Johnson County After Dark
Drink, dance and dine … whatever your mood, there’s something for you when the sun goes down.
The sun is melting into the horizon and the day’s errands and obligations on the sports fields of Johnson County are complete. Your plans include a night on the town … just for you and your spouse, partner or friends.
Lucky for those of us living in this dynamic metro—we have a large and vibrant playground bursting with elevated entertainment options. Concerts in mega-arenas and intimate venues, theatre performances, exhibits, lectures, art museums, charity galas, sporting events and more campaign for our leisure hours. And if our mood requires a night to partake of the drink, dine and dance scene, our choices run from drinks and tapas on a leafy al fresco patio in the ‘burbs to late-night street eats in the city to restaurants and bars that not only serve up great food, but live music, too.
Whether it’s drinks with the girls on a trendy, scene-stealing patio, a quick bite with friends or a romantic date on the town, we’ve compiled a guide with some of our picks for the perfect night out. It has all the ingredients you need for having fun after hours.
It’s time for Johnson County After Dark.
Gather your BFFs for a night of relaxation and revelry at one of these hot spots and linger to enjoy the atmosphere—whether it’s drinks, appetizers or dinner you’re looking for, these places know: Girls just want to have fun!
w xyz bar & lounge at Aloft
This sexy bar nestled in the hip environs of Park Place serves up ambience and lush drinks. Lounge inside or stake a place on the patio with a glass of Pinot Noir or one of bar’s specialty sippers plus a nosh from their snack-attack menu.
Raoul’s Velvet Room
This classic cocktail lounge with a twist specializes in Velvet martinis and other libations to give your night out a kick. RVR’s full menu, plus DJs who spin tunes and a clientele looking for a sizzling good time, is the perfect after-dark combination for fun.
Located in the bustling One Nineteen center, La Bodega is a perfect start to your Girls’ Night Out. With signature Spanish tapas and house-made sangria, relax with your gal pals by ordering a few plates to share in this chic and sleek hot spot. www.labodegakc.com
Brio Tuscan Grille
Head to Brio Tuscan Grille on the Country Club Plaza for Happy Hour and stay for the main course and after-dinner dessert and drinks. Grab a coveted table on their sidewalk dining room or upper balcony or join the crowd inside for Tuscan-inspired fare. Every Wednesday night is $5 Martini Night and Thursday and Sunday nights there’s live music.
Guys deserve a night out, too—watching sports, raising a glass and chatting about next weekend’s big game. Here are some spots that offer the happy clamor of crowds that go for the gusto.
For a fun night with the guys try 810 Zone, a bustling, energetic restaurant that never fails to entertain. A home for all things sports-related, this is a prime place to watch the game—tons of giant screens, great food and a great atmosphere. There’s even fried Twinkies for a guilty pleasure dessert!
During football season, where else do you want to be but at a bar with great food, beer and a TV or two (or five) to watch the game with fellow sports fanatics? Enjoy one of the best parts of fall weekends at this über-popular neighborhood hangout: football. Affordable with a great atmosphere, Johnny’s Tavern is a definite must for a guys’ night out.
Martin City Brewing
With a great craft-beer selection—including Boulevard, Avery, Anchor, Great Divide and Lagunitas—an upscale bar menu and rustic feel, Martin City Brewing Company is a newcomer to the scene. Go for traditional burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and a homemade straight-from-the
kitchen macaroni and cheese. Enjoy the atmosphere indoors or plant yourself outside in the beer garden for an evening of suds and food.
Gordon Biersch, the rockin’ upscale brewery that just happens to partner drink with delicious food (the pizza and garlic fries are musts) opens its second location at Park Place in September. There’s always a party atmosphere that’s easy-breezy when you head into GB’s Power & Light’s downtown living room. The place is jam-packed and there’s little reason not to think this is exactly what will happen when GB opens its doors out south. Prepare for a toast!
