Kansas City's Best Bars 2017
Raising Kansas City's nightlife one bar at a time.
Finding the best bar to escape the workweek monotony can be tough. Luckily we’ve got you covered. In the following pages, we’ve rounded up the best bars by neighborhood, and there’s something for everyone —whether you’re in search of a hangout where everyone knows your name, a spot to catch the game or to raise the bar on your nightlife. And it’s not to say that there aren’t other bars out there. This is just a taste of our top picks based on location. So raise your glass and propose a toast to 2017’s best bars!
Why you’re here: Run by Moxie Catering and new Golden Ox owners Jill Myers and Wes Gartner, Voltaire evokes literary themes and creates an intellectual ambiance with turn-of-the-century accouterments (think dark woods, tons of mirrors, bottom-lit bottles and music provided by an in-house record player). Amuse your bouche with expertly crafted house cocktails and find enlightenment through conversation and creative interaction.
What you’re having: A studious Kansas City Sour
1617 Genessee St. Kansas City, Mo., (816) 472-1200, voltairekc.com
Why you’re here: The Ship has been around for more than 60 years, having survived multiple captains, demolition, relocation and weathering a 10-year storm before making port in the heart of the West Bottoms. All walks of life come aboard this classic cocktail lounge — from politicians to plain folk — just to take in the decor, which looks and feels like you’re below deck on a real ship, right down to the hardwood floors, captain’s cabin and portholes.
What you’re having: Your favorite pour
1217 Union Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 471-7447, theshipkc.com
Why you’re here: What started as a motorcycle club that occasionally threw parties on Union Avenue is now an upscale dive bar with a clubhouse feel. Its decor spans many a decade, featuring repurposed bar chairs from The Union, a pool table, and black velvet paintings of Elvis and Willie Nelson. Lucky Boys also pumps out a killer playlist, but it’s the brews and food you’re after. Line your stomach with bar snacks like mushroom gravy poutine and Louisville-style hot chicken, then wash it down with well cocktails or draft beer.
What you’re having: A rum and coke
1615 Genessee St. Kansas City, Mo., (816) 442-8131
North of the River
Why you’re here: This Liberty newcomer gets its name from the Spanish word for “to sip, gulp or drink,” and we promise you’ll be doing that, plus a whole lot more. Trago features a full-service communal bar and a spacious lounge area that serves up Spanish wines, sangria, cocktails and local beers. Best part is it’s open late. Couple that with tapas inspired by Hispanic dishes made by owner Kandi Kern’s grandmother, and you’ve got a recipe for an incredible night out.
What you’re having: A selection from the wine board, sangria or a tequila tasting
9261 NE 83rd Terrace, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 429-8950, tragokc.com
Trezo Maré Restaurant and Lounge
Why you’re here: Kansas Citians are already familiar with Trezo Maré’s magical patio and hand-selected wine list, but it’s worth getting acquainted with its lounge. Italian-influenced like the cuisine, Trezo’s lounge features Tuscan sun-drenched decor and a fully stocked bar. Seasonal cocktails and small bites are best savored by the fireplace with good company.
What you’re having: A “Mule” Berry or any other seasonal creation
4105 N. Mulberry Drive, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 505-3200, trezomare.com
Why you’re here: That “king of the world” feel of catching the stunning view of downtown Kansas City from the patio and dining room. Located just a stone’s throw from Trezo Maré, you’ll find Piropos and the taste of Argentina. And it’s not just limited to the cuisine: The eatery’s wine list consists of mostly reds, whites and sparkling Argentinian wines with an exclusive selection of global varietals.
What you’re having: A glass of Malbec from Argentina
4141 N. Mulberry Drive, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 741-3600, piroposkc.com
Downtown/ River Market
Brown & Loe
Why you’re here: A Southern-style diner with 1920s flair describes the second River Market concept for Harry’s Country Club owners Harry Murphy and Kate McGlaughlin. The New American restaurant fashions its name from the previous tenants, a pair of produce brokers with the last names Brown and Loe, who took over the once Merchant’s Bank Building when it closed in the 1940s. The presence of the bank remains, from the checkered marble floors and coffered ceiling, to the former marble countertop, which now serves as Kansas City’s longest bar.
