The earthiness of freshly ground espresso mingles with the buttery scent of crepes cooking on the griddle all day at 407 Cafe. Chefs fold the lacelike golden circlets of batter around fillings such as roast beef and sharp cheddar cheese or Nutella and strawberries. With a sizzling drumroll, a panini press shuts on sandwiches until mozzarella cheese melts perfectly around grilled chicken, fresh spinach, and sweet yellow raisins. In the kitchen, cooks craft gelato, a delicate process of folding together eggs, milk, sugar, and loads of fruit. Glass vases on the white dining-room tables brim with coffee beans and bright-green stalks of bamboo like the diorama a biologist makes to get a PhD.
When Joseph Olear tore down the original Three Point Bowling Center, he preserved what mattered most. ”We recycled the 35-year-old maple lanes and made a bar out of it,” he happily explains. “And also this gorgeous desk in my office.” The former alley was bought out by Joe’s father in ’86—a spontaneous decision that still perplexes the son. He “just bought the place! If you’d have told me we’d have a bowling alley, I’d have thought you were crazy.” That said, it’s a decision that gave Joe the reins to a facility he would totally revamp.
The updated alley features 16 automatic lanes, one of the largest bars in Kansas City, and a large crop of vine-ripened bowling balls. Olear has also solicited the master food stylings of chef Dan Cermeno for juicy burgers, steak-filled sandwiches, and spicy seafood pastas. He explains that Cermeno’s dishes—available at the alley or in Three Pins Diner—are by no means typical alley fare. “He’s a shopping king,” says Olear. ”On his way in, he stops to shop. [Always] fresh fruit and veggies—wherever the freshest stuff is.”
Beyond the lanes, Three Point entertains patrons with six full-size pool tables, dartboards, indoor and outdoor TVs up to 64 inches wide, as well as nightly league events. The revelry also extends outdoors, where an expansive outdoor deck patio hosts a meat smoker capable of feeding parties of up to 500. “There’s a guy comes in at first light and smokes the meat, “says Olear. “Venison, ribs, whatever he has. It’s in there for about 10 hours. It’s unmatched, really.” Wonderful as that is, there’s one thing Joe enjoys more. “Having a drink at the bar,” he says, smiling. “People will say they met their wife here. It happens on a fairly regular basis—someone comes in and says how nice the place is. It really makes your day.”
Seated at one of the many teppanyaki grills of Shogun Japanese Steak House & Lounge, diners enjoy not only the freshest food cooked right before their eyes, but the showy skills of each of the hibachi chefs. But the vast menu, like an iceberg or an NBA player on a day with low cloud cover, goes far beyond just what you see. At the sushi bar, chefs slice long filets of fresh fish, draping cuts over piles of rice or rolling them into artful maki cylinders. The kitchen also serves a huge variety of hot appetizers, entrees, and kid-friendly fare.
At Wingit, soft lights cast their warm glow over plates of classic American fare as diners direct their fist pumps and fight songs toward flat-screen TVs hanging on the wood-trimmed walls of the eatery. Wingit’s chefs douse their lip-smacking wings in a spectrum of sauces that range from sweet to spicy, and assemble a hearty collection of succulent half-pound burgers, flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Weekly events, such as karaoke nights and all-night forehead wrestling, give the sports-centric Wingit its communal, neighborhood feel, and live DJs transform the joint into a lively and energetic hang-out.
Until midnight every day of the week, eclectic food and drinks flow freely at eXile Restaurant & Lounge. The bar is all about hosting fun times, with numerous TVs mounted on the walls and a calendar that reserves nights for live music, karaoke, a Spanish DJ, and a Top 40 DJ on a regular basis. To keep patrons energized enough to dance the tango on their hands, the kitchen prepares pub classics with an international twist. Flavors of Europe, the Middle East, and South America all make an appearance in dishes such as fresh caprese pizza, a blackened-tuna salad with blue cheese and walnuts, a chicken-burrito bowl with yellow rice, black beans, and sweet plantains, and a signature lasagna dish.
At Little New Orleans Kitchen & Oyster Bar, the piquant seafood staples of Louisianan Cajun cuisine quell robust belly rumblings. Diners silence stomachs by sinking spoons into New Orleans jambalaya or cracking into snow crab legs and shrimp smothered in butter sauce. A side of Cajun fries complements the flavors of Cajun fried shrimp, and french bread po' boys contain gravy-slathered roast beef as opposed to rich boys, which are stuffed with $100 bills.