ROLLIN’ WITH SUSHI
Sushi is hot, hot, hot and Kansas City boast some great places for fresh-rolled delicacies. Forget that we’re landlocked—you can get treasures from the sea right here!
This authentic sushi joint, in a strip center off 119th and Roe, is perfect to grab a quick dinner with friends or go on a first date. Looking for something unique that is sure to create a new addiction? Try their Magma rolls that are baked—a delectable sushi experience indeed. One meal at Kaiyo and you’ll put it on your fave list.
Izumi Japanese Steak & Sushi
Every self-proclaimed sushi enthusiast needs to try Izumi, a place known for its quiet environment, unbeatable sushi and sake bar. With a full menu of choices and a selection of great beers, this is a place that encourages you to linger.
Known for its chic interior, trendy cocktails and masterful sushi, the urban-meets-suburban scene at RA in Park Place is hot every night. Try the Crazy Monkey Rolls if you’re looking for something non-traditional, but choose from the sushi hit parade of favorites, too. Sign up for one of their occasional sushi-making classes and whatever you do at RA—fortify yourself with a glass or two from their discerning sake menu. www.rasushi.com
Better known for its steakhouse and unique dining experience, Kyoto also has a great sushi bar to sit and watch the chefs prepare your favorite rolls. With a great dining environment and excellent food, there’s no question why the restaurant is always packed.
Try the Sushi House at Town Center for a contemporary Japanese restaurant. A good choice for novice sushi eaters to experienced sushi lovers, this restaurant will have you coming back. And order their lemontini—they have fresh-made lemonade and ginger ale daily!
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse &
Head on down to the Power & Light District for this urban sushi and hibachi experience. Praised for its delicious, fresh sushi and unique presentation, this is a popular stop with the sushi crowd. With friendly and helpful wait staff and a full menu, including shrimp tempura appetizer, New York Strip with shrimp, a hopping sushi bar and their Kobe Punch, this is well worth a trip across State Line.
SUMO by Nambara
A must-visit for Japanese restaurant lovers located at 135th and Roe in Leawood, SUMO offers it all: cool atmosphere, attentive and friendly wait staff and, most importantly, mouthwateringly delicious food. Try their Maki Trio of three different sushi rolls to start off your meal and settle in for a dazzling evening of food, drink and fun.
ICE CREAM DATE
If you’re looking for an old-fashioned date or an after-dinner cup or cone with nothing but contemporary flair, check out the dreamy coffee and ice cream scene.
The Roasterie Café
If coffee were couture, hometown Roasterie’s blends would be Chanel. For years java aficionados have swooned over the beans served at many local restaurants and stocked on local grocery store shelves. This Leawood café—the original one is in Brookside—is a great destination for a date: Order a customized espresso drink and nibble on Christopher Elbow chocolates for a delightful evening.
Take Five Coffee + Bar
Now open until 11 on weekends and 10 on weekdays, Take Five Coffee + Bar offers delicious coffee and light sandwiches, and a great environment to catch up while listening to live local music.
The Cheesecake Factory
An ultimate dessert stop, the Cheesecake Factory offers a world-renowned cheesecake menu (with portions big enough to share) that will satisfy an after-dinner craving … or serve as the perfect dessert date.
A trip to the Plaza is wasted if you don’t stop by Glacé Artisan Ice Cream on Main and try some of their unique flavors created by renowned chocolatier Christopher Elbow. Unbelievably delicious, it should be a staple during a summer or fall nighttime stroll. Coming soon: Glacé in One Nineteen at 119th and Roe!
Murray’s Ice Cream and Cookies
The seasonal Murray’s has a stable of customers who will defend the tiny Westport ice cream shop to the death. With a huge selection of ice cream and cookies, every sweet tooth will be indulged the minute you step into the store. Do you really ever need an excuse for ice cream?
Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard
Noted for their custard, this Brookside icon (and at 95th and Mission, too) has it all: yummylicious lunches (in Leawood only) and award-winning sundaes, concretes and slurries. Foo’s fun includes the behind-the-counter staff that helps you make just the right selection. Best part? Foo’s knows no season—it’s just as good digging into a Turtle Creek or a Tin Roof in August as it is in December.
