435 Magazine's Most Fabulous 2013
It’s no secret that we live in a fabulous city. So fabulous, in fact, that it was no stretch to compile this cast list of our favorite Kansas City characters. Narrowing it down was the hard part. In our quest, we left no steak or cup of coffee untasted and no corner boutique unbrowsed. With help from our readers and our team of editors, we present you with this master list of the best of the best Kansas City has to offer. From bars and barbecue to art galleries and antiques, we have it covered. But perhaps most importantly, this list is punctuated by the intangibles that make Kansas City great: the people. With our readers’ opinions at the forefront, we pay homage to our fair city and the notable people and places that make Kansas City unique.
OUT & ABOUT
Best Reception Venue
Dark Horse Distillery
Don’t be fooled by the name — the Dark Horse Distillery is more than just a one-trick pony. The 6,500-square-foot space is available for anything from wedding receptions to product launches.
Brookside seamlessly combines the fun and excitement of a metropolitan area with the beauty and community of a Kansas City suburb. This neighborhood is brimming with cozy bungalow homes, chic boutiques, hip restaurants and a laid-back nightlife. Only a few blocks from the Country Club Plaza, you’ll never run out of things to do.
The three rooms can be transformed for any occasion, although we love that the venue is dripping in vintage elegance with a hint of rustic sensibility. You and 300 of your closest friends can enjoy the high-top bar, grand seating area and state-of-the-art entertainment system no matter the event. Cheers to that!
11740 W. 86th Terrace, Lenexa, Kan.
Best Entertainment Venue
Starlight Theatre has been bringing theater and entertainment to Kansas City for more than 50 years, boasting big names, Broadway shows and musicians from across the globe. Located in Swope Park, the theater holds an audience of up to 7,958 people and has an impressive 10-story stage. Grab some friends and refreshments and enjoy this year’s shows, including Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Footloose.”
4600 Starlight Road., Kansas City, Mo.
|Best Home Décor
As the exclusive dealer of Sticks furniture and accessories, StickSisters supplies home décor items that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. The Hawthorne Plaza storefront is colorful and cozy, and the staff is extremely helpful. And with inventory from the Erich Emmenegger pottery line and jewelry collections from Anna Balkan, Freshie & Zero, Ronaldo Designs and many local artists, the store is rich in artistry and cutting-edge design. Whether you find exactly what you’re looking for when you walk through the doors or you work with the owners to create a custom piece, you’re sure to leave satisfied with a truly special work of art.
504 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Antique Shop
Located in a two-story building in the West Bottoms, Restoration Emporium is chock-full of vintage items that captivate Kansas City’s antique lovers. The first weekend of every month (the only time it’s open), shoppers are bound to fall in love with something unexpected, whether it’s an antique armoire, a wicker chandelier or a console television that’s been repurposed into a wine cabinet. No matter what you are looking for (or even if you are not), you will find something that speaks to you at Restoration Emporium.
1300 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Tattoo Parlor
Freaks on Broadway
Whether it’s your first tattoo or your 50th, the experience can be daunting. Freaks on Broadway will put those worries to rest with its immaculate facility, friendly and experienced artists, and community of pleased customers. Look through each artist’s portfolio to see the quality of their work and their signature styles, or stop by for a piercing. These professionals will take your idea and create a masterpiece.
4039 Broadway Street, Kansas City, Mo.
Best TV News Anchor
After joining KMBC-TV in 1968 and spending his first four years as a reporter, Larry Moore was named the primary news anchor from 1972 to 1979. Much to the city’s dismay, Moore briefly left Kansas City and returned to KMBC-TV in 1983, and through the years, his presence in our living rooms has made him one of the most treasured news anchors in Kansas City. In December 2012, Moore cut back on his work schedule, but he still delivers the 6 p.m. news for KMBC.
When Gary Lezak became chief meteorologist at 41 Action News in 1999, weather coverage in Kansas City changed. Lezak and his team have coined themselves (and with good reason) the “most accurate” in Kansas City. In addition to reporting the weather on television for everyone in Kansas City, Lezak also lends his energetic personality to Sports Radio 810 WHB, reporting the weather there as well. Away from the KSHB studios and the green screen, Lezak makes appearances at various community and charity events, often with two of his closest friends — his beloved dogs Stormy and Breezy.
Best Local Performer
Following in the footsteps of his famous father, tapper and all-around entertainer Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden, Lonnie McFadden’s childhood hobbies have turned into a career in show business. Since elementary school, McFadden has been performing as a singer, tap dancer, comedian and musician. McFadden and his brother, Ronald, were part of “The McFadden Brothers” and made appearances on national television including “Incredible Sundays.” Today, McFadden showcases his mesmerizing tapping talents at several venues each week in the Kansas City area including The Oak Room, The Phoenix Jazz Club, Plaza III and Sullivan’s.
Best Local Band
A blast from the past, minus the hair band hoopla, The Zeros take fans on a trip back to the 1980s with each performance of the era’s new wave music. With one of the best sound and light shows in the Midwest, The Zeros captivate audiences with covers of hit songs from David Bowie, Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran and Devo, among others. The Zeros play at corporate events, charity fundraises, company parties, wedding receptions, festivals and nightclubs.
DJ Ashton Martin
Since moving to Kansas City in 2008, Ashton Martin, a University of Kansas graduate and former Lawrence, Kan., nightclub manager, has made a name for himself as one of the most popular record-spinners in town. Martin has headlined some of Kansas City’s premier events, including New Year’s Eve 2011 KC Live Block Party, and he has kept K.C. audiences entertained and parties thumping at venues such as Rock Bar, Re:Verse Mosaic, Velvet Dog, The Jones Pool and Power & Light Live Stage.
