Add some sepia tone and photo grain, and a snapshot of Hereford House could make it pass for an old Western saloon. But the photo would actually be of a modern steak house that churns out aged steaks, seafood, and ribs—the same fare that put Kansas City meat markets on the map at the turn of the century. In the dinner menu, most everything walks across the grill before being served. The steak oscar entree eschews the barriers that separate land from sea by teaming up a 6-ounce filet mignon with jumbo lump crab pilfered from crustacean birthday parties and pan-seared to perfection. Juicy tenderloin medallions come smothered in red-wine demi glace, and oven-roasted cuts of salmon arrive in pools of garlic herb butter.
As the doors to Gaslight Grill's back room swing open, the sounds of Dixeland jazz and the aromas of sizzling Angus steaks waltz forward together to greet guests. Lynn Zimmer and the Jazz Band play rollicking tunes from the 30s and 40s on Wednesday–Sunday nights as diners tap their fingers across the surfaces of menus filled with hand-cut steaks, pistachio-crusted salmon, and jumbo prawns drizzled in beurre blanc. More than 200 wines complement meats from land and sea, and a nimble barkeep dishes out mixed drinks and jetpack fuel for the ride home. It might be difficult to say goodbye, however, to a stately dining room lined with plush booths and illuminated by twin chandeliers.
Tucked inside the lobby of the Overland Park Marriott Hotel, Nikko Japanese Steakhouse's chefs gracefully twirl their gleaming steel utensils and flip vegetables through the air while cooking filet mignon, teriyaki salmon, and scallops at each tabletop griddle. Traditional teppanyaki cooking is the foundation of the menu, which features seared morsels of steak and fresh seafood cooked before your very eyes instead of inside a magician's hat. Away from the sizzling action, the sleek sushi bar houses deft chefs slicing fresh sashimi and rolling ingredients into flavorful combinations, such as the spider roll's soft-shell crab, smelt roe, and avocado. Behind a second bar, the servers replace sushi with shakers of freshly squeezed fruit-juice cocktails and hot and cold pours of sake. Nikko Japanese Steakhouse also recently completed a renovation.
When he sets out to transform chicken, seafood, and certified Angus steaks into full meals, Dodge City Distillery's chef Jim Whiskey first marinates the cuts in house-made spirits before cooking them over the smoke that waltzes slowly from a slow-burning mesquite-hickory grill. Owners Derek Betz and Joe Effertz set out to celebrate Dodge City's frontier history with a nod to its origins as a whiskey depot, melding a full distillery with a restaurant serving Western and Southwest-inspired recipes. Tight-knit teams of servers, sometimes clad in cowboy hats and boots and riding invisible horses, bear dishes made daily from scratch as they navigate wood tables between the warm, brick walls of the main dining room. A map marking the Santa Fe Trail through Dodge City spreads across one wall, and an antique safe from the 1840s dominates the center of the dining space. The surprisingly sweet smell of the smoky spirit drifts from the stacked whiskey barrels that form a wall arching over the bar's 16 flat-screen TVs, which display college and professional football and basketball games. In keeping with the outdoorsy frontier mindset, Dodge City pursues several environmentally friendly initiatives and uses recycled glassware, cardboard, and water, some of which is collected through a runoff system on the roof or left out in saucers for thirsty tumbleweeds.
For many steakhouses, the art of preparing a tantalizing cut of meat begins in a professional kitchen. But Plaza III The Steakhouse reaches back further, choosing cuts of meat from its own facilities where it ages corn-fed beef inside specialized lockers. Once the cuts reach the restaurant, they are displayed tableside or via limousine motorcade for prospective diners before the chefs char grill chosen selections. To complete the flavor profile, patrons need only peruse a wine list of more than 700 bottles.
This meticulous process of cultivation and presentation embodies the award-winning steakhouse's sophisticated approach to mealtime. Its menu spans ribs, chops, and seafood in addition to Prime aged steaks, and appetizers such as the hand-chopped tenderloin tartare—a dish lauded by Gayot as a "classic rendition … sprinkled with caviar."
Visitors bask in elegant dining rooms on two floors, which host live jazz and a dancing area on Saturday evenings. Parties of up to 64 guests can set up their fetes in private rooms, enjoying bacchanalias in the wine cellar and other intimate spaces such as the western-themed American Royal Room, which accommodates midsized gatherings.
Celebrating its 74th anniversary on April 15, 2012, Jess And Jim's Steakhouse has stood the test of time. The Van Noy clan owns and operates the throwback eatery and leads a staff whose dedication dates back, in some cases, more than 40 years. They serve hand-cut Sterling Silver beef sourced from the Great Plains and showcase fresh varieties in a chilled meat case.
This family-friendly establishment owes at least some of its popularity to prominent men's magazines. John Mariani of Esquire magazine named their Playboy Strip one of the 20 best steaks in America in 2008. The cut—which weighs in at a whopping 25 ounces and arrives with soup, salad, and choice of potato—was named after the publication whose 1972 story by writer Calvin Trillin placed the restaurant in sight of the public eye nationally. The menu also includes lobster tail, house surf ‘n’ turf specialties, pork chops, and chicken-fried steak. Guests can sip libations such as Boulevard Brewing Company's chocolate ale at the bar, which itself features a suspended model-train track and live singers harmonizing with the tiny train whistles every Friday night.