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.
Lounging feels perfectly natural at Arabian Clouds. The hookah bar remains open until as late as 3 a.m. throughout the week, encouraging passersby to stop in, gather around the glowing coals of one of the Khalil Mamoon hookahs, and enjoy a round of Arabian coffee or tea with the shisha. The lounge also plays eclectic mixes of pop, hip-hop, rock, and contemporary Arabian music, and guest DJs stop in to perform and energize crowds on the weekends.
Jim Sheridan's custard shop is packed with old-fashioned nostalgia. And it's not just the decor ? Sheridan's desire to create and sell custard sparked from his own childhood memories of adventuring to upstate New York to get his hands on the frozen treat. Now at Sheridan's Frozen Custard, Jim not only opts to incorporate creamy chocolate and vanilla flavors topped with everything from mangoes to graham crackers to a variety candies, but he views the real cherry on top as top-grade customer service. Caramel pretzel crunch concretes, fresh-baked strawberry shortcake Sundays, and cookie dough pies further satisfy sweet tooths. For those who prefer a straw to a spoon, the shop's shakes, malts, and smoothies are there for the sipping.
After years of perfecting those frozen treats Jim set out to conquer the world of burgers. To do so, he pulled from the same old-fashioned recipe book that inspired his sweet treats. The Olathe location's new food menu is filled with American favorites, from grilled-to-order steakburgers to hand-cut fries dusted with a kiss of salt. No matter the order, each meal is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including grass-fed beef. Visitors can settle down at tables to enjoy their burgers and sandwiches or grab them to go at the convenient drive-thru.
Evoking the enjoyable meltiness of a cool scoop of gelato on a hot day, Paciugo Gelato takes its name from the Italian word for messy concoction, rousing palates with unique gelato flavors crafted with Old-World tastes. Founder Cristiana Ginatta’s family recipes come to life as staffers fuse fresh fruits and all-natural ingredients into decadent milk-, water-, or soy-based gelato and sorbet. The sweet scoops boast 70% less fat than regular ice cream or soft-serve obtained from chilly Alaskan cows. Patrons can test-drive the shop’s diversely flavored bounty before committing to a flavor such as carrot cake, butter pecan, or tiramisu in its less solid form. Guests can score flavors without added sugar—including strawberry milk—to trick their sweet teeth into happiness. Paciugo also carries a host of coffee drinks ranging from Paciugo Miscela, a bold Vienna roast, to Gran Crú, a light roast from Kenya.
Cafe Augusta's chefs prepare hungry humans for spontaneous sprints around the world by filling their bellies with culinarily diverse edibles, including Mediterranean, Caribbean, and German cuisines. For dinner, chefs massage a grouper fillet with bahamian spice rub, then toss the taste-infused fish on a grill to exfoliate before daubing it with a tangy mango sauce ($22). Diners can also let their mouths drift in the direction of caribbean jerk steak ($24) or mediterranean garbanzo cakes ($15) smothered in skhug, artichoke bottoms, and red peppers. Small plates ($7 each) encourage tabletop bonding as diners swap with their entourage, trading a crab-and-corn cake for a flaky coconut shrimp dipped in chili jam, then bartering away titles of nobility for a piece of peanut-sauce-smothered beef satay. Lunch woos hard-to-get stomachs with sandwiches such as the smoked turkey and brie ($9.25), whose contents snuggle contentedly atop a downy ciabatta roll with pear chutney.
The friendly barbecue buffs at Smokin' Joe's smoke their prized proteins over hickory wood using a decades-old, seasoned pit, resulting in a mix of meats that arrive tender and tasty. Topping the menu is the savory burnt-end sandwich ($5), which neighbors neatly with crispy, golden onion rings ($2.40). An array of flavorful homespun options pepper the menu, such as the family-recipe creamy coleslaw, which you can nosh individually ($1.80) or slathered atop the Southerner sandwich ($5.99). The tender ribs ($16.75 for full slab) fall right off the bone to nourish yours, two of which can be combined with any of the expertly smoked meats in a combo dinner plate ($11.95). Wash up sauce stains with bottled domestic beers, such as the local Boulevard Wheat ($2.75), and be sure to keep an extra dining shirt in your back pocket. The clean, welcoming interiors come accentuated by the sparkling smiles of the friendly servers, whose collective Midas-like touch produces not gold but wet naps in it wake.