Ten years ago you couldn't purchase Heather and Richard Garza’s homemade chocolates even if you tried. The luscious, hand-dipped confections were gifts bestowed only onto the Garzas’ closest friends and family. Those friends and family members ultimately decided they had to share their good fortune with the rest of the world, and, in 2005, convinced Heather and Richard to open up a shop and make their delectable treats for the public. Today, the Garzas put the same handcrafted touch into their chocolates as they did when they first began. They blend ganache with dark chocolates and hand form them over decadent truffles before dusting them with cocoa powders and peanut-butter drizzles. They also craft bonbons, peanut-butter balls, and maraschino-cherry creams—all hand dipped in white, dark, or milk chocolate—as well as two-tone chocolate greeting cards that are a great way to say, “I love you” or “Stop eating cardboard.”
Denise Ward grew up nourished by soul food that her mother skillfully prepared. After learning to prepare the same recipes herself, she dreamed of sharing them with other people. That’s why she and her husband, Perry, opened a soul food café in 1985, naming it Niecies Restaurant. In 2006, they expanded to a second location.
In the early hours, cooks grill pork chops for breakfast sandwiches and prepare signature plates such as the Sunrise Breakfast, which The Pitch asserts, “may be the best way to start any morning.” Later in the day, plates of fried catfish and barbecue brisket share table space with bowls of beef stew more comforting to stomachs than teddy bears eaten whole. Homespun desserts such as peach cobbler sweeten palates.
The food gets served in a comfy diner-style setting. Thickly padded booths line two long rows of front windows, and diner stools prop up guests at the counter—in case they want to reenact scenes from their favorite road-trip movie, such as Ben-Hur. Floral wallpaper hangs cozily over wood-trim wainscoting, and plates of pancakes can be seen on the shelf between the kitchen and the dining area for that fleeting instant before servers whisk them off to tables.
If a dance club isn't the first place you think of to find a great fried chicken dinner, then you clearly haven't been to Chico's Chicken yet. Tucked away inside Club Afrobeat, Chico's gives taste buds something to dance and sing about with a menu centered around home-style chicken dinners and rib-sticking sides such as mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and red beans with rice. But that's only the beginning of what the restaurant has to offer?other hearty eats include cheeseburgers, mozzarella sticks, cheesesteaks, and fried fish.
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.
A nickel might not buy what it used to, but that doesn’t stop the folks at We B Nuts and Stuff from trying to recapture the charm of the golden age of candy stores. They satiate sweet teeth with an array of treats such as locally made chocolates, nuts and toffees, and dried fruit harvested from trees that were meticulously never watered. The team sells its confections individually or artfully assembled in gift baskets.
Though André and Elsbeth Bollier left Basel, Switzerland for Kansas City in 1955, they didn't really leave the Old World behind. Finding his adopted home bereft of fine pastries, André set out to "bring something new and exciting" to the city, as his son Marcel told the Wednesday Sun in 2011. A master pastry chef, he began selling his handcrafted swiss confections at his eponymous store, André's Confiserie Suisse. Intent on re-creating the feel of an authentic Swiss confiserie, he relied on natural ingredients and pure butter to produce his treats' signature rich flavor. Soon, André expanded his business to two tearooms festooned with the flags of several Swiss cantons.
Now joined by third-generation members of the Bollier family, André's Confiserie Suisse remains faithful to that original vision while creating new lines of seasonal and signature bites. In addition to hand-decorated caramels, fruit tortes, and freshly shelled circus peanuts, the display cases feature grand cru truffles made from single-sourced cocoa beans whose flavors reflect the soil and climate of their exotic original locales, including Madagascar and Bolivia.