A lot has been going on in Kansas City's food scene over the last few months.
KCUR food critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara brought their seasonal roundup of the biggest local restaurant news to Friday’s Central Standard.
Here's what's been going on:
1. Black Dirt opened in the South Plaza neighborhood. This is the long-awaited restaurant from Chef Jonathan Justus, who has temporarily closed his Justus Drugstore in Smithville. It's a more casual concept, with a separate dinner and bar menu. But like the Drugstore, Black Dirt serves local and seasonal fare. You can get a burger and fries at the bar, or you can order a large duck platter or scallops. “I like the fact that he’s doing dishes for two, like the duck for two,” said Vergara. “We’re thrilled that he’s closer.”
2. Hogshead KC opened on the Plaza. This isn’t a pork-centric restaurant, said Vergara; the “hogshead” refers to a barrel that transports liquor. She recommends the branzino, a fish that’s served Asian-style with fried rice and bok choy. Vergara and Bloch also like the burger, which comes with thick-cut pork belly and a fried egg on top. Located in the old Houlihan’s space, Hogshead has a huge chefs counter that’s part of the kitchen. And, according to Bloch, the restaurant has a great list of craft beers.
3. Rye opened a second location on the Plaza. Rye serves American comfort food, like fried chicken and lemon meringue pie. The new location also offers breakfast (biscuits and gravy, pancakes, etc.). And there’s a dessert counter where you can pick up whole pies and cakes to-go from pastry chef Megan Garrelts. “She really is known for her desserts, so don’t skip dessert here,” said Vergara.
4. Brookside Barrio opened. This restaurant, from the same owner as Zocalo and Sol Cantina, is in an old filling station (it used to house Julian and Joe D’s). Now sporting garage door-style windows and a covered patio, the food is “Cali-Mex,” with items such as grilled meat, salads, fish tacos, and queso.
5. The Russell opened in Midtown. “It’s one of the most Instagrammable spaces right now in Kansas City, for sure,” said Vergara. Located in the former Russell Florist building by the Gates on Main, this restaurant is open for a late breakfast and lunch only (and brunch on Saturdays). “The space is beautiful and they do a lot of lovely salads,” said Vergara.
6. The Myers Hotel Bar reopened in Tonganoxie. Kate Frick had opened up a cocktail bar in an old hotel. She lost her lease towards the end of last year, but is now open again. According to Vergara, she’s doing big-city craft-quality drinks, and the rehabbed and refurnished hotel space is unique. Frick hopes to rent out rooms at some point.
7. County Road Ice House opened at Power & Light. This is a collaboration between Joe’s KC and the Back Napkin Group (which owns The Rockhill Grille). Joe’s KC is doing all the smoked meats; you can get the same ribs, meat platters and fries. But at County Road, you can get those meats in different ways, said Bloch, such as the pulled pork as carnitas in tacos or in loaded Joe's KC fries with queso. The restaurant is in the former Gordon Biersch space, and it’ll be doing a limited menu this weekend during the Big 12 Tournament.
8. Messenger Coffee Co. + Ibis Bakery opened in the Crossroads. The space is huge; it used to be an old tire warehouse. On the first floor, Ibis grinds its own flour and makes its bread and pastries. The coffee roasterie is on the second floor, and there’s a beautiful rooftop deck with a fireplace and a unique view, said Vergara. Messenger + Ibis serves breakfast and lunch (such as toast with toppings, and open-face sandwiches), along with coffee, pastries and croissants.
9. Hank Charcuterie closed in Lawrence, but chef/owner Vaughn Good will be opening Fox and Pearl on Kansas City’s Westside. Best known for breaking down whole animals, Good will be serving game, rabbit and house-made sausages (and dishes such as cassoulet). The menu won’t change from Hank. “It’s a very meat-heavy place,” said Vergara, and the space, which will include a good-sized U-shaped bar, a sidewalk patio and another patio out back, will be rustic in décor.
10. Novel is moving to the Crossroads. The restaurant, currently located in an old Victorian-style house on the Westside, closes on March 24. Vergara said Chef Ryan Brazeal promises some changes at his "shiny new" location, such as adding some pasta and offering a separate bar menu. He’ll also have a bigger bar and a bigger kitchen at the new location.
11. Broadway Bistro is reopening. Chef Joe Shirley, best known for Uberdine (and other pop-up concepts) is relaunching Broadway Bistro on March 16, serving comfort food for lunch and dinner.
12. The Restaurant at 1900 will open this spring. It’ll be in the building at the corner of State Line and Shawnee Mission Parkway. According to Bloch, Linda Duerr is the chef and Doug Frost is curating the wine list.
13. New restaurants are set to open on Delaware Street in the River Market. Some of them, according to Vergara: Freestyle Poke (a Polynesian bowl restaurant); Tribe Street Kitchen (a globally inspired night market theme, with international drinks at the bar); and Our Daily Nada, a bookstore and café/coffee bar, where the food will be by chef Carlos Mortera of The Bite.
14. Parlor KC is opening in the Crossroads. The operators of what will be a new food hall are planning a fall opening at 17th and Locust, said Vergara.
15. Caffetteria is opening in the Prairie Village Shops. Jo Marie Scaglia, owner of The Mixx, is behind this new Italian-inspired bistro set to open on March 14. It'll serve healthy fast-casual dishes, said Vergara, such as a Polynesian poke bowl, and house-roasted rotisserie chicken. The restaurant will also have a pizza oven, an all-natural soda fountain (with Stubborn Soda) and a coffee bar with pastries.
16. Plaza III will close on March 10, after a half-century. Ferruzza asked: "Does anyone remember the names of all the different nightclubs on the basement level? The list includes Biba’s, Rio, Flashbacks, the Key Largo Surf Club and the City Light Jazz Club." True Food Kitchen, a vegetarian-friendly healthy restaurant, will take over that space.
17. James Beard Award semifinalists have been announced. Ryan Maybee (Manifesto) is up for for Outstanding Bar Program, and Michael Corvino (Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room) for Best Chef: Midwest. Colby Garrelts and Bluestem are up for Outstanding Restaurant, and Megan Garrelts for Outstanding Pastry Chef at Rye. And Taylor Petrehn is up for Outstanding Baker at Lawrence's 1900 Barker.
Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the name of County Road Ice House.