What you’re having: A timeless sloe gin fizz
429 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 472-0622, brownandloe.com
Harry’s Country Club
Why you’re here: Esquire marked it No. 9 on its “Best Bars in America” listing in 2013 and gave its “old-school fundamentals” a nod in 2016, and it’s easy to see why. Despite its name, Harry’s is a club for all. A perfect blend of honky-tonk without being divey and classy without being pretentious, the bar is country classic, like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, both of whom can be found on the jukebox. Behind the bar and on the menu you’ll find an extensive menu of bottles and brews from here and far that are definitely worth a try.
What you’re having: A Thomas H. Handy rye on the rocks (per Esquire)
112 E. Missouri Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 421-3505, harryscountryclub.com
Why you’re here: To set foot in The Phoenix is to experience Kansas City in its most vibrant form. Never mind the club’s rumored questionable past; it’s still one of the hottest places in town to soak up the scene and enjoy jazz and blues acts like Lonnie McFadden, Sons of Brasil and the Brody Buster Band. So pick your poison and get lost in the atmosphere. It’s one of a kind.
What you’re having: A Silver Tongue
302 W. Eighth St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 221-5299, thephoenixkc.com
Tom’s Town Distilling Co.
Why you’re here: Because Kansas City can’t get enough of its Paris of the Plains past. This Crossroads watering hole, billed as the first legal distillery in KC since the Prohibition, preserves the era of Tom Pendergast with Gatsby-era decor, complete with a walnut bar, antique tin ceilings and speakeasy-style tasting room. Boss Tom’s influence is evident, from owners Steve Revare and David Epstein’s ties to the political boss (Revare’s great-great-uncle arrested Pendergast for tax evasion in 1939, and Epstein’s grandfather was a rivaling bootlegger) to the distillery’s signature liquors — Pendergast’s Royal Gold Bourbon, McElroy’s Corruption Gin and Eli’s StrongArm Vodka — that are used in the craft cocktails.
What you’re having: The Pinky Blitz
1701 Main St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 541-2400, toms-town.com
Green Lady Lounge
Why you’re here: Kansas City is as well known for its vibrant jazz scene, and this gem is one the best venues to sample the city’s nightlife. Soft lights, signature pressed copper ceilings and red velvet wall, seductive local jazz seven nights a week and no cover charge. Need we say more?
What you’re having: The Green Lady
1809 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 215-2954, greenladylounge.com
Why you’re here: Because brews and buttons are the way of the future. Local barcade Up-Down is a game lover’s dream, combining the nostalgia of more than 50 arcade games, pinball machines, Skee-ball lanes, and gaming consoles from the ‘80s and ‘90s with an extensive lineup of craft beers on tap. And fueling your high score is a breeze with standard and specialty pizzas available whole or by the slice. Climb the stairs to the rooftop bar for life-size Jenga, Connect Four and stellar views of downtown.
What you’re having: An Ace hard cider
101 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 982-9455, updownkc.com
Kansas City Power & Light District
No Other Pub
Why you’re here: Sporting events aren’t just sporting events in this town, they’re experiences, so it’s only natural that this Sporting Kansas City-sponsored pub would be one, too. No Other Pub takes watch parties to the next level with offerings like a 10-foot-by-15-foot video wall; an impressive roster of every beer and spirit made in KC; gourmet bar food (think pretzels with poblano queso) and a taco stand and a gaming parlor featuring bowling, golf simulators, foosball, ping pong and more.
