I don’t know about you, but when I go to a new city, I love to eat and shop local to really experience the city’s culture. Therefore, I was just about as giddy as a schoolgirl when I went to Kansas City to get a taste of the city’s local charm.
Let’s start with my favorite thing to talk about: food. If you have ever been to Kansas City, you know that the food culture is outstanding. From burnt ends to burgers and farmers markets to five star dining, Kansas City gets a ‘10’ from me on the food scale.
If you didn’t know, Kansas City has amazing barbecue. Famous for creating burnt ends; flavorful pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked meat. This ingenious cut of mouthwatering meat puts KC on my imaginary barbecue map.
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue is just one of the locally owned barbecue stops in the city. It is the highest rated barbecue in the country, according to the Zagat survey and me. It is the only Kansas City barbecue restaurant that ships its delicious meats anywhere in the country. Jack Stack starts off by smoking its meat in “the pit” for hours; from there it moves into a rotisserie-style machine called “the pride,” that finishes it off to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. I recommend the pork and beef combination burnt end lunch, with hickory pit beans and cheesy corn bake – you might like it so much you’ll have to come back for dinner.
A great place for a light lunch, or if you like sweets as much as I do, a mid-afternoon sugar rush, is Little Freshie Soda Fountain and Espresso Bar. This is the place to get locally made goodies such as snow cones and macaroons served in an eclectic atmosphere. Among other goodies, they offer delectable coffees, a soda fountain and satisfying sandwiches. Flavors are all-natural, made in-house and change frequently, so go in and try a unique snow cone and soda options like raspberry rose or green tea pear.
Well, I’d actually have to say that food and shopping are neck and neck in my book. So I feel compelled to highly recommend you do some shopping while in Kansas City. With places such as County Club Plaza, Westport, Crown Center and the Crossroads Arts District, you have your pick of a huge variety of places to spend your hard-earned money on things you may or may not actually need, but definitely want.
In the Crossroads Art District, you’ll find Hammerpress Letterpress and Design Studio. This local find is my little piece of stationery heaven. The studio is filled with cards, posters, prints, calendars and many other printed items, all made a few feet away in their back room studio. They have unique greeting cards for every occasion and locally made gift items perfect for the special people in your life.
Finally, you know I have to mention where to grab a brew. Boulevard Brewing Company has been blessing the Midwest with wonderful craft beer since 1989. Founder John McDonald turned a vintage brick building on Southwest Boulevard into his very own brewhouse – I am sure glad he did. To see the magic up close and personal, and learn about Boulevard’s history (oh, and of course, taste the beer) I suggest you take a free (yes, I said free) tour of the brewery. It’s first come, first serve: tickets go fast so make sure you get there when the gift shop opens at 10 a.m. Some of my favorites are the Boulevard Wheat, which is a best-seller, and the Ginger-Lemon Radler, which is a great summer wheat beer with a hint of freshly juiced ginger and lemon extract.
Well, if you are sufficiently hungry, thirsty and ready shop, then you should probably read this blog again. But really, Kansas City has so much to offer not only to the locals, but travelers as well. So plan your trip and experience Kansas City from a local perspective.
Written by Abbey Theban, summer intern for the Missouri Division of Tourism.