I love finding unusual places to eat. The more unique the setting, food or experience, the better! Since we eat out a lot, I spend a lot of time looking for interesting Kansas City-area restaurants that we haven’t tried before. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite unique or off the beaten path KC restaurants:
Q’s Hot Pot
Q’s is one of my favorites in the Northland. It’s a very small, new restaurant in Zona Rosa that serves hot pots. You get a menu and choose your broth (from miso, my favorite, to spicier versions). Then, you choose your entree- from beef to a seafood platter to just veggies. Everything is delivered to you and then you cook everything in your broth to make a soup. Think of it as Asian fondue. It’s delicious, fun, and healthy!
Fitz’s Train Restaurant
You don’t necessarily go to Fitz’s for the food (although it’s pretty decent diner fare), you go to have your food delivered by a train. I won’t spoil all of the surprises in case you’ve never been, but it’s a really fun restaurant to visit. You can make a trip of it to Crown Center for shopping or ice skating, which we try to do on a yearly basis. It’s the perfect restaurant to take kids to as well.
Chosun Korean BBQ We first visited Chosun for my birthday and it was amazing. Everything was really fresh and all the meats were tender and flavorful. I loved the sides, especially the kimchi. It was a lot of fun to try everything and everyone can basically create their own dishes from the items they like best. It was somewhat similar to a hibachi restaurant where the meat is cooked in front of you, but in this case you control the grill and the pace. They bring out a bunch of different Korean sides and it’s served family style.
Chai Shai Indian I am obsessed with Indian food and in my personal opinion, Chai Shai is one of the best in KC. Their food has a really fresh, authentic flavor and everything tastes distinct (sometimes I feel like some Indian restaurants’ dishes all taste strangely similar). They have a unique menu as well so I always try something I haven’t had before.
Snow and Company I never really eat at Snow and Co, so I can’t speak as to the quality of their food but this is definitely a great place to go on a date, or to take friends or out of town guests for cocktails! They specialize in frozen cocktails and they’re not like slushes with alcohol in them, they’re carefully crafted and really unique. They also utilize local flavors like Christopher Elbow and Boulevard, which is awesome! Bonus- they have a Gladstone location as well as the original Crossroads location for Northlanders!
Blue Nile Cafe I fell in love with Ethiopian food when we lived in St. Louis and would eat on South Grand all the time. I was happy to find Blue Nile when we returned to Kansas City. It’s located in the River Market, which is a fun destination by itself. The food is good, and they have a good lunch buffet too. Their injera is really good and who doesn’t love eating with their hands?!
Justus Drug Store Justus Drug Store is probably the most upscale on this list. It’s located in a really unassuming building in the sleepy town of Smithville (north of the river). But don’t let that fool you- the place is always packed with a waiting list and the food is incredible. They have all sorts of unique dishes- from duck liver pate, to house rabbit sausage, to pig heart. For less adventurous eaters, don’t worry. They have plenty of “normal” dishes as well. This is a great place for special occasions or date night. Just make sure you make reservations!
El Pulgarcito This is totally a hole in the wall place that serves fabulous Salvadorian food. We found it online and had amazing reviews but when we arrived outside we were skeptical. Don’t let the appearance deter you, their food is awesome (and very cheap). They have several traditional dishes as well as papusas, which I was in love with. If you’ve never had Salvadorian food definitely give it a try.
Manifesto Manifesto, like Snow and Co, is another amazing cocktail place. This one is a speakeasy, so dress appropriately. It’s not somewhere you go with a big group, because the space is down in the basement, small and dark. It’s a perfect place for a date or to take a friend. Their cocktails are simply amazing and make from scratch at the bar! The atmosphere is definitely worth the visit.
Fogo de Chao or Em Chamas
My dad loves, loves, the Brazilian steakhouse in town. Luckily for us, we have a great local place in Parkville called Em Chamas, but there’s also a national chain called Fogo de Chao that has the same concept. Basically there’s a nice salad/appetizer bar and then you just sit at your table and wait for the servers to bring you delicious meats like lamb, steak, pork, chicken, etc. You usually have a little card that is red on one side and green on the other that tells the server when you are taking an eating break and to not come by. It’s a really fun concept (and the food is amazing) but go on a very empty stomach and be prepared to feel stuffed.