Best Radio Personality
Full of opinions on pop culture, politics and news headlines and set to the background of the cutting edge and popular alternative music of 96.5 The Buzz, “The Church of Lazlo” is the brainchild of Lazlo Geiger. Geiger created the show in 2003 and has since gained a loyal following among Kansas Citians who tune in weekday afternoons to catch portions of Geiger’s four-hour long radio talk show. Agree or disagree with Geiger’s strong opinions, this show is as thought-provoking as it is hilarious and quirky, and the supporting characters (namely Slimfast and Meredith) are a welcome bonus.
Best Celebrity Chef
Jasper Mirabile Jr.
Treasured and revered Kansas City Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr. and his family have operated Jasper’s Restaurant, the crown jewel of Kansas City Italian food, since the eatery’s humble beginnings in 1954. Alongside his chef, Marvin Lewis, Mirabile runs his 2,000-plus-square-foot kitchen along with Marco Polo’s Italian Market and provides Kansas City with Old World Sicilian and hearty favorites such as Shrimp Livornese, peppered steak and fresh-made pastas and breads. Since 1990, Jasper has become an acclaimed chef in his own right, making guest appearances around the globe and garnering attention from The New York Times, USA Today, Midwest Living and Italy’s Cucina. Mirabile’s popular Kansas City cooking radio show, “LIVE From Jasper’s Kitchen,” can be heard Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon on KCMO Talk Radio.
Best Kansas City Celebrity
(TIE) George Brett & Tom Watson
Former Royals star George Brett is no stranger to Kansas City, even for non-sports fanatics. Most notably, the 13-time MLB All-Star helped the Kansas City Royals capture the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985. Brett spent his entire 21-year career with the Royals, decided to remain in Kansas City following his baseball glory days and has remained a longtime fixture of the Kansas City sports and social scenes. Since May, Brett has served as the team’s hitting coach.
Born in Kansas City and residing in Stilwell, Kan., Tom Watson is recognized as one of golf’s greats. The winner of eight major championships, Watson was dubbed the 11th best golfer of all time by Sports Illustrated, and in 1988 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
|Best Dance Club
You can experience a night of Power and Light-style bar-hopping and dancing right in Overland Park. This country-themed bar is shared with three others under the roof of One Block South, combining saloon decor with a new-age dance hall. Kanza Hall offers daily drink specials as well as free dance lessons on Friday nights and corporate event hosting. Line dancing is encouraged, so make sure to bring a partner!
7300 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.
FUN & GAMES
With more than 100,000 square feet of casual games, dining and live entertainment, Hollywood Casino promises a memorable night out. Experience the glitz and glamour of Hollywood on any of 2,000 slots, or try your luck to win big at one of the casino’s 52 table games, including craps, blackjack, Texas hold ‘em, and roulette. A diverse selection of fine dining is also available. Whether you’re craving a prime cut of beef or giving in to your sweet tooth with homemade gelato, you’re sure to find it at Hollywood Casino. All visitors must be 21 or older.
777 Hollywood Casino Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.
FOOD & DRINK
SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza
SPIN! definitely knows how to take a traditional dish and make it a revamp of epic proportions. After all, who doesn’t love a good slice? With thick chunks of meat, fresh ingredients and varieties ranging from healthy to guilty pleasure, it’s no wonder that SPIN! is a rave among our readers. For an added weekly dash of fun, work up an appetite by joining SPIN! Pizza biking club, which meets weekly at four K.C. locations.
Five metro area locations
Best Regards Bakery
A good sandwich can be hard to find, but not at Best Regards Bakery. Located in Overland Park, this café has some of the tastiest, cheesiest artisan sandwiches in town. Tailor your sandwich to your mood with their variety of breads, cheeses, meats and extras. Their signature sandwich, the grilled cheese, has a boasted five million different ways you can get your ‘wich. The question is, how many ways can you say “yum”?
6759 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Blanc Burgers + Bottles
Blanc has mastered the creative twist on an American classic. Even the simplest menu items leave patrons wondering how they can make a burger so special. Whether you’re a meat-lover, vegetarian or just wanting to try something new (how good does that Crab Mac + Cheese Burger sound?), Blanc will make your stomach happy. And as if the food isn’t enough, the modern atmosphere and the fact that fries are served in mini shopping carts will keep you coming back to one of Kansas City’s trendiest restaurants.
10583 Mission Road, Leawood, Kan.
Country Club Plaza
4710 Jefferson St., Kansas City, Mo.
Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen
It is no accident that Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen has been around for more than 30 years. They’re definitely doing something right. A Kansas City staple, this joint pumps out some of the most fabulous margaritas this side of the Rio Grande. Available in 8-ounce and 17-ounce sizes, these sip-worthy drinks are the perfect balance of not-too-sweet, inexpensive and smooth. Be careful when you drink them, though — they have a tendency to sneak up on you!
2856 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
J. Gilbert’s steaks are melt-in-your-mouth goodness ... there’s just no beating around the bush. Cooked to your desired perfection, each bite is worth every penny and just as succulent as the last. Complement your K.C. strip or porterhouse with one of their great potato sides, or go surf n’ turf and sample the restaurant’s array of seafood. The upscale steakhouse is a reader favorite, and with great reason. When you go, make sure you’ve got time to savor your food and take in the culinary experience. We guarantee you won’t want to save the rest for later.
891 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan.
Oklahoma Joe’s is a steady crowd pleaser. Whether you call in advance or brave the winding lines, the food is worth it. Those tender meats cloaked in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that just falls off the bone, not to mention sides seasoned to perfection, remind those who come from near and far that Kansas City knows barbecue. In 2012, Men’s Health dubbed it “America’s Manliest Restaurant.”
Three metro area locations
Best Outdoor Patio
Paddy O’ Quigley’s
Warm Kansas City days mean perfect Kansas City nights. At Paddy O’Quigley’s Pub & Grill, you can enjoy an order of Nach Yo Mama’s Nachos and wash it down with a cold beer, all while sitting on Paddy’s spacious southern Johnson County patio. It’s at the perfect angle to catch the breeze, enjoy the company and soak in the atmosphere.
