Three Stop Hop: East Bottoms & Columbus Park
Kansas City’s culinary and cocktail scene is exploding with a host of new independent restaurants and locally made spirits and brews. You can’t do it all in one night, but you might as well try. Today, we hop on over to the East Bottoms and Columbus Park.
Stop 1: Pigwich
Pigwich is the bright yellow food truck that is permanently parked next to the Local Pig, a whole animal butchery in the East Bottoms. With outstanding meat comes great responsibility and Pigwich, which opened in 2013, delivers with a collection of supreme two-handers. The juicy double cheeseburger could satisfy two appetites and the best-selling Pigwich is an homage to pig with a patty made from pulled pork and bacon, topped with crème fraiche, coleslaw, and a bit of chipotle barbecue sauce for heat. Your Saturday lunch box arrives with a mountain of crunchy, house-made chips (Pigwich goes through 100 Idaho potatoes a day). Park yourself at one of the four picnic tables under the wooden pergola, take in the view of J. Rieger & Co. (a local distillery), and do your best to eat the whole thing.
Pigwich | 2618 Guinotte Avenue | pigwich.com
Stop 2: Knuckleheads
To get to Knuckleheads you’ve got to head to the other side of the tracks. A blaze of neon regularly greets you at night, but it’s a soaring guitar riff or the buzz of a crowd that will pull you into the Saturday afternoon open jams. Knuckleheads is a sprawling collection of stages and characters – a former motorcycle shop that became a showcase for local and touring acts when it opened in 2001. It’s a story waiting to be told by a soulful blues act over a few ice cold beers. Knuckleheads gives up its mysteries only with dedicated exploration. One door takes you to the Gospel Lounge – likely the city’s only church inside of a honkeytonk – while another encourages you to pull the trigger on a Ladies Sparkle Sweatshirt that hangs like the world’s most comfortable 80’s disco ball.
Knuckleheads | 2715 Rochester Avenue | knuckleheadshonkytonk.com
Stop 3: Le Fou Frog
Only two miles away, France awaits. It’s inside a low slung brick building with shabby chic décor and a patio that twinkles with string lights as the sun starts to set. This is Le Fou Frog, which Barbara and Mano Rafael have owned and operated since 1996. Your destination as Saturday afternoon gives way to evening – the Frog opens at 5 p.m. on the weekends – is that patio. Whether you’re a couple or a small party, you’ll be eating family style. Start your dinner with a wide white bowl of mussels and a local beer or opt for a glass of Cotes du Rhone (Le Fou Frog has only one California wine on the menu, but they’re happy to let you taste to help you find your French vintage of choice) and a house charcuterie plate with pate, rillette, and sausage. With close tables and a convivial atmosphere, you may also find yourself sharing plates with your neighbor. Just make sure to keep the decadent chocolate mousse with a tart ribbon of raspberry for yourself. It’s a lovely nightcap.
Le Fou Frog | 400 E 5th Street | lefoufrog.com
Photos by Ben Pieper