Thousands of people are expected to hit downtown Kansas City for the NFL Draft around Union Station.
Amid the festivities Thursday through Saturday, some of Kansas City’s best local eateries will set up booths, including Baba’s Pantry, Buck Tui BBQ, Donutology, Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop and Satay Bar, Poio Mexican BBQ, Q39 barbecue and Rye restaurant.
For those who want to take a break and dine in, we offer a list of 11 of Kansas City’s most popular offerings nearby, some that have been mainstays for decades.
▪ Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Suite 135. A toy train delivers orders to customers’ tables. The menu includes burgers, tenderloins, chicken and fish sandwiches, turkey melts, hot dogs and onion rings. The company started as a Kansas City, Kansas, drive-in in 1954.
▪ Guy’s Broadway Bodega, 2101 Broadway. The local snack company dates to 1938. Its new downtown restaurant and shop offers dine-in and to-go. Menu items will include NFL Draft specials such as burgers and brats, as well as its deli sandwiches, pulled pork nachos and cheese curds.
The market will be stocked with grab-and-go items including Guy’s chips and snacks, beer, wine, cocktails, and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque T-shirts. It also has staples such as toothpaste, soap, bottled water and dairy items from Shatto Milk Co.
“We have something for everybody and really show off a lot of Kansas City products,” said Chris Stuewe, partner.
▪ Town Topic, 1900 Baltimore Ave. and 2021 Broadway. The family owned diner dates to 1937. The menu includes breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, hamburgers, pork tenderloins, patty melts on rye, hot dogs, chili and pie. The cheeseburger is a favorite of Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
▪ Unforked, Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Suite 113. Fresh and locally sourced seasonal cuisine including specialty tacos, quesadillas and bowls. Seasonal specials include the KC Q Taco (spice-rubbed carnitas with barbecue sauce from Joe’s Kansas City BBQ).
▪ Farina, 19 W. 19th St. Chef Michael Smith honed his skills in Nice, France, and Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s, among others. He was one of Kansas City’s first James Beard Award-winning chefs in 1999.
Menu items include cheese-filled caramelle, potato gnocchi, pork roast, wood-grilled rib-eye, chicken spiedini and squid ink lumache. It also has an oyster bar.
▪ Grünauer, 101 W. 22nd St. The Grünauer family owned and operated a traditional Austrian restaurant in Vienna for more than 60 years. Nicholas and Elisabeth Grünauer opened the Kansas City restaurant in 2010 in homage to their restaurant history.
Menu items include apfelstrudel (traditional apple strudel with rum-soaked raisins, sherry vanilla sauce and fresh whipped cream), and wiener schnitzel (thinly pounded Duroc pork cutlet, breaded and pan fried, served with potato salad, cucumber salad and lingonberries).
▪ Novel, 1927 McGee St.: Contemporary American cuisine including lobster ramen noodles, asparagus ravioli, the Crispy Egg (local grits, rock shrimp and a red coconut curry), Duroc pork chop, KC strip, pistachio cream pie and pineapple upside down carrot cake with cream cheese sherbet and candied pecans.
Owners are chef Ryan Brazeal and his wife, pastry chef Jessica Armstrong.
On the streetcar line
▪ Blue Nile Cafe, City Market, 20 E. Fifth St. Founded in 1995 by husband and wife Daniel and Selam Fikru. Their Ethiopian cuisine includes vegetarian and vegan items, along with doro watt (skinless and boneless chicken marinated in lemon, sauteed in herbed butter and stewed in berbere sauce) and yebeg watt alicha (lamb cubes slowly simmered into a stew with onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and kibbeh butter).
▪ County Road Ice House BBQ & Bar, Power & Light District, 100 E. 14th St. By the owners of the famed Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que and Rockhill Restaurant Group it offers such items as smoked wings, smoked brisket nachos, barbecue sandwiches, ribs, loaded macaroni and cheese, smoked chicken Caesar salad, Z-Man burger and ice cold beer. It also will have a NFl Draft collector’s cup by Boulevard Brewing Co.
▪ Habashi House, City Market, 309 Main St. Family-owned Middle Eastern grocery store has been operating in the City Market since 1992 and added a restaurant in 2000. The menu includes chicken gyros, falafel sandwiches, salmon salad, baba ghanoush and hummus.
“We are a hidden jewel, once people try us, watch out,” said Mahmoud “Moody” Al Habashi, chef and owner with his sister, Maisoun Al Habashi. “You are coming to our restaurant, you are coming to our home. And the City Market is a place where you can visit the whole world.”
▪ Le Fou Frog, 400 E. Fifth St. Mano Rafael and his wife, Barbara, opened the French bistro in 1996, just east of the City Market. Popular items include steak au poivre and escargots provencales.
“It’s a fun experience, not just dinner,” she said. “Perhaps a waiter will sing. We have really wonderful servers. The people that work there want you to have the best experience.”