What you’re having: No Other Pub’s homemade radler
1370 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 541-2300, nootherpubkc.com
Why you’re here: Alamo Drafthouse might be part of a chain of movie theaters, but its bar, The Chesterfield, is in an era of its own. A lush jazz atmosphere, classic cocktails pulled straight from a Prohibition-era drinking guide (think sidecar and Sazerac) pay homage to Kansas City’s legendary history. The bar hosts karaoke, Geeks Who Drink trivia nights, swing and salsa dancing and themed parties.
What you’re having: A Ward 8
1400 Main St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 474-4545, thechesterfieldbar.com
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Why you’re here: There’s nothing fancy about the draft house itself — gilded “flying saucers” gracing the walls and ceiling, flat-screen TVs and a penny bar are the decor of choice. But the real star is the largest collection of beers on tap in Kansas City (78 beauties) and roster of 240 beers in 100 different brewing styles. Stumped on what to try? Opt for a BYOF (build your own flight) and either keep it local or go international. Then pair it with a brat or fork-and-knife soft pretzel for a delicious bar snack.
What you’re having: A rare find like the Dieu du Ciel Aphrodite or something from the “just landed” list
101 E. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 221-1900, beerknurd.com
Why you’re here: If you’re looking for a sports bar with a Cheers-esque neighborhood feel, consider Tower Tavern your new haunt. Here, TVs are ample, the wings are divine and the windows roll up for an al fresco experience on warmer days, which means make plans to visit and watch the Royals play Opening Day at the K.
What you’re having: KC Bier Co. Dunkel
401 E. 31st St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 931-9300, towertavernkc.com
The Drop Bar & Bistro
Why you’re here: Do "drop" in for a visit to this upscale neighborhood bistro in Martini Corner. The Drop is known for its specialty cocktails, happy hour specials and ladies-who-lunch menu, which, when paired with the bistro's hip and intimate atmosphere — think antique chandeliers and exposed brick — makes it the perfect place to catch up with friends. From fruity concoctions like the Bellini Martini and red or white wine and beer, to the stiff, scotch-based Penicillin, The Drop's bar slings it all.
What you’re having: Red Winetini
409 E. 31st St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 756-3767, thedropbistro.com
Why you’re here: You won’t find fancy drinks or frills at this classic American bar in Union Hill, just good food, good drinks and good times. Ollie’s Local revives the lost art of the friendly neighborhood bar through its simple offerings of beer, wine and cocktails on tap, and bottles and cocktails by hand. You’ll think your new hangout has been around since the ’50s, except for Saturdays when local acts take the in-house stage.
What you’re having: Lemon whiskey punch bowl
3044 Gillham Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 541-3961, ollieslocal.com
Why you’re here: At Ça Va, every visit feels like a celebration, and that’s just how food and wine veterans Caitlin Corcoran, Howard Hanna and Jim Coley planned it. This hidden bubble bar in Westport evokes joie de vivre with its cozy, romantic vibe taken straight from the streets of Paris. Its divine menu consists of seasonal and classic Champagne cocktails, a sophisticated selection of bottles from Oregon to France, and classic French bites like a Croque Madame and moules frites. Swing by for Sunday brunch and indulge in the mimosa bar, crepes, pastries, quiches and more.
What you’re having: County Cork
4149 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 255-3934, cavakc.com
Harry’s Bar and Tables
Why you’re here: Because Harry’s is a Westport classic. Its dark woods, classic decor and large street-facing windows make it feel like a neighborhood British pub where you’re the regular. Other highlights are its late hours (open daily ‘til 3 a.m.) and array of handcrafted and classic cocktails, martinis and extensive scotch and whiskey selections, but the main star is its people-watching perfect patio.
What you’re having: Harry’s Classic Martini
501 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 561-3950, harrysbarandtables.com
Julep Cocktail Club
Why you’re here: Julep’s passion for libations, attention to detail and dedication to hospitality is evident from the moment you walk in the door. The swanky cocktail club pledges its allegiance to whiskey with a floor-to-ceiling wall of globe-spanning whiskeys, scotches and bourbons curated by former Manifesto bartender Beau Williams. Cocktails are artfully crafted and feature a southern flair, as do many a dish on the menu. The New York Times swooned over its decor, calling it a “mash-up of art deco glamour and midcentury modern simplicity.”
