McClain’s Bakery, our Gold medalist in this revived category, started in Waldo in 1945. Since then, it has gone through two ownership changes, moved its primary location to Gregory Boulevard in Brookside, and has outposts in Leawood, which also doubles as a café, and Lawrence. Silver winner, Dolce Bakery, in Prairie Village, is known for its breakfast pastries, cakes and gluten-free selections. Bronze medalist Ibis Bakery, a maker of rustic breads, croissants and other specialties, has locations in Messenger Coffee Cafe, in the Crossroads, and Black Dog Coffeehouse, in Lenexa.
No one will ever agree in this category, so don’t shoot the messenger. The Gold medal winner in this signature category goes to Q39 and Chef Rob Magee for its gourmet take on Kansas City’s staple cuisine. It has locations in Midtown and Overland Park. Gas-station-housed Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, takes the Silver. Jeff and Joy Stehney took over the Kansas City, Kan., operation in 1997 and have since opened outposts in Leawood and Olathe. The Bronze winner is Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue, which traces its roots back more than 60 years, but took on its current identity under Jack Fiorella in 1974. It has since expanded to include locations in Overland Park, the Freight House by Union Station, the Country Club Plaza and Lee’s Summit.
The biggest local brewery also has the distinction of taking the GOLD here. Boulevard Brewing Co. has been around since 1989, but it’s still growing, with an annual beer and music festival named after the company since 2014 and a regular new output of flavors, you can increasingly find Boulevard around the country. The SILVER medal goes to KC Bier Co., with
its German-style beers. Its brewery is in Waldo, where KC Bier regularly has live entertainment. Taking the Bronze goes toMartin City Brewing Company, with side-by-side restaurants in its namesake town, as well as a restaurant and taproom in Overland Park. It’s Belgianstyle beers are found around the metro area.
Gold medalist BRGR Kitchen + Bar opened its first location, in Prairie Village, in 2010 and now also has outlets in the Power & Light District and Leawood. The menu sports 10
different burgers, including one with an espresso-encrusted patty. Westport Flea Market, featured on the Food Network, wins Silver. With meat from McGonigle’s Market,
the menu has a five-patty burger called The Super Flea. Waldo’s Walsh’s Corner Cocktail, takes Bronze. This no-frills establishment has been serving up one of the city’s best burgers since 1978.
BEST BUSINESS BREAKFAST
Readers chose First Watch as the Gold medalist, and it’s no surprise: Only once in 25 years has First Watch not taken top honors in this category. With locations around the metro area, the expanding national chain makes made-to-order meals, has a high concentration of healthy items and complimentary newspapers. Silver-medalist The Classic Cup has been in the Country
Club Plaza since 1977. Its contemporary breakfast menu has everything from bread pudding to migas tacos. The Big Biscuit takes the Bronze. Along with its signature item, the Kansas City-
based chain offers traditional breakfast fare and healthy items at several locations from Topeka to Blue Springs.
BEST BUSINESS LUNCH
The Brass Onion, in the Prairiefire development in Overland Park, takes the Gold medal honors. Helmed by executive chef Chris Rohde, the menu is billed as modern American Lowcountry fare. Lidia’s the Italian outpost of celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich in the Freight House, took the Silver. Included with the Italian favorites on the menu, under the supervision of Executive Chef Cody Hogan, is a three-course pasta special. The Capital Grille on the Country Club Plaza, known for steaks, is the Bronze winner. It just moved this month and made way for a Nordstrom, into the former home to Williams-Sonoma, at 4760 Broadway Blvd.
BEST BUSINESS DINNER
The Capital Grille once again is the Gold medalist in this prized category, showing that top-notch steaks were the strongest draw to impress a client in the evening. The classy steakhouse, which was also a winner in the Best Business Lunch category, has relocated to 47th and Broadway on the Country Club Plaza. Rye, with restaurants in Leawood and the Plaza, and is the creation of bluestem owners Colby and Megan Garrelts, takes the Silver medal. Its menu also has a focus on premium steaks and other hearty entrees, such as fried-chicken dinners. The Northland’s Trezo Mare, headed by executive chef Robert Padilla, wins Bronze. The dinner menu features Italian fare, steaks and seafood. Trezo Mare is in the Tuscan-themed Village at Briarcliff development.
Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions wins the Gold medal for its ability to execute fabulous foods and events in a variety of settings, from Union Station to the Amigomi Urban Winery. It does everything from private meals to corporate functions that have upwards of 6,000 guests. The Silver medalist is Brancato’s Catering, which has more than a dozen buffet menus, from barbecue to breakfast. In its 50th year, the company works regularly with dozens of venues. Bronze-winner PB&J Restaurants, which owns eateries such as YaYa’s Euro Bistro and Burnt End BBQ, does catering for large and small groups, offering several different cuisines.
BEST COFFEE HOUSE/SHOP
The Gold-medal winner for fueling up on caffeine over business is The Roasterie. With headquarters and roasting facilities on the western edge of the Crossroads neighborhood, The Roasterie also has outposts throughout the metro area, and its products, including a new CBD cold brew, are sold in many grocery stores. Taking the Silver is Lenexa’s Black Dog Coffeehouse Serving Messenger coffee, it has full breakfast and lunch menus, as well as an adjoining Ibis Bakery. The ubiquitous Starbucks takes the Bronze. The old standby has several standalone locations as well as cafes in area grocers and discounters, such as Target.
Goodcents, headquartered in De Soto and rebranded without its trademark “Mister” title, takes Gold Serving up sandwiches and more for 30 years, the franchise company has several locations in this and other Midwestern cities. Goodcents is know for its soft bread that is baked twice daily, as well as freshly sliced meats. Silver winner Jason’s Deli, an outfit based in Texas, has a handful of locations around the area, including Downtown and Johnson County. The company prides itself on not using artificial additives in its food. Broadway Deli, in the Crossroads, takes the Bronze. Styled after a traditional New York City deli, it serves bagels, corned beef, matzo ball soup and other Gotham favorites.
Tom’s Town Distilling Co. is the Gold-medal winner in this category. Named after notorious Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast, who ran the city for much of the early 20th century, it was founded in 2015. Tom’s Town bourbons, gins and vodkas are now available around the country. The Silver medal goes to Restless Spirits Distilling Co., which came about in 2016. The North Kansas City distiller makes whisky, gin and vodka and offers tours of its facility. Taking the Bronze is J. Rieger & Co., which recently opened a remarkable new headquarters in the East Bottoms. The 60,000-square-foot space has two bars, private-event space, distillery tours and so much more.
BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT
Stroud’s Restaurant and its famous fried chicken is the Gold-medal winner, continuing its domination of the Best Family Restaurant category. With two Johnson County locations and one in the Northland, Stroud’s has been in business since 1933 and has welcomed such famed guests as author John Grisham and baseball legend Yogi Berra. The Silver goes to Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a Denver-area-based chain that has six area locations and is known for its bottomless fries and numerous burger choices. Taking the Bronze is Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, which is originally from Kansas City, Kan., where it still resides. Known for its train-themed décor and made-to-order burgers, it is also in Crown Center and Shawnee.
BEST GROCERY STORE/CHAIN
The Gold-medal winner of the grocery category is Hy-Vee, which has outlets across the metropolitan area. Locations will soon have Joe Fresh apparel in their doors after a recent deal with the Canadian clothing company. The company has also been rolling out Market Grille restaurants in its supermarkets. Locally-owned Price Chopper wins the Silver medal. It has 52 stores around Kansas City, which are all individually owned by families. One of them owns Bronze-medal winner Cosentino’s Market, which has stores Downtown, in Brookside and Olathe, offering a selection of specialty and prepared foods.
BEST HAPPY HOUR
Houlihan’s takes the Gold. The Lea-wood-based national chain has five Kansas City-area locations and is a popular hangout, in part, due to its $5 menu. Trezo Mare, one of the winners in the Best Business Dinner, is good for Silver. The Northland Italian eatery has an affordable bar menu, with items such as smoked salmon tacos and pepperoni flatbread. Taking the Bronze is Summit Grill, which opened its first location in Lee’s Summit in 2013 and has followed with outposts in Waldo and Gladstone. Happy hour guests can order from a menu created by Culinary Director Po Wang.
