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Roasted Campo Lindo chicken at Black Dirt
Black Dirt/Facebook

The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Kansas City

Where to find perfect roast chicken, West African cassava stew, and Vegemite toast in KCMO

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Roasted Campo Lindo chicken at Black Dirt
| Black Dirt/Facebook

Today, Eater returns to Kansas City to focus on 12 newish restaurants and bars that are garnering some serious buzz. Liz Cook, restaurant critic for Kansas City’s the Pitch, has kindly shared her picks for the hottest openings from the past 12 months or so.

“In a year of record restaurant openings, the Kansas City food scene has held onto its independent spirit, and chef-owned eateries are leading the charge,” says Cook. “If this year’s hottest spots are any indication, local diners’ tastes seem to be shifting away from sprawling menus and black-tie comfort food toward smaller, focused menus and new-to-KC cuisines.”

On her list, a vibrant new food hall (Parlor), a self-proclaimed “mostly Jewish deli” (Broadway Deli), and a classic-style steakhouse complete with wood paneling and tufted black leather (Golden Ox.)

And with that, behold, the Eater Heatmap to Kansas City.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Brookside Poultry Company

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At chef Charles d’Ablaing’s cozy-casual east Brookside eatery, diners can choose from a small, fowl-forward menu including chicken salad and a decadent, sour-cream-brined fried chicken. But the compulsory dishes here are the rotisserie Barham Farms duck (call ahead; they go fast) and the fried wings — crisp, breaded drumettes chastely tossed in a mild but twangy hot sauce.

Fried chicken livers at Brookside Poultry Company
Brookside Poultry Company/Facebook

Our Daily Nada

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The River Market’s first so-called “boozy bookstore” has been packed with wine lovers and roving book clubs since its opening in August. Owners Amy Covitz and Andrea Baca curated their wine list as carefully as their book list. But Our Daily Nada is also a worthy destination for stylish bar bites and small plates from chef Carlos Mortera of Kansas City’s the Bite. Order some Old Bay popcorn, nip languidly from a glass of merlot, and nestle into one of many cheery reading nooks in this sophisticated space.

Our Daily Nada bookstore and bar
Our Daily Nada/Facebook

Westsiders have enjoyed chef Ryan Brazeal and pastry chef Jessica Armstrong’s eclectic take on New American cuisine for years. But in April, the couple decamped to the Crossroads with a fresh vision. The new Novel is bright and modern but no less charming, with sunny yellow curtains to separate the airy dining room into intimate islands. The menu has gotten an update, too, with more streamlined entrees and a brand-new section of house-made pastas (don’t skip the beef cheek and bone marrow ravioli, which crackles with chile and fried garlic).

Fresh pastas at Novel
Novel official

Freshwater

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Almost a year after a drunk driver demolished the first iteration of Freshwater, chef Calvin Davis reopened his Midtown restaurant to an even rosier reception. The focus of his food hasn’t changed — fresh, seasonal produce takes the spotlight next to smaller portions of locally sourced proteins. But the cocktail program has matured, transforming Freshwater into a hip happy-hour spot. Stay for dinner to sample some of the metro’s best fine dining at a lower price point (Davis’s 10-course tasting menu is just $55).

A dish at Freshwater
Freshwater KC/Facebook

Broadway Deli

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Until recently, Kansas City’s restaurant scene had a big pastrami-shaped hole. Bill Fromm set out to correct that by opening Broadway Deli, a daytime-only destination for meats shipped from Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen in Chicago. Though the restaurant isn’t kosher — its tagline is “a mostly Jewish deli for a mostly not Jewish city” — locals are still lining up for thin-shaved pastrami and chubby scrolls of lox. The sleeper hits are the chewy noodle kugel and the smoky and savory whitefish salad.

Pastrami on rye at Broadway Deli
Broadway Deli/Facebook

Like everywhere else in the country, food halls are cropping up across KC, and the crowds at Parlor suggest the trend has staying power. Parlor is a three-story, seven-stall playground for local chefs  It’s also the only place in town where you can find Nashville hot chicken, Turkish pizza, and Scandinavian street food under one roof. Don’t miss chef Patrick Curtis’s take on fluffy, Osaka-style okonomiyaki or chef Katee McLean’s busy (but delicious) tunnbrödsrulle.

The bar at Parlor
Parlor/Facebook

The Restaurant at 1900

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The 1900 Building might look a little corporate stuffed-shirt, but the Restaurant at 1900 is anything but. Chef Linda Duerr has imbued her contemporary American dishes with a sense of humor. Expect playful high-low mashups, like a flaky lobster toaster pastry with whipped VSOP cream and artful plating. The minimalist gray-and-white interior heightens the focus on Duerr’s kaleidoscopic colors and textures.

