Wining and Dining 2021 Winners

July 2021



BEST BARBECUE

Bagging yet another Gold in the category that perhaps best defines these awards, FIORELLA’S JACK STACK BARBECUE sets standards for slow-smoked fare: beef, pork, chicken, fish, and side dishes that are just as savory as the entrees. All served up from five (soon to be six) Kansas City-area locations. Silver honors reside with JOE’S KANSAS CITY, where the famous Z-Man sandwich is complemented with the full gamut of tender smoky selections at the Wyandotte County mother ship, as well as Olathe and Leawood locations. Q39, on 39th Street’s Restaurant Row (and in Overland Park) picks up the Bronze, and if you haven’t tried the burnt-end burger there, you’re missing a true mark of barbecue innovation.

 

BEST BAKERY

For more than 75 years, the Waldo-based masters of dough at MCLAIN’S BAKERY have been delighting patrons with sweet treats that include yeast-based rolls, cookies, cakes, as well as savory sandwiches and specialty breads. Solid Gold to almost any palate. Crashing into these awards for the first time, and securing Silver, is Overland Park’s BEST REGARDS BAKERY & CAFE, featuring not just dessert goodies but monster sand-wiches like the Ultimate BLT and Tobinator Grilled Cheese. DOLCE BAKERY weighs in with Bronze, where owner Erin Brown lives by her motto of “Every Batch from Scratch.”

 

BEST BREWERY

More than 30 years its founding amid craft brewing’s U.S. awakening, BOULEVARD BREWING CO. continues to be this region’s Gold standard for the zymurgological arts, with its array of year-round, seasonal and specialty/limited-release brews. MARTIN CITY BREWING CO., a brewpub offering fresh beer to go with its food fare, secures the Silver. And KC BIER CO., which rose to prominence as Craft Brewing 2.0 took off a decade ago, comes in with Bronze honors.

 

BEST BUSINESS BREAKFAST

Lunch? Ha! The real go-getters of the business world start doing deals a lot closer to sun-up, and downing the breakfast fare at any of 15 FIRST WATCH area locations; the griddle-masters there have owned Gold honors in this category for more than two decades, thanks to a wide array of early-morning dining options. Plaza-based CLASSIC CUP, with outdoor dining options that make the most of beautiful Midwestern mornings, stands tall with Silver. EGGTC., south of the Plaza near UMKC and at firing up the griddle in Shawnee, secures the Bronze.

 

BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

A freshened brand at BRISTOL SEAFOOD + STEAK + SOCIAL doesn’t mean a deviation from what has made this Kansas City fixture a magnet for the business executive’s lunch. As the name implies, surf and turf is big on the menu, but don’t overlook the appetizers and sandwich offerings—combined, they give Bristol the chops to claim Gold with readers this year. THE CAPITAL GRILLE, always competing for best-steak honors, is the Silver selection this year, while J. ALEXANDER’S array of flame-kissed prime cuts ties for Bronze with NICK & JAKE’S more casual fare.

 

BEST BUSINESS DINNER

This is the meal to close the deal: Dinner at THE CAPITAL GRILLE. Barbecue has a special place in Kansas City, but steaks done perfect are our true calling cards, and these guys are the Jedi masters of the flame-broiled arts. So much more than prime cuts (the poultry and seafood are spectacular, too), a full menu, from appetizers through dessert, combines with stellar service to nail the Gold here yet again. The wood-fired selections at Silver medalist J. GILBERT’S—sirloin, strip, ribeye or filet—are complemented by pork chop or lobster entrees. And the offerings at Bronze-winning STOCK HILL, just south of The Plaza, show why Thrillist.com included it among America’s 31 best steak houses for four years running.

 

BEST BURGER

With more than a dozen area locations, you’re always close to burger satisfaction at Gold-winning FIVE GUYS, where you can also get various stylings of the venerable hot dog, or even a veggie sandwich to go with signature fries and hand-spun milkshakes. Silver winner BRGR KITCHEN + BAR, in the Power & Light District and Prairie Village, offers more than a dozen interpretations of this uniquely American classic. And WESTPORT FLEA MARKET BAR & GRILL, with the Bronze, is famed well beyond its walls in Midtown, and not just for the bravado that produces the 5-patty Super Flea burger.

 

BEST CATERER

Jaime Geer Steinman carries on the Gold-level tradition set by the founders at LON LANE’S INSPIRED OCCASIONS, where every dish is designed to tell a story, whether it’s for a work-related event, a wedding or other special occasions, or for delivery at home or office. PB&J RESTAURANTS caters more than 4,000 events a year, which explains why that team racks up the Silver. And the ability to deliver—at scale, and on short notice—earns GRANDMA’S OFFICE CATERING a tie Bronze with the fanciful creations delivered by BRANCATO’S CATERING—always a contender.

