900 Westport Rd.; 816-561-1101 or bluestemkc.com.
At their 14-table restaurant, F&W Best New Chef 2005 Colby Garrelts and his wife, Megan (both formerly of Chicago’s Tru), create energetic riffs on traditional American cuisine, in menus that range from three to 12 courses. Colby handles the savory side, Megan the desserts; be sure to try her graham-cracker pound cake with sage-glazed figs and spiced walnut gelato.
2) The Drop Bar and Bistro
409 E. 31st St.; 816-756-DROP or thedropbar.com.
At this petite saloon, talented chef Josh Eans produces simple but stylish small plates—tasty salads, a dozen or so excellent types of bruschetta and crispy, chewy panini (including a Reuben made with corned beef from nearby Boyle’s Famous Beef). Eans’s wife, Abbey-Jo, produces desserts to match, pairing macerated strawberries with ricotta and mini cookies with a glass of milk.
3) JP Wine Bar & Coffee House
1526 Walnut St.; 816-842-2660 or jpwinebar.com.
This coffee shop by day/wine bar by night in the up-and-coming Crossroads district has a big-city sensibility and a solid list of wines and cheeses—which can be ordered in flights of three or four wines and three cheeses.
4) Fiorella’s Jack Stack
13441 Holmes Rd.; 816-942-9141
101 W. 22nd St.; 816-472-7427
4747 Wyandotte St.; 816-531-7427
Arthur Bryant’s may receive more recognition, but this five-year-old barbecue joint is Kansas City’s specialist in “burnt ends” (charred brisket bits). They’re impeccable here—juicy, smoky and topped with tangy tomato-based barbecue sauce.
5) The American Restaurant
200 E. 25th St.; 816-545-8001 or theamericankc.com.
Celina Tio’s sophisticated takes on Midwestern cuisine—butter-poached lobster with couscous-stuffed squash blossoms, delicate preserved-lemon ravioli over forest-mushroom soup—recently earned her the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest.
6) Starker’s Reserve
201 W. 47th St.; 816-753-3565 or starkersreserve.com.
The son of a Kansas cattle rancher, John McClure has revitalized this staid spot on Country Club Plaza. His menu’s Creole touches—he sauces pan-roasted veal chops with crawfish bordelaise—acknowledge the time he spent under New Orleans chef Frank Brigtsen, while his use of local produce speaks to his love for the Midwest.
1724 Main St.; 816-421-SOUP or kansascitymenus.com/souperman.
Rob Dalzell, owner of 1924 Main restaurant, has branched out with Souperman, a lunch-only spot that offers Kansas City its first taste of high-quality to-go food. He offers a changing roster of five house-made soups, sandwiches and salads that stay true to his motto for the little shop: “I’m cooking slow food—I’m just serving it fast.”
5410 NE Oak Ridge Dr.; 816-454-9600 or stroudsrestaurant.com.
The original location of this fried-chicken mecca (in a former fireworks stand) may have closed, but the great food lives on in a historic manor 15 minutes from downtown. Stroud’s impossibly crisp-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside chicken is still pan-fried to order, and the mashed potatoes still come with a bowl of lavishly creamy, peppery gravy.
101 W. 22nd St.; 816-221-3722 or kansas.lidiasitaly.com.
Designed by architect David Rockwell to evoke an Italian farmhouse, this inviting space provides Kansas City with a taste of TV chef Lidia Bastianich’s Northern Italian cuisine. Must-try dishes, deliciously executed by chef David Wagner, include crispy pan-seared chicken livers (from the local Campo Lindo farm) over polenta gratin and tender house-made ravioli filled with braised wagyu beef cheeks.
Bars, Snack Stops & Markets
1) 12 Baltimore
106 W. 12th St.; 816-346-4410 or hotelphillips.com.
At 12 Baltimore, the café/bar at the Hotel Phillips, Chris Beveridge keeps on top of the latest mixology trends—for instance, by infusing Woodford Reserve bourbon with apples, cinnamon and vanilla.
2) Fervere Bakery
1702 Summit St.; 816-842-7272 or fervere.com.
At this tiny artisanal shop, Fred Spompinato bakes a small selection of exceptional breads. His popular loaves are available just three days a week (Thursday through Saturday), from morning until they sell out, so be sure to arrive early before varieties like olive-rosemary and ciabatta disappear in other customers’ arms.
3) The Parkville Farmers Market
Just north of downtown, in the newly happening Parkville neighborhood, local farmers show off their tomatoes, lettuces and melons on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
1) Hotel Phillips
106 W. 12th St.; 816-221-7000 or hotelphillips.com; Doubles from $174
The Phillips, a handsome Art Deco hotel (built in the 1930s and renovated in 2001), has elegantly minimalist suites and a prime location in the heart of downtown.
2) The Raphael
325 Ward Pkwy.; 800-821-5343 or raphaelkc.com; Doubles from $159.
This European-style boutique hotel, in a transformed 1920s apartment house, offers beautiful views of the nearby Country Club Plaza neighborhood from many of its guest suites.