Experience a cup of Paciugo’s authentic gelato made with traditional Italian techniques—or sample before you make your final decision. This sleek gelato shop at Park Place or in Oak Park Mall has daily specials, plus sundaes and affogatos.
PICNIC TO GO
The romance of packing a picnic hamper with gourmet delicacies, a bottle of bubbly and a blanket is irresistible. Get your goods, grab your favorite picnic partner and plop yourself down in one of Johnson County’s scenic parks for a dusk-dappled dinner.
Dean & DeLuca
There is a world of options – literally – available to you at this granddaddy of gourmet emporiums. From prepared foods to sandwiches, house-made sushi and salads to cheeses and crackers, this store will fill your picnic basket with culinary delights. And don’t forget dessert—add a petit four or an artisan cupcake or maybe a chocolate pot de crème to make your dinner on the grass extra-special.
This mecca of culinary nirvana is a tour de aisle you don’t want to miss when choosing your picnic fare. Newly opened at One Nineteen and in the Ward Parkway Shopping Center, Trader Joe’s specialty shopping has everything from fresh produce to snacks, cheeses and a cartload of specialty products.
Choose to-go entrees for your open-air dinner from the prepared food case at the Johnson County stores (at 119th and Glenwood or 91st and Metcalf), a wedge of cheese and some freshly-baked bread.
You don’t need a passport to enjoy authentic food from around the world in Johnson County and Kansas City. Here are some favorite spots that have all the elements to transport you to an exotic state-of-mind.
This stylish and jumping Cajun-influenced restaurant and bar in Park Place has reasonably priced appetizers and entrees and a rocking-good atmosphere. The brother-sister owners combine traditional Cajun favorites and Southern dishes with an unmistakable twist. The Creole Fried Shrimp and Cornmeal Oysters washed down with a Cajun Martini will set your toes tapping.
Chinese comfort food at its best, Blue Koi’s extensive menu has something for every palate—including vegetarians. Enjoy the Chinese Moon appetizer with the family-recipe plum sauce, a brimming bowl of the Vegan Delight Noodle Soup or the popular Ants on a Tree. Choose a cool and refreshing bubble tea, beer or wine to complete your meal. Eat inside or on the patio.
This iconic Kansas City Italian landmark is perfect for casual dining, special occasions or celebrations. No visit to the family-owned eatery in Corporate Woods or one of their other metro locations is complete without an order of Chicken Spiedini, a favorite dining-out dish. Sprinkle in Frank Sinatra tunes, black bow-tied servers and all the personality of Sunday supper at your Italian grandma’s, and you’re in for a special treat.
This tiny restaurant serves up food with big, bold flavors. Perfect for sharing with a group of friends, Hot Basil offers a consistently great experience. Order a bowl of the Thom Yum soup, which is every bit as yum as the name to kick off your Thailand-inspired evening.
Located in the food-centric River Market area, this family-owned and operated casual restaurant serves up Middle Eastern cuisine—including what many call the best falafel sandwich in Kansas City. Affordable and delicious, come see what all the hype is all about … and when you’re done with dinner, shop for some groceries at the adjacent Al-habashi Mart.
Put this on your fall must-do list. Coming soon to One Nineteen at 119th and Roe, Fo Thai’s lush modern design has food to match. Under a master Thai chef, the menu will be full of authentic choices complemented by great drinks. This place promises to be yet another scene-stealer at One Nineteen.
A terrific Japanese steakhouse in Johnson County, Han Shin has everything for a discerning diner: unique décor, creative food and an energizing environment. With a sushi bar to complement the signature dining experience, this is a great choice for a night out.
Fogo de Chao
Take a trip to Brazil—via the Country Club Plaza—in style. This hot spot offers the best of the gaucho way of preparing and tableside serving of meat. Not a big meat eater? Fogo’s ravishing salad bar is brimming with authentic sides and more.
