legs, peel-and-eat shrimp, baked salmon filets, orange glazed baked ham, country fried chicken, barbecue ribs, sushi and hundreds of other delicious items including housemade desserts such as New York Style Cheesecake, chocolate torte and flan.

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which opened in February, 2012, is located at 777 Hollywood Casino Blvd., near Kansas Turnpike I-70 and I-435 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Phil Bourne and Waldo Pizza

SPOTLIGHT: When a Pizza Place is Not JUST a Pizza Place . . .
Phil Bourne and Waldo Pizza

I caught Phil Bourne, owner of Waldo Pizza, twice in the last week – once at his restaurant, the other time on the phone.  Waldo Pizza has long been a favorite of ours – and almost everyone else in the broadly surrounding neighborhood as near as I could tell.  I’ve never been to the Lee’s Summit restaurant (1543 NE Douglas Street)

The pizza joint has been there since 1987; Phil bought it on April Fool’s Day in 1993.  Originally from St. Louis, he’d been in the record business for a while, but his brother owned a casual restaurant and he thought it might be fun.  He started working at Waldo Pizza two years earlier – from dishwasher to delivery person to waiter before the original owners said they were tired of it and Phil made them an offer.

Since then, he has basically turned it into simply the kind of pizza place he would enjoy himself.  It’s St. Louis pizza – thinner, crispier crust, lightly sauced, slightly on the sweet side with, mainly, a different cheese – a blend of provolone and mozzarella with cheddar and Munster.  This gives the pizza a richer taste which Phil says people either love or hate.  Most popular pizzas?  No surprise here – the pepperoni or the combo (with lots of meats).

What’s cool about Waldo Pizza, other than the pizza pan lighting fixtures, friendly servers, full bar, and delicious pizza, is that it just has what must be called “quirks.”  For instance, you just don’t see salad bars hardly at all anymore, and Waldo’s remains in place.  It’s a small one, but everything is very fresh with some different flavors.  For instance, there’s his mom’s pickled beet salad, a rice salad, pasta salad, and really, all the fixins you need.  They make all their own salad dressings but one (the fat free honey Dijon) and they are well known for their garlic ranch dressing – and people seem very happy to pour that one on, eliminating the healthiness of the entire salad bar. 

Another quirk has to be Phil’s love of desserts and how the list has gotten longer and longer because he just can’t take his new-found favorites off the list.  The butterscotch pudding is one reflection of Phil’s home-life where dessert was usually served at the family dinner.  There’s homemade ice cream as well as Ted Drewe’s famous custard from St. Louis.  The number one favorite is St. Louis gooey butter cake, which even beats a very decadent chocolate dessert or tiramisu.

Phil says his greatest pleasure of his business is the same as when he was in the record business – being able to share something that he likes with other people, “bringing love to the customers.”  That makes up for the everyday problems which sometimes can seem overwhelming . . . until he sees, and serves, his customers and they’re ohsohappy with what they’re eating.  Then Phil is, too.

Waldo Pizza                                                          Waldo Pizza Lee's Summit
 7433 Broadway,                                                  1543 N.E. Douglas, 
 Kansas City, MO 64114                                      Lee's Summit, MO 64086
 816-363-5242                                                     816-875-2121    

Waldo Pizza on Urbanspoon

Waldo Pizza on Urbanspoon


JJ's Restaurant will re-open this year in the Polsinelli Building on the West Plaza.

JJ’s restaurant plans to reopen in late summer in the new Plaza Vista building, 18-months after the original restaurant was demolished in a fiery explosion that killed one worker and injured others.

Jimmy Frantzes considered rebuilding on the original JJ’s site but it was too expensive. "It is ironic to start over in the Plaza Vista site", Jimmy said. The new restaurant is going to have a prominent location with a large outdoor patio overlooking Roanoke, and the complex offered abundant parking.

As for the original JJ’s site, a corner yellow brick facade and front entryway tile are nearly all that remain. The Frantze brothers haven’t decided what they will do with the property.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Cafe Provence - Crepes!

Crepes with Raspberry-Balsamic Glaze and Mascarpone Ice Cream
Serves 8
Total Time: 1 hour

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons butter, melted (plus additional for cooking)
3 eggs
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh raspberries
8 Tblsp balsamic vinegar reduction*
4 tablespoons sugar

Cafe Provence Mascarpone Ice Cream*
*Available at French Market.

1. In a blender, process the flour, milk, water, butter, sugar, eggs and salt in a blender until the mixture is smooth. Add the milk 1/3 cup at a time, until the batter is a liquid consistency. Set batter aside for 20 minutes. (Resting the batter is very important.)

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the raspberries, balsamic vinegar, and sugar to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes. Crush the cooked berries and strain the mixture, if desired, before serving. (Note: For more berry flavor, you can add additional fresh raspberries into the balsamic reduction.)

3. Once the batter has rested 20 minutes, melt a little butter in a crepe pan or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan and swirl until the bottom of the pan is covered with batter. Cook the crepe until the crepe is slightly moist on top and golden underneath. Loosen the edges of the crepe, slide the spatula under it, and then gently flip it upside down into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and transfer the cooked crepe to a plate to keep warm.

4. When ready to serve, fill with ice cream and drizzle with the raspberry-balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh berries. Note: Get creative with your crepe filling. In addition to the Mascarpone ice cream we sell at French Market, which is perfect with this recipe, you can also use Nutella, bananas, chocolate, strawberries, nuts, etc.

Bon Appétit!

