Kansas City's Best New Cheap Eats

39 budget-friendly bites to satisfy your cravings morning, noon and night.

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   The sheer number of recent restaurant openings speaks to the fact that Kansas Citians love to experience new gastronomical adventures — and we come out to support them. But with so many places to try, a person could spend a fortune. 

   Enter 435 Magazine. Our team of editors and writers have taken the guesswork out of your exploration of the latest on our food scene. We searched high and low and came up with dozens of eateries where the food is tasty and the bill is equally delicious. 

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Dessert, Happy Hour, Late Night, Healthy 



Pancakes Stock



   Ronnie’s Restaurant

   Ask any Northlander what their favorite breakfast place is, and you’ll find Kate’s Kitchen tops most people’s list. What Northlanders love about Kate's you can now find in Johnson County at Ronnie’s in Lenexa. Ronnie is Kate’s little brother, and just like his big sister’s restaurant, Ronnie’s embodies that old-fashioned diner ambiance. Both are only open for breakfast and lunch, and the value-packed menus are identical. At Ronnie’s, you’ll find all your favorite breakfast and brunch standbys, such as omelets, scramblers, ham and eggs, biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, waffles, pancakes, French toast and cinnamon rolls. The Red Hot Mamacado is a fan favorite, featuring Scimeca's chorizo, onion, green chilies, avocado and a combination of jack and cheddar cheeses topped with sour cream and served with salsa on the side for $7.95. But if you’re looking for a steal, you can get a stack of made-from-scratch, fluffy pancakes for the wallet-friendly price of $3. 12812 W. 87th St., Lenexa, Kan., (913) 831-8600, kateskitchenkc.com


   Sticky Bun Brioche French Toast

   Elly's Brunch & Cafe

   Brand-new to the Country Club Plaza is Elly’s Brunch & Café. The popular Northwest Chicago chain has created its second outpost outside the Windy City in the historic Kansas City Board of Trade building. Elly’s extensive breakfast and lunch menu has something for everyone, with dozens of variations on traditional omelets, eggs Benedict, frittatas, crepes, chicken and waffles, breakfast sandwiches and wraps. Specialty pancakes such as baked apple, banana Nutella and apple cinnamon chip sell for $10 and $11. While there are several French toast selections to choose from, it is the sticky bun brioche that stops the show. Packed with all the flavor of a sticky bun, baked with brioche bread and candied pecans then topped with gooey praline sauce, this decadent dish is worth the caloric overload. $10. 4800 Main St., Kansas City, Mo., ellysrestaurants.com


   Biscuits & Gravy


   Breakfast, lunch, baked goods and vintage finds can be found at this quirky new cafe and antique shop at 31st and Cherry streets. If you are ravenous, try the All that Attitude, which is a monumental structure of biscuits and gravy layered atop fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage patty, grilled peppers, cheddar cheese and then topped with more gravy — all for a measly $12. But the best bang for the buck are the fluffy baseball-sized biscuits smothered in meaty sausage gravy, a hearty value at $6. 600 E. 31st St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 729-4125, attitudeinkc.com


   New York Bagels

   Meshuggah Bagels

   Meshuggah means “crazy” in Yiddish, and you might think attempting to replicate New York-style kosher bagels in Kansas City is just that. New Yorkers will tell you, “it’s all in the water.” Without a direct pipeline to the NYC water system, trying to make it happen here seemed an unlikely pursuit. Judging by lines out the door of the 39th Street location, owners Janna and Pete Linde have clearly found a way to confound even die-hard NY bagel fans, perfectly nailing the recipe for the most revered bread product of the Big Apple. Choose from a good variety of styles, textures and tastes like plain, everything, poppy seed and rye. A second location is now open near 105th Street and Metcalf Avenue in the Metcalf 103 Shopping Center, and a third location is slated to open in Liberty this August. Pick up a dozen for $12.50, or grab a single bagel for $1.50. Three area locations, meshuggahbagels.com


Donutology doughnuts made to order

donutology / Jenny wheat

   Made-to-Order Doughnuts


   This new doughnut-meets-laboratory concept is much more than meets the eye. Owners Andrew and Meghan Cameron are the first in KC to offer the made-to-order doughnuts, and based on the number of giddy customers lined out the door, they seem to be onto something. Choose from nine types of icings, like maple, powdered sugar and peanut butter; then top your creation with cotton candy Pop Rocks, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs, Butterfinger crumbles, graham cracker crumbs and more. Pick up a customized three-pack of mini cake doughnuts for just $2.25. 1009 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 298-5222, donutology.com




Strips Chicken 435 Mag Cheap Eats

Strip's Pork Burger


   Pork Burger

   Strip's Chicken Strips & Pork Burgers

   Restaurant consultant Todd Johnson was instrumental in launching Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Vanderpump’s Hollywood restaurants, Sur and Pump. Back home again, Johnson has opened his first local fast-food restaurant featuring made-from-scratch delicacies such as crispy chicken strips, crispy pork tenderloin strips, pork burgers, salads, made-to-order hot baby doughnuts and more. Try an original pork burger with Strip’s famous strawberry barbecue sauce for just $5.991110 E. Santa Fe, Olathe, Kan., (913) 210-5170, stripschicken.com