Get your drink on while waiting for a table at the one of these restaurants or hang out in cool bars that beckon a sit-and-stay.
Trezo Vino Wine Bar & Bistro
For a classy night of fine dining and excellent wine while enjoying the gorgeous backdrop of Park Place, make reservations at Trezo Vino. Under the culinary guidance of award-winning Bluestem chefs/owners Colby and Megan Garrelts, the menu is one of ahhh’s and culinary contentment.
77 South is swanky, all right—velvet and beaded curtains, a modest dance floor, dim lighting. You almost expect KC and the Sunshine Band to pop out and start playing one of their danceable anthems at any moment. Sip a house cocktail at the bar while you’re waiting for a table for dinner or stay at the bar for continued revelry. Yummy food and a tasty scene.
What better place to wind down than sitting at this intimate bar, listening to the bartender’s stories while drinking your favorite cocktail or glass of wine? And if you’re waiting for your table where local celebrity Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr. will perform his Mozzarella Theatre before a freshly made Italian meal, you have the makings for a perfect evening.
Paddy’s patio is a great choice for summer and fall—clinking glasses with your pals and enjoying some pub-inspired food. Watch sports to your heart’s content and dig into a Paddy Dip, taters, sliders, pot roast or their signature mac & cheez. This has been an Overland Park mainstay for years—no matter the occasion. Quenchology and gusto for all!
Enjoy the one-of-a-kind, laid-back cocktail lounge that takes its drinks seriously. Featuring a unique, seasonal culinary approach to mixology, Manifesto concocts the classic and original recipe drinks. Cheers!
Nick and Jake’s
A revered Johnson County bar and restaurant that does double duty with terrific sips and tasty plates. Sophisticated enough for a Friday night date but relaxed enough for a wind-down after a week of work, enjoy all the best Nick and Jake’s has to offer on your next night out.
KEEPIN’ IT CASUAL
Sometimes a night out needs to be just … casual and comfortable.
Kokopelli Mexican Cantina
Perfect for an evening of affordable Mexican dining. Enjoy delicious salsa and a variety of dishes from spinach enchiladas to shrimp tacos. Kokopelli provides a friendly and laid-back atmosphere for dining with friends.
California Pizza Kitchen
Though delicious pies are a given, stop in for a variety of mouthwatering California-style soups, salads and pastas. Choose from an assortment of menu items such as the Caramelized Peach Salad, Carnitas Tacos or Crispy Mac N’ Cheese. Cool down with a CPK specialty cocktail like the Beverly Hills Tea or the Cranberry Mint Cooler.
A fast-casual place to stop in at Park Place for a wrap, pizza or a customized salad. Embrace the casual atmosphere while enjoying food that is consistently fresh.
Blanc Burgers + Bottles
For a top-notch gourmet burger and other menu items that use lots of local ingredients in a modern, hip atmosphere, this is your spot. Try the Inside-Out Burger with sweet potato fries for a dining experience you’ll want to repeat. In a shaky mood? The milkshakes will have you coming back. Locations at Mission Farms and the Country Club Plaza.
For a little taste of Texas, stop by this modern-day roadhouse for a late-night appetizer or meal. Try a bowl of Texas chili or check out the signature Texas BBQ.
This colorful and tasty spot—a hometown south-of-the-border fave—has plenty of crunch. Their famous, never-ending bowl of chips plus zesty salsa is a lure that never stops. Follow up with Iggy’s Combo platter (Smokin’ Nachos…need we say more?) then Carne Espinaca chased with a sub-zero margarita. Olé! www.saltyiguana.net
Drop in for Mexican food that is always delicious. Famous for their irresistible Espinaca dip, Cactus Grill is ideal for a casual evening of Mexican dining with great margaritas and other drinks.
