There are two things that can unify people across all cultural boundaries, and that’s music and food. In Kansas City, the latter has grown immensely from simple Midwestern fare centred around meat and potatoes and homemade comfort foods, into an expansive, rich culinary palate peppered with Udon, Shish Tawook, Pho, Panes Rellenos, Brodet, Moussaka and other mouth-watering intercontinental culinary indulgences.
Within this breadth of outstanding gastronomic fare you’ll find a cornucopia of award-winning recipes from a bevy of homegrown celebrity chefs that have been featured in some of the country’s A-list food and drink publications and reviews. In fact, Saveur, one of the nation’s top culinary magazines, proclaimed Kansas City as “America’s Next Great Culinary Destination.”
An International Gateway of Flavours
Barbecue lovers the world over know that KC’s premium steaks—including its namesake Kansas City Strip—and its over 100 finger-lickin’ barbecue restaurants that contributed to the title “The Barbecue Capital of the World,” are among its signature calling cards.
But the secret ingredient in this former Cowtown, is the dollops of ethnic diversity found throughout the metro area, which reveal a delightfully pungent and intricately-woven tapestry of epicurean excellence. Effortlessly drawing together both tourists and locals alike, the breadth of culinary influences in KC has produced a borderless, international melting pot teeming with flavour and literally, colour.
The end result is a more sophisticated and adventurous gourmet landscape that allows locals to travel sans passport and experience an inviting global dining table of amazing people, places and eats.
The “Variety is the Spice of Life” concept is easy to grasp here, given the United Nations of 60-plus different cultures and languages on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas State Line, including Spanish, Russian, Korean, Greek, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Italian, Chinese, Tagalog, Croatian, Japanese, French, Arabic and Wolof, just to name a few.
Bringing with them their own cultural and family recipes and cooking traditions, these folks have created a scrumptious smorgasbord of international dishes found everywherefrom food trucks to neighbourhood bistros and cafés, hidden hot spots and upscale, award-winning restaurants.
From the Farm to the Table
You might not think that such a meat-centric town would have much to offer the leaf eaters among us. But Kansas City can roll with the best of them when it comes to veggie-friendly food.
The bounty of fresh dairy produce and products reaped from the region’s copious organic and independent farmers and suppliers, are essential components in every chef’s daily repertoire here. And in the last several years, a penchant for wholesome plant-based indulgences has deeply taken root, yielding a burgeoning harvest of outstanding vegetarian and vegan eateries, where even the staunchest of carnivores can enjoy a delicious meal.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Just one trip to Kansas City and you’ll see that superb knife and fork adventures—each serving up their own unique flavour and flair of the city—can be found around every corner.
It’s just these types of tantalizing experiences that people can’t seem to get enough of, moving KC into the minds of many a foodie from the proverbial kids’ corner at a casual family gathering, to the head of the table at Thanksgiving dinner.
So bring you cravings to Kansas City, and Bon Appétit!
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Have you sampled Kansas City’s dynamic food scene? Where do you go for a great meal when you’re in town? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin
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About the author: LysaLysa Allman-Baldwin
For the past 18 years, Lysa has fed her wanderlust for "everything the world has to offer" by writing passionately about travel, cuisine, historic sites and attractions, cultural events, spas, festivals and other subjects for numerous print and online publications. Her parallel loves are her two teenage sons who possess the travel and gastronomy bugs as well, accompanying her on many sojourns around the globe. Living in the Kansas City area for over a decade, Lysa says the Heartland of America offers an often unexpected warmth, charm, depth and excitement that entices people to come back for more.