Three Stop Hop: Downtown Adventures
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. This time, we're headed back downtown to eat, drink and play—#ThreeStopHop style.
Stop 1: Plowboys BBQ
A few steps from the Streetcar, you can be immersed in the smoke and flavor of Kansas City barbecue. The walls of Plowboys BBQ are lined with portraits of KC barbecue legends, both restrooms have framed photos of influential barbecue natives in what Plowboys terms the ‘Wall of Flame,’ and the intoxicating smell from behind the counter makes it hard to wait in line. The ribbons and trophies in the center of the dining room proclaim this spot as barbecue country and you’re the latest citizen.
Plowboys, which opened its downtown location in 2015, honors the classic traditions of Kansas City barbecue – you’ll find burnt ends, pit beans and cheese corn. But it also pushes the boundaries thanks to pitmaster and co-owner Todd Johns. He’s part of a new vanguard of local barbecue joints with roots in competition barbecue (Johns’ team was the Grand Champion at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue Invitational in 2009) that are kicking out inventive and smoke-inspired dishes. Tops on the list are the barbecue nachos with house made chips and queso topped with pulled pork. If you’re sitting inside, grab a local beer from one of the six taps. Or take your ribs platter and creamy or vinegar slaw out on to one of the two patios to enjoy a little view with your ‘cue.
Plowboys BBQ | 1111 Main Street, Kansas City, MO
Stop 2: College Basketball Experience
Barbecue can make you move like molasses, so you’re going to need to pick up your game a little bit. Only a few blocks from Plowboys, the College Basketball Experience is just the ticket. For those still weighed down by brisket, browse the Hall of Fame, which has a series of rotating exhibits on influential teams and players in college basketball. Be sure to stop by the sculpture that resembles an oversized basketball net, where you can learn about the coaching tree that connects everyone from John Wooden to Bill Self.
This is an immersive museum, one that grabs you from the moment you hit the elevators and you hear a coach’s voice psyching you up for a big game. The crowd roars when you step out and you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a host of basketball-themed challenges. Nail a buzzer beater or hit a free throw with a hostile group of fans trying to distract you on a giant video board. Test your accuracy at the free throw line, learn how to dribble, and see how you measure up against some of the college greats. Once you’ve been humbled, take solace in dunking on the seven-foot rims or try your hand at calling a game from behind a mock-up of an ESPN-U sports desk. Bring your inner kid – she will be delighted.
College Basketball Experience | 1401 Grand Boulevard, Kansas City, MO
Stop 3: Boulevard Beer Hall
A short Uber ride, drive, or Kansas City B-cycle away, your victory beer awaits. The Boulevard Beer Hall, which opened in the summer of 2016, is where you can sign up for a tour of the Boulevard Brewing Company. The standard tour is an affordable five dollars (tickets are first-come, first-serve), but the Smokestack Tour (offered Monday-Thursday) is worth the additional price of admission. The small group sessions get to sample Boulevard’s more adventurous brews and a series of local food pairings that are dynamite.
The Beer Hall is on the second floor of the Tours & Rec building, and it’s chock full of fun little surprises. For those who don’t drink, opt for one of the house sodas made with syrup from The Sundry in the Crossroads. For those who do, you can try test beers that are only available at the brewery in flights or full pours from one of the 24 taps. Play foosball beer-in-hand or pop into the photo booth built into a Shasta trailer. Then hunker down with a pretzel dog and Boulevard Pale Ale mustard or The Big Board (a tremendous bounty of local cheese, charcuterie and pickles) at one of the long wooden communal tables. After your first beer, step out on to the deck and take in the downtown skyline for a reminder of your day out in Kansas City.
Boulevard Beer Hall | 2534 Madison Avenue, Kansas City, MO