HEALTHIEST RESTAIRAMT MENU
The Mixx, with locations in Power & Light, the Country Club Plaza, and Overland Park, is the Gold standard for health-conscious diners, and offers several salad selections. The menu, created by Owner Jo Marie Scaglia, also features sandwiches, wraps, soups and additional items, with an emphasis on vegetarian and gluten-free items. Season’s 52, in the Country Club Plaza, takes Silver. A member of the Darden Concepts restaurant company, most if its menu is made up of items under 600 calories. True Food Kitchen, a new Plaza restaurant, is the
Bronze medalist. A chain out of Phoenix, True Food’s menu is seasonal, with special attention paid to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
BEST OUTDOOR DINING
Trezo Mare again wins Gold, this time for outdoor dining. The Northland restaurant, specializing in Italian cuisine, has a sizable patio in its Village at Briarcliff setting. Rye, another multi-category winner, takes Silver. At its Country Club Plaza location, there is sidewalk seating that looks out on the famous shopping area. Gram & Dun, the Bronze winner, is also in the Plaza and offers another view, overlooking Brush Creek to the south of the shopping center. Owned by the local Bread & Butter Concepts, it is a popular place for drinks and a diverse menu overseen by executive chef Nathan Nichols.
Local chain Minsky’s is the Gold winner in the Best Pizza category. Founded in 1976, it has 18 locations around the metropolitan area, for dine-in and delivery. The outfit makes its crusts fresh several times a day and also offers beer and wine delivery from some of its Missouri locations. Silver winner Waldo Pizza, in its namesake neighborhood, as well as Lee’s Summit, has lunch buffets and bars at both of its locations. Waldo also delivers and offers both vegan and gluten-free menus. Bronze winner Spin! Neapolitan Pizza started in KC in 2004 and now has outlets around Greater Kansas City as well as a handful in other locales. It’s Italian-influenced menu also features gelato and beer and wine.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS
The charm of Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que’s converted gas station location, in Kansas City, Kan., wins Gold in the Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests category. While visitors wait in what will most likely be long lines, they can check out the dozens of sauces sold in its gift shop. Its other locations are widely popular as well. Two establishments tied for the Silver medal, Hereford House and GAROZZO’S. Though Hereford House’s original Downtown restaurant closed several years ago, the Western-style steakhouse currently has four locations around the area. Garozzo’s an authentic-Italian favorite, opened its first location in the Columbus Park neighborhood near downtown in 1989 and has since brought another to Overland Park.
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT
A Gold medal for bluestem here marks another award for Colby and Megan Garrelts, who also own the two Rye restaurants. Situated in Westport, bluestem has an inventive menu and multiple James Beard Awards. The French Le Fou Frog, in the River Market, takes Silver. Flamboyant Chef Mano Rafael cooks up a variety of French favorites in an intimate setting that also has outdoor seating. Chaz on the Plaza, in the Raphael Hotel, wins another award, taking Bronze for its seasonal modern American cuisine created by executive chef Shawn Hartwig.
Kansas City might be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean some great seafood isn’t to be had at several restaurants. Witness Gold winner Bristol SEAFOOD GRILL, with locations in the Power & Light District, fronted by executive chef Travis Napier, and Leawood, run by executive chef Dan Uche. Both locations have fresh fish from around the world daily. Silver goes to Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, near the Country Club Plaza and helmed by executive chef Sheila Lucero. It offers a year-round crab broil and has an oyster club. The Bronze winner is Eddie V’s Prime Seafood on the Plaza. The restaurant has a varied seafood menu, sizable raw bar and live entertainment.
BEST SPORTS BAR
The first Johnny’s Tavern was established in Lawrence in 1953, and the original is still there today, though it has some Gold-winning company. There are now 10 locations from West Lawrence to Lee’s Summit, with an 11th coming to Topeka. Silver-taker Tanner’s Bar & Grill started in 1985 in Lenexa, and has also grown, now with seven in the Kansas City metro area, one in Manhattan, Kan., and others in Nebraska and Wisconsin. Nick & Jake’s, the Bronze medalist, is a newer addition to the Kansas City sports-bar scene, but it has made an impact and now has locations in the South Plaza, Overland Park, Parkville and Shawnee.
The Capital Grille wins another Gold, this time for its signature item. The winner of the Best Steak category dry ages its cuts for 18 or more days on site. Go for the Gold yourself with the 32-ounce porterhouse! The Silver winner is J. Gilberts Wood-Fired Steaks and Seafood, in Overland Park. Founded in Kansas City in 1977 by Joe Gilbert, it now operates a handful of restaurants around the country. Lead by executive chef Ruben Rosales, one of the menu features is the “cowboy cut” USDA Prime bone-in rib eye. Hereford House, another KC institution, nabs Bronze, with steaks cut from hand-selected certified Hereford beef.
BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH
On top of being a notable sports bar, Nick & Jake’s boasts the Gold medal for its brunch spread. The buffet features a prime rib carving station, corned beef hash with poached eggs, a smoked salmon bar and peel-and-eat shrimp. The Silver medalist is Best Seafood winner Bristol Seafood Grill. The establishment has omelets to order, a Belgian-waffle station and a cold-seafood bar, along with a carving station that has prime rib and smoked ham. You can’t beat the setting of Bronze winner Harvey’s at Union Station, with its buffet situated in the grand hall of the facility. It offers a carving station, a number of hot buffet selections and an extensive dessert bar.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
True Food Kitchen, on the Country Club Plaza, wins Gold for Best New Restaurant. A Phoenix-based chain, it was founded on the principles of celebrity Andrew Weill and offers anti-inflammatory, healthy eating. The menu focuses on fresh, seasonal dishes, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free fare. The Restaurant at 1900, named for its Shawnee Mission Parkway address, in Mission Woods, takes the Silver. Chef Linda Duerr uses culinary influences from her native New England to craft French and Italian dishes. Bronze-winner Barrio Mexican Kitchen + Bar, with locations in Brookside and Red Bridge, has taqueria-style eats, featuring street tacos, ceviche and “BBQ Burnt End” quesadillas, among other items, from the owners of Zocalo Mexican Cuisine & Tequileria on the Plaza.
Along with its several other awards on this list, The Capital Grille is the sole Gold medal winner in the Best Service category. A new location on The Plaza has done nothing to disrupt its longstanding reputation for top-tier service, which adds an unspoken element of class that puts the “fine” in fine dining. Besides its steaks and seafood, Capital Grille boasts 350 different wines, complimentary valet service, and has been named on this list as the best place for a business dinner, in part for that service. For enhanced attention, the restaurant also offers private-dining options.
BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT
Bo Ling’s, Gold winner in the Best Asian Restaurant category, has been serving Chinese food to Kansas Citians since 1981. The business has a restaurant near its original 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue location in Overland Park, as well as five others around the metro area. Taking the Silver medal is national chain P.F. Chang’s, which is in the Country Club Plaza and serves several types of Asian cuisines. The Bronze goes to Blue Koi Noodles & Dumplings, with outlets in Westport and Leawood, offering contemporary Chinese and many teas.
BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT
Café Provence, the Gold medalist in the Best French Restaurant category, has called Prairie Village home for about 20 years. Owned and operated by the Quillec family, it serves classic French cuisine using local ingredients. Le Fou Frog, a Best Romantic Restaurant winner as well, takes the Silver medal in this category with Chef Rafael’s dishes and atmosphere which brings a piece of Paris to the River Market. Headed by Chef Emmanuel Langalde, Bronze-winner Aixois has been in Brookside since 2001. Besides its classic French menus, the establishment also has a coffee bar and serves breakfast.
BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Garozzo’s was named a Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests for good reason. It also takes the Gold for Best Italian Restaurant, with a location near Downtown, in Columbus Park, and one in Overland Park. Fill up on Italian classics at either. Taking the Silver is Cascone’s Italian Restaurants, a Northland fixture for more than 60 years. Choose from Italian staples or try the Italian nachos. The Bronze winner is Jasper’s, which has had its roots in Kansas City since 1954, and is headed by Chef Jasper Mirabele, Jr., the founder’s son. At its current 103rd Street and State Line Road location since 1997, Jasper’s is complemented by Marco Polo, a market and deli next door.
BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen, on Southwest Boulevard, has a whopper of a margarita. It’s a terrific complement to the Gold-winning Mexican fare, and the long waits on weekends speak to its strong popularity. Silver winner Manny’s Mexican Restaurant is just down the street on the West Side, and has been serving the area for more than 30 years. Once just a 50-seat restaurant, it has taken over the entire building at 20th Street and the Boulevard and seats 350. Margarita’s Amigos, the Bronze winner, has a location on the Boulevard, as well as four others in the area. People love the spicy Margarita cheese dip.