International Cuisine in Kansas City
When it comes to Kansas City cuisine, barbecue tends to get top billing. Yet the city’s vast array of international flavors gets more impressive by the day, with restaurants offering global flavors and incredible dining experiences so authentic, you’ll think you stepped right off the plane into the country of your choice. The best part? No passport required.
Here are some of the best ways to dine around the globe in Kansas City:
Old Country Dining
Craving some classic Italian food with a style of old school ambiance? Put Columbus Park’s Garozzo’s Ristorante at the top of your list. One tip: try the restaurant’s signature dish, seasoned chicken spiedini. Another local favorite is Jasper's Restaurant, an acclaimed establishment with roots dating back to 1954. Meanwhile, discover authentic Northern Italian in the Crossroads Arts District at Lidia’s Kansas City. Owned by celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, the menu offers a balance of fresh, seasonal dishes.
Savor the flavors of Spain without leaving the Kansas City metro. Whether you opt for La Bodega’s original location on Southwest Boulevard in Downtown Kansas City or the Leawood location, you’ll have a chance to indulge in Spanish-style tapas, otherwise known as small plates. Order a pitcher (or two) of their famous sangria and you’ve got all the makings for an unforgettable meal.
Chinese and Central Asian Cuisine
Located in a 100-year-old building just off of Kansas City’s bustling 39th Street, Genghis Khan is home to Kansas City’s oldest Mongolian-style barbecue and a create-your-own menu with more than 60 different ingredients and spices. Just up the block and operated by the same family is Blue Koi, an a la carte dumpling bar and restaurant with a huge selection of Chinese loose leaf tea and bubble tea.
South American Spots
If you haven’t been to a Brazilian churrasco yet, heed this advice: make sure you’re hungry. Really, really hungry. Em Chamas boasts an incredible menu with an array of meats that are paraded through the dining room by knife-wielding gauchos who are ready to give you samples of beef, pork, chicken and sausage. If you’re in The City Market, be sure to swing by Taste of Brazil for traditional dishes in a Brazilian market-inspired locale.
Middle Eastern Flavors
Located in The City Market, Habashi House might well be one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Favorites like gyros, shawarmas, dolmas and falafel sandwiches are served with some of the city’s best hummus. Or, head to Westport and hit up Jerusalem Café for kabobs, lamb and a number of delicious Vegetarian options. Need a pick-me-up? Ask for a Turkish coffee, a rich caffeine boost mixed with cardamom spice and served in a traditional mug.
Hearty, perfectly spiced dishes that you can eat with your hands? That’s the simplest way to describe Ethiopian food, and Blue Nile Café in the River Market prepares some of the best in the city. Start with the sambusa and then go from there. Meanwhile, Awaze and Mesob Restaurant—both Midtown eateries—serve up delightful fusions of Ethiopian and Caribbean cuisines, including Jamaican jerk chicken and curried goat.
Savory Subcontinent Eats
Transport your taste buds to a faraway land with the sumptuous flavors of Swagat’s North and South Indian dishes. The Northland staple offers a full dinner menu that includes an array of dishes like curry, tikka masala, and biryani, all available as vegetarian or meat dishes. South of town, Chai Shai in Brookside fuses Indian and Pakistani flavors while customers indulge at Westport’s Moti Mahal with classics like tandoori chicken.
European Cooking Collides
Crossroads Arts District favorite Affäre has made a name for itself by serving modern German cuisine as small plates. Traditional favorites like the bratwurst trio and wiener schnitzel are served alongside more inventive dishes like Rocky Mountain elk loin. Also in the Crossroads, Grünauer cooks up flavorful Austrian and German fare so true to taste, you’ll feel as if you’re dining in Vienna.
Mexican and Central American
Kansas City has no shortage of incredible Mexican food. Yet when it comes to authentic cuisine, Jarocho and El Camino Real, both located in KCK, are local favorites. The restaurant serves up some of the best tacos in a variety of combinations. If you’re on Southwest Boulevard, check out Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen & Bar, home to tacos served in deep-fried flour tortillas for an extra texture crunch. And, of course, there's always Port Fonda in Westport, a haven for creative, authentic Mexican cuisine prepared by James Beard Award finalist Chef Patrick Ryan.
French Cafes and Bistros
In search of delightfully indulgent French cuisine? Just head to Westport Café and Bar. The seasonally inspired menu is a treasure trove of delights, including several different preparations of mussels, seared tuna Niçoise, a French omelet, steak frites and trout meunière. Le Fou Frog in River Market specializes in traditional French bistro dining and touts an extensive, curated wine list as well as a more-than-reasonable weekday happy hour menu.
Pho, Noodle Bowls and More
Family-owned Vietnam Café is one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in Downtown KC. Located in Columbus Park, the eatery dishes out delicious pho and traditional vermicelli. Just west in River Market, Nguyen Pho and Grill treats customers to Vietnamese favorites, including banh mi, only steps away from the KC Streetcar stop at City Market (5th & Walnut).
Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop has been a fixture in the Crossroads Arts District for almost 20 years thanks to fresh ingredients and inventive spices. A few blocks north is Koko Thai, an establishment with a menu both balanced and unique as chefs cook up go-to staples and lesser-known-but-still-delicious entrees.
For delectable bowls of ramen, Columbus Park Ramen Shop, Bōru Ramen Bar and Shio Ramen Shop have what you need to get your Japanese food fix. If you’re in search of something served in rolls, a slew of sushi spots serve customers all throughout the city including Nara, Bob Wasabi, Prime Sushi, Drunken Fish, Jun’s and more.
Kansas City is even home to Australian tastes, as can be found at Banksia in the north half of Downtown. There, diners are treated to pastries, pies and other breakfast & lunch options, as well as coffee and cocktails.