   Kansas City Taco Company

   When it comes to affordable Mexican restaurants, the newly relocated Kansas City Taco Company in the River Market can’t be beat. Our hands-down favorite menu item is the queso blanco: a blend of three white cheeses served in a cast-iron skillet, topped with pico and delivered with a tub of crispy chips ($6.75). The Thai-Chili Shrimp taco is also a popular choice and features lightly fried jumbo shrimp served over slaw  with avocado and garlic aioli in a crispy corn tortilla shell. The Mojo Chicken taco is prepared with slow-roasted Cuban-style chicken, slaw and pepper jack cheese. Both options are best when served alongside a carefully poured house margarita. Add a side of flame-roasted street corn slathered with a creamy chili and lime-spiked sauce with cheese ($3). For the best value at this lunch spot, we find the dollar-to-pleasure-ratio wildy off-balance on Tuesdays, when this place serves you two select tacos for the wallet-friendly price of $5. 520 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 214-5390, kctacocompany.com


   Market Wrap

   McLain’s Market

   Known for cakes, cookies and doughnuts, the venerable McLain’s Bakery of Waldo fame has opened a restaurant/market in a convenient location near Interstate 435 and Roe Avenue. Pick up a grab-and-go breakfast sandwich, lunch wrap, dessert or a fresh-squeezed juice in the market area, where familiar pastry items from the original location and other ready-made foods are sold. If you want to stick around for a sit-down meal, enjoy a fresh-made, signature market wrap. While it may not seem like a bargain at nearly $8, the hearty lunchtime favorite is jam-packed with flavor that’s good for you, including sweet potato quinoa falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, feta, roasted red pepper hummus and cucumber dressing wrapped in a wheat tortilla. Pressed for time? Try the handy drive-thru. 10695 Roe Ave., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 242-8222, mclainsmarketkc.com


   Ham and Cheddar Croissant Sandwich


   It’s not just another pretty little coffee shop, though make no mistake about it, there’s plenty of piping hot coffee drinks served at the new eCafe near Interstate 435 and Roe Avenue. There’s so much more here, including several value-priced meal items. Along with cold and hot brews, eCafe serves smoothies, juices, pastries, quiche, salads, soups and sandwiches. Pick up a classic ham and cheddar on a fresh-baked croissant for just $5.95. 10650 Roe Ave., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 258-8489, ecafecoffee.com


1889 Pizza Napoletana Cheap Eats Kansas City 435 Mag


   The Royal Lunch Special

  1889 Pizza Napoletana

   Located at the corner of West 47th Avenue and Mission Road next to the original Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, 1889 Pizza Napoletana is Kansas City’s latest addition to a growing number of Neapolitan-style pizzerias. For the uninitiated, Neapolitan pizza is prepared with simple and fresh ingredients: a basic dough, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil — no fancy toppings. The pizza is flash-baked for 60 to 90 seconds in an 800-degree wood-fired oven, giving the crust a nice char. On weekdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., grab “The Royal Lunch” special, which is any small salad and bambino pizza with up to three toppings for $9.89. 2876 W. 47th Ave., Kansas City, Kan., (913) 608-5889, 1889pizza.com




Aep Restaurant Muu Ping Kansas City Cheap Eat 435 Mag

aep restaurant / Zach Bauman

   Muu Ping


   Open since December 2016, this colorful eatery has brought a sense of vitality and adventure to 39th Street’s food scene. Creating authentic Thai cuisine, executive chef Jakob Polaco and co-owner Adam Northcraft bring a depth and breadth to their relatively short menu of four appetizers and eight entrees. The restaurant itself is just fun to dine in, with its mint walls and cheery dining tables. For a tasty deal, we suggest trying the impressive and addictive meat-on-a-stick Muu Ping, which features skewers with thick strips of charcoal-grilled pork shoulder marinated in palm sugar, soy sauce and coconut. $9. 1815 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 832-8866, aeprestaurant.com 


   Short Rib Hot Dog

   Brewery Emperial

   This new Crossroads gem, which offers an impressive array of its own craft beer, packs in a nightly crowd in its taproom, dining room and beer garden. And why not, with brewers Keith and Julie Thompson and chef Ted Habiger and frontman Rich Kasyjanski at the helm? This talented team put together several regular menu values in addition to a relaxed atmosphere, outdoor space and wood-burning cooking hearth. We appreciate a value like the tri-tip steak sandwich, which features a porter sauce, caramelized onions, manchego and horseradish aioli, $12, and the short rib hot dog, complete with Dijon mustard and relish, both served with fries or beans, $10. 1829 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 945-9625, breweryemperial.com 


BRGR, Brew Emperial Cheap Eats 435 Mag

Brewery emperial (left) / Anna Petrow , BRGRS + FRIES (righT)