What you’re having: A Black Flower
4141 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 104, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 216-7000, julepkc.com
Charlie Hooper’s Bar & Grille
Why you’re here: You won’t find a more friendly neighborhood destination than Charlie Hooper’s. A Brookside staple for more than 30 years, Hooper’s is THE sports bar for catching up with old friends, grabbing a bite or root-root-rooting for our home teams. Toast to friendship with a signature cocktail, wine, craft soda or a pick from one of the city’s widest selections of beer in town — 30 beers on tap and 150 bottles from around the world, to be exact.
What you’re having: A Hoopside or an imported brew
12 W. 63rd St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 361-8841, charliehoopers.com
Why you’re here: Though it bills itself as a high-class dive bar, Hi-Dive errs more on the side of your favorite neighborhood bar and grill — in the best way possible. Good times lie ahead with a menu of comfort foods (think meatloaf and mashed potatoes) but mostly with the help of a mystery beer machine, which stays stocked with yard beers and high-end brews.
What you’re having: A mystery beer
1411 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo. (816) 931-5800, hidivelounge.com
Why you’re here: Missie’s has been Kansas City’s most popular drag bar since it opened in 1994 as a piano lounge. Home of good times and good friends, Missie B’s welcomes all and ensures you’re thoroughly entertained, with must-see drag shows five nights a week and karaoke three nights a week. With an extensive upstairs dance floor, a smoke-friendly enclosed back porch and some of the stiffest drinks in town, Missie’s feels like a giant house party. Come thirsty and come often, and make sure you hit up the ATM before you drop in: this bar’s cash only.
What you’re having: A rainbow Jell-O shot from one of the cute shot boys
805 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 561-0625, missiebs.com
O’Dowd’s Little Dublin Irish Ale House and Pub
Why you’re here: By now it’s common knowledge that everyone in Kansas City is a wee bit Irish, or at least they claim to be. Since opening its doors in 1996, O’Dowd’s has been one of this city’s favorite Irish pubs, providing an authentic slice of Dublin with favorite Irish fare. Featuring decor straight from the Emerald Isle (the floor was salvaged from a 200-year-old Irish church!), live music, and a scenic rooftop bar,
What you’re having: A pint of Guinness
4742 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 561-2700, odowdslittledublin.com
The Granfalloon Restaurant & Bar
Why you’re here: As your stereotypical sports bar — high-top tables, dark accents, TVs aplenty and a bustling crowd are the standards — the Granfalloon seems a bit out of place on the Country Club Plaza, but that’s part of its charm. The restaurant and bar is named after author Kurt Vonnegut’s concept of a “proud and meaningless association of human beings,” and that society still stands today. You’ll find fans of all things here, along with munchies and spirits for every gathering.
What you’re having: Draft beer.
608 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Mo. (816) 753-7850, thegranfalloon.com
The Capital Grille
Why you’re here: Along with being known for its extensive wine list featuring iconic pours and top picks from its sommelier, The Capital Grille is the place to take in the scene and be seen. It’s not unusual to spot a limousine curbside or run into local celebrities, so be sure to brush up on your who’s who before dropping by.
What you’re having: A signature Stoli Doli
4740 Jefferson St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 531-8345, thecapitalgrille.com
District. Pour House + Kitchen
Why you’re here: Nestled in a charming, neat row of storefronts in Waldo lies something you never knew you needed: District’s infused liquors. Poisons available for the picking are vodka, gin, rum, tequila and bourbon, and the infusible flavors vary by season and range from the subtle (pineapple and grapefruit) to adventurous (cardamom and pepperoncini). And if you’re looking for the standard pours, this rustic industrial American-fared bar offers those, too.
What you’re having: A flight of seasonal infused liquor.
