At Blanc Burgers + Bottles, burger doesn’t just mean a basic grilled patty. In addition to American beef, there’s also hormone-free chicken, carnitas-style pork, and curried lentils among nearly 20 protein options. Chefs stuff or pile each with eclectic extras such as wasabi aioli, foie gras butter, and housemade pickles. Hand-cut fries, beer-battered cheese curds and onion rings, and chicken wings marinated in housemade sauce make for marginally less elaborate sides. Though the options might seem overwhelming, servers with deep culinary knowledge acquired by sleeping on a copy of the menu every night are on hand to sort through them all.
Though the burgers take a wide-ranging, global approach to their flavor palettes, Blanc’s décor is decidedly space-age American. Stylized orange starbursts and flocks of bubbles decorate white and glass walls around sleek furniture. Behind a long white counter recalling a luncheonette just opened in 1959, barkeepers pour wine, refreshing seasonal cocktails, and nearly 100 varieties of domestic, imported, and American craft brews, including steam beers, lagers, hop-rich IPAs, and specialty lambics. Even youngsters can hop on the craft-beverage bandwagon with more than 30 boutique sodas in flavors such as apple, blueberry, and pineapple, available with or without cocktail onions.
When brothers Derek Boone and Dustin Craighead made the leap to restaurant ownership from backgrounds in the electronics industry and tattoo-parlor business, they probably didn't guess that they'd be serving some of their signature dishes to Guy Fieri. Their rustic, roadhouse-like gastropub, Swagger Fine Spirits & Food, was featured in an episode of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Fieri looked on as Chef Jerry Forness prepared the tempura-battered suribachi burger, which sizzles the taste buds with hot asian mustard and sriracha chili sauce. After he took a bite, Fieri noted the crunchiness of the tempura and the piquancy of the wasabi coleslaw, saying, "That is a lot of flavor, man." Of the chili made with Flying Monkey Amber Ale, the gregarious foodie murmured, "Mmm. That's a meal right there, dude."
The episode also showcased dishes such as the hot wings and a pulled-pork sandwich made with smoked pork shoulder and handcrafted barbecue sauce. Patrons balance out the spicy, savory flavors with close to 50 draft beers and more than 50 types of whiskey—about the same variety you'd expect in Hemingway's liquor cabinet.
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.
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.
Tamale Wizard's kitchen blends six different salsas from scratch each day, evincing a food philosophy that is "really all about doing it the hard way," as owner and chef Bruce Swabb reported to the Kansas City Pitch. From a River Market storefront, the food-truck veteran crafts a focused menu of tacos wrapped in hand-pressed tortillas and plump tamales, each dolloped with sauces that include creamy avocado, mango banana, and chili peanut in addition to classic jalapeño varieties. Pork carnitas, chili-lime fish, and chicken en mole prepared according to Oaxacan and Yucatecan recipes fill the corn or flour tacos, and black beans, sweet potato, and cheesy green chili join the slate of fillings on the tamale menu.
The taps behind the bar dispense ales and lagers from Kansas City's own Boulevard Brewing Company, and artful bottles hold all-natural Soda Vie soft drinks in pineapple cilantro and strawberry mint. Exposed-brick walls and chalkboard menus create a flexible space for the staff's constant innovation, from whipping up ever-spicier taco fillings to building a sidewalk cart in time for summer weather and the taco-racing season.
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.