Kansas City's Top 11 New Restaurants 2017
Where to eat now in Kansas City
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With gusto, we devoured braised lamb, sampled ‘nudja gravy, cautiously tried something called sazae (spoiler alert, it’s a ginormous snail) and pig wings (yep, pig wings). We also savored tuna belly sushi, duck confit, rabbit molé and developed a deep, personal connection with homemade tater tots. We dined in fancy, high-end establishments, hipster hideaways, and family friendly, bring the kids we’ve got lots of high chairs restaurants and we were blown away by flavor everywhere we went.
Here are the 11 new restaurants that are bringing it! We're also giving you a glance at the behind-the-scenes movers and shakers who make your dining experience more enjoyable, a day in the life of a restaurant chef and a food truck proprietor, plus the best re-imagined restaurant menu in Kansas City.
No.1: The Antler Room
2506 Holmes Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 605-1967, theantlerroomkc.com
There’s something about the Antler Room that makes you feel like you never want to leave. Could it be chef-owner Nick Goellner’s house-made pasta? (It’s going to be a long time before we forget the way that braised lamb clung to those tender cavatelli noodles, speckled with herbed yogurt and pistachio.) Perhaps it’s the design of the menu: The train of small plates designed around the exotic and the comfortable make us want the entire menu in one sitting, and if we round up a couple extra friends to join our party, we could probably make it through every item. There’s the wine list, too — beautifully curated by Nick’s wife and Antler Room’s general manager Leslie Goellner, this is a list crafted by a savvy sommelier with a curious palate, and we always manage to find something new to love. Actually, what makes Antler Room our number-one restaurant of 2017 is a combination of all those things, and something more: When we amble into the Hospital Hill eatery, we feel at home. With their first proprietary restaurant, the Goellners have accomplished what it can take years for restaurant industry veterans to do: They’ve created dining magic, where everything from the food to the service to the ambiance wraps us up in a warm hug and makes us feel like we belong. And that’s a good feeling.
Must-try dishes: Taleggio-stuffed olives, beet carpaccio with foie gras torchon, cavatelli with braised lamb, Aylesbury duck
No. 2: Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room
1830 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 832-4564, corvino.com
When The American Restaurant closed in December 2016, Kansas City bid farewell to one of its most iconic dining destinations. The loss was abated four months later, when The American’s former executive chef Michael Corvino took the opportunity to open his own restaurant: Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room, located in the Crossroads Arts District. As the name suggests, the luxurious 5,320 square feet is divided between an expansive 72-seat supper club, with a menu of shareable small plates designed for tapas-style dining, and a cozy 18-seat dining room with a prix fixe menu. A seat in either space guarantees a truly memorable experience, with Corvino flexing his muscles across eclectic mashup dishes like the sublime smoked chicken with red beans, black rice, pickled peppers and ‘nduja gravy. The menu is a big part of the appeal, but there’s also a rotating roster of nightly local musicians taking over the small stage in the main dining room. Corvino and his wife, Christina (who is also co-owner and general manager) have gone to lengths to ensure that their restaurant whisks guests away from Kansas City and into a fairytale playground of flavors, sights and sounds — and they’ve succeeded.
Must-try dishes: Whipped chicken liver, roasted mushrooms with tom kha, smoked half chicken
No. 3: Jarocho South
13145 State Line Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 492, 7118, jarochokc.com
Kansas City does not have quite the affiliation with fresh seafood as it does with, say, barbecue ribs. Chef Carlos Falcon is slowly changing that perception, though — first with Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos, his KCK restaurant known for inventive seafood dishes, and now for Jarocho South. The south Kansas City outpost opened in June, and it carries the same mission of bringing exotic sea creatures and authentic Veracruz-style cooking to our landlocked metro. Falcon’s menu pulls in equal parts from his Mexican heritage, his background in fine French cuisine and his obsession with oddities from far-flung oceans — like sazae, a Japanese snail four times the size of a standard escargot that’s exploding with umami. If you’re looking for a standard enchilada platter, this is not the place for you — there is no complimentary basket of chips and salsa arriving to the table with your water, either — but you will have ample opportunity to sample whole fried fish (choose from snapper, pompano or the daily catch) and several types of ceviche preparations. Jarocho South boasts a chef’s counter in full view of the live tank, shucking station, grill and sauté line, and with 48 hour’s notice, you can reserve a customized omakase (“chef’s choice”) prix fixe dinner. At Jarocho, Falcon brings the ocean to you.
Must-try dishes: Fried fish, Ceviche Jarocho, shrimp cucaracha
No. 4: Bob Wasabi Kitchen
1729 West 39th Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 753-5797, bobwasabikitchen39.com
Bob Shin knows fish. Since emigrating to the United States from South Korea over 40 years ago, he’s worked all over the country as a sushi chef before returning to Kansas City, where he opened up his own restaurant on West 39th Street. Though Bob Wasabi Kitchen opened in the winter of 2015, it’s worth noting that the cozy little shop, with its slender sushi bar and around a dozen tables, has a particular sort of popularity: Shin, 67, is not a tip-of-the-tongue name when it comes to Kansas City’s most prominent chefs, but his restaurant is always busy — indeed, those who have been once are likely to become forever regulars. Perhaps we can credit this to Shin’s singular dedication to his craft — and there is no arguing that sushi is a craft. Shin is a master, and he knows fish flesh as well as or better than he knows his own. Decadent sushi rolls, clean and hulking slices of nigiri and exquisite and unusual imports (like toro, or tuna belly) all have their moments in the sun at Shin’s restaurant. Shin’s whole family is part of the business, and daughters Esther and Tanya will be happy to tell you about their dad’s background — from running a fish stall in New York in the ’80s, to seeing the rise of the bento box craze in California in the ’90s — and his commitment to the best, freshest fish available. The next time you find yourself reaching for that cheap Philly roll at the supermarket, ask yourself: What would Bob Shin have to say about that purchase? Then put that plastic container back and head down to Bob Wasabi Kitchen for the real thing.
Must-try dishes: Rainbow roll, chirashi, spicy fish bowl
No. 5: Eddie V's
700 West 47th Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 531-2537, eddiev.com
There used to be a saying: Country Club Plaza needs another seafood-and-steakhouse like Kansas City needs another barbecue joint. OK, fine, we said that to ourselves, behind closed doors, usually after a long day and several glasses of wine. But then along came Eddie V’s Prime Seafood in October 2016, and we had to eat our words. Well, actually, we ate some steak and lobster tartare, and we wept into our Maine lobster bisque and we found a part of ourselves we thought was lost forever in the jumbo lump crab cake. Here’s the thing: Even though Eddie V’s is part of an Orlando, Florida-headquartered chain — albeit a Zagat-acclaimed luxury dining chain — there is a level of attention and care to the service and menu that makes it feel very much like home. (The nightly music from local jazz musicians in the bar-lounge doesn’t hurt, either.) Executive chef Crystal Morris, who has headed up The Capital Grille in both Kansas City and Minneapolis, executes each dish with the precision and attention of a chef who knows her product and takes pride in the plates she sends out.
Must-try dishes: Jumbo lump crab cake, filet medallions, bananas foster butter cake