Kansas City, Kansas is known for its barbecue, but there are also other hidden gems and flavors to discover around the city.
I’m sharing local favorites, dives, hole in the walls, foodie stops and more that you will definitely want to add to your restaurant bucket list.
This article is written in partnership with Visit Kansas City and contains affiliate links.
Culinary Diversity in Kansas City, Kansas
There are over 200 spoken languages in Kansas City, Kansas school district.
You’ll find diversity not only in the classroom but also in the different types of culinary offerings around the city. Foodies will love to discover the variety of dining gems around Kansas City.
What is Kansas City Style BBQ?
Of course, you can’t go to Kansas City without trying their INCREDIBLE bbq!
So what makes it different?
Kansas City style BBQ is slow-smoked meat (pork, chicken, beef, turkey, sausage, lamb) that is rubbed in spices and slow-smoked over a variety of wood.
The barbecue sauce is tomato-based and served with the bbq.
A few of the favorite ways to eat it are pulled pork, brisket, beef or pork ribs, and the extremely popular “burnt ends” which are a fatty and crisp cut from the point of the smoked beef brisket.
Find out why Rosedale BBQ is a local favorite
600 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, KS
Celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2019, Rosedale BBQ is locally owned and has been a Kansas City BBQ tradition since 1934.
Generations of customers have enjoyed introducing their family members to Kansas City’s oldest major barbecue restaurant that’s continuously owned and operated by the same family.
Staying true to traditional barbecue, Rosedale BBQ focuses on the flavor profile in the meat vs. the sauce.
If you like variety you can’t go wrong with the Deluxe Combo (two sliced meats plus Long End Rib) or the Flying Pig (half of a BBQ chicken plus three rib bones).
For sides, they are known for their fries but you will definitely also want to save room for their cheesy potatoes…trust me!
You’ll also find a large selection of drinks available including local beer.
Try a Few Other Popular Local BBQ Restaurants
There are lots of great local bbq places in Kansas City. The best part is doing the research to discover your favorite.
During my visit, we also sampled a variety of menu options from a few other local favorites in Kansas City.
(located at 553 Central Ave, Kansas City, KS) sells out every day so get in line early. In addition to their award-winning BBQ, make sure that you also try their bake potato casserole and be on the lookout for their burnt end street tacos for Taco Tuesday.
(located at 3002 W 47th St, Kansas City, KS) what started as award-winning bbq sold inside a gas station has now expanded to multiple locations. Make sure that you also try their burnt ends and sausage.
(located at 3001 Merriam Ln, Kansas City, KS ) has been featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel. In addition to tasting their bbq, try their burnt end chili.
Take a Pizza Making Class at 1889 Pizza Napoletana
2876 W 47th St, Kansas City, KS
If you like a hands-on approach to your food, make sure that you sign up for a Pizza Making Experience at 1889 Pizza Napoletana.
The restaurant name comes from the legendary story that pizza was created for Queen Margherita of Savoy in Naples in 1889.
Owners Jason and Kelli Kolic both studied abroad in Italy. They wanted to bring their love of Neopolitan pizza to Kansas City, Jason trained under Tony Gemignani, a world-renowned pizza maker.
As you walk in the restaurant you will immediately notice all of the intentional design elements in a space with lots of natural light and plenty of seating.
You can choose your own culinary Neapolitan-style pizza adventure with the option to pay, order, and carry out or have full service.
How to Book a Pizza Making Class at 1889 Pizza Napoletana
The pizza-making classes and dough workshops can be found on their events page or you can schedule a special one for your group.
The pizza-making experience
You will experience the simplicity of a few high-quality ingredients coming together to create fantastic flavors. The dough for the pizza is proofed for 5 days and it’s made with flour imported from Italy.
Most of our class made a traditional style Margherita pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil.
You will knead, toss, and form the dough to your pizza peel, then add the sauce, oil, salt, cheese, and toppings.
They use white oak logs on a copper-clad wood-burning oven with temperatures between 900-1000 degrees, twice as hot as gas ovens.
I loved that we got to place our pizza inside the oven under the guidance of the “pizzaiolo.” He masterfully moved around the pies and took them out of the oven with ease in just minutes.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor With Your Pizza Making Class
After tossing the dough, building your own pizza, and learning how to place it in their 1,000-degree wood-burning oven, relax and enjoy a glass of wine.
1889 Pizza Napoletana also has “Wine Wednesday” with live music an discounted wine on select bottles.
Watch a Train Deliver Your Food at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
250 N. 18th St.Kansas City, KS
I’m a sucker for a theme and a gimmick! Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant combines the two in the best way because the food is delivered to your table by an electric train!
The patented system was originally created by Fritz and installed in the 1970s to help with a labor shortage.
