USA Today Travel – Made in the Midwest: Flavors only found in Kansas City

by Anne Roderique Jones, Special for USA TODAY | Published on October 6, 2015

Straddling the state line of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is becoming a food-driven hot spot. Once a city known only for barbeque and big beef, K.C. is making a name for itself on the culinary map. Here, the burgeoning restaurant landscape covers upscale gastropubs and fine dining — with a handful of James Beard nods, to boot. But if it’s superior barbeque you’re after — there’s plenty of that, too. Homegrown beer, chocolate and cocktails round out the local flavor. Browse the gallery above for food and drink experiences you can only have here in the heart of America.

Barbecu culture rubs deep in Kansas City, and Arthur Bryant's has become and institutino for celebrities and dignitaries alike.


Located inside the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District, Arthur Bryant’s is known for ribs and burnt ends. Renowned author Calvin Trillin once proclaimed Arthur Bryant’s as “the single-best restaurant in the world.” Arthur Bryant’s


Racking up serious accolades, Novel is gaining national attention for the “novel American cuisine” created by chef Ryan Brazeal, formerly of New York’s Momofuku. Megan Swann


Novel operates in a two-story, Victorian house in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood. Megan Swann


Pork neck dumplings and a Duroc pork chop round out the menu. Megan Swann


Julep, the hot spot cocktail club, is backed by husband and wife team Keely Edington and Beau Williams. threethreephotography


Located in Kansas City’s historic Westport district, the bar considers itself a “guardian of whiskey” with nearly 100 varieties available. threethreephotography


Along with whiskey flights, Julep offers a superior cocktail menu, including sips like the Porgy & Bess, made with Ford’s gin, celery and lime. Or the Kiowa Cooler, swirled with watermelon-vanilla infused rum, mint, lime and soda. threethreephotography


Helmed by 2013 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest, Colby Garrelts, and his chef wife, Megan Garrelts, Bluestem is fine dining situated in the Westport neighborhood. Bonjwing Lee


Bluestem has created a prix fixe menu, but also whips up artisanal cocktails behind the bar. Bonjwing Lee


Bluestem’s menu boasts progressive American cuisine with seasonal selections and local produce to showcase the best of Kansas City and the Midwest. Bonjwing Lee


Port Fonda began its operations from a custom Airstream trailer, but due to popularity, they’re now a brick-and-mortar building in the Westport district. Megan Swann

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Chef Patrick Ryan was a 2015 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Midwest award. Megan Swann


Here, rustic Mexican cantina cooking embraces local ingredients, with innovative interpretations. Megan Swann


Founded in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company has grown to become the largest specialty beer brewer in the Midwest. Boulevard Brewing Company


Free public tours are available at Boulevard’s factory that entail a 40-minute walk through the production facility to learn the history, brewing process and business behind Boulevard. Bonus: Free beer. Boulevard Brewing Company


This Kansas City-based chocolatier Christopher Elbow creates artisanal chocolates that are beloved nationwide. In fact, Oprah Winfrey is a fan. Kim Golding


The flagship restaurant of Hallmark’s Crown Center, The American Restaurant has attracted diners from around the world for more than 40 years with its stunning architecture and sweeping views of Kansas City. Megan Swann


Gates Bar-B-Q is a popular family-owned barbeque staple, established in 1946. All six locations (both in Missouri and Kansas) feature the brand’s signature trademarks — a red roof and robust, “Hi, May I Help You?” greeting. Gates Bar-B-Q



Rye KC is the brainchild of chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts. Rye KC


After opening the beloved Bluestem, the Garrelts crossed over the state line to Leawood, Kansas and created casual-upscale cooking with creative cocktails.


Smoked pork chops, aged steaks, baby back ribs, fried chicken and just-off-the-stove vegetables — Rye features the best of Midwestern foods. Rye KC


Situated beneath its sister operation, Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Manifesto is a modern speakeasy that features an alley entrance and accepts limited text reservations. Brandon Cummins


This Crossroads Arts District lounge has a set of suggested rules that includes “no screaming into the cell phone.” Neil Burger, ©www.strongholdphoto.com


Here, handcrafted cocktails like the Shatto Blanc feature locally made root beer milk, and the Beautiful Red Bell is comprised of Beefeater Gin and red bell pepper. Neil Burger, ©www.strongholdphoto.com


Q39 is a hybrid of two Kansas City favorites, bringing together a new concept in barbeque and wood-fire grilling from national barbeque champion Rob Magee. Q39


Q39 is located in the 39th Street Corridor and decorated with an urban-rustic interior. Q39


Items like Black Angus beef brisket, house-made chipotle sausage and burnt ends make up the menu. Q39


Gram & Dun is a culinary-driven gastropub, located in the city’s Spanish-inspired entertainment district. Gram & Dun


At Gram & Dun, special attention is paid to food and libation pairings, with comforting dishes such as short rib grilled cheese, sweet tea pork shoulder and baked potato gnocchi. Gram & Dun



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Voltaire is a beloved restaurant in Kansas City’s West Bottoms neighborhood from owners and chefs Wes Gartner and Jill Meyers. Voltaire


Voltaire’s intimate space has a bistro-vibe — flanked by a vintage bar where expertly made cocktails are served. Voltaire


Expect dishes like baby back ribs with Chinese 5-spice rub, a Kung Pao tofu and “Goulash, Reconsidered.” Voltaire


Named after the railroad baron J.P. Morgan, Pierpont’s at Union Station is housed in Kansas City’s historic 1914 train station. Pierpont’s


The iconic steakhouse boasts a 30-foot-tall mahogany bar that is home to one of the most popular happy hours in town. Pierpont’s


The Jacobson, located in the Crossroads Arts District, is housed in a converted warehouse, filled with décor from Kansas City artists. The Jacobson

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The Jacobson serves upscale comfort food (think stuffed meatballs and macaroni gratin) with handcrafted cocktails. The Jacobson