5317 W. 151st St., Leawood, Kan.
The food and atmosphere at Sushi House are always pristine. The dishes are palatably innovative and artfully prepared. As if the food isn’t tempting enough, customers can watch at the bar as the chefs skillfully create each dish. Located in Town Center Plaza, this gem has been a fan favorite with its delicious bites since opening in 2002.
5041 W. 117th St., Leawood, Kan.
First Watch is popular throughout the country for one simple reason — they know how to make a good breakfast. Caffeine addicts praise their coffee, the eggs are perfectly cooked to order and the pancakes, though light and airy, are big enough to fill you up for the rest of the day. Aside from the traditional favorites, customers love the unique, flavorful dishes that are exclusive to First Watch. It seems that each location has built a loyal base of support as people consistently return for the friendly and fast service and, of course, delicious food.
11 metro area locations
Located in the heart of Westport, the Thai-themed decor offers an elegant and pleasant surprise as you walk through the door. Customers rave about the friendly service and, of course, the menu. All your favorites — spring rolls, pad Thai and Panang curry — are flavorful and as authentic as you can find in Kansas City. Give your taste buds a culinary trip and check it out.
4130 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Hookah Bar
Jaskki’s Tobacco Cafe
Spearheading a wave of hookah lounges in Kansas City, Jaskki’s Tobacco Cafe was established in 2006 as the city’s authority on traditional and contemporary tobacco accessories, boasting 50 different hookah models and more than 300 shisha tobacco flavors. Strewn with incense, candles and comfortable seating, the indoor and outdoor hookah lounge stands as the epitome of “chill.” Coffee and free WiFi are also available, as well as a walk-in humidor with an aromatic display of fine cigars.
1400 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.
|Best Bar Hopping Experience
Explore Kansas City nightlife in style (while burning some calories from all those cocktails) on the Pedal Hopper party bike. Groups of 15 can cruise to three locations around the city on this pedal-powered pub crawl. And no worries, the Pedal Hopper provides a pilot to steer and brake the bike so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
Best Cigar Bar
The Cigar Box
This throwback saloon combines the ambiance of yesteryear with the elegance of an upscale Italian restaurant. The Cigar Box is the perfect place to enjoy classy stogies and fine liquor while indulging in a unique, eclectic dining experience set to the backdrop of live musical covers of classic crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett every Tuesday through Saturday. Or enjoy happy hour specials on weekdays, including two-for-one drink specials from 4 to 7 p.m.
1519 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Way to Get Home from a Bar
Serving the Johnson County, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, Legends Entertainment District and Kansas Speedway regions, 10/10 Taxi is ready to help meet your transportation needs. When you call for a ride, 10/10 Taxi will pick you up at your location within 10 minutes, and even deduct 10 percent off your fare if it arrives late.
ART & CULTURE
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art holds more than 33,500 works of art and is one of the best fine arts museums in the country. The museum is home to a vast South and Southeast Asian collection, photography collection and some of the most historically important European works. From contemporary to ancient, the Nelson-Atkins features work that will inspire the artist in you.
4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.
Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art
Take a warehouse from the 1800s, add a mixture of steel, glass and concrete, and fill it with the work of world-famous artists, and you’ve got the palette to create the Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art gallery. The walls are lined with a variety of mediums including ceramics, textile, photography, print, paint and glass, and the gallery features internationally recognized as well as local artists. Although the exhibits are ever-changing, this gallery is a mainstay for Kansas City art lovers.
2004 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
FUN & GAMES
Best Way to Relive Your Childhood
Whether you are young or just a kid at heart, PowerPlay promises a memorable time for all ages. Test your balance on the elevated ropes course, earn high scores and tickets in the arcade room or race your friends on the go-kart track. PowerPlay is also home to a cosmic bowling alley, adding a futuristic, neon twist to your bowling experience. Birthday party packages for adults and children are available and include a buffet, private party room and access to all attractions.
3110 W. 62nd Terr., Shawnee, Kan.
|Best Sports Facility
68’s Inside Sports
Will Shields, a former American college athlete and NFL offensive guard for the Kansas City Chief for 13 seasons, opened 68’s Inside Sports shortly after retiring from the NFL. The indoor training facility houses an entire football field, basketball courts and baseball batting cages. Shields offers several performance training programs designed to prepare a player for superior performance including classroom work on the X’s & O’s of their given sport. Training staff include former players of the NFL, MLB and NBA along with former college athletes and coaches.
9111 Flint, Overland Park, Kan.
Best Go-Kart Racing
Sadlers Indoor Racing
Have a need for speed? Sadlers Indoor Racing brings a taste of European go-kart tracks to the Midwest. Race around oval or Grand Prix-style tracks at speeds of up to 45 mph in specialized karts imported from Germany. And for those who enjoy a bit of competition, a computerized timing system tracks each kart throughout the race. The 10,000-square-foot facility also welcomes large groups to the Octane Room, a reception hall with two full bars, plasma televisions and much more.
325 N. Mur-Len, Olathe, Kan.
|Best Frisbee Golf
Shawnee Mission Park
For a fun and challenging way to spend the day in nice weather, visit Shawnee Mission Park’s Frisbee golf course. With 18 holes of properly manicured land, the course stretches the length of Shawnee Mission Park and is free to enjoy. Bring your set of golf discs and complete the course with the fewest throws. Just beware of that Kansas wind!
7900 Renner Rd., Shawnee, Kan.
Best New Fitness Craze
TRX Total Body Resistance Exercise
If you’re tired of gym membership fees and occupied workout machines, TRX Total Body Resistance might be the answer. This full-body workout draws on leading-edge research from professional sports teams and the military, leveraging gravity and your body weight to perform a variety of exercises. Suspension of your body weight can be altered based on your chosen amount of resistance, providing all-around fitness without spending thousands of dollars.