A shellfish soup at the Restaurant at 1900
The Restaurant at 1900/Facebook

The Russell

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This fast-casual lunch spot has been an Instagram darling since it opened, thanks to a liberal smattering of millennial decor tropes (typewriters! succulents! reclaimed wood!). The result is a luxe atmosphere for colorful salads and healthy grain bowls. Chef Amante Domingo cooks everything over a wood-fired grill, steeping the expansive Midtown space in campfire aromas. Try the grilled half-chicken and grab one of White’s famous saucer-sized olive oil chocolate chip cookies to go.

A wood-fired steak sandwich at the Russel
The Russell official

Black Dirt

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This year, chef Jonathan Justus closed his beloved Justus Drugstore, a James Beard Award semifinalist, to go all in on Black Dirt. His new Plaza restaurant treats simpler, comforting dishes to the same elegant presentation in a refined setting. A horseshoe-shaped bar commands focus in the main dining room, spotlighting the inventive cocktail program. Menu mainstays include succulent duck confit fritters and the Camp Lindo fried chicken in a sea of sage gravy.

Roasted Campo Lindo chicken at Black Dirt
Black Dirt/Facebook

Fannie's West African Cuisine

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The metro’s first West African eatery feels right at home in the burgeoning Troost corridor. Natural light streams into the cute dining room through a wall of plate-glass windows, making this a lively spot for breakfast or lunch. Chef Fannie Gibson and her husband, Kelechi Eme, faithfully recreate staple dishes from Liberia, Nigeria, and Ghana, many of which can be made vegetarian. Try the cassava leaf stew with fufu, a supple dough made from cassava and plantain flour, or the jollof rice with fried tilapia and plantains.  

A plate at Fannie’s African Cuisine
Fannie’s African Cuisine/Facebook

Golden Ox

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Locals still wax poetic about the old Golden Ox, a landmark steakhouse that opened in the city’s stockyards district in 1949. This year, the Ox reopened in its original location — the old Livestock Exchange Building in the West Bottoms. The look is classic 1950s steakhouse: wood paneling, tufted black leather, and subtle Western touches. The menu keeps the focus on the quality of the meats, which are all cut and aged in house. If Ron Swanson came to Kansas City, this is where he’d go for table-groaning rib-eyes and Kansas City strips.

Country-fried steak at the Golden Ox
Golden Ox/Facebook

Banksia

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Native Australians Rob and Kate Joseph have brought a slice of Aussie cafe culture to downtown Kansas City. Sunday brunch here means bantering over the bakery case, where patrons can choose from savory hand pies, lamb sausage rolls, and, of course, Vegemite toast. But the bakery is also a favorite for sweets. Try the berry-crowned Pavlova or the house-made iced vovo, a shortbread cookie striped with marshmallow cream and jam.

Berries and cream danish at Banksia
Banksia/Facebook

Brookside Poultry Company

Fried chicken livers at Brookside Poultry Company
Brookside Poultry Company/Facebook

At chef Charles d’Ablaing’s cozy-casual east Brookside eatery, diners can choose from a small, fowl-forward menu including chicken salad and a decadent, sour-cream-brined fried chicken. But the compulsory dishes here are the rotisserie Barham Farms duck (call ahead; they go fast) and the fried wings — crisp, breaded drumettes chastely tossed in a mild but twangy hot sauce.

Fried chicken livers at Brookside Poultry Company
Brookside Poultry Company/Facebook

Our Daily Nada

Our Daily Nada bookstore and bar
Our Daily Nada/Facebook

The River Market’s first so-called “boozy bookstore” has been packed with wine lovers and roving book clubs since its opening in August. Owners Amy Covitz and Andrea Baca curated their wine list as carefully as their book list. But Our Daily Nada is also a worthy destination for stylish bar bites and small plates from chef Carlos Mortera of Kansas City’s the Bite. Order some Old Bay popcorn, nip languidly from a glass of merlot, and nestle into one of many cheery reading nooks in this sophisticated space.

Our Daily Nada bookstore and bar
Our Daily Nada/Facebook

Novel

Fresh pastas at Novel
Novel official

Westsiders have enjoyed chef Ryan Brazeal and pastry chef Jessica Armstrong’s eclectic take on New American cuisine for years. But in April, the couple decamped to the Crossroads with a fresh vision. The new Novel is bright and modern but no less charming, with sunny yellow curtains to separate the airy dining room into intimate islands. The menu has gotten an update, too, with more streamlined entrees and a brand-new section of house-made pastas (don’t skip the beef cheek and bone marrow ravioli, which crackles with chile and fried garlic).

Fresh pastas at Novel
Novel official

Freshwater

A dish at Freshwater
Freshwater KC/Facebook

Almost a year after a drunk driver demolished the first iteration of Freshwater, chef Calvin Davis reopened his Midtown restaurant to an even rosier reception. The focus of his food hasn’t changed — fresh, seasonal produce takes the spotlight next to smaller portions of locally sourced proteins. But the cocktail program has matured, transforming Freshwater into a hip happy-hour spot. Stay for dinner to sample some of the metro’s best fine dining at a lower price point (Davis’s 10-course tasting menu is just $55).

