Sally and Robert Bennett, their children beside them, stood at the edge of the busy intersection in Overland Park the day after Thanksgiving. They clutched bundles of business cards tied to samples of their homemade chocolate and passed them out to idling drivers. The success of their street-side pitch led to Sweet Perfection Bakery and its display cases of housemade candies and cakes. Aided by a few other bakers, the duo crafts most baked goods from family recipes—such as grandma's sugar cookies and a pie Robert created during his time serving in the Marines. As evidence of the bakery's strong familial ties, family members—such as children and nieces—frequently help with daily kitchen operations.
Much like da Vinci painted a new Mona Lisa each day to keep her from changing her hairstyle, the bakers build cinnamon rolls, fruit pies, and seasonal cakes in-house every morning. Their confectionary delights snub preservatives in favor of real fruit and hearty buttercream frosting. An on-staff cake decorator embellishes lemon-raspberry and german-chocolate cakes with Happy Birthdays and Well Wishes, and blueberry pies garner praise as a customer favorite. Bakers also design custom orders, sometimes completing cakes last-minute when needed, once finishing a decorated cake on the spot for a distraught mother, whose first cake tumbled to the floor less than two hours before her son's birthday party.
On street corners from Texas to North Carolina, Johnny Brusco's Pizza serves up piping-hot slices of New York, and that's not whistling Dixie. It's not even kazooing Yankee. The franchise boasts a lineage that stretches back to 1965, when pie-smith Johnny Pace opened up his pizzeria just outside of Syracuse. Though the menu stays true to Johnny's classic style, today's crust-tossers aren't afraid to switch things up in modern style. Gluten-watchers can dig into a flour-free variant of the crust, and their specialties include such daring choices as a cream cheese pizza, a Philly-esque steak and cheese, and a zesty gourmet pie with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and artichokes. Outside of the round stuff, diners might select a summery strawberry-pecan salad, a classic plate of bruschetta with pesto, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, and a finger-licking dessert of cinna-knots.
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant's spirited staff slings authentic Greek fare into diners' maws from a wide-ranging menu. Diners prime bellies with shareable eats such as the flaming saganaki, which, like aging heavy-metal stars’ concerts, captivate audiences with flames and fancy cheese. Entrees such as the award-winning gyro corral rotisserie beef and lamb into a taste-bud-taming pita bed, and the vegetarian eggplant-laden mousaka arrives at tables with an entourage of potatoes and ground beef slathered in a creamy béchamel sauce. After dinner, traditional baklava or double-fudge chocolate serves to negotiate the release of hostages from sweets-demanding molars.
Bolillo's skilled appetite-wranglers draw upon a cast of freshly prepared, never-fried ingredients to craft a menu of flavorful productions. Patrons are invited to draft the blueprint for a made-to-order torta, laden with a choice of carnitas, chorizo, or other meats ($5.95–$6.45). Entrees, such as tacos ($1.85), can be bedecked with one of 14 herbivore-friendly toppings, and various quesadillas are available to film a mouthwatering UFO hoax ($5.45–$5.95). Succulent burrito bombers round out food armories ($5.45–$5.95), dropping delicious payloads on unsuspecting appetites and clearing the way for crispy-cookie troops ($1.25). Bolillo's welcoming green digs serve as an ideal venue for the playful cuisine and evoke the sensation of jumpstarting a guacamole-powered flying machine.
A fresh take on cooked-to-order burgers, Smashburger, winner of Sun Publication's Burger Wars, combines all the comforts of a well-stacked meal with the modest luxuries of expedient service and ample sit-down space. The menu boasts more smashes than two monster trucks playing tennis; Smashburgers ($4.99+ for a third-pound), grilled and crispy Smashchickens ($5.99+), Smashsalads ($4.99-6.99), and Smashsides such as rosemary and garlic-tossed Smashfries ($1.99–$2.99) fire up the hearts and bellies of all gracious guests. The Smashburger—100% Angus beef plus quality veggies and cheeses on a toasted artisan bun—takes center stage during most meals, and nonsecret specialties, such as the Häagen-Dazs shake ($3.99), keep mouths grounded, cool, and smiley. These two locations feature the Kansas City Smashburger, made with swiss cheese, grilled and haystack onions, sautéed mushrooms, and A.1. steak sauce ($5.99 for a third-pound).
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by hospitality experts, has an on-site brewery and a menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Gourmet pub-grub appetizers and many other generously portioned dishes are listed alongside the beers that bring out their flavors. The intoxicating taste of the inebriated vodka mussels ($12.99) is suggested alongside Northern Light––a light creamy beer––and the juicy, tender meatiness of a 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99) is advised along with Brother Benedict’s bock––a brownish German-style lager. Others among Granite City Food & Brewery's six specialty brews are the Irish-style Broad Axe stout, known for its nose of roasted chocolate and coffee notes, and Duke Of Wellington, an IPA with muscle-bound malt character and a deep-seated dislike of Napoleon.