Best Live Jazz
Green Lady Lounge
Jazz aficionados are celebrating the Green Lady Lounge for its revival of the traditional jazz club atmosphere that has made Kansas City a cultural hub for musicians. With low lighting and no televisions, music and conversation create a relaxed mood to accompany your evening. Green Lady Lounge attempts to relive the rich history of jazz that has been rooted in Kansas City for decades, and garners attention from myriad talented musicians. Live performances are held Tuesday through Sunday with no door fees, and happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
1809 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Thrill Ride
Richard Petty Driving Experience
If you have a need for speed, the Richard Petty Driving Experience will put you right in the action of an authentic Nascar race. Get behind the wheel or take a ride-along and reach speeds up to 200 mph at the Kansas Speedway. Thrill at high speed for as little as three laps, or get your adrenaline pumping and drive a full 50 laps like a pro Nascar driver.
400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.
Best Paint Ball
Jaegers Subsurface Paintball
Take a trip below the surface to see the world’s first and only underground paintball arena tucked in one of Kansas City’s oldest limestone mines.With five dedicated paintball fields and a three-person speedball arena, Jaeger’s caters to any size group. Competitors of all skill levels are welcome, and equipment is available for rental including gear, CO2, and plenty of paint. For the paintball regulars, tournaments are held several times throughout the year, and a full schedule can be found on the Jaeger’s website.
9300 North East Underground Dr.,
Kansas City, Mo.
Best Trampoline Arena
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
Explore a new way to have fun while getting in shape at Sky Zone, the award-winning trampoline park in Shawnee. You can leap and bound through a seemingly endless sea of trampolines that line the floor and walls of several unique courts. Spend some time jumping aimlessly or get competitive with Sky Zone the Sport, a three-dimensional sport designed for trampoline courts. It combines elements of football, soccer and dodgeball in a fast-paced recreational game. Those under 18 must have parental consent.
6495 Quivira Rd., Shawnee, Kan.
Best New Boutique
Few boutiques can offer a collection that so effortlessly walks the fine line between timeless and modern. We’re as in love with the colors and patterns throughout the cozy downtown Overland Park storefront as we are with the friendly staff, who are ready and willing to offer style advice. With shipments of merchandise arriving weekly, Ruby Rouge, which opened in the spring, is already drumming up a loyal following among Kansas City fashionistas.
7917 Santa Fe Dr., Overland Park, Kan.
Located on 39th Street in the heart of Midtown, Prospero’s Bookstore will make you feel like you’re in a completely different time and place. With all the ambiance you could hope for in a secondhand bookstore — creaky floors, poetry readings, one-of-a-kind artwork and a staff that loves literature — you’ll want to get lost in the shelves packed with new and old titles. Since the inventory is constantly changing, you’ll always have a reason to go back.
1800 39th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Vintage/Consignment Store
Re-Runs, a Kansas City staple for vintage shoppers, offers mint condition merchandise from decades past. With what seems like a limitless supply of men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, Re-runs is more than just a store — it’s a 20th century time capsule. And Re-Runs Vintage Warehouse, located in the West Bottoms and open every Saturday, has an even larger supply of vintage merchandise at thrift store prices.
4041 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.
Best Hostess Gifts
Imagine if Etsy had a storefront. Sound like a dream? That’s essentially what Mash Handmade has to offer. Not only does this store have the most adorable home goods and accessories that any hostess is sure to love, but all of the products are handmade by talented craftsmen from throughout the country. And the best part is, most of the products cost less than $10, so while you’re picking up a gift, you’ll be able to treat yourself to something (or some things) as well.
3900 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Running Store
Runners throughout the metro look to Gary Gribble’s as the store that can go the distance when it comes to shoes and accessories. The enthusiastic staff is on hand not only to help you discover the perfect shoes and accessories, they also offer clinics on running form and injury treatment, so you can stay healthy and active.
Five locations throughout the metro area
Best Bike Shop
Whether you’re a novice looking for a path-and-gravel bike for leisurely rides or an expert looking for a road bike to take across the country, Bike Source is there to help. We love that the staff is so knowledgeable about bikes and everything else you need to get peddling. Plus, they offer tune-up and repair services, so it really is a one-stop shop for all your biking needs.
11500 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.
301 W. 95th St., Leawood, Kan.
Fun and Faux Jewelry
InClover Boutique is a collaboration between friends and fashion lovers Heather Hanson and Wynne Foster. The women were searching for a fun and friendly shopping experience when they decided to create one together. InClover offers jewelry, accessories and clothing from a variety of designers, allowing you to indulge in a little bit of luxury.
4018 W. 83rd St., Prairie Village, Kan.
|Girlfriend’s Gift Shop
Zuzu’s Petals, which opened just this year, is the kind of place you can get lost in for hours. The owners are dedicated to helping you find the perfect outfits and accessories, but this boutique also boasts a fantastic selection of gift-worthy material. Whether it’s a vintage-inspired poster, a thoughtful piece of jewelry or a random knickknack you never expected to fall in love with, you’ll surely leave Zuzu’s with your hands full of merchandise for yourself and your friends.
11780 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Wedding Florist
From fruit-filled bouquets to cascading calla lilies, Sidelines Floral ensures that no leaf is unturned on your special day or occasion. The florists here have been providing premier floral services in Kansas City for more than 20 years, and were the recipient of South Kansas City’s Chamber of Commerce Best Small Business Award in 2005 and 2006. This Martin City staple is the go-to spot for Johnson County brides.
511 E. 135th St., Kansas City, Mo.
If the merchandise isn’t enough to draw you in, the sheer creativity of the window displays will be. Often using repurposed materials — paper, plastic bottles, even marshmallows — the colorful designs highlight Anthropologie’s signature style and inspire creativity in both fashion and home décor.
