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Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Photograph: Courtesy Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

The best restaurants in Kansas City right now

There's so much more than BBQ on our list of the best restaurants in Kansas City

Written by
Ellen Prinzi
Written by
Brock Wilbur
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If you're hoping to maintain a strict diet, or even some semblance of self-control, then visiting the best restaurants in Kansas City probably isn't for you. Locals don't do things like "portions" and they don't count calories. In fact, eating pretty much tops the list of the best things to do in Kansas City. Gluttons, this city is for you. 
KC is also a city that likes to throw down a challenge, and we find friendship in those who are willing to at least give it the old college try. There's BBQ (and the correspondeing BBQ events), of course, but you'd be surprised by what else makes it to the table. If you're planning on swingin' through, here are the spots we think show off the best of our diverse plate. Apologies in advance if you have to take a lot of naps between meals. We do what we do.

Best restaurants in Kansas City

You can’t go to Kansas City and skip out on BBQ and Joe’s is your very best bet for the good stuff. We recommend getting the two-meat BBQ dinner with brisket and ribs to be able to taste a little bit of everything. In the mood for a sandwich? Order the Z-Man: a stack of brisket, smoke provolone and onion rings on a Kaiser roll. Beware: you’re going to be very full.

True foodies know that what Michael Corvino is doing at Corvino Supper Club is not to be missed. The dramatic restaurant offers two concepts: sit in the main dining room and order from a number of shareable plates or steal a seat in the 18-seat tasting room where the kitchen becomes your theater. Watch as the team creates a meal you won’t forget right before your eyes.
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There are few things more beautiful than a freshly baked pizza from Il Lazzarone’s hand-built wood-fired ovens, which hail straight from Naples, Italy. Each pie cooks for just over 60 seconds, so you won’t have to wait long from the time you order to the time you’re digging into maybe the best pizza of your life. We recommend starting with the classic Margherita.

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Pitmaster Mitch Benjamin brings his smoke and magic as well as his award-winning sauces to the heart of historic Westport. The combination restaurant/playground/dog park is perfect in the summer, and weekend brunch is not to be missed. But stopping by absolutely any time is going to be rewarding. Most of Char Bars sandwiches and platters involve a pile of different meats, so it's a prime location for a quick stop-in that lets you sample a bit of everything. If you've only got a few minutes, we highly recommend the Charred Bits & Grits appetizer. You can also buy bottles of their signature sauces to share with friends back home—or hoard for yourself.

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If you’re looking for an impressive spot to take guests for dinner or a spellbinding brunch, head to Gram & Dun. The restaurant itself is gorgeous and the food is chef-driven but approachable, with dishes like loaded baked potato gnocchi and coffee-crusted ribeye. When the weather is nice, make sure to ask for a seat on the patio – it might very well be the best in town.

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In a former railroad house just north of Kansas City's historic Union Station, Lidia's evokes the warmth of an old Italian farmhouse. The blown-glass chandeliers set the tone for the Northern Italian menu, presented by Emmy award-winning PBS TV show chef Lidia Bastianich. You can play this one however you want. Go for the $65 ribeye or you could choose to get unlimited portions of the day's pasta trio. I suggest you do the later. 

Speaking of meats. Most sandwich shops pride themselves on their huge menus, but not Pigwich. Here, less is more. Choose between five standards, including the namesake Pigwich, plus the daily special. Nursing a Saturday morning hangover with their porchetta sandwich is a pro KC eater move.

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The Rieger has been a part of Kansas City in one form or another since 1915. Today, it’s a bastion of classic dishes and fantastic cocktails. The menu changes seasonally, but you can rely on freshly made pastas and modern updates to classic dishes, like a braised rabbit and pork chops. Meat eaters take note: they often have a porchetta big enough for the table to share. Get it.

In the heart of Westport you can find the former location of McCoy's, which has been revamped and reimagined as Mickey's Hideaway — a faux speakeasy with a menu that's hard to pin to just one style. As the home to award-winning bartenders, you know the boozy drinks will hit the spot. The food spans from Korean short rib fries to Greek sandwiches to smoked jackfruit enchiladas. Mickey's is where you go when you're craving a meal that's a blindspot for the rest of the city's culinary scene. Hot tip: get there early on Fridays for a chance at one of their limited lobster rolls.

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If there’s one thing Midwestern restaurants do well, it’s serving food you want to eat in a nice but comfortable setting – and Rye is a shining example of that. Enjoy a cocktail while you snack on BBQ-rub–dusted pork rinds; follow it up with burnt ends and sourdough toast or half of the famous fried chicken. Every city needs a Rye, but only Kansas City has one.

With so many BBQ joints in town, Q39 had to find a way to separate itself from the pack. The solution? Serve great BBQ, but add chef-driven apps, sides and entrées cooked over wood fire. The smoked fried chicken with chipotle BBQ will make your knees shake and the pork belly and sausage corn dogs will make you weep with joy. 

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Sustainably sourced seafood isn't easy to come by in landlocked Kansas City, but Jax Fish House is an undeniably excellent choice. Calamari, muscles, pasta and steak are all next level here, but the fresh oysters are second to none. Other highlights include the Mississippi catfish with hushpuppies and the blue crab garganelli. Make sure to start with a jumbo lump crab cake or seafood chowder, to sample the full breadth of their flavor spectrum. 

Every city has that one diner/burger joint that’s been around since the dawn of time. In Kansas City, that is Town Topic Hamburgers. Step into this time machine and head back to the quaint 1950s for all your classic favorites: eggs and hashbrowns, chili, hot dogs, milkshakes and, obviously, hamburgers. Smashed thin and cooked until crispy, you’re probably going to want a double or triple cheeseburger. Don’t worry, no one will judge you.

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Billed as a global eatery and purveyor of libations, this downtown KC spot sports a distinctly European slant that sets it apart from everything in the area. There's usually a DJ spinning soul or dance albums, and the visual vibe is decidedly French-adjacent. Martinis pair well with everything here, including grilled Spanish octopus, lamb with ravioli, pan-fried walleye and even duck confit gyoza. Voltaire is just around the corner from KC's newest outdoor music venue Lemonad(e) Park, and for certain events, they'll cater directly to your seat. 

Happy Gillis calls itself a cozy café and hangout, and we’re inclined to agree – though it’s much more than that. Everyone in Kansas City knows it’s the spot to go for casual and delicious breakfast treats, salads and sandwiches. Go with a friend, snag an order of biscuits and gravy and the drool-worthy breakfast sandwich. Be ready to wait in line if you go on a weekend – though it’s worth it (promise).

Explore the city like a local

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