The Melting Pot on the Plaza by Chris Becicka

Cheese Whiz

Calm down.  It’s OK.  Not to worry.  You haven’t missed it YET. 
I’m trying to quell the savage cheese loving beast I live with.  He’s salivating over National Cheese  Fondue Day and worried he somehow, in the cold months of winter, missed it.
Again, calm.  Calm.  Focus.  For although National Cheese Lovers Day (January 20) is past, there is still . . .

April 11th

If you’re already a member of the Melting Pot’s Club Fondue, you’ve received the magic email that gives you specials in the month of April at the restaurant which has the creamy, decadent meal down to a fine art.  Luckily, National Cheese Fondue Day has kinda morphed into a month at the Fondue Pot’s Plaza location so I went early to taste and test – primarily because this is a place that’s fallen off my radar over the years.

What I discovered the other day, once downstairs, is a cozy yet big enough restaurant with spaces for families, celebrations, happy hours, and romantic trysts.  This must  be one of the few restaurants with many curtain-enclosed booths for two and a policy for no interruptions should you wish that.  Our threesome passed on that and sat in a large booth with two oblong heating trays embedded in the table top.  The fondue pots sit on those and all the many accompaniments surround the melted cheese (or chocolate) concoctions.  Long skewers and silverware and small plates are provided and no one seems to notice when your cheese drips on the tablecloth.  
However, if you drop your bread or veggie into the cheese pot off the skewer, I’m told that in France, one must perform a dare devised by one’s companions.  Wonderful, fun custom – to which I replied that we were in Missouri as I valiantly tried to separate the now fully loaded hunk of bread from its gooey surroundings. 
Although you can order salads or individual entrees or even a “four course experience,” we opted for two fondues:  a zesty cheddar made with PBR, 20% Swiss, and some other stuff.  It was full bodied and ohsocheesy.  The other we ordered was the Quattro Formaggio, which is not always on the menu.  This is four different cheeses (Butterkase, Gruyere, Parmesan, and Fontina) which blended together perfectly with a bit of Chablis, pesto and marinara sauces, etc.    I have to say this one was my favorite, with each bite tasting a little bit different due to the sauces.
Despite being full, we yielded to our persuasive (and extremely personable) waiter, Alex, for chocolate fondue as well.  Two kinds.  One milk, one dark. Oh yum.  Dippers included marshmallows, pound cake, brownies, strawberries and other fruits, blondies – all delicious, especially in the dark chocolate with candied orange concoction. 

Oh, did I forget to mention the cocktails?  Along with many wines, there are many, beautiful and tasty.
Here I must say we were NOT going to drink, but somehow managed to down three different ones, the most spectacular being the yin and yang which was dessert in a glass.  The “love martini” with its heart-shaped strawberry slices was much lighter, still delicious. 

Since The Melting Pot is back on my radar, next I’m going to try their fine looking happy hour.  They’re truly a whiz with cheese.

The Melting Pot
450 Ward Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64112

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

14th Street Wine Walk is April 26th!

Join us for the 14th Street Wine Walk
Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Stroll along 14th Street in the Power & Light District and enjoy various wines and tasting plates at each participating venue.

GA tickets are $25 & VIP tickets are $40.
Proceeds benefit the Young Leadership Committee of JDRF.  
Must be 21+. General Admission tickets are $25 and VIP tickets are $40. Limited tickets available. Buy tickets at #KCWineWalk

Circling Back to Chefs . . .by Chris Becicka

Talking with Ken Baker

My last heart-to-heart was a few months ago with Celina Tio of Julian, Collection, and The Belfry. The other day I got to spend a little quality time with Ken Baker, Proprietor and Chef at Pachamama’s in Lawrence.  I love talking with professionals like him who are articulate, interesting and fun, all at the same time. 

First, if you’ve not been to this shiny restaurant for a while, hike on back.  It’s got a very cool vibe (how much does that term age me?) and an expanded (Star) Bar and outdoor dining area, should we ever be able to eat outside again.  Their happy hour with specials every night is worth the trip alone.
But enough of that.  I wanted to know about the man wearing the apron. Turns out he started his own catering business in high school.  He was mostly inspired by a neighbor in the food industry from Africa who loved to cook – and gave Ken his first set of knives.  After graduating from KU (in political science), graduating from the California Culinary Academy, stints in New Orleans, Australia, New Zealand, Teller’s in Lawrence, and Pachamama’s, he bought the restaurant in 2002. The restaurant moved and certainly reincarnated itself much more glamorously in 2006 to its current location on Massachusetts.  

He (mostly) loves being a chef and owner. He told me cheffing is a matter of “being able to create with hands and mind.  It’s instant satisfaction – we get results and feedback right away, not six months later in a performance review.  I also know that people don’t work for me, they work for everyone who walks in door.” 

I like the fact that you can eat here inexpensively, or not.  Their burger at happy hour is terrific.  Bar food choices are plentiful.  You can also be very adventurous – goat, rabbit, duck, homemade sausage.  Beautiful food; hearty food; all kinds.  Ken likes his specials, especially, and regulars agree with him.

Finally, I asked Ken what he’d say if his now six-year-old son eventually said he’d like to be a chef just like dad.  “Get your feet wet.  Try the business. It’s really hard work.  Terrible hours.  Few holidays.  Back and feet issues. But the immediacy of your work can be really rewarding.  And it’s so creative.  I love that.”

Me, too.

800 New Hampshire, Lawrence, KS 66044
One block east of Massachusetts on 8th Street

Pachamama's on Urbanspoon

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