Watch the Electric Train at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
When customers kept on calling the system the “train” he decided to play up the railroad theme.
A popular spot for breakfast, old-fashioned burgers, and handmade shakes that is fun for kids…and kids at heart. You can even grab a free conductor hat to wear during or after your visit.
Don’t worry your drinks are delivered by a server so you won’t have any mishaps.
Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant has expanded to three locations but this is the original location and it’s worth checking out.
Try a Street Taco at El Camino Real
903 N 7th St Trfy, Kansas City, KS
A great spot for authentic street tacos. This hole in the wall is very popular with locals and definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of authentic Mexican food.
El Camino Real has a steady stream of customers all day and after you try the meat on the spit for the al pastor tacos you’ll understand why.
The restaurant has the option of table service or carry-out if you want to enjoy your tacos on the go.
Taste the Fantastic Chicken at El Pollo Rey
901 Kansas Ave, Kansas City, KS
At El Pollo Rey your options are a whole chicken, half chicken, or chicken wings.
When you perfect the art of grilled chicken you keep the main thing, the main thing.
Open each day at 10am until they sell out, the line out the door and 20-30 minute wait time is totally justified.
Jose Quintana’s grandfather brought the recipe from Mexico and Jose’s parents and extended family operate El Pollo Rey today.
The grills at El Rey Pollo can hold up to 52 chickens. The grills use hickory wood and stay on the grill for about an hour.
There is seating inside the restaurant and they have several picnic tables outside as well.
I previously mentioned the chicken options but you also have sides that you can assemble however you please.
- Mexican style rice,
- pinto beans,
- tortillas with a slice of avocado,
- pickled red onion
I tried mine with a little bit of everything in a tortilla.
Come hungry and be prepared for some of the best grilled chicken you’ve ever tasted!
Take a Spicy Food Challenge at Spicin’ Foods
111 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, KS
I’ve had a spicy food challenge on my list for a few years.
I’ve been prepping my tastebuds and my stomach in anticipation for this moment. Thanks to Spicin’ Foods I got to cross that adventure off my list.
Since 1998 Spicin’ Foods has been creating specialty sauces, salsas, snacks and dips for wholesale, retail and co-pack/private label.
Did you know that hot sauce can last in a glass jar for up to 3 years?
As the largest bottling company in the Midwest, bottling more than 1300 sauces, 10,000+Units produced daily,1,800+Unique product formulations, 900+Types of BBQ sauce, 750+Types of Hot sauces locally and to 24+ countries.
Spicin’ Foods can create mico batches as small as 2 gallons all the way up to 500 gallons and everything is taste-tested below “the Source”.
They take pride in an artisan sauce experience and only use top-quality products. They also help create sauces and make bbq sauce for several companies.
Our group started with a tasting of a variety of their products ranging in spice levels. Several of the samples would be doable for someone who typically isn’t a fan of spicy food.
I highly recommend stepping outside your comfort zone and trying as many as possible because many have an excellent flavor in addition to heat.
If you are going to do the challenge you might want to only try a few samples.
I would honestly hold off on the hottest ones that are just below “the Source” hot sauce used for the challenge because hot is hot… and you don’t want your mouth to be even more on fire before you start.
How do you relieve pain from spicy food?
Spicy Food Pro tip- Don’t drink water!!!!
Sugar and starch are the best things to eat to help beat the heat. Ice cream is the best but milk can also help.
Spicin’ Foods has popcorn available to help guests who may have taken on more than they could handle.
Spicin’ Foods Hot Sauce Challenge
I accepted the Hot Sauce Challenge …that requires a waiver to try a toothpick dab of “the Source” that has 7.1 million Scoville units.
I’ll admit that when one of the employees shared his painful experience with the challenge, a little second-guessing came in for a moment. Regardless, I knew that I had to just suck it up and do it.
To give you perspective, you have to be 21 to purchase the hottest extract on earth and one ounce could be used in hundreds of pots of chili.
I was instructed to place the toothpick directly on my tongue and avoid getting it near my lips.
What happens when you try the World’s Hottest Extract on Earth?
I was told that the challenge has made grown men cry and that the typical burn lasts for about 40 minutes with a range of reactions typically with tears and runny noses and my reaction was kind of uneventful…
What happened when I tried “the Source”
But…I do get uncontrollable hiccups when I try crazy level hot sauce….it took a few moments and then the hiccups came and fortunately the burn didn’t last as long as it was projected to last…I think that everyone was hoping for a more dramatic reaction/viral moment but I’m totally ok with that.
“The Source” was the without a doubt the hottest sauce I’ve ever tried!
So I guess I now have bragging rights and can join the ranks as a “chili head,” basically someone who LOVES hot sauce.
