One thing was for sure. When I moved to Kansas City, I’d be going to Town Topic.
Growing up in Wichita, my dad talked about burgers from Town Topic the way other people would about meeting the president. Or bungee jumping. Or watching the Royals clutch the ’85 pennant. That’s just how much he loved it. And whether it’s true or not, he still tells a story about a former co-worker who loved it even more.
As legend goes, a jet-setting colleague was so enamored with Town Topic’s no-frills novelty that he would schedule his layovers at KCI—just so he could escape the airport for an hour or two. His destination? Town Topic, of course.
And within 12 hours of moving into my downtown apartment, I followed suit. (After all, that’s what was expected.) Over the years, “the Topic” quickly became a favorite place of mine to catch a bite—but at a much later hour. You see, Town Topic has the distinction of being one of the few 24-hour kitchens in the city. The clubs are closed, the streets are bare, but dang if Town Topic isn’t hopping. Consider it the after, after party.
On the menu, there’s the standard fare of burgers, milkshakes, pie and a slew of other things that make your stomach growl after a long night. But to the dismay of my dad, I’d argue that none of that really matters. (Sorry, Dad.) Here, it’s all about ambience.
Surrounded by the glitter of a new downtown, things seem to move at a slower pace inside. That is, until after midnight when the after-hours crowd meanders in. With only 10 seats or so at the counter, this place quickly becomes standing room only. My recommendation? Get comfy, get to know your neighbor and get ready for the entourage of people-watching that waits.
Tourists and truck drivers. College kids and street musicians. It’s almost like the DMV opened up a restaurant—but here, for some reason, it’s entertaining. Maybe it’s the hashbrowns?
During our last visit, I talked barbecue with a couple of off-duty police officers. Across the room, my date debated politics with a construction worker. Not normal dining etiquette, but it is normal here. And come to think of it … I’m not even sure what we ordered that night.
Check out Town Topic at 2121 Broadway St. (24-hr location) and 1900 Baltimore. And as my dad says, “a single is a snack – go double if you’re hungry.”
Written by Derek Klaus, communications manager for the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association (and late-night burger enthusiast).