7122 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 333-0799, districtpourhousekc.com
The Well Bar Grill and Rooftop
Why you’re here: At the center of Waldo’s nightlife is favorite neighborhood bar and grill, aptly named for its bevy of drinks, late-night bites and live music that never seems to run dry. Its main attraction is the rooftop patio, which oversees the streets below and offers resort-like seating, fire pits and torches that appeal to Waldo’s mixed crowd of all ages.
What you’re having: A roaring Tiger, Duck, Bull!
7421 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 361-1700, waldowell.com
Why you’re here: Bier Station is the Midwest’s first craft beer tasting bar/bottle shop. It’s the best of both worlds, blending a casual hangout with your neighborhood convenience store, but with extra perks like a double-decker patio, proper glassware and upgraded bar bites. Check out the digital display of 28 rotating taps or browse the coolers for a bottle or can of your choice. If a quiet night in is more your style, curate a custom six pack of local and international brews from the cooler dand take it home to enjoy.
What you’re having: A pick from the “just tapped” list
120 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. (816) 548-3870, bierstation.com
North Johnson County
Why you’re here: Whiskey-driven variants of cocktail classics and a hip, elegant atmosphere are what fuel the nightlife at this Prairie Village newcomer. By day, C. Frogs bills itself as an upscale steakhouse with delightful barbecue and steak options for meat lovers. As the sun sets, its whiskey bar becomes the main attraction, belly up to the horseshoe-shaped bar for a sophisticated selection of good libations.
What you’re having: C. Frogs’ take on The Bees Knees, The Smoked Frog
3935 W. 69th Terrace, Prairie Village, Kan., (913) 601-5250, cfrogs.com
Maloney’s Sports Bar & Grill
Why you’re here: Maloney’s motto: Great food. Great drinks. Any game. Any time. Whether you’re a fan of the Boys in Blue, part of Chiefs Nation or No Other Club, this downtown OP sports bar has all your game-day needs. Maloney’s boasts 51 HDTVs and two patios, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
What you’re having: Vodka Red Bull
7201 W. 79th St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 385-9595, maloneyssportsbar.com
Tavern in the Village
Why you’re here: For a not-so-pretentious night out that feels close to home, see this Prairie Village staple. Pours and friends can be enjoyed without fuss, and there’s always someone happy to see you. Drop in for date night or a nightcap and amuse your bouche with an array of wines and spirits that are sure be the high note of your evening.
What you’re having: A glass of Tait the Ballbuster shiraz
3901 Prairie Lane, Prairie Village, Kan., (913) 529-2229, taverninthevillage.com
South Johnson County
One Block South
Why you’re here: One Block South in Rosana Square is to Johnson County what the Power & Light District downtown is to Jackson County. Dreamed up by entrepreneur and industry veteran Shawn McClenny, the multi-venue food, drink and entertainment district is a block-long oasis for customizing and maximizing your nightlife experience. “Not your dad’s pool hall” Red 8 Bar & Billiards racks ‘em up with weekly specials, a swanky interior and pool tables. Fuel is an American-made car, truck and motorcycle-themed sports bar and grill. Local Tap focuses on local craft beers that pair well with tasty bar snacks, with games and live music to keep you entertained. And 10,000-square-foot dance club Kanza Hall keeps the party going with top country, rock and blues acts.
What you’re having: The day’s special
7300 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 451-0444, oneblocksouthkc.com
Why you’re here: Not many bars can say they’re housed in a 100-year-old church and feature a restored Brunswick-Balke-Collender bar from the 1880s, and that alone is reason enough to stop by this south Johnson County pub. It is said that Llywelyn is Celtic for a good time, and you’ll definitely find it here with 27 beers on tap, daily food and drink specials, plus live local and national acts on Fridays and Saturdays.
What you’re having: A glass of Llywelyn’s signature Dragon’s Ale.
