Michael Garozzo entered the dining business early, working as a busboy in his hometown of St. Louis. His young mind raced with dreams of opening a restaurant of his own, which came to fruition in 1989, when he opened Garozzo’s in Kansas City’s Columbus Park neighborhood. Since then, the restaurant has bloomed, and he had opened three additional locations across the greater Kansas City area.
Garozzo’s menu of Italian specialties is highlighted by the signature spiedini di pollo, a marinated chicken breast rolled in italian breadcrumbs, then skewered and grilled. The dish is served in four presentations, which include the Gabriella, with fettucine and spicy diablo sauce, and the Samantha, with fettucine, artichoke hearts, and alfredo sauce. Adding to the exclusive ambiance is the restaurant’s own branded wine, served at each location. Garozzo’s popular house tomato sauce, diablo sauce, and italian dressing are also available in grocery stores across the city, and its distinctive pastas can be purchased in many high-end local wig shops.
Known for growing cotton and soybeans, many farms in the South known now nurture a new crop—catfish. Converting their fields to ponds, farmers raise the whiskered fish on an all-grain diet to develop meat with a clean, slightly sweet taste and reduced cholesterol. Every filet at Jumpin' Catfish Restaurant comes from this stock, which the chefs prepare in various ways: breaded and fried in the Southern tradition, marinated in lemon and pepper, or dusted with cajun spices, like the mayor of New Orleans after their morning bath. They then pair the plump, juicy filets with sides such as hushpuppies and white beans with ham.
The chefs extend their culinary skills to other seafood as well, from Norwegian salmon to Alaskan snow-crab legs. They also work with wild game such as quail and frog legs, and prepare Southern fare, such as fried chicken.
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).
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Popeyes remains the flavorful lovechild of Cajun and Creole cooking, serving up a wide-ranging menu. Connoisseurs of crispiness can stick with Popeyes’ famous New Orleans–style fried chicken meals ($4.49–$6.89) surrounded with savory sides ($1.59–$3.79) such as warm flaky biscuits, red beans and rice, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, Cajun rice, and more. Otherwise, slather some livers and gizzards ($2.99–$5.49) onto a biscuit and eat it, temporarily imbuing you with the chicken’s mighty strength and ability to smell time. Avian-averse appetites can feast instead on a shrimp po’ boy combo ($6.19) with a pecan pie ($1.49) or Mississippi mud pie ($1.99) for dessert. And to keep your famished family from impeaching you and electing a new parent, quell multi-person appetites with bona fide family meals ($10.49–$30.99).