With its dark wood-paneled walls, antique road signs, and murals of Mexican pueblos, Kokopelli Mexican Cantina’s dining room resembles the fusion of a southern roadhouse and taqueria. It’s a fitting backdrop for a menu of homemade tamales, burritos, and enchiladas sprinkled with southwestern flourishes, like the pepper jack cheese layered on spinach enchiladas or the crab and white-wine sauce stuffed in the tucumcari's flour tortillas. Fajitas—Kokopelli Mexican Cantina’s specialty—feature strips of shrimp, steak, and chicken seasoned with a piquant blend of spices and scoops of homemade guacamole.
Kokopelli Mexican Cantina is a member of the Kansas City Originals, an alliance of independent eateries and chefs dedicated to nurturing, growing, and regularly basting the local culinary scene.
After graduating from Kansas State University, Greg Fuciu decided to make his mark on the world by staying close to home and opening Lucky Brewgrille—a restaurant, coffee shop, and nightspot that coexist under a single roof. The flagship restaurant, whose dark hardwood booths and checkerboard floors evoke the warmth of an intimate pub, lists desserts first on its menu; an odd move, but a surprisingly thoughtful one that gives diners a sense of what to make room for. Of course, it’s still tempting to fill up on the burgers and skewers of hand-rubbed blackened chicken that beckon from the pages along with suggested beer and wine pairings.
The warm, pub-like atmosphere carries over to the coffee shop, where steam rises from mugs only to disappear amid plum walls and crimson velvet curtains. A wash of dim blue lights settles over velvet cubes and low tables in the downstairs Groove Lounge as late-night carousers spend the early-morning hours dancing or sword fighting with olive spears. On Friday night, the music moves upstairs to the outdoor patio, where feet tap and fingers snap to the sounds of live jazz.
More than a decade ago, a moose with azure fur wandered into a Prairie Village bar and became a regular, sipping on spirits and chatting up locals. This tall tale about the founding of Blue Moose Bar & Grill might not be exactly true, but it does evoke the laid-back vibe of the eatery's two locations, inside each of which a crazily grinning moose head overlooks the dining room. Brews babble from taps as chefs whip up pub fare with creative twists—fusion-inspired chipotle remoulade bedecks crab cakes, and sliced pickles sizzle in house-made beer batter till they reach a crispy, golden hue. The Overland Park location invites local musicians to fill the air with tunes each Friday, and the Prairie Village restaurant hosts art fairs, seasonal wine dinners, and other events throughout the year. During warmer months, both Blue Moose locations extend dining service onto spacious patios or mobile booths carried by passing bison
At Blanc Burgers + Bottles, burger doesn’t just mean a basic grilled patty. In addition to American beef, there’s also hormone-free chicken, carnitas-style pork, and curried lentils among nearly 20 protein options. Chefs stuff or pile each with eclectic extras such as wasabi aioli, foie gras butter, and housemade pickles. Hand-cut fries, beer-battered cheese curds and onion rings, and chicken wings marinated in housemade sauce make for marginally less elaborate sides. Though the options might seem overwhelming, servers with deep culinary knowledge acquired by sleeping on a copy of the menu every night are on hand to sort through them all.
Though the burgers take a wide-ranging, global approach to their flavor palettes, Blanc’s décor is decidedly space-age American. Stylized orange starbursts and flocks of bubbles decorate white and glass walls around sleek furniture. Behind a long white counter recalling a luncheonette just opened in 1959, barkeepers pour wine, refreshing seasonal cocktails, and nearly 100 varieties of domestic, imported, and American craft brews, including steam beers, lagers, hop-rich IPAs, and specialty lambics. Even youngsters can hop on the craft-beverage bandwagon with more than 30 boutique sodas in flavors such as apple, blueberry, and pineapple, available with or without cocktail onions.