Town Center Plaza
5024 W. 119th St., Leawood, Kan.
Country Club Plaza
531 Nichols Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Place to Find Locavore Food Products
Whole Foods Market
The locavore food movement is growing, and Whole Foods Market has filled the growing niche by providing a connection between local food producers and farmers with buyers of healthy, green, organic foods. Along with fresh produce — the kind you’d expect to find at farmers’ markets — the shelves at Whole Foods are stocked with everything you need to keep your family full and happy. (We especially love the bakery treats.) As an added bonus, Whole Foods carries natural products for pets, chemical-free personal care essentials and even TOMS shoes.
7401 W. 91st St., Overland Park, Kan.
6621 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Skateboard Shop
If your idea of four wheels features a deck and an elaborate painted design, Escapist Skateboarding is definitely worth checking out. The team members at the Kansas City, Mo., location clearly have a passion for skateboarding and are there to help novices and experts alike when it comes to finding the perfect board, footwear, apparel and accessories. With all of the top-of-the-line brands, you’ll be able to roll out with whatever you’re looking for.
405 Southwest Blvd., Suite 100, Kansas City, Mo.
Best New Salon & Spa
Solera Salon & Spa
From colorings and cuts to waxing and relaxing, this new salon and spa is the spot for a little “me” time. The 18,000-square-foot, two-story luxury facility across from Target on Blue Valley Parkway has been open since early 2013. We’ve discovered a full staff of trustworthy stylists, able aestheticians and a well-edited list of products that make this destination a must-do. The professionals operate independently (leasing suites in the salon), so the atmosphere is personal. And with a comfortable reception area, café and wireless Internet access, you’ll feel right at home.
12020 Blue Valley Pkwy., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Dry Cleaning Service
Tide Dry Cleaners
It’s no secret that Tide is the trusted brand when it comes to laundry, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that readers also turn to Tide for dry cleaning services. Not only do these franchises refresh your clothes, the service is top-notch. With 24-hour drop-off and pick-up options, drive-thrus and same-day service for items dropped off before 9 a.m., Tide Dry Cleaners is bound to make your life much easier.
Various metro locations
Katie McNeil, RSVP Med Spa
Katie McNeil is a licensed esthetician who brings passion to the tableside. Without being pushy, she’ll make solid recommendations for maximum impact. Having spent a few years in Hollywood, McNeil knows what works best in the realm of cutting-edge skin science. She is particularly well-educated in chemical peels, derma planing, microdermabrasion and HydraFacials.
13300 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Royals Player
Left Fielder Alex Gordon
After finishing his career at the University of Nebraska, the Kansas City Royals took Alex Gordon as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft. After spending two seasons in the minors, Gordon has become one of the better outfielders in major league baseball. As a pillar of the Kansas City sports scene, Gordon captured the 2011 and 2012 Gold Glove Awards and led the league in doubles last season.
Best Chiefs Player
Running Back Jamaal Charles
Following a remarkable football and track career at the University of Texas, Jamaal Charles landed in Kansas City after being taken in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Charles quickly became a key Chiefs player, punching two Pro Bowl tickets in his career. He also won the 2010 FedEx Ground Player of the Year award, and is a three-time Derrick Thomas Award-winner. Charles recently placed 20th on the list of NFL Top 100 Players of 2013.
Jenn Tosatto, Manifesto
While serving drinks at Manifesto (1924 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo.), Jenn Tosatto successfully mixes some of the best cocktails in Kansas City. Nestled in the trendy Crossroads district, Manifesto is an experience all its own, and Tosatto brings a memorable twist to each and every drink she pours. Her ability to formulate flavorsome cocktails has been featured on both 41 Action News and Fox 4 News.
Best Sporting KC Player
Defender Matt Besler
Overland Park, Kan., native Matt Besler impressed Sporting KC during his four-year tenure at Notre Dame, allowing him to be taken by his hometown team in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. Besler anchored the top defense in the MLS last season and as a result was named 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. Besler also made his mark worldwide while playing with the United States Men’s National Team.
Best Kids’ Entertainer
Stage Magician Reggie Regg
Reggie Regg, best known as “The Magic Man,” is Kansas City’s premier children’s entertainer. Combining magic and comedy, Regg performs at birthday parties, carnivals, schools and camps, to name a few. Regg even takes his act to hospitals and businesses, earning him a wide fan base throughout Kansas City.
Best High School Athlete (female)
Paige Parker, Truman High School, Independence, Mo.
Senior softball pitcher Paige Parker has made her mark in her high school career. The three-time all-stater has captured the Gatorade Missouri Softball Player of the Year award twice. Parker enthralled college scouts early in her high school career and verbally committed to the University of Oklahoma following her freshman year.
Best High School Athlete (male)
Monte Harrison, Lee’s Summit West, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Monte Harrison is a textbook example of a well-rounded athlete, showcasing his talent in football, basketball and baseball. The senior wide receiver has received offers from the University of Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and many other schools. But Harrison may also consider playing baseball after being highly touted by baseball scouts. Nonetheless, expect Harrison’s name to be aired on highlight reels throughout the school year and in years to come.
Best Local Comedian
As one of the original cast members at famed improv club ComedyCity Kansas City, Michael Maslak is a fan favorite and always draws a positive reaction from the audience. Nicknamed “The Doughboy,” Maslak has been making Kansas City laugh for more than 26 years.
Best Eyebrow Shaper
If eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames, and are just as important. Kendall Dougherty expertly sculpts brows to play up your best feature, and tailors them according to the individual’s face shape and bone structure. At only $20 per visit, everyone can achieve the perfectly-plucked brow.
13348 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan.
Best Smartphone App
Snagging deals at your favorite places just got easier thanks to Front Flip, an app made by Twentyseven Global, an Overland Park-based software engineering company. Download the app, and when you see the Front Flip QR code, scan it to unlock a Digital Scratch Card. Whether it’s food, clothing or a tan that you’re looking for, Front Flip can save you money. The app, which started in Kansas City, has expanded to more than a dozen other cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Best Dance Classes
Blue Martini Dance Studio
Ever wish you could boogie-woogie, jive or foxtrot to the musical styles of the 1940s and ‘50s? No matter how you prefer to shake your groove thing, the professional dance staff at Blue Martini Entertainment offers private and group workshops at affordable rates, providing quality instruction in Lindy Hop, East Coast swing, salsa, waltz and many more. The studio also offers Zumba classes, which combine choreographed dance steps with all different genres of music for an exhilarating session of cardio exercise.
