Next to the cash register at Mai Thai, a small white saucer next to a statuette holds crackers or other offerings made every morning to signify wealth and good luck. The diminutive goddess and happy Buddha statues subtly hint at the eatery’s roots beneath pendant lights and a tile mosaic. Servers glide across the wooden floors, toting dishes including pad thai and panang, which further solidify the connection to Thailand. Chefs draw from adventurous ingredients when crafting sweets, which Kansas City Star reporter Jill Wendholdt Silva expounded on in a recent review, saying, “Another dessert that I'm not likely to soon forget is the taro ice cream made from a tuberous potatolike vegetable with a purplish tinge. The color is both beautiful and odd, but the taste is reminiscent of pistachios and coconut. The ice cream is accompanied by fried bananas.”
Founded in 1964 by a tile maker as an edible canvas on which to practice his square-cutting, Imo’s original St. Louis–style pizza features a thin, cracker-crisp crust topped with homemade sauce and Provel cheese, then sliced into squares. The love child of a culinary fromage a trois between cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses, Provel melts into a soft, creamy pool reminiscent of the delicious dairy lagoons tucked away high in the Swiss Alps, and can be enjoyed on Imo’s pizza for its minimalistic beauty or as a blank canvas for a DIY pizza experience ($12.38–$14.76 base price for a large). Pile on any of Imo’s 14 fresh toppings—including pepperoncini, hamburger, Canadian bacon, and jalapeno—or indulge in one of its popular specialty pies (less than $20 at either location). The all-meat pizza combines sausage, hamburger, bacon, Canadian bacon, and pepperoni, while the veggie deluxe (mushroom, onion, green pepper, and tomato) hosts a stately garden party in one’s mouth.
Though the pit masters manning the grills at Burnt End BBQ know a good deal about how to bring out the complex flavors of a slab of barbecue, they’re not here to tell you how to eat it. That’s why most of the dishes on the menu are mere suggestions, allowing clients some flexibility on what meat and homestyle sides they choose to chow down upon. Customers can cull from six core meats such as the signature burnt ends, brisket, or pulled pork with sides ranging from the sweet and spicy slaw to creamy cheese corn. The chefs do create a few signature sandwiches and barbecue bowls to combine the best of their smoked meats and sides over a chewy mound of cornbread, which is the kind of mound from which gingerbread men pitch. Meats and sides are also available á la carte by the pound and pint, easily combining into full meals.
Red leather booths line the walls of Paddy O’Shays’ low-lit red-and-black dining room, perfectly poised to soak up tunes from the local musicians—such as Samantha Fish and Platinum Express band—who jam every weekend. Back in the kitchen, the house smoker infuses chicken with hearty flavor rather than proposing menu suggestions via smoke signal, creating fodder for signature entrees such as the smoked chicken breast in Guinness barbecue glaze and fettuccine tossed with smoked chicken. Patrons can also sate appetites with ground-beef or veggie burgers, and sandwiches stuffed with shrimp, grilled mahi-mahi, and locally made spicy sausage. Strategically placed TV screens stream sports amid the eatery’s collection of Kansas City memorabilia, and pours from the full-service bar—ranging from pomegranate martinis to beer and wine—complement meals with distinct, complex flavors.
Much like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a disused building, Overtime Sports Bar & Grill came to life in the shell of a former bar. After completely gutting the space, the new owners set to work remodeling for an opening heralded by media such as the Kansas City Star and the Pitch. They constructed a custom 30-foot granite-topped bar and a custom walk-in tap room, and filled the floor with tables ready to welcome an entire platoon of rowdy guests. Today, behind that custom bar, bartenders pour more than 50 draft beers?including several brews by local Boulevard Brewing Co. and Free State Brewing Co. A casual pub menu compliments the drink list with entrees ranging from burgers to customizable mac 'n' cheese to grilled tilapia. Fulfilling the pub's sports-centric identity, three projection TVs and 36 flat-screen TVs cast guests' upturned faces in the gentle, victory-filled glow of live events from leagues both near and far.
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.