Food & Drink | KCUR

Food & Drink


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.

Segment 1: Peruvian food in Kansas City.

A chef at a Lenexa restaurant shares how she makes lomo saltado, a classic Peruvian dish. Then, a home cook from Lima tells us about Peruvian food.

Segment 2, beginning at 15:00: The Food Critics recommend South American dishes.


Kansas City only has a handful of South American restaurants, but South American food has been appearing on menus all over town.

"You don't have to just be a South American restaurant to enjoy and have these dishes on your menu," Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best South American dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

As you may have heard by now, Shake Shack is opening on the Plaza.

The New York-based burger chain has a devoted following, and the news of its fall opening sent many Kansas Citians into a tizzy. There’s been so much buzz about Shake Shack that the moderator of a local food group on Facebook had to tell people to stop posting about it.

“I can taste the Shake Shack burger without actually tasting it,” said Elizabeth Paradise. “I crave it that much.”

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Burgers are a classic KC menu item.

"As a steak town, Kansas City has always had a lot of good burgers, too," Charles Ferruzza told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Whether diners prefer a thin or thick patty — or something meatless — local menus have plenty of options.

Ferruzza, along with fellow Food Critics Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best burgers in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Segment 1: The diner-style burger.

The news that Shake Shack is coming to Kansas City has sent people in a tizzy. We take a Shake Shack fan to Snack Shack in Downtown Overland Park. Then, a talk with Michael Corvino, a James Beard Award semifinalist, about the cheeseburger on his menu that's earning raves.

Segment 1: Can our employers help us get more sleep?

We've heard that getting a good night's sleep makes everything better; it's good for our health, our cognition and our relationships. Sounds simple, right? But falling asleep (and staying asleep) can be hard. Tomorrow, the KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community. We hear from people who are trying to make their work culture more compatible with good sleep habits.

Katherine Lim / Flickr -- CC

Breakfast: is it the most important meal of the day or the most tasty meal of the day? Whatever your thoughts, the breakfast scene is changing in Kansas City, offering more interesting options.

"I think people are going out more for breakfast," said KCUR Food Critic Mary Bloch. "I think part of the reason it's changing is because coffee is such a big thing now. And you have to have something to eat with your coffee."

On Friday's Central Standard, Bloch, along with Food Critic Bonjwing Lee, searched out the best breakfast spots in and around Kansas City.

Marco Verch / Google Images -- CC

From Twinkies to smoothies: If you grew up in Kansas City, you may remember the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery on Troost. We visit Ruby Jean's Juicery, which has opened in that spot. Then, hear about some of the other new restaurants opening on Troost.

Plus: the Food Critics search out the best breakfast dishes in and around Kansas City.


Micelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

For decades, the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery was an institution at 30th and Troost in Midtown Kansas City. People in the neighborhood remember it from as far back as the 1970s, when it was a quick and cheap place to stop by for day-old bread and discounted baked goods.

It closed about six years ago, and a new player has taken over in that location. People can still buy food there, but it’s a far cry from the processed HoHos and Zingers they used to get from Hostess.

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Chinese food in the United States has become as American as apple pie. Or crab Rangoon (which was probably invented here).

Since its earliest days in the U.S., when it arrived with immigrants who came for the Gold Rush, Chinese food has been maligned ... but ultimately embraced and changed into the quintessential Americanized version that's popular on menus all over the country.

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Hear the story behind Springfield-style cashew chicken: we talk to the chef whose father, inspired by the food of the Ozarks, invented the dish. Then, meet a local tea house owner who travels to China to select his tea leaves from a friend's farm.

Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Chinese food in and around Kansas City.


Krokstrom Klubb & Market / Facebook

Culture. Refinement. Stylishness.

The hallmarks of sophistication – not to mention its cadre of classy synonyms – beckon this weekend from a variety of corners. The trick to appreciating them all? Keep an open mind to their attendant intricacies, some of which may challenge preconceived concepts of what it really means to be erudite.

So put on your thinking cap. OK, beanie, if you want. Sure, with a propellor on top, if that makes you happy, smarty. Thanks for getting in the sophisticated spirit!

Jill Wendholt Silva / KCUR 89.3

How does a chef know when an elm tree is well-done?

When he’s cooked it in a 200-degree oven long enough, the deeply grooved bark is cured — and there are no carpenter bees left.