10614 W. 116th Terr., Overland Park, Kan.
|Best Indoor Rock Climbing
The Cave Bouldering
If you’re looking for a place to climb to great heights, you might have to go underground first. The Cave Bouldering is a rock climbing gym for all skill levels and staffed by helpful instructors to “show you the ropes.” The Cave offers regular events including Bouldering 101, climbing league and summer camps. All ages are welcome, but anyone 14 years or younger must be accompanied by an adult.
3150 Mercier St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Indoor Baseball/Softball Facility
Kansas City Sports Club
Whether you’re an athlete trying to improve your batting average or just a baseball fan looking to swing around for fun, Kansas City Sports Club has plenty of dedicated programs to help your game. The facility is home to several coin cages for batting practice and an open infield area, and it plays host to various group and private clinics.
3610 W. 95th St., Leawood, Kan.
Most Unique Way to Tour the Town
Magniflight Hot Air Balloon
The best way to see the beautiful stretches of Kansas City is from above, being able to shout, “I can see my house from here!” A Magniflight Hot Air Balloon ride will take you to new heights on dedicated tours around the metro area, with specialty packages to fly the way you want. In the world of corporate ballooning, Magniflight has won more than 50 championships worldwide and is operated by the No. 1 ranked balloon pilot in the world.
FOOD & DRINK
Oh, how the sky’s the limit at Winstead’s. Serving up steakburgers and milkshakes since 1940, Winstead’s knows how to whip up a thick, ice-cold delight so good you’ll welcome the brain freeze. Celebrate the summer days with the skyscraper — their monster of a milkshake where you can mix and match as many flavors as you think your stomach can handle. You might want to tackle this tall order with friends, although we’re sure you won’t want to share.
Various locations throughout the metro.
One of the most popular restaurants in the Columbus Park district, the Vietnam Café is always packed, and with good reason. Its beef broth rice noodle soup (pronounced “pha”) has a light and tasty broth, offers six different meat choices and is well worth the drive. If you haven’t yet tasted this delectable traditional Vietnamese dish, garnished with cilantro and onions, you must. What are you waiting Pho?
2200 West 39th Ave., Kansas City, Kan.
Most Inventive Bar Menu
Remedy combines the hip atmosphere of a UK gastropub with the finger-licking favorites of traditional American cuisine. With a seemingly endless drink menu, patrons can choose from a long list of liquor, beers, cocktails and wines. Flex your creative muscles and order an Apricot in Paradise, or be adventurous and try a Belgian-style beer. From the food menu, be sure to sample the eggplant fries. The lightly-battered, flash-fried delicacy is drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with a light dusting of salt. It tastes so much better than it sounds.
500 W. 75th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Wine List
Kansas City knows variety, so it’s only right that Starker’s Restaurant does, too. With more than 10,000 bottles in-house, ranging from sweet to dry, you can taste the grapes of the world all without leaving our fair city. Starker’s extensive wine list even won the “Best Of” award of excellence from Wine Spectator in 2012. Whether you’re a newbie to wine or a connoisseur, you’re bound to find the right wine for any mood or occasion.
201 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best House-Made Chips
Nick & Jake’s Maytag Potato Chips
Crispy fried potatoes smothered in Maytag blue cheese sauce and sprinkled with thick-cut smoked bacon pieces, this snack has legions of devotees. The chips are light and airy, and practically grease-free. The crispy, skin-on rounds impart an intense potato flavor, while the mandatory saltiness comes through in bursts of coarse-ground salt. The obligatory crunch is both delicate and crumbly.
6830 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.
Most Unusual Use of Bacon
You love bacon, you love maple and who doesn’t love a sticky sweet doughnut? Twisted Doughnut has developed a crave-worthy combination doughnut that has them lining up every morning. The bacon maple butter cream with maple icing Long John gets our vote for best bacon ingenuity — hands down.
14383 Metcalf Ave.
Overland Park, Kan.
|Best Sno Cones
Drive too fast past the corner of 135th and Holmes and you might miss the tastiest Hawaiian-style shaved ice sno cones in Kansas City. Known for friendly servers and fun flavors (ever heard of Tiger’s blood?), Tropical Sno is still hands-down the top pick for sno cones. In the summer heat, their brightly colored treats can double as a refreshing custom-flavored drink. Ahhhh.
13416 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Artisan Bread
Farm to Market Bread Company
If you want the fluffiest, freshest, tastiest bread in Kansas City, then you’ve got it with Farm to Market (FTM) Bread Company. Using all-natural ingredients from farms primarily in the Midwest, FTM’s breads are distinctive in texture, taste and size. A grassroots company, their hearth and sliced loaves are delivered to more than 40 grocery stores and 90 restaurants in the Kansas City area. It’s hard to choose a favorite loaf when each creation is tastier than the next.
100 E. 20th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Kept Happy Hour Secret
The Melting Pot
To get the biggest bang for your happy hour buck, stop by the Melting Pot, where daily specials on cheese and chocolate fondues, alongside select wines, martinis, Boulevard and Bud Light drafts, are selling for much less than menu pricing. Visit the Melting Pot every Sunday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. The same food and drink deals carry over to reverse happy hour, 9 to 10:30 p.m.
450 Ward Pkwy., Kansas City, Mo.
Café Gratitude is one feel-good dining spot. And that’s not just because of the good vibrations radiating throughout the restaurant. Gratitude’s dishes are vegan, organic and an excellent celebration of our “aliveness.” Each dish has a name that becomes a mantra with every bite — flowing through you, nourishing your body and soul while leaving you satisfied with positivity and awareness of a better you. Try the I Am Transformed — seasonal corn tacos with brown rice and black beans — for a tasty transition into the world of raw and vegan food.
