Kansas City is a great food city. Lots of amazing local restaurants as well as about every possible restaurant chain. Kansas City Restaurant Week is January 18-27, 2013. Not only do over 100 restaurants participate but a portion of their special menus benefits Harvester’s, the greater Kansas City area community food network.
In case you have been hiding under a rock or aren’t from the Kansas City area, Harvester really is an amazing nonprofit meeting the food insecurities of our community. Each week, they provide emergency food assistance for approximately 66,000 people in our community. WOW! I had an opportunity about a year ago to fulfill one of my nonprofit volunteer bucket list dreams – to volunteer in their warehouse. I have to tell you, not only do they run a well oiled machine but they have this down to a science. I helped fill food supplements boxes for senior adults. Positioning the food in the exact right spot of the box is key to proper weight distribution. Boxes include things like Orange Juice, Tomato Juice, rice, and cereal.
But probably my favorite program Harvester’s offer is the Backsnack Program. This program provides food on the weekends and in the summer for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat. I think we sometimes forget that children are some of the youngest victims of hunger. They often rely on school breakfast and lunch programs to function. I remember carrying fruit snacks and granola bars in my backpack as an AmeriCorps member, mentoring and tutoring children in the public schools. My kids often couldn’t function in school because they were so hungry. Imagine how difficult it would be to learn the foundation of your education like your ABCs, site words, and memorize match facts if you were starving because you hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours?
You can help make a difference in the lives of these children and enjoy some incredible food during this year’s restaurant week. Although not all of these restaurants are in Kansas City or participants in restaurant week, I thought I would share a few of my favorites. Please post comment below about your favorite places to eat and why. Or come back and tell me about how you helped support hungry people in your community through Restaurant Week, volunteering, or making a donation (food or monetary) to your local food bank.
Homecooking – The Granary (Norfolk, NE) – Harvester Fried Chicken is my favorite. It’s served with cottage fries, a dinner roll, and a side salad for about $6. That’s not too much more expensive than when I went to eat their at age 8. I also love Wheatfields in Omaha, NE for their amazing selection of bakery items.
Mac & Cheese – The Bristol (Leawood, KS&Kansas City, MO) – The Lobster Mac & Cheese is hands down the best mac & cheese recipe I have ever eaten. But I also love just about everything else on the menu including their never fried crab cakes.
Pizza – This is a hard one for me. I love Godfather’s and Waldo Pizza but my favorite pizza place is probably Minsky’s. The best location is in Independence, MO. They have these Mexican Pizza Rolls and Cheese Breadsticks that are only made this way at the Independence location.
Steak – The plain best steak I ever had was at a place called Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, OK. It was also a great deal. I think it cost like $18.95 for a filet, baked potato, dinner roll, and salad. But I also Pierpoint’s and J. Gilberts steak.
Seafood – I love The Bristol but you can’t go wrong with the Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill (Kansas City (north), MO & Overland Park, KS).
Best fries – Blanc Burgers & Bottles (Leawood, KS and Kansas City, MO) They have these AMAZING Gouda Cheese Fries which have the best bacon I have ever eaten on them. I actually asked my server where they bought their bacon the last time I ate there. It turns out they buy it in blocks and cut it to their liking.
Best cheese – Nick & Jake’s (Parkville, MO and Overland Park, KS). Every sandwich I have ever had at this restaurant had amazing cheese. Even my mother agreed it was incredible.
Best burger – I had the most amazing burger at Westside Local (Kansas City, MO). It wasn’t even on the menu so you might have to ask for it. Quality meat coated in Swiss cheese, arugula, and aioli on a pretzel bun.
My favorite BBQ – This one is controversial living in a barbecue Mecca. My favorite is Fiorella Jack Stack’s Barbecue (Martin City, MO, Kansas City, MO & Overland Park, KS). I love their burnt ends and cheesy corn are AMAZING! Plus, I really like being able to sit down in a nice restaurant to order my BBQ. Hickory Park in Ames, IA is also incredible. Be sure to save room for dessert if you go there though. They have a whole ice cream menu.
Ice cream – I love Sylas and Maddy’s (Olathe, KS). My favorite is the Da Bomb – chocolate flakes and oreo. Yummy! Murray’s located in Westport (Kansas City, MO) also has wonderful homemade ice cream. They just don’t have as many choices and aren’t open year round. I also love Goodrich in Lincoln, NE (as well as various locations across the state) for malts and shakes.
Italian food – Copa Room – Located in a strip mall by Hen House in Lenexa, KS you would never guess how good the food is without going in and trying this restaurant for yourself. I love that they also have smaller portion options at dinner. You don’t leave feeling like you can’t move.
Non-authentic Mexican food – El Matador Cantina in Columbus, NE is one of my favorite places to eat when visiting my sister. They have a salsa bar with this really good thousand island looking salsa for $1.99 and pitchers of margaritas for $5.99.
To-go lunch – Valentino’s To-Go (Lincoln, NE and several other locations across the Midwest) I used to live on this when I was in AmeriCorps. It was super close to my office so it was my Friday lunch. They have the best lasagna ever. You can pair any number of combinations: pizza, pasta, garlic breadsticks, dessert breadsticks, and/or salad. Back in my college days, I think combinations ranged from $2-$6. And the pasta dished filled me up on the nights I had to work at Super 8 until 11PM.
Best service – Lazlo’s (Lincoln, NE). The food is great but the service is even better. I used to work for the owners of this restaurant back in their days of owning Jabrisco’s, an creative Italian restaurant. The original location is tucked in the charming Haymarket District is just blocks from the University of Nebraska. Even though I haven’t been to this restaurant with my friends since college, I can still tell you everyone’s favorites (Rob – French Dip with cheese and onions – a side of honey mustard and ranch for dipping his fries. Dan always ordered a burger and Empyrean Ale – Amber Ale. Ben loved the Beer Cheese soup.) What makes their service so great is that everyone has to have two years of service experience before they can be a server. As a host, I remember the training we went through to make us consistent at our service. And you may not be 100% sure who your server is in a restaurant where anyone takes care of a guests need before you even have to ask.