   4 BRGRs + Fries

   BRGR Kitchen & Bar 

   By the time you get home on Monday night after a hard day’s work, the last thing you want to think about is dinner. Luckily, BRGR has come to your rescue. Dinner is a done deal with BRGR’s Monday night carry-out-only special, and it only equates to $6 a person for four. Stop in and grab a bag of four burgers and fries to go between 4 and 6 p.m. $24. Available at Corinth Square and Leawood locations only. brgrkitchen.com


   Heferweizen-battered Cod and Squash

   Calibration Brewery

   Billing itself as equal parts lounge and brew house, this new fun spot is a great place to hang out in North Kansas City. Founded and headed by entrepreneur Glen Stinson, the brewery features several great deals on its menu. These include its tasty Chicago-style hot dog, complete with the traditional condiments of chopped onion, green relish, pickle spear, sport peppers, sliced tomato and celery salt, $7.95; three juicy mini bacon burger sliders with your choice of cheese, $7.95; and, of course, there’s the particularly mouth-watering Hefeweizen-battered cod served with squash, fries, malt vinegar and house-made tartar sauce. $10.95. 119 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Mo., (816) 994-8277, calibrationbrewery.com


   Killer Mac & Cheese


   Although technically a chain restaurant, HopCat prides itself on never being a cookie-cutter bar. Its location in Kansas City, which opened in February, is no exception. Featuring a four-season rooftop cabana overlooking Westport, the bar offers several deals you won’t want to miss. The Meaty McMeaterson Pizza, for example, features pepperoni, chorizo and bacon, $10; the ever-popular Crack Fries, beer-battered and sprinkled with signature cracked black pepper seasoning, served with a side of warm cheese sauce for dipping, $5.95; and the Killer Mac & Cheese with pipette noodles smothered in cheese sauce for which you can create your own favorite combo that makes it a filling meal. $10 to $13. 401 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 656-3439, hopcat.com


   Doro Tibs


   Featuring the cuisine of Haiti and Eritrea, this new restaurant offers customers a food adventure. Owners Cherven Desauguste and Mehret Tesfamariam bring entrees from the Caribbean and the Horn of Africa with much fanfare. Dedicated to serving authentic delicacies with homemade-quality flavors, they offer beef, lamb, goat, poultry, seafood and a variety of vegetable dishes. We’re particularly taken with the Doro Wot, chicken drumsticks marinated in lime, then simmered in a berbere sauce with garlic and ginger root, served with a hard-boiled egg and Ayib cheese. $15. 3600 Broadway, Suite 105, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 721-9060, mesobkc.com


Mesob and C Frogs Cheap Eats 435 Magazine

Mesob (left) / Zauch Bauman, C. Frogs (right) / Anna Petrow


   C. Frogs

   Meat your match at this rebranded delight, formerly the kid-friendly Chocolate Frog Cafe, nestled in the Prairie Village Shopping Center next to Standees Theatres. What has emerged is this upscale restaurant with hip flair developed by Michael Forbes Bar & Grill partner Forbes Cross. It specializes in barbecue, steak and whiskey, with all meals handcrafted and prepared fresh daily using the highest quality and locally sourced ingredients. We suggest indulging in this whopper of a Wednesday night deal: a certified 10-ounce Angus prime cut steak. $11.99. 3935 W. 69th Terrace, Prairie Village, Kan., (913) 601-5250, cfrogs.com



   Jarocho South

   Chef Carlos Falcon, owner of Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos in Kansas City, Kan., has opened a second location featuring his Mexican seafood in Kansas City, Mo., on State Line Road that he calls Jarocho South. (See our review, page XX.) Offering Falcon’s seafood specialties plus several new creations, his ever-growing following of Johnson County diners prompted the additional restaurant, which features an open kitchen with seating for 60 inside and a patio that seats 40. We find his Stuffed Fish Fillet, which is steamed tilapia topped with a seafood cream sauce, a particularly good deal, $15.95. Then, of course, there is a whale of deal involving scrumptious oysters on Mondays and Wednesdays. $1. 13145 State Line Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 492-7118, jarochokc.com


   Millionaire's Shrimp

   Redrock Canyon Grill

   Owner Kris Poetker and Culinary Manager Chad Merley strive to bring a terrific dining experience to their new chain restaurant in south Overland Park that offers Southwest and American-style cuisines made from scratch daily. We find their Persimmon Hill Meatloaf, with its fire-roasted tomato brown sauce, mashed red potatoes and sweet glazed carrots, a hearty deal at $13; and their signature big-flavored Millionaire’s Shrimp with whole-grain mustard and lime, a particular delight on our taste buds and wallets. Five for $13, or $6 apiece during Social Hour. 13505 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 239-0202, redrockcayongrill.com



   Sweet Siam

   This new Westport eatery, which relocated earlier this year from Lenexa, features Thai-influenced cuisine with authentic flavors in all its creations. Owner Michael Brillhart is always excited to share his entrees, which offer rich combinations of sweet, sour, savory and spicy that he promises will have your taste buds doing somersaults. We find the Thai salad with chopped egg, cucumbers, bean sprouts and homemade peanut dressing, $5.50, and the small plate Calamari, lightly battered and served with homemade sweet and sour sauce, to be particularly scrumptious values. $7.90. 4130 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 492-6196, sweetsiam.com