333 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Late-Night Bite
Slick beats, cheap eats and tons to drink. What more do you need? The Foundry, owned by Beer Kitchen and McCoy’s managing partners Mark Kelpe and James Westphal, is a perfect late-night spot to grab a bite or a drink with friends. The kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m., which means you’ll have plenty of time to try some of the best drinking food in KC. The Foundry’s beer pretzels are the most popular, but the killer crunch — a Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and Cocoa Puff crispy treat balanced on spread peanut butter — is the most fun.
424 Westport Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
Last year, Zagat recognized Jasper’s as the best Italian fare in Kansas City. Shortly after, Travel + Leisure magazine called Jasper’s one of the 30 best Italian restaurants in the U.S. Order up the shrimp Livornese or Jasper’s signature osso buco, and you’ll be putting Jasper’s at the top your list, too. With more than 55 years of memory-making and the jovial owner and executive chef Jasper Mirabile, a Kansas City household name, we can’t help but call Jasper’s the most fabulous.
In a rush? Try Marco Polo’s Italian Market next door. Many favorites can be purchased on the go.
1201 W. 103rd St., Kansas City, Mo.
|Best Groan-Inducing Cookie
The Classic Cookie
Nestled in a small shop strip in Waldo, The Classic Cookie’s sign peeks out from behind its ever-changing flag. Inside, the service is friendly, the food is delicious, and that’s what makes it our favorite. Their buttery, gooey take on traditional cookies such as chocolate chip and ginger are nostalgia-inducing and made fresh every day. Come for breakfast or lunch, but definitely stay for the cookies!
409 W. Gregory St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Themed Restaurant
Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
Who needs waiters when you can get food delivered by railroad? Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant at Crown Center has been serving authentic American grub — burgers, shakes and crinkle-cut fries, anyone? — in style since 1954. After calling in your order from the table’s vintage telephone, food is loaded hot from the grills onto the “Skat Cat” electric train track lining the walls overhead and promptly sent through the restaurant to the proper table in seconds flat. Fritz’s is an experience for all ages, and children 12 and under receive a souvenir engineer’s hat.
2450 Grand Blvd., #135, Kansas City, Mo.
From the cuisine execution to the art, everything about Affäre is modern. The categories of dishes are a fun play on words, leaving much to the imagination. Wouldn’t an Affäre in the Barn pique your interest? Ever tried Rocky Mountain elk loin under an herb nut crust? Well, now’s the time. Colorful exotic combinations grace your plate as contemporary art from local artists grace the walls of the brick-adorned restaurant. The talented chef Martin Heuser can’t help but share the love of his native Deutschland, delivering small plates as well as large. Not only are they luscious, they’re lovely!
1911 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.
Yes, it’s the meat and the sauce, but you can’t forget the cheese. Minsky’s gourmet calzones have that cheesy goodness and are packed with toppings, sealed inside a warm, toasted pocket to make for a delicate flaky crust. Pick your pleasure and choose one of 17 different pizza combinations or create your own with up to four toppings.
14 Kansas and Missouri locations
Best Kansas City Barbecue
Jack Stack BBQ
The Poor Russ and the Crown Prime Beef Ribs are just two of Jack Stack’s signature dishes, but they’re favorites among Kansas City natives. The lip-licking sauce and crazy-good cheesy corn make Jack Stack a worth-the-drive must-visit. You can prep for the game, cater an event or mail-order a taste of Kansas City for a friend. Their delicious, smoky smells are free, but why just smell when you can taste barbecue at its finest for yourself?
Martin City, Country Club Plaza, Freight House and Overland Park locations
Best Little-Known Barbecue
The Stack BBQ
Ever wanted to see what the St. Louis-style barbecue hype is all about, but don’t have the time to drive four hours to find out? With The Stack BBQ, you can get the best of both cities. Under new ownership, the tiny restaurant near 89th and Wornall specializes in slow cooked, gnaw-on-the-bones-good St. Louis-style ribs and burnt ends. The Stack’s legendary baked beans are addictive, rich, sweet and smoky — made possible from being seasoned with burnt ends to perfection. They might be little-known, but their taste is mighty big.
8920 Wornall Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
|Best Gourmet Ice Cream
Glace Artisan Ice Cream
The brainchild of chocolatier Christopher Elbow, this ice cream shop’s gourmet flavors inspire you to enjoy the simple delectability of ice cream, but with a twist. Combinations of unexpected, perfectly-paired flavors such as blackberry chocolate flake, pineapple cilantro and goat cheese & wildflower honey are smooth, subtle and masterfully crafted by Elbow himself. Let your taste buds be your guide and try your own signature two-scoop combination with the more than 20 flavors available. When joy freezes over, indeed.
4960 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.
Best Asian Fusion
Specializing in dumplings and noodles, Blue Koi’s portions are big, but they don’t fill you to the brim. The atmosphere is enlightening, and the décor is trendy — providing an excellent background for tasting authentic, creative and inspired Asian fusion food that explodes with a plethora of South Pacific flavor in every bite. Sit down, eat a pork dumpling and you’ll be happily sipping down noodles in no time.
1803 W. 38th St., Kansas City, Mo.
10581 Mission Rd., Leawood, Kan.
Café des Amis
Picture it: Paris at night. The soft buzzing of people chatting, the warm glow of a softly lit room, the relaxing sound of poured wine lapping the corners of your glass. Café des Amis, just north of the river, mimics the bistros of Paris exactly. You can’t help but feel that you’ve taken a two-hour vacation to France. Zagat calls the wine list “winning” and the signature dish, Mussels with Sherry Cream, “exquisite.” The tree-lined deck is the best spot to enjoy your escape on a cool summer evening in the historic Parkville shopping district.
