Town Topic | Pilsen Photo Co-op

A Guide to Comfort Food in Kansas City

Renowned as a barbecue hub, KC’s comfort food offerings go far beyond smoked delicacies. Old-school originators will never go out of style, yet modern Midwest dining means that some of the finest restaurants in the city are also the most approachable, helmed by veteran chefs who are serious about elevating casual cuisine.

Cozy up with some of Kansas City’s most comforting restaurants and dishes.


FRIED CHICKEN

Rye

Area restaurants make handheld fried chicken sandwich masterpieces featuring all sorts of trendy toppings. Ditch the bun, though, and drumsticks, wings, thighs and chicken breasts never lose their golden-brown luster. 

  • Rye: James Beard Award-nominated dining meets down-home fried chicken (and other Midwestern staples) at the restaurant’s two metro locations.
  • Fox and Pearl: Chef Vaughn Good emphasizes local above all else at Westside’s Fox and Pearl.
  • Stroud’s: A pan-fried chicken spot that’s been serving folks since before WWII.

Motherclucker | Pilsen Photo Co-op

BURGERS

Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room

For every no-frills patty fresh off the flattop, there’s a carefully crafted sandwich constructed by an award-winning chef. While it’s impossible to feature every single burger, a few mainstays always attract attention.

  • Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room: Chef Michael Corvino upped the game with his flavorful griddled cheeseburger.
  • Town Topic: A KC original in every sense. Don’t miss a burger at this 24/7 Crossroads diner open since the 1930s.
  • Pigwich: A wide variety of toppings, patties and spreads keeps your taste buds guessing at Pigwich in The City Market.
  • Westport Flea Market: Long-renowned Westport Flea Market churns out massive, no-frills burgers that always satisfy.
  • Howard’s Café: Nestled in the Crossroads, Howard’s utilizes local ingredients to put a fresh spin on the classic cheeseburger.
  • Pirate’s Bone Burgers: From its new location in the Crossroads, Pirate’s Bone serves up some of the best plant-based burgers in the metro.
  • Hogshead KC: Head to the Plaza to elevate your burger rotation with Hogshead’s cheeseburger, which comes topped with bacon, a fried egg, pickles, onion and dijonnaise.

NOODLES AND RAMEN

Columbus Park Ramen Shop

Hand-pulled, slow-simmered and tossed in flavorful spices: KC’s collection of noodle restaurants and ramen shops keep customers comfy no matter the time of year (or your utensil of choice).

  • Columbus Park Ramen Shop: This “eat it and beat it” treats customers to a streamlined menu that’s anything but simple, highlighted by complex and creative flavors.
  • BŌRU Ramen Bar: Japanese, Chinese and Korean influences shape the offerings at this hip ramen bar and noodle shop in Waldo
  • Vietnam Café: The rich, flavorful pho is a standout at Vietnam Café in Columbus Park.
  • Thai House: Travel down south to visit this gem on Holmes Road, which dishes out bountiful servings of yellow sen mee noodles, phad sea eaw and green curry Thai lo mein noodles.
  • Waldo Thai Place: With local roots dating back to 1975, this Waldo favorite goes beyond familiar pad Thai plates with an authentic, upscale menu.

BARBECUE

Arthur Bryant's Barbecue

For decades, visitors from across the globe have traveled to Kansas City, drawn in by its smoky aroma, just to get a sample of the city’s acclaimed cuisine. With more than 100 restaurants in the region, it’s tough to give every barbecue smoker its rightful time in the limelight, but a few standouts represent tried-and-true options.

LC's Bar-B-Q

  • LC’s Bar-B-Q: One look inside the smoker behind the LC’s counter reveals why this joint is an institution in the community.
  • Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue: Upscale tastes await at Jack Stack, a local group of restaurants known for its expansive menu.
  • Char Bar: Westport’s very own, featuring yard games, a great bar and Southern-style ‘cue.
  • Q39: Wood-fire grilling adds another layer of flavor to already-appetizing bites at one of the hottest spots in the metro.

PIZZA

Waldo Pizza

Pizza places in Kansas City tout an all-encompassing array of flavors, toppings, crusts and preparations. Decadent, late-night slices provide an appropriate counter to lighter, Neapolitan-style pies available all throughout the day.

  • Minsky’s: A traditional pizza parlor with more than 15 locations in the metro.
  • Waldo Pizza: Touts friendly neighborhood vibes and great-tasting pies.
  • Spin! Neapolitan Pizza: Kid-friendly Spin! has a little something for everyone, including thin-crust pizza, gelato and local brews on tap.

XR Cafe | Pilsen Photo Co-op

  • XR CafeTucked inside Crossroads Hotel, this do-it-all dining spot bakes fresh, creative pizzas using a wood-fire oven. 
  • Up-Down: Take breaks between pinball sessions at this arcade bar to snack on mondo slices of mac & cheese pizza, among other crave-worthy flavors.
  • Il Lazzarone: Your pizza-on-the-patio destination with idyllic River Market views and Neapolitan flavors.

MISCELLANEOUS FAVORITES

Happy Gillis | Bonjwing Lee

Biscuits & Gravy

Find this breakfast and brunch mainstay at Happy Gillis, The Corner Restaurant, Messenger Coffee Co. and other popular morning cafes.  

Macaroni & Cheese

Don’t miss the build-your-own option at Beer Kitchen, creamy mac at The Westside Local or the lobster-stuffed dish at Bristol: Seafood + Steak + Social.  

Lasagna

Pretty much any KC Italian spot worth its salt boasts an incredible lasagna, but a local favorites include Jasper’s Restaurant, Ragazza, Cascone’s Grill and Lidia’s.

Grilled Cheese

Looking for something more dressed-up? Try Reserve Restaurant or Summit Grill. Prefer casual instead? Opt for Winstead’s or Milwaukee Delicatessen Company.