Three Stop Hop is a series from Recommended Daily and Visit KC that lets you experience a neighborhood or corner of the city in three unique stops. For this last edition, we head up to North Kansas City for a unique, delicious experience.
STOP 1: SCREENLAND ARMOUR THEATRE
As dusk settles on Armour Road, the big bright marquee of the Screenland Armour Theatre blinks out a message: Come sit at the bar. Drink great beer. With 100 choices listed on a chalkboard sign, this is a craft beer bar that also shows movies. A mix of independent and big budget flicks grace the two screens at Screenland and many come with a themed food or drink pairing, or even a locally designed, limited edition poster. In the theater, you can opt for traditional stadium-style seating or the couches in front. Human interaction with fellow film geeks is the 3-D option here.
The menu is a set of two-handers – gyros, over-stuffed grilled cheeses – and a warm Farm to Market pretzel with dipping cheese that is what you wish they served at ballparks. The popcorn is made with coconut oil and its silky texture and crunch will turn you into a convert. Screenland has a host of Easter Eggs to discover, just like any good movie. Board games are tucked away beneath a cash register, there’s a talking skull encased in glass behind the bar, and a two-panel mural of a Delorean on the wall above the bank of arcade games. The pinball and classic machines rotate frequently and the high scores are reset every night, so you’ve always got a shot at the leaderboard.
STOP 2: CHICKEN N PICKLE
The laughter and happy teasing that evoke a good family reunion can be heard a little under a half-mile away at Chicken N Pickle. A few feet from the full bar are the eight Pickleball courts (four inside, four outside) where teams of two attempt to knock a bright yellow ball over a net. The game is like a life-size version of Ping Pong, which makes it easy to pick up and a surprisingly fun spectator sport. The paddles are slightly bigger than those featured in racquetball and the court is the same size as a badminton court. The games are played to 11 points, which is exactly the moment when you’ll be thinking about the 28 taps inside the restaurant currently under construction.
The entertainment venue has the feel of a Texas icehouse. Communal wooden picnic tables sit under string lights and a host of oversized board games (Kerplunk, Connect Four) and yard games can be your next test of skill. The Pickle has already arrived and the Chicken – a menu built and focused around rotisserie chicken cooked on a wood-fired grill -- is on the way. This is like the backyard that HGTV has promised us with a fire pit and beers on ice.
STOP 3: Cinder Block Brewery
Across the street from Chicken N Pickle is the place where you can rehash your athletic glory or try to figure out exactly what the film was trying to tell you. Cinder Block Brewery, which opened in 2013 in a former auto repair shop, is where hop lovers can feel at home and cider enthusiasts are born. The taproom is a mash-up of an industrial aesthetic and a new age coffee shop (they have cold brew coffee on tap in the summer months) with warm wood to soften the edges. They have scheduled tours, but sneak peeks and informal tours are a common occurrence as the stainless steel tanks shine out from the brew house in back.
Flights are common orders with most folks starting with the Northtown Native, a crisp, malty ale, and the Weathered Wit, a Belgian-style wheat beer with plenty of citrus in the nose. Cinder Block is part of the new vanguard of microbreweries in North Kansas City, but its focus on cider made with local apples is unique. They typically have a dry and cherry option – this is not the treacle of your college days -- as well as a barrel-aged cider on occasion. A bank of barrels, where future beer and cider releases are aging for between six months and two years, forms a half-wall between the taproom and the Reclamation Room – the event space adjacent to the brewery’s patio. If you find a favorite beer, they’ve got cans and growlers so you can have something to toast your night out in Northtown when you get home.