 

BEST COFFEE HOUSE

Maybe you don’t recognize Fairwave Holdings by name, but its two signature brands share honors with THE ROASTERIE garnering Gold and MESSENGER COFFEE serving up steaming mug of Bronze. They combined last year to create an entity with both wide-ranging manufacturing-production operations and one of the region’s best retail settings at the latter’s spacious Downtown digs. Silver doesn’t fall far from that coffee tree: Lenexa’s BLACK DOG COFFEE HOUSE serves up Messenger’s bean formulations.

 

BEST DELI

If you still think of pastrami on rye as the mark of a great deli, it’s time to join the 21st century. The Gold medalists at JASON’S DELI can help you with that. Try their loaded baked potatoes, pastas or soups, along with specialty sandwiches and desserts, either Downtown or in the Northland. Readers award Silver to D’BRONX, where they master hand-tossed pizzas as well as sandwich fare at three area locations. Bronze goes to MILWAUKEE DELICATESSEN CO., where the geography may raise an eye-brow, but the pizza, sandwiches, salads and drinks are Kansas City crowd-pleasers.

 

BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT

Is it time to retire the trophy here and simply declare STROUD’S the unchallenged titlist for these honors? The lop-sided voting—again—confirms the Gold status this Kansas City institution has with discerning patrons and Ingram’s readers (but we repeat ourselves). The family-style fried-chicken dinner, complete with sides that would make your grand-mother proud, is not to be missed at any of its four locations, including the new one in Mission. CORNER CAFÉ, in Liberty and Riverside, secures this year’s Silver with specials made fresh each day. Our reader’s long-time favorite NICK & JAKE’S claims the Bronze.

 

BEST GROCERY store

Fine dining doesn’t always require a maitre d’. Sometimes, you’re the master of the house, responsible for the dining experience of guests. That’s when a solid grocery partner is your best ally. For our readers, HY-VEE earns the Gold not just for the robust offerings through its catering division, but for the broad sweep of products that can help put your John Hancock on a signature dinner at home. PRICE CHOPPER, not a grocery per se, but a flag flown by four area family grocers—Cosentino, Ball, McKeever and Queen, by name—comes through, as well, earning Silver, while Bronze goes to HEN HOUSE for extraordinary selection and support services.

 

BEST HAPPY HOUR

For young executives especially, the Happy Hour is often work and play rolled into one. Heavy on the play, though. Specials on drinks and appetizers help bring closure to a day’s work, and readers say HOULIHAN’S serves that up in Gold fashion at three locations. SUMMIT GRILL offers cheers with libations and locations—it has four venues in the area—and picks up the Silver. HEREFORD HOUSE with its four locations claims the Bronze for it’s extraordinary offerings over Happy Hour.

 

HEALTHIEST MENU

Downtown denizens may have mourned the loss of THE MIXX in their neighborhood last year, but there’s enough of the good—and healthy—offerings available through locations on the Plaza and in Overland Park to secure the Gold for 2021. Fresh, fast and health-minded, it prepares from scratch with a focus on unprocessed, non-GMO certified food free of preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. TRUE FOOD KITCHEN, where the food changes with the season to ensure fresh offerings, snags the Silver. ENJOY PURE FOOD + DRINK wins Bronze with a menu touted for its restorative potential.

 

BEST OUTDOOR DINING

A region with four distinct seasons offers many an outdoor dining opportunity, and readers say that experience, combined with the perfect pairings of food and drink at GRAM & DUN on The Plaza, make for the perfect setting—and Gold honors. RYE, the inspiration of highly acclaimed chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts, racks up Silver for its locations in Leawood and on The Plaza. And in the Northland, the Italian ambiance at employee-owned TREZO MARE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE is an easy choice for Bronze.

 

BEST PIZZA

The challengers are many, and strong, but Kansas City voters, it seems, won’t be tempted to award Gold to anyone but MINSKY’S. And so it is again this year for the pizza kings who made it a gourmet offering, dishing it up in 18 locations. Equally fierce in their devotion, if not in numbers, are readers who cast their votes for WALDO PIZZA to earn Silver hon-ors. And D’BRONX enters the fray outside its traditional deli category by snapping up Bronze.

 

BEST RESTAURANT TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

It’s remarkable, really: With the rich diversity of dining options available to them—white tablecloth, fast-casual, ethnic of all stripes—readers come running home to Mama, it seems, by zeroing on barbecue as the must-have meal for visitors to Kansas City. Perhaps somewhat less remarkably, they pick the same Gold-Silver-Bronze line up as in the barbecue category: FIORELLA’S JACK STACK BARBECUE again places at the top, with JOE’S KANSAS CITY in the Silver slot and Q39 rounding out the field with Bronze.

 

MOST ROMANTIC

When dinner is as much an affair of the heart as it is an experience for the palate, readers say you’ll get the most romantic ROI on your dollar by thinking French. That starts with Gold winner LE FOU FROG and its perfect combination of cuisine and wines. One might argue that one hasn’t lived until sampling the Filet le Fou, steak paired with lobster meal. Still with in full Francophile mode, voters turn to CAFÉ PROVENCE as the runner-up with Silver. More traditional fare, paired with just the right ambience, can be found at CHAZ ON THE PLAZA and PIERPONT’S in Union Station, who share the Bronze honors.