Shop the Test Kitchen
For a great deal on one of a kind flavors you can shop their “test kitchen” section in the gift shop featuring specialty test batch sauces that were created by their chef. I would have taken a bunch of those home with me if I wasn’t flying.
The gift shop also has a large selection of unique gifts and hot sauces that are perfect for foodies.
Try Handcrafted Sausage from Krizman’s House of Sausage
424 N. 6th Street, Kansas City, KS
Serving up handcrafted sausage since 1939, Krizman’s House of Sausage started within their small grocery store that made sausages in the back.
In 1972, the focus changed to sausage only due to its growing popularity.
The business was founded by Joseph Krizman Sr. and his brother-in-law Matt Grisnik, who were refugees from Croatia around World War I, who brought back their recipes from the old country.
Continuing the family business, Krizman’s Sausage is owned by Joseph Krizman III.
The company sells sausage to 39 states and every bbq company in Kansas City. The majority of their business is wholesale and they only make sausage so that they can focus on using higher quality ingredients.
Krizman’s House of Sausage can make up to 2,000 pounds of sausage in a day and can produce 4-6 products in a day.
Their smoked products include Polish, Hot Knackwurst, BBQ’d Polish, Mild Knackwurst, Andouille, Summer Sausage.
Their unsmoked products are Polish, Bangers, Bratwurst, Chorizo, Lamb Sausage, Chicken Italian, Mild BBQ Roll, Chicken Bratwurst, Breakfast Sausage, Italian Sausage, Hot BBQ Roll, Cheddar Jalapeno Brat and Apple Sausage.
Krizman’s also has a selection of sides and some specialty meats available if you are feeling extra adventurous.
During our visit, we sampled the bbq sausage, Jalapeño cheddar, Polish, and Summer sausage. It was hard to pick a favorite but I tend to always favor anything with spice.
Craft beer fans will also want to try the sausage that uses Dunkel beer into a seasonal blend.
In addition to sausage Krizman’s House of Sausage also sells rubs and seasoning blends. The garlic dynamite is definitely one you will want to add to your collection.
Enjoy a Sweet Treat at Bonito Michoacan Bakery
1200 Minnesota Ave, Kansas City, KS
Serving up authentic Mexican flavors, Bonito Michoacan Bakery makes a variety of breads, cakes, and pastries using original recipes from Mexico, Central America, and the United States.
Wander along the glass cases, grab a tray, and select whatever catches your eye.
I suggest sampling a bunch with a few people so that you can try a variety of pastries and cookies.
Race Track Views of Kansas City Speedway at Turn 2 at Hollywood Casino
777 Hollywood Casino Blvd, Kansas City, KS
Located inside Hollywood Casino, Turn 2 offers incredible race track views of the Kansas City Speedway while you dine. The Sports Bar and Restaurant has a casual atmosphere.
For appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the Firecracker Fried Shrimp, wings, or the spinach and artichoke dip.
Turn 2 also has HAPPY HOUR specials Monday- Friday from 3-PM for $2 well drinks and glasses of wine, half-price draft beer, and food specials.
One of my favorite menu items during our visit was the BBQ rubbed salmon. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the bbq rub made it extra flavorful.
If you are a fan of spice you will definitely want to check out the Firehouse burger made with pepper jack, hot pepper mustard, hot pepper relish mayonnaise, jalapenos, and a brioche bun.
Make sure that you also save some room for dessert. You can’t go wrong with the brownie and ice cream, New York-style cheesecake or ice cream sundae.
Sample Creative and Classic Popcorn at Velvet Creme Popcorn
4710 Belinder Ave, Westwood, KS
Velvet Creme Popcorn is a multi-generation family business that has been serving delicious popcorn to Kansas City and beyond since 1937.
The name describes the tasting experience of the sweet spot between the hard and soft crack of the popped kernels.
Velvet Creme Popcorn makes all their popcorn onsite using traditional poppers and caramelizing machines.
Each individual popcorn batch relies solely on visuals and aroma monitored by the trained workers without the use of timers.
Velvet Creme Popcorn also changed the popcorn industry distribution as the first company to offer gourmet popcorn in a decorated can in 1954.
What’s even more amazing is that the cans were hand-painted in the early years.
Voted as “Best Kansas City Product” you will definitely want to purchase a few bags to enjoy during your visit and also to bring home with you.
Tours are not available to the public but you can stop in for a popcorn tasting to determine your favorites. There are classic flavors like butter and caramel but you can also try some of their creative flavors like chili cheese and sour cream and onion popcorn.
Great Places to Grab a Drink in Kansas City, Kansas
If you’re looking for a few great places to grab a drink, you’ll want to check out the following places around Kansas City.
Try a Strawberry Latte at Splitlog Coffee Co.
548 Central Ave, Kansas City, KS
A cafe and drive-thru located in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood, Splitlog Coffee Co. is a great stop if you need a caffeine pick me up.