A dish at Freshwater
Freshwater KC/Facebook

Broadway Deli

Pastrami on rye at Broadway Deli
Broadway Deli/Facebook

Until recently, Kansas City’s restaurant scene had a big pastrami-shaped hole. Bill Fromm set out to correct that by opening Broadway Deli, a daytime-only destination for meats shipped from Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen in Chicago. Though the restaurant isn’t kosher — its tagline is “a mostly Jewish deli for a mostly not Jewish city” — locals are still lining up for thin-shaved pastrami and chubby scrolls of lox. The sleeper hits are the chewy noodle kugel and the smoky and savory whitefish salad.

Pastrami on rye at Broadway Deli
Broadway Deli/Facebook

Parlor

The bar at Parlor
Parlor/Facebook

Like everywhere else in the country, food halls are cropping up across KC, and the crowds at Parlor suggest the trend has staying power. Parlor is a three-story, seven-stall playground for local chefs  It’s also the only place in town where you can find Nashville hot chicken, Turkish pizza, and Scandinavian street food under one roof. Don’t miss chef Patrick Curtis’s take on fluffy, Osaka-style okonomiyaki or chef Katee McLean’s busy (but delicious) tunnbrödsrulle.

The bar at Parlor
Parlor/Facebook

The Restaurant at 1900

A shellfish soup at the Restaurant at 1900
The Restaurant at 1900/Facebook

The 1900 Building might look a little corporate stuffed-shirt, but the Restaurant at 1900 is anything but. Chef Linda Duerr has imbued her contemporary American dishes with a sense of humor. Expect playful high-low mashups, like a flaky lobster toaster pastry with whipped VSOP cream and artful plating. The minimalist gray-and-white interior heightens the focus on Duerr’s kaleidoscopic colors and textures.

A shellfish soup at the Restaurant at 1900
The Restaurant at 1900/Facebook

The Russell

A wood-fired steak sandwich at the Russel
The Russell official

This fast-casual lunch spot has been an Instagram darling since it opened, thanks to a liberal smattering of millennial decor tropes (typewriters! succulents! reclaimed wood!). The result is a luxe atmosphere for colorful salads and healthy grain bowls. Chef Amante Domingo cooks everything over a wood-fired grill, steeping the expansive Midtown space in campfire aromas. Try the grilled half-chicken and grab one of White’s famous saucer-sized olive oil chocolate chip cookies to go.

A wood-fired steak sandwich at the Russel
The Russell official

Black Dirt

Roasted Campo Lindo chicken at Black Dirt
Black Dirt/Facebook

This year, chef Jonathan Justus closed his beloved Justus Drugstore, a James Beard Award semifinalist, to go all in on Black Dirt. His new Plaza restaurant treats simpler, comforting dishes to the same elegant presentation in a refined setting. A horseshoe-shaped bar commands focus in the main dining room, spotlighting the inventive cocktail program. Menu mainstays include succulent duck confit fritters and the Camp Lindo fried chicken in a sea of sage gravy.

Roasted Campo Lindo chicken at Black Dirt
Black Dirt/Facebook

Fannie's West African Cuisine

A plate at Fannie’s African Cuisine
Fannie’s African Cuisine/Facebook

The metro’s first West African eatery feels right at home in the burgeoning Troost corridor. Natural light streams into the cute dining room through a wall of plate-glass windows, making this a lively spot for breakfast or lunch. Chef Fannie Gibson and her husband, Kelechi Eme, faithfully recreate staple dishes from Liberia, Nigeria, and Ghana, many of which can be made vegetarian. Try the cassava leaf stew with fufu, a supple dough made from cassava and plantain flour, or the jollof rice with fried tilapia and plantains.  

A plate at Fannie’s African Cuisine
Fannie’s African Cuisine/Facebook

Golden Ox

Country-fried steak at the Golden Ox
Golden Ox/Facebook

Locals still wax poetic about the old Golden Ox, a landmark steakhouse that opened in the city’s stockyards district in 1949. This year, the Ox reopened in its original location — the old Livestock Exchange Building in the West Bottoms. The look is classic 1950s steakhouse: wood paneling, tufted black leather, and subtle Western touches. The menu keeps the focus on the quality of the meats, which are all cut and aged in house. If Ron Swanson came to Kansas City, this is where he’d go for table-groaning rib-eyes and Kansas City strips.

Country-fried steak at the Golden Ox
Golden Ox/Facebook

Banksia

Berries and cream danish at Banksia
Banksia/Facebook

Native Australians Rob and Kate Joseph have brought a slice of Aussie cafe culture to downtown Kansas City. Sunday brunch here means bantering over the bakery case, where patrons can choose from savory hand pies, lamb sausage rolls, and, of course, Vegemite toast. But the bakery is also a favorite for sweets. Try the berry-crowned Pavlova or the house-made iced vovo, a shortbread cookie striped with marshmallow cream and jam.

Berries and cream danish at Banksia
Banksia/Facebook

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