Los Cabos Mexican
Grill and Cantina
With delicious starters like stuffed avocados or fajita nachos and entrée options from salads to burritos, Los Cabos at Mission Farms is the place to go for delicious Mexican dishes. Enjoy a festive atmosphere, too, inside and out—the patio has a great view with a water feature.
The Blue Moose Bar and Grill
Come with friends for savory gems like the baby back ribs or the Mediterranean shrimp pasta at this neighborhood favorite. Blue Moose boasts a menu that’s “Bigger than the Moose himself.”
Start out with $5 small plates including everything from egg rolls to beer battered button mushrooms. With the perfect evening dining atmosphere, Paddy O’Shay’s has a wide range of menu items and drinks.
Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse
A classic Kansas City steakhouse, Jess & Jim’s is the place to go to enjoy a high-quality steak—and is tailor-made for any night out.
Kansas City is on the map with its vibrant music scene … here are some Johnson County spots to get your groove on while you’re eating or enjoying cocktails, plus one of our picks across State Line that features world-class concerts and great food.
This swank place is more than a great steakhouse—it features local musicians in its sparkling bar. Order up your apps and dinner at the bar and enjoy the music.
This contemporary restaurant serves upscale comfort food, an award-winning wine list and some of the most iconic musicians and entertainers in Kansas City. Enjoy live music five nights a week, every Wednesday through Sunday. A welcoming wrap-around patio offers exemplary al fresco dining, too.
Bar & Grill
Known for its eclectic interior that has an emphasis on American-made cars, trucks, and motorcycles, Fuel is a premium sports bar with handcrafted bar food and high-energy, engaging live entertainment by local bands and artists. The state-of-the-art sound and video system helps set the tempo for an electric night.
Celebrate not only the food and drink of Ireland, Scotland and Wales in this rustic restaurant and bar—don’t miss out on weekly musical performances by house band Flannigan’s Right Hook.
Enjoy live music and entertainment while choosing from a menu of appetizers and sandwiches to burgers and salads. A Johnson County favorite.
& Grinder’s West
Head to one of these neighboring restaurants in the Crossroads Arts District for great food and a variety of musical performance events at Crossroads KC at Grinder’s. Artists from Matisyahu to Ben Folds took the Crossroads’ KC stage in July. Grab pizza, drinks, a burger or a calzone before or after the show.
If you’re out to impress or to simply reconnect, these dashing dining establishments will ensure that your date is a memorable—and savory—one. Submit to the glow of the sunset, the fireplace or your companion and lose yourself in the enchanting environs of these delectable date spots.
This restaurant in Mission Farms serves up creative food that is locally sourced, including a $39 tasting menu that will leave you soul-satisfied. The attentive service, great food and inviting atmosphere—plus a patio for al fresco dining—makes Room 39 a popular date choice.
Enjoy delicious cuisine in an urbane atmosphere. Take a look at the Euro Delights portion of the menu, including items like calamari and beef Carpaccio. Consistently pleasant in both ambiance and food, Yia-Yia’s also has a well-chosen wine list and a dessert tray that will make you and your date abandon calorie counting.
Just like the original Brookside location, Carmen’s in Park Place sports the same delightful menu—Italian with a Latin flair. No punches here. The menu reads like a textbook rendition of a modern cucina, only there’s a tasty list of well-executed tapas: raviolis, calamari, Fruttie di Mare.
A contemporary atmosphere combined with delicious Italian cuisine makes NoRTH a terrific date locale. Enjoy a variety of spreads, pizzas, pastas, wines, and more—and during the spring, summer and fall, eat on the well-appointed patio.
A spacious and cosmopolitan environment makes this a natural choice for an evening date in Mission Farms. Enjoy the glow from the fireplace, while ordering tapas, drinks or entrees. Or, visit the original location, tucked into a charming Brookside space.
Perfect for any special evening, enjoy delicious, wood-fired dishes and more while taking in the sleek surroundings.
For dining that includes prime steaks, Berkshire pork, and Maine lobster, visit this P&L District jewel. The ambiance takes on a 1920s New York City steak house feel, complete with leather booths and dramatic lighting.
