By Lysa Allman-Baldwin

It’s no surprise that as a former stockyards driven town, Kansas City remains as one of the best cities in the country to enjoy the most amazing meat-centered dishes, hands down.

And although our culinary calling card is wholeheartedly as “The Barbecue Capital of America,” over the past several years the culinary landscape has rapidly broadened to encompassing a deliciously wide variety of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and options that please even hardcore meat eaters.

The Farmhouse

You may not think a place whose motto is “Farm-to-Table, Tip-to-Tail” would offer much for those desiring a good, meatless meal. Yet The Farmhouse, situated in the River Market, features seasonal and creative vegetarian and vegan dishes that aptly fit the bill.

For starters, try the Fried Green Tomatoes with stinging nettle vegenaise and spring vegetable giardiniera. The Burrata is a scrumptious combination of house-pulled mozzarella stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and cream served with sweet corn gastrique, roasted garlic, and a baguette, and the Vegan Eggplant Rollatini comes stuffed with ratatouille and is served with sherry tomato sauce and squash noodles.

The Bite in City Market

The Bite

Just a stone’s throw away at KC’s historic City Market you’ll find The Bite, a sandwich shop where the spicy, sweet, and savory flavors of Mexico combine to create some very unique vegan dishes. For example, the Ko-Fu features smoked tofu, Korean bbq sauce, carrots, pickled onions, cucumber and cilantro. The Sloppy, with house made soy chorizo, corn, olives, queso fresco, sriracha crema, cilantro, pickled onions, and radishes, is another one of the delightful options here.

Eden Alley Vegetaria on the Plaza

Eden Alley Vegetarià

Life is too short, so eat dessert first. And why not, at Eden Alley, located on the Country Club Plaza. The outstanding cakes here include the Blueberry Lavender, a lavender and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and fresh blueberries, and the Aztec Cocoa—chocolate cake with agave, vanilla, cinnamon ganache and chili powder.

For an imaginative Saturday brunch item, order the Avo Benny—a potato flatbread laced with a creamy coconut aioli, ripe avocado and mozzarella cheese which is baked and served with two poached eggs, blistered tomatoes, candied onions and hollandaise sauce. Another is the Pear Lavender French Toast made with fresh eight-grain bread brushed with a vanilla, flax and brown sugar batter, and topped with warm pear and apples in a lavender simple syrup with house made sweet butter and maple agave syrup.

Mud