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 caf? 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.
Named one of the top-five bakeries in the Kansas City area in 2009 by CityVoters, Dolce Baking Company whips up small batches of delicately beautiful specialty pastries every day. Dolce's menu features traditional sweets as well as creative treats that incorporate seasonal ingredients and flavors, such as an apple cinnamon roll drizzled with a local apple-cider reduction ($3), sweet-potato scones donning a maple glaze ($2.65), and pumpkin whoopee pies teeming with cream-cheese filling ($3.25). Perennial favorites include cupcakes ($2.25), rustic apple tarts ($4 per slice), and the chocolate blackout cake ($17 for a 6 in., serves 4–6), which may cause power outages.
Café Europa serves up elegant American cuisine in a friendly, easygoing atmosphere. In 2007, celebrated local chef Nathan Feldmiller expanded this once lunch-focused eatery into a lunch, dinner, and brunch mecca, which has garnered notice for its homey ambiance. The menu offers a meal to comfort any appetite—excepting those for destruction—and showcases a variety of options, from the crestwood burger to the spinach and feta quiche (both $10) and smoked salmon salad ($12). Dinner specialties include steak tartare ($10) and scallops and risotto ($18). Dinner descends dramatically onto tables from feeding firepoles between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.