6995 W. 151st St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 402-0333, llywelynspub.com
Nick and Jake’s
Why you’re here: Don’t let its menu of chef-driven American cuisine fool you; Nick and Jake’s is very much a bar as it is a source for delicious dishes, and that’s what makes it a hometown favorite. Grab a seat at the bar if available and soak in the upscale bar scene, which is home to a u-shaped bar surrounded by TVs; good company and an assortment of beer, wine, specialty cocktails along with the bartender’s latest mixed masterpieces.
What you’re having: A ruby mojito with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
6830 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 681-8535, nickandjakes.com
Kansas City, Kansas
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Why you’re here: Blue’s energetic and vibrant atmosphere and bustling big-city nightlife vibe will have you feeling like you’re not in Kansas anymore. In addition to the beer, wine and liquor standards, the new sushi joint offers a diverse selection of sakes, signature martinis and sushi, all enjoyable on either side of divided bar (one side is the “red hot” cocktail bar and the other a “cool blue” sushi bar).
What you’re having: Take a sake flight. Or dive in a fish bowl.
4705 Rainbow Blvd., Westwood, Kan., (913) 236-6100, bluesushisakegrill.com
Mason Jar Burgers & Brews
Why you’re here: Like its name suggests, Mason Jar Burgers & Brews is one hip and modern pub. What makes it a KCK fave is its family-friendly atmosphere, upscale rustic decor and from-scratch kitchen serving up bar food standards along with six mouthwatering specialty burgers and hand-tossed pizzas. Pair your eats with one of 25 brews on tap, 50 bottles in stock or keep it classy with signature cocktails, served in a Mason jar, of course.
What you’re having: Go big with a Cointreau-laced Big Time Margarita.
941 N. 74th Drive, Kansas City, Kan., (913) 242-8165, masonjarkc.com
d’Nile Wine Bar
Why you’re here: This Egyptian-themed bar buried deep within Chateau Avalon hotel is worth the journey off the beaten bar path. There’s plenty to take in, from the “quicksand” floor, to the 8-foot-tall gilded Egyptian statues, to the spirits menu featuring handcrafted spirits, small wineries and national vintners like BR Cohn and Chateau St. Michelle. And like a river, d’Nile opens into the hotel’s north patio, which is a secluded hideaway shrouded in flora and complete with a lion-head fountain.
What you’re having: A glass of wine you’ve never tried before
701 Village W. Parkway, Kansas City, Kan., (913) 596-6000, chateauavalonhotel.com
Why you’re here: True to Prohibition-era fashion, this drinks den is hidden in plain sight, this time behind an unmarked door in historic downtown Lee’s Summit. Creatively crafted and updated classic seasonal cocktails are The W’s focus, and these almost-too-pretty-to-sip libations are expressed through locally sourced ingredients, house-made syrups, tonics and artisanal ice dreamed up by bartender and general manager Mike Strohm. It’s a speakeasy experience to be had, just be sure to plan ahead; this 38-seater serves by reservation only.
What you’re having: The Mexican Firing Squad
6 1/2 W. Third St., Lee’s Summit, Mo., (816) 287-0000, thew.bar
Why you’re here: What do you get when you mix a micro winery, a neighborhood bistro and a martini bar? A one-of-a-kind hangout in the heart of downtown Lee’s Summit. The corks, cocktails and cuisine bar is known for its variety of 32 house-made wines, infused bloody marys and tasty menu of tapas. Groove to local acts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
What you’re having: A selection from Bar*istro’s signature wines.
127 SE Third St., Lee’s Summit, Mo., (816) 554-4664, baristrols.com
Red Door Wine Store
Why you’re here: Red Door Wine Store might have begun as a boutique wine store, but it’s evolved throughout the years into something more. In addition to being a source for your spirit needs, the shop features weekly and monthly tastings; live music; and beer, wine and liquor for sale by the glass. Winos and beer lovers, rejoice.
What you’re having: A bottle of Midwestern wine
229A SE Main St., Lee’s Summit, Mo., (816) 600-2204, reddoorwinestore.com