Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
After a trip to South America, restaurateur Sam Silvio was smitten with the desire to open his own churrascaria and began drawing up plans to that end with fellow restaurateur and brother Nick Silvio. Em Chamas sprang from this endeavor and now stands ready to dazzle diners with a continuous procession of meats grilled and skewered gaucho style. For a churrascaria experience at home, the restaurant packs and ships many of its authentic meats to doorsteps throughout the country. Family grill masters can dress up backyard barbecues with the gourmet flavors of Certified Angus Beef Pichana steaks and signature Brazilian linguica, while family sword masters can play passadore with something other than a prized teddy bear, for a change.
At the restaurant, two-course excursions begin with a trip to the gourmet buffet bar, where visitors sift through more than 30 culinary presentations including Brazilian and American fare, seafood dishes, and salads. Once guests flip their table's coin to the "bring it" side, passadores begin dancing out with various cuts of wood-fired meat?including top sirloin stuffed with provolone, bacon-wrapped chicken, Brazilian pork sausage, and caramelized pit ham?which they hand carve according to each eater's specified knife angle. To indicate satiation, diners simply flip the coin over or rip their napkin into the shape of a stop sign.
With a more casual dining experience, The Grille by Piropos in Parkville sets itself apart from its fine-dining sister establishment Piropos Restaurant. Nestled high in the hills of historic Parkville, it sits above the landscape, allowing diners to take in visions of Park University's beautiful gothic architecture or watch as the sun sets and the moon rises in the evening. Not only a restaurant for special occasions, it is also a favorite spot for everyday casual dining.
This vista-induced amnesia, however, doesn’t tend to last very long, as the aromas of South American–inspired food soon draw diners’ attention to the new casual-dining menu’s signature dishes from Venezuela, Mexico, and Argentina. This cuisine makes itself at home inside the dining room, where large, colorful murals and lavish wood furnishings give the restaurant an upscale, rustic ambiance. The outdoor patio, meanwhile, features views of the horizon and a fireplace, meaning at a certain time and from a certain angle, the sun is setting into the fire.
The circular nest of Harvey?s at Union Station affords an uninterrupted view of Union Station?s ornate ceilings, chandeliers, and arched masonry. An open-air second-floor patio lines the outer rim of the restaurant, offering ideal people-watching views of both the inside of the eatery below and passing commuters. During breakfast and lunch hours, the kitchen hums busily as chefs stuff omelets with homemade italian sausage and rub shrimp with citrus and chiles for tacos. For Sunday brunch, a spread of brown-sugar-glazed ham and mini cinnamon rolls sprawls across long banquet tables like those a king might demand for all his stuffed animals.
Crispy on the outside, flaky on the inside?the skillfully deep-fried fish at City Fish and More have kept customers coming back for more than 30 years. Fillets of catfish, tilapia, and basa, battered and breaded with special seasoning, arrive at tables alongside traditional Southern sides. Following in the footsteps of his quality-conscious grandfather, who opened the first fish market in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1938, owner Pete Badalucco only sources the freshest seafood and crinkle-cut fries with exactly 16 ridges.
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.