Kansas City's Top 11 New Restaurants 2017
Where to eat now in Kansas City
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
No. 6: Rockhill Grille
2000 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 389-5800, therockhillgrille.com
What a stunning addition Rockhill Grille has made to the Crossroads dining scene. When Zach Marten and Bret Springs — co-owners of the Back Napkin Restaurant Group, which also opened RND Grille in Lawrence — purchased the former two-story Cashew space at 2000 Grand Boulevard, they spared no expense in a fabulous remodel, which capitalizes on a light-filling glass garage door wall, and features a marble bar, white-and-gold accents and eye-catching chandeliers. But the decor is just the cherry on top of a well-built sundae: Rockhill’s menu features upgraded American classics, like addictive house-made tater tots stuffed with a melty jalapeño cheese, and an inventive duck confit entree with bacon lardons and hash browns. The cocktail menu, too, is cause for celebration, with craft cocktails that boast local spirits and house-made ingredients (hello, spiced chai tea pumpkin syrup). If you’re looking for a new classic, Rockhill might be the answer you’ve been waiting for.
Must-try dishes: Tater tots, duck confit, pig wings
No. 7: Brewery Emperial
1829 Oak Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 945-9625, breweryemperial.com
There’s so much to like about Brewery Emperial. The Crossroads brewery-restaurant is the brainchild of a group of longtime friends, who also happen to have substantial industry resumes: Keith Thompson, a former brewmaster at McCoy’s Public House, and his wife Julie; Ted Habiger, chef-owner at Room 39; and Rich Kasyjanski, a former bartender at McCoy’s. Brewery Emperial’s vibe is both kitschy and fun, with a great wood-fired oven in full view of the dining room and a beer garden that more than doubles the restaurant’s capacity. The beer alone is worth a visit: the Biscuit Ale blends an old-school English ESB with American Pale Ale, and the house Tripel is rich and satisfying. When it comes to grub, the menu is wide-ranging and approachable. Habiger has upgraded traditional pub food, and you can trust that kitchen ingredients are sourced as locally as possible: much like Room 39, Brewery Emperial is committed to supporting local farms and economy. Not only can you feel good about dining at this joint, your tummy will thank you.
Must-try dishes: Duck confit Scotch egg, wood-fired half chicken, rabbit molé
No. 8: Boru Ramen Bar
500 West 75th Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 541-3651, boruramen.com
When Summit Grill & Bar debuted its ramen nights on Tuesday nights in 2016, owners Domhnall Molloy and Andy Lock had no idea it would be such a hit. The feeding frenzy that ensued led Molloy, Lock and Po Wang, culinary director and partner, to talk about what a ramen bar in Waldo would look like. The idea fit easily into a plan for Summit Grill’s expansion as it took over the larger neighboring space previously occupied by 75th Street Brewery. The former Summit Grill space was revamped as Bōru Ramen Bar and opened in February. Wang took the opportunity to expand the ramen offerings he’d been experimenting with, as well as to tap into his Taiwanese background and bring in some other east Asian flavors. Bōru offers six ramen bowls, including a traditional shoyu (featuring chicken confit and soy-pickled shiitake) and a Korean-style (with pork shoulder and kimchi), as well as steamed baos (Chinese steam buns), spicy fried wings, gyoza (Chinese fried dumplings) and bibimbap — a Korean rice bowl with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. Just like its sister restaurant, Bōru offers a killer happy hour daily from 3 to 6 p.m., with appetizer deals under $6 and drink specials. Get your slurp on at this happy noodle joint.
Must-try dishes: Shoyu ramen, pork belly steamed bao, bibimbap (bulgogi ribeye with farm-fresh egg yolk and veggies)
No. 9: Stock Hill Grill
4800 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 895-8400, stockhillkc.com
Recently lauded on Thrillist as one of the Best Steakhouses in America. Stock Hill Grill is designed to impress. The grand marble bar in the center of the glitzy lounge, with its emerald green upholstery and gold accents, gives off a purposeful Great Gatsby vibe — and the plush dining room seems specifically decorated with Kansas City’s business elite in mind. The menu — which, until September, was directed by chef Joe West — focuses on steak, and not in a small way. There are 11 different beef cuts, all 14 ounces and up (unless you count the two filet mignons, which are 7 and 10 ounces, respectively), all dry- or wet-aged for at least 30 days. There is an astounding 42-ounce wet-aged porterhouse, and while it’ll set you back around $120, at least you won’t need to eat for the rest of the month. The meat parade doesn’t end at the wood-burning grill, either: there is a wagyu steak tartare, smoked short ribs, sweet and sour braised pork belly, lamb two ways — and, for the pescatarians, a host of seafood options. If it’s an evening of decadence that you’re seeking, don’t hesitate to put on your finest fur and live your best life.