Tavern in the Village
Embodying a warm and casual atmosphere, Tavern in the Village in Prairie Village offers menu items like jumbo lump crab cakes, grilled salmon, filet mignon and salads, plus an extensive drink and wine menu. Don’t leave without a house-made dessert.
Visit J. Gilbert’s for a special evening of wood-fired steaks and seafood. Leave room for dessert and try the Chocolate Pompeii Soufflé.
For a setting that is classy yet relaxed, head to Bonefish Grill and try specials like the fresh ceviche or the cedar plank Alaskan king salmon.
Perfect for a seafood date, Bristol also offers fine steaks, wine and signature cocktails. Both locations—Leawood and the Power & Light District—have consistent service and food for a spot-on culinary experience.
This is one of the corridor’s most loyally visited establishments with hearty, creative dishes and weekly steak specials and seafood night. There are appetizers, salads, prime steaks, seafood, pasta and more, plus an extensive and thoughtful wine list. Enjoy classic jazz, too, with renowned Lynn Zimmer and the Jazz Band.
DANCIN’ THE NIGHT AWAY
When the night calls for loud music, a hip vibe, and a hypnotic beat, grab your pals and get ready to groove on any of these dazzling dance floors. While these destinations are across the state line, the journey there will be more than worth the steamy fun. Your feet will thank you.
Mosaic Kansas City
Head to the Power & Light District for cocktails, a sexy atmosphere, and an outdoor balcony view at this popular club. Dance the night away to music provided by premier DJs.
The Monaco at Kansas City’s action-packed Martini Corner—has the ultimate sound, lighting and design features to amplify the dance club experience.
Head to the Power & Light District to experience this comfy and hip outdoor bar, complete with seating and a jumbo video screen. Bring friends and head to this location in the center of the KC Live! Block.
Kansas City has a growing fleet of food trucks that serve everything from cupcakes and coffee to pizza to Asian to Magical Meatballs. Be sure to check out the growing truck trend in Kansas City … and get your research started with one of our after-hours picks.
Try Kansas City’s best-kept Mexican secret. Stop by the food truck housed in a gleaming Airstream trailer for late-night tacos or other Mexican-inspired dishes on your way home from the Crossroads Arts District or Power & Light District. Check Port Fonda’s Facebook and Twitter to find out where they’ll be parked. A great people-watching place, too—all the chefs in town stop here for a nosh after putting in a full night in their own kitchens.
GETTING THERE … AND GETTING HOME
Check out these alternative transport options to make sure you get home safe and sound after a night on the town.
The day has come when Johnson County residents can call a cab to pick them up or drop them off right in their own neighborhood with a shorter wait time than calling a traditional taxi service. The 10/10 Taxi service, designed to operate in the suburbs, runs between 95th and 151st streets. 10/10 Taxi costs a flat rate of $10 for distances up to 5 miles, and if the driver is up to 10 minutes late 10 percent is deducted from the total fare. Trips over 5 miles in 10/10’s service areas spanning between Blue Valley and Olathe are a flat rate of just $15. Call (913) 647-0010 and arrive home safely with 10/10-taxi service.
Scooter Guy KC
Attention! The Scooter Guy, originally of St. Louis, has expanded his operation to Kansas City. Enjoy a night out with friends and indulge yourself in a few drinks because the Scooter Guy has you covered. Call the day of your evening out and schedule a pick-up time with one of their registered drivers. Then, when your fun is done, a driver will text you 30 minutes before arrival to let you know he is on the way. After arriving at your location on his trusty fold-up scooter, the Scooter Guy puts his scooter in the trunk of your car and drives you home. No hassle! Check out the Web site at www.goscooterguy.com or call (816) 867-4115 for more information and pricing.
Editor’s Note: This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide of drink, dance and dine options in Johnson County or the metro area; it’s representative of the plethora of places available for a night on the town.