 

BEST SEAFOOD

The coasts are distant concepts in the heartland, but bringing the ocean’s bounty to tables in Kansas City is a Gold-winning task for BRISTOL SEAFOOD + STEAK + SOCIAL. From lobster rolls, calamari or Oysters Rockefeller as appetizers thro-ugh Seafood Mixed Grill dinner, the sea calls. Silver goes to MCCORMICK & SCHMICK’S for its diverse array of sole, halibut, ahi tuna, mahi mahi and more, while the Bronze is split between Plaza competitors JAX FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR and EDDIE V’s.

 

BEST SPORTS BAR/GRILL

A cold brew, the big game, a burger or some wings: What could be better? The whole package, delivered by Gold winner JOHNNY’S TAVERN, defines the sports-bar experience, say readers who frequent the 11—soon to be 12—area locations. The variation on that theme at NICK & JAKE’S is good for Silver, while COACH’S BAR & GRILL shares the Bronze honors with the BROOKSIDER SPORTSBAR & GRILL.

 

BEST STEAK

Kansas City is blessed with organizations that know how to treat a cow right. Starting with perennial reader favorite THE CAPITAL GRILLE, back for another serving of Gold for its dazzling array of sizzling steak cuts—and yes, non-red meat offerings, but really: What’s the point?—plus all the appetizers, dinner trimmings, desserts and sterling service. Silver goes to 801 CHOPHOUSE in the Power & Light District (check out the 32-ounce Porterhouse!); Bronze resides with J. GILBERT’S who prepare remarkable steaks.

 

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

Last week is a memory; next week is a day away. Sunday is a day to complete the recharge, and nothing fills the battery like a stellar brunch. BRISTOL SEAFOOD + STEAK + SOCIAL bags yet another Gold for its oceanic spin on this fare, right down to the lobster mac and cheese.  NICK & JAKE’S array of breakfast and lunch favorites, prime rib carving station, shrimp, desserts and more carries the day for Silver. PIERPONT’S in Union Station, serving traditional brunch fare along with sophisticated accents you simply won’t find anywhere else, earns the Bronze.

 

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Only one level of recognition—Gold—can be awarded in this category, and this year, it belongs to THE STILWELL at the Loews Kansas City Hotel. Opening its doors in 2020 was a test that the staff passed with grace and elegance, qualities on display throughout the menu. Unique interpretations of American fare—fish, poultry, pork and beef—complemented with appetizers, desserts, specialty cock-tails and wines, all served up with view of Downtown as a backdrop, make this a bucket-list dining experience.

 

BEST SERVICE

Again, only one award, and again, there are no surprises here: Always in the running for top honors, THE CAPITAL GRILLE delivers yet again. Superior service makes for a dinner to remember, not an experience best forgotten, and they make it their mission to let the food speak for itself. Now with 12 Golds for this category (out of 17 years of eligibility), The Capital Grille leaves others in their wake.

 

BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT

For the sixth time since this category debuted in 2013, BO LING’s brings home the Gold, aided in part by the exposure that comes from reaching patrons with six locations and a full selection of soups, rolls, dumplings, noodles, dim sum and more. BLUE KOI, with a full spectrum of noodles, dumplings and more—and don’t forget its signature Bubble Tea—turns Silver for this competition, while the Bronze goes to P.F. Chang’s, the long-time Plaza favorite where every dish is prepared fresh, from scratch, every day.

 

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

Going head-to-head in yet another category, this time it’s CAFÉ PROVENCE emerging with the Gold, scoring with readers for both its lunch and dinner creations. It narrowly edged LE FOU FROG with a Silver in balloting for category honors. Bronze resides with aixois, the classic French bistro just a stone’s throw south of the UMKC campus.

 

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Five years and counting: That’s the impressive Gold-winning streak amassed by Michael Garozzo and his team at GAROZZO’S RISTORANTE, the culinary gem in the Little Italy/Columbus Park neighborhood east of the River Market. For our money, it’s the Tortelloni Gina, stuffed with chicken and prosciutto, but that’s just one of dozens of authentic Italian offerings. Right behind with the Silver is BELLA NAPOLI, combining restaurant dining, deli and market in the Brookside area. CASCONE’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT on North Oak Trafficway, another long-time reader favorite, grabs the Bronze.

 

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

The menu at Jalapeno’s in Brookside combines both north and south of the border influences, and that diversity is a Gold-level hit with readers who, we presume, enjoy a real margarita with their lunch or dinner. Word to the wise: No. 8 on the dinner menu is a keeper—so be hungry. Manny’s, on the Boulevard approaching Downtown, earns Silver with its array of burritos, tacos, fajitas and much more (including margaritas, naturally). Farther down the Boulevard are Ponak’s and the appropriately-named Margarita’s, spreading good cheer, chips and salsa, and sizzling dishes share Bronze honors.