At Jonathan Justus’ new restaurant Black Dirt, which opens on Friday at 5070 Main Street, diners can look up at an organic chandelier made from Missouri hackberry tree emanating from the stump of an old elm.

Foodista / Google Images -- CC

It's definitely soup and stew season. And there are plenty of both on local menus.

Whether you're in the mood for a hearty bowl of burnt end chili or a brothy pho, you can find something lovely and warm to ward off the frigid temps.

Of course, don't forget the bread (or savory doughnut) for soppin' and dippin'.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Ivette Degollado / Flickr -- CC

A chef tells us about the "secret" off-menu cornbread at his restaurant, and we visit a local Ethiopian/Caribbean place to find out more about its braised oxtail dish. Then, the Food Critics search out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.


naturalflow / Flickr -- CC

What makes a song a Kansas City song? We revisit the classic "standards" that once defined the KC sound. Plus: a local writer takes us on a tour of the nearby breweries, distilleries and vineyards on both sides of the state line.


Daniel Chow / Flickr -- CC

It’s the time of year when you may need to feed a crowd — perhaps for holiday gatherings or for college bowl game-watching. And what better way than with pizza?

Shelby L. Bell / Google Images -- CC

It's the time of year when KC expats come home for the holidays. We take a look at the restaurant meals that they have to have during their visit, and a chat with a KC native whose New York barbeque restaurant has become a hangout for homesick Kansas Citians.

Plus: we say goodbye to Fun House Pizza in Raytown, which is closing after 53 years, and our Food Critics search out the best pizza in and around town.

Danie Alexander / KCUR 89.3

Before reaching for a bottle of red or white from California, Italy or France, you might think again about shopping a little more close-to-home. Today, Master Sommelier Doug Frost returns to give us the low-down on the award-winning local vino that deserves your attention, and which bottles are garnering attention from winemakers around the country.

Jules / Flickr -- CC

What's not to like about cheese? First of all, it's probably the one food item for which "ooey-gooey" was invented. (And if not, let's just say it was).

Whether you like it melted in a sandwich or by itself with a glass of wine or beer, cheese is having quite a moment in KC.

Cheese + Beer

Dec 8, 2017
Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife / Flickr -- CC

Forget wine and cheese ... now there's beer and cheese. A local cheese expert tells us about the best beer and cheese pairings. Plus: a visit to a classic KC restaurant that brought back its fondue nights from the 1970s, then the Food Critics search out the best cheese dishes in and around town.


Kansas City Crafts And Drafts For The Holidays

Dec 8, 2017
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When you think of holiday beverages, you probably imagine eggnog and spiced cider before you think of beer. Today, we hear from brewers and brew-enthusiasts from Bier StationKC Bier Co., and Crane Brewing who think that's a shame. Find out what seasonal concoctions they're cooking up, how they critique a beer and when "pastry stouts" take flavoring too far.

Cpl. Samantha Braun / Office of Marine Corps Communication

Thanksgiving is practically upon us, marking the start of the holiday season. Today, we listen back to a conversation with Master Sommelier Doug Frost and others to get you prepared for winter partying with some great wine and drink pairing ideas. Then, we sit down with Vietnam veteran and poet John Musgrave.

ilaria / Flickr -- CC

Italian food. Those two words may bring up images of a pasta dish with red sauce, or perhaps a thick square of lasagna. Throw in a glass of wine, and you're set for a cold winter night.

Some local chefs are also putting a creative spin on the cuisine. From old-school favorites to some new takes, our food critics on KCUR’s Central Standard searched out the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

alanagkelly / Flickr -- CC

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.


In food circles, there have been a lot of questions about the idea of authenticity and appropriation. We explore the intersection of food, race and culture.


Joy / Flickr -- CC

It’s a great time of year for pie.

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with a traditional pumpkin pie, or warding off the chill with a hearty chicken pot pie, it’s amazing what can go under, over or between flaky, golden crusts.

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Pumpkin + Pies

Oct 27, 2017
Ervins Strauhmanis / Flickr -- CC

Pumpkins are everywhere. They're being carved, painted and eaten by squirrels all over town. But what about cooking them? Two local chefs share their tips for savory pumpkin dishes.

Plus: a visit to Rye to learn more about pie crusts, then the Food Critics search out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around KC.


Aaron Leimkuehler

Restaurants come and go. On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have kept up with the latest goings-on in our local dining scene from over the past several months.