112 ½ Main St., Parkville, Mo.
Best New Restaurant
Pig & Finch
Come for the interesting name and stay for the inspirational dishes and craft cocktails. Opening its doors to the hungry masses for breakfast, lunch and dinner back in 2012, Pig & Finch, a gastropub, focuses on gastronomy: the relation of culture and food. Try the unbelievably tasty fried bread & butter pickles and the cast iron Idaho trout, and then wash it down with a Del Mar Cocktail. For a little spice P&F has a nightly special each day of the week. After all, variety is the spice of life.
11570 Ash St., Leawood, Kan.
Best Fried Goat Cheese Salad
Martin City Brewing Company
When it comes to Martin City Brewing Company’s fried goat cheese salad, it’s, well, FABULOUS! The goat cheese medallions are perfectly fried: soft and creamy, with a tangy center and a lightly-fried exterior on a bed of spinach and romaine lettuce. Sprinkled amongst the medallions are walnuts, red bell peppers, avocado and cranberries, giving the salad a mélange of bright color and crunchy, luscious compliments. (Is your stomach grumbling yet?) Dress up every bite with blue cheese vinaigrette served on the side to drizzle over your choice of delectable grilled chicken or shrimp.
500 E. 135th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Blue Nile Café
Dig in and get messy! Blue Nile Café is a Kansas City favorite for not only the delicious spice blends, heaping helpings and great atmosphere, but also because it’s a field day for deft digits and vegetarians. Located in the River Market district, Blue Nile is an adventure for the cultured palate. No need to fly to Africa, this self-proclaimed original Ethiopian Café serves a variety of unique and healthy food. Entrees feature shrimp, chicken, beef, lamb and plenty to satisfy vegetarian and vegan appetites, such as the veggie sambusa. If you’ve never tried authentic Ethiopian, then the sampler platter is the way to go.
20 E. 5th St., Kansas City, Mo.
With two locations in Kansas City, diners can enjoy sensuous Indian cuisine at Korma Sutra. Enjoy delectable Indian food with a good setting and friendly customer service. While offering the best Indian food in Kansas City, Chef Inderjit Singh & Makhan Singh pride themselves on the quality of food they provide, forking out extra overhead for the freshest chicken, cream and butter and the best masala of Indian spices. Stop in for the lunch buffet for a midday escape, or slow down and enjoy a relaxing dinner topped off by a squeeze of fresh lime on your satisfied fingers — a touch of luxury unique to Korma Sutra.
4113 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
7217 W. 110th St.,
Overland Park, Kan.
OUT & ABOUT
Best Sports Complex
Home of the Sporting KC soccer team, Sporting Park holds up to 25,000 fans and cost a whopping $200 million dollars when it was built in 2010. The stadium boasts 35 suites, and a broad awning keeps its visitors shaded. The vibe of this state-of-the art facility is a fan favorite, and we understand why. With proximity to The Legends at Village West and the Kansas Speedway, there is no shortage of entertainment beyond the soccer field.
1 Sporting Way, Kansas City, Kan.
Coffee Shop Atmosphere
One could argue that if you’ve been to one coffee shop, you’ve been to them all. Not true. Enjoy an afternoon at The Roasterie, and you will change your bean-loving mind. Founded by Danny O’Neill in 1978, The Roasterie has been bringing the best air-roasted (as opposed to drum-roasted) coffee to Kansas City ever since. The famed Brookside neighborhood is home to The Roasterie’s flagship location, where patrons can sip a smooth cup and take in the ambiance.
6223 Brookside Blvd. Kansas City, Mo.
4511 119th St., Leawood, Kan.
|Most Fabulous Fountain
J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain
The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in all of Kansas City, and for good reason. The fountain depicts four warrior-topped horses, which are said to represent four great rivers: the Mississippi, the Volga, the Seine and the Rhine. Located near the east side of the Country Club Plaza, the fountain was sculpted in 1910 by the artist Henri Greber and was brought from New York to Kansas City in 1951. This famed fountain is one of the City of Fountains’ most recognizable signature pieces.
Best Window Seat
The American Restaurant (at sundown)
The view from The American Restaurant, particularly at sunset, offers a perfectly picturesque view of Kansas City. The breathtaking scene is framed by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the upper dining room and the window balcony. Both dining rooms display the Kansas City skyline and are ideal for both social gatherings and intimate dinners.
200 E. 25th St., #400 Kansas City, Mo.
Best Park Upgrade
The Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Bask in 300 acres of lush vegetation, blossoming buds and winding waterways in Overland Park’s Garden of Eden. Established as an ecological and educational park that preserves the natural ecosystems of the area, the Arboretum boasts hiking trails, botanical gardens, a café and scheduled tours and events. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a wine tasting in beautiful surroundings or develop your green thumb, the upgraded Arboretum is a perfect retreat.
Most-Anticipated Movie Theater
Dinner and a movie never sounded so good! At Standees, you can enjoy a meal, drinks and concession-stand favorites while watching the latest flick. From seafood to fresh salads, burgers and sandwiches, the menu is as varied as your tastes. The bar is fully stocked and the atmosphere is relaxed enough for any movie buff. Shhh! The movie is starting.
3935 W. 69th Terr., Prairie Village, Kan.
Most Unique Architectural Addition
Bloch Addition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
From a distance, the Bloch Addition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art looks like a luminary box floating atop a green hillside. Upon closer inspection, it is a glowing building, lit from within and nestled among the landscape and the surrounding architecture. Unveiled in 2007 and named for Henry W. Bloch and his wife Marion, the Bloch Addition was designed by Steven Holl Architects and houses one of the nation’s greatest post-1945 art collections. The collection includes works that span from Realism to Pop Art, and is perfectly framed by the bright simplicity of the Bloch Addition.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.
photos: Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association, Mackenzie Eveland, Kyndall Durkee, Steve Puppe, 8183 Studio, Paul Versluis, Brooke Vandever