Must-try dishes: Any of the steaks are a safe bet (try the wasabi-yuzi chimichurri sauce), hamachi crudo
No. 10: Redrock Canyon Grill
West 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Ks., (913) 239-0202, redrockcanyongrill.com
Oklahoma-based Hal Smith Restaurants has five locations for their steakhouse chain Redrock Canyon Grill, with the Corbin Park outpost in Overland Park serving as the group’s first entry into the Kansas City market (Charleston’s and The Garage, which opened in the new Ward Parkway Center in October, are the latest metro offerings from Hal Smith Restaurants). Overland Park’s Redrock is a sprawling, Southwestern-themed venue, with around 230 seats, an open kitchen format and some tasteful potted cacti. In fact, everything at Redrock is tasteful, from the stuffed poblano start with the chipotle sour cream to the meatloaf entree to the steak and enchilada combo platter — and yes, we know none of those dishes sound exceptionally classy, but trust us on this one. Portions are generous, the plates look beautiful and you can enjoy it all — even a shrimp-garnished house bloody Mary — from Redrock’s al fresco dining area, complete with a fire pit. Get cozy and tuck in.
Must-try dishes: Stuffed poblano, Persimmon Hill meatloaf, steak & enchilada platter
No. 11: Mesob
3600 Broadway Boulevard, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 492-5099, mesobkc.com
It’s easy to overlook and miscast strip mall restaurants as afterthoughts and last-resort destinations. In Midtown, Mesob is slowly changing that perception: The Caribbean and Ethiopian restaurant, nestled into the corner of a strip mall that also features a GymKC location, a Papa Murphy’s and a comedy club, offers fusion dining in a funky atmosphere (think white tablecloths meets lime-green walls and tropical potted plants). This is the second restaurant from Haitian-born chef Cherven Desauguste and Eritrean-born chef Mehret Tesfamariam. (The duo’s first restaurant, Mesob Pikliz, located on Independence Avenue, closed in 2014.) Perhaps “fusion” isn’t the right word: The menu hopscotches between the two partners’ backgrounds, featuring Caribbean entrees — smoked jerk ribs, tassot cabaret (braised goat with plantains), coconut curry shrimp — alongside traditional Ethiopian dishes like shekla beg tibs (lamb sautéed with house spices, garlic and tomatoes) and qwanta firfir (beef jerky in berbere sauce), all served with injera, a spongelike flatbread. The effect is two entirely disparate restaurants living in harmony under one roof. If you’re bitten by wanderlust but unable to traverse the 7,246 or so miles between Haiti and Eritrea, pop into Mesob for a burst of flavor and adventure — you’ll like what you find.
Must-try dishes: Caribbean fritters (fried taro root with cilantro sauce), snapper boukannen (marinated and grilled whole snapper), shekla beg tibs
Brand New & Opening
Hal Smith Restaurant Group
If it feels like you’ve been hearing the name Hal Smith Restaurant Group a lot lately, you have. The Oklahoma-based group brought Redrock Canyon Grill to Corbin Park last year and is responsible for the recently opened additions to Ward Parkway’s new south end restaurant district. Craft brews and piled-high and juicy bison, turkey and angus burgers are what you’ll find at Smitty’s Garage, whereas neighbor Charleston’s brings that dark wood pub atmosphere.
5070 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo.
Jonathan Justus’ highly anticipated metro-area restaurant, Black Dirt, has been on the cusp of opening for what feels like an eternity. At last, it seems like our wait is about to end. Rather than trying to replicate the fine dining experience his original Justus Drugstore in Smithville is known for Black Dirt will take a more casual approach — the 140-plus seats at Black Dirt will demand that. Kitchen ingredients will be no less exotic — you can still count on chicken gizzards and little-known local produce to populate dishes — but chef Justus has quicker, simpler plates in mind for his new destination. What we do know: This is one restaurant that deserves to be at the top of your must-try list.
What was THE Kansas City dessert of 2017? We asked two food writers and their answers were as different as, well, fire and ice.
For Natalie Gallagher, 435’s food writer, her 2017 dessert of the year is the hot bananas foster flambéed butter cake at Eddie V's. She calls it “pretty incredible” and describes it as a “warm, sticky bread pudding mold, thick and moist with butter and topped with caramelized bananas. Bonus – they light it on fire!”
Johnathan Bender, the KCPT/Flatland's food editor and cookbook author declares rolled ice cream as the KC dessert of 2017. Rolled ice cream is Thai-inspired and is made when ice cream in liquid form is poured over a -35 degree metal surface. While it’s freezing to a creamy texture, you can add in a cornucopia of “mix-ins.” The almost paper thin ice cream is then rolled and placed vertically into a cup.