Food Critics: The Best Bar Food In Kansas City

Mar 4, 2016

“Good bar food is something you can pick up with your hands and goes with any drink,” says food critic Mary Bloch.

From pot-roast nachos to French onion soup grilled cheese sandwiches to crab cakes, there is a wide range of salty choices to wash down with a cold brew or cocktail.

After a visit to Tom's Town distillery, Central Standard's Food Critics Mary Bloch, Charles Ferruzza and Pete Dulin discussed Friday the best bar food that keeps you thirsty — and keeps the drinks coming.

Mary Bloch, Around the Block

  • Novel: The happy hour menu includes steamed buns in the traditional Chinese way with crispy pork belly, cheek and jowl meat and a slice of pickle. 
  • The American also has a similar steamed bun but instead of a bun it is a homemade English muffin with pork belly and XO sauce. 
  • Port Fonda:  A tasty Mexican version of fondue known as queso fundido consists of melted cheese in a small cast-iron skillet topped with tons of mushrooms and chorizo. Instead of traditional corn chips, they bring you soft tortillas that you can smother with fundido.
  • Extra Virgin: Potatoes Bravas really hit the mark. They’re atypical in that the dish has chunks of potatoes in a Romanesco sauce, with a smoked, peppery taste. They also serve thick potato chips layered in that sauce. Addictive. If you’re in a group, get at least two orders.
  • Summit Bar and Grill: Pot-roast nachos are not your typical nachos. Served with shredded pork instead of ground beef and are constructed rather than piled. Each chip has its fair share of pot-roast, corn, and cheese.

Charles Ferruzza, The Pitch

  • Majestic Restaurant: The place to go for crab cakes. Most crab cakes are heavily breaded… but not this one. This is a real crab cake that goes light on the breading and heavy on the crab. They also have a great half-pound steak burger with fries, on the cheap.
  • Bo Lings Country Club Plaza: The best time to sit down at a bar and have a meal is when you’re by yourself. Bo Lings is a good place to be anonymous. You can pick up a nice tasty meal of Vietnamese egg rolls or some crispy eggplant if you want a more vegetable-oriented dish.
  • Avenues Bistro: Their bar menu is filled with deliciously salty and fried things. The bacon-wrapped dates, in particular, are lovely finger food. They also have a Bavarian plate with home-made bratwurst and fried potatoes. The kind of dish that makes you want a beer.

Pete Dulin, KC Ale Trail

  • Lucky Boys: They are known for their Louisville hot chicken sandwich. The chicken has a fantastic spicy crust with a delicious crunch. Another dish they serve is the pastrami and rye made from scratch, sliced up and served as a fantastic sandwich. 
  • The American: Shiitake mushrooms in a tempura-style with light batter that adds just enough crispness to the dish. The mushrooms are succulent and are one of the many items available for happy hour. They also have king crab rice, a classic dish of fried rice jazzed up with juicy morsels of king crab.
  • Martin City Brewing Company: Has a unique dish with its own diagnosis: OCD Nachos. They're nachos piled beneath a mountain of beer cheese, black beans, lettuce and Pico de Gallo. Fresh, savory and delicious.
  • The Brick: Serves a sandwich known as Fluffernutter. A sandwich that is not only fun to say but has fun ingredients: a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff center on lightly toasted bread. Sweet and appealing if you have the munchies.

Listener Recommendations:

  • Tom’s Town’s Distillery: Captures the essence of French onion soup in a grilled cheese package.
  • Beer Kitchen: Serves delicious cornmeal and waffle topped with chicken and gravy. Not only good bar food but also a good brunch.
  • Ça Va Bar: An intimate champagne bar with an assortment of bar foods from cheese plates and oysters to beautiful pastries and pineapple upside down cake. Great dessert options that are amazing with a glass of wine.
  • Blvd Tavern: Corn dogs that are freshly made from house-smoked sausage. They have a nice homemade taste.
  • Eat Me Gourmet: Pork rinds are so freshly fried they’re still popping. Seasoned with salt and is great with a bottle of hot sauce that you can drizzle on top. Crunchy like a potato chip but also light and airy.
  • Affäre: Tempura-fried shrimp served in spicy aioli sauce.
  • 75th Street Brewery: For their salmon and chips. A slight variant on the classic fish and chips meal.

Coy Dugger is an intern for KCUR's Central Standard