(It’s also located directly across the street from Slap’s BBQ in case you are multitasking)
With a mission to craft a coffee experience for both the coffee enthusiast and the daily drinker, you’ll find Splitlog Coffee Co. to be the perfect blend of high-quality coffee, artistry, hospitality, and convenience.
You’ll find plenty of parking onsite, a cozy atmosphere, and additional seating outside.
During my visit I decided to try the Strawberry Hill Latte…because when in Strawberry Hill…
Who knew strawberry and espresso could be so good?
Obviously, they did because it was surprisingly delicious.
Drink and Play Pinball at 403 Club
614 Reynolds Ave, Kansas City, KS
THE place for pinball enthusiasts and players of all levels, 403 Club is the home of 11 rotating pinball games in top condition and hosts weekly and monthly tournaments with trophies and prizes.
The hardest part is picking which pinball machine you want to start on. You’ll recognize themed pinball games from popular movies and television shows appealing to multiple generations.
The pinball games at 403 Club run on quarters and there is a change machine and ATM available on site.
403 Club offers over 60 craft beer offerings from 25+ breweries around the world. If you are not into beer you will still find plenty of options.
I’m personally not a beer drinker but I discovered that I really liked the Fling Craft Cocktail “Blood Orange Vodka Soda” made by Boulevard Brewing Company located just across the river.
You can bring your own food to 403 Club or take a chance on the “hot dog Ferris wheel” located behind the bar and make sure that you take advantage of Happy Hour specials every day from 4-7pm on PBR draft and well drink specials.
Enjoy a Craft Cocktail at The Mockingbird Lounge
204 Orchard St, Kansas City, KS
Tucked away in a neighborhood in the Strawberry Hill District guests can enjoy karaoke fun or relax on the outdoor patio with an unexpected view of the Kansas City skyline at the Mockingbird Lounge.
The craft cocktails at The Mockingbird Lounge are a work of art that is equally matched in taste.
For food options, you’ll find plenty of menu options that are available all day. We enjoyed a few appetizers during our visit (guacamole, queso Blanco, and ceviche.)
The Mockingbird Lounge has a lot of special events going on during the week including karaoke, open mic comedy, and trivia.
A Wine Tasting With a Vineyard View at Rowe Ridge Winery
11255 Leavenworth Rd, Kansas City, KS
Enjoy a wine tasting with a scenic vineyard in the background. Rowe Ridge Winery was the first vineyard in Wyandotte County, KS made up of five acres with approximately 3000 vines.
They grow 9 varieties of hybrid and American native grapes and have 10 wines available for tasting including 5 estate grown aged dry wines and 2 fruit wines.
In the summer you can also enjoy wine slushies or sangria and in the fall mulled wines are available.
If you are visiting with a group I would recommend scheduling a vineyard tour ahead of time where you can learn more about the winemaking process and enjoy a tasting from owners Marc and Pamela.
Try a Unique Drink at d’Nile Wine Bar & Patio
Located inside Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa
701 Village West Pkwy, Kansas City, KS
A themed bar located inside the lower level of a unique themed hotel, d’Nile Wine Bar & Patio is a hidden gem to discover.
I’m typically not a fan of Bloody Mary’s but I would recommend trying one at d’Nile Wine Bar & Patio.
This is because of the not-so-secret ingredient, “burnt end infused vodka” creating a truly unique flavor that goes with the Kansas City BBQ theme.
You can purchase a bottle of the burnt end infused vodka from Ted at the bar but they run out FAST because of its popularity.
The outdoor patio section for the bar is tucked away with beautiful greenery and the classic strung white lights.
Where to Stay in Kansas City, Kansas
There are plenty of hotels and vacation rentals when it comes to lodging in Kansas City, Kansas.
A Unique Overnight Stay Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa
701 Village West Pkwy, Kansas City, KS
I previously mentioned that I’m a sucker for a theme and Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa is all about creating an experience for guests with 23 different themed concept suites.
A fun overnight for families or couples who want to get away, these themed suits allow you to escape the mundane and travel the world without ever leaving Kansas.
I should also mention that the breakfast bowl is really good if you are ordering room service at Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa during your stay.
All rooms include two-person jetted tubs with LED lighting.
Check out the suite options online prior to your stay to get your preferred theme of choice or go for the element of surprise with whatever is available.
Themed Rooms at Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa
A few of the themed rooms include a Tahitian Treehouse, Monte Cristo, Mayan Rainforest, and you can choose your preference of luxury, adventure, or classic rooms. (The Tuscany themed room is the best seller)
Looking For More Things to Do in the Kansas City Metro?
Kansas City, Kansas really surprised me in a good way. If you are visiting Kansas City, Missouri, make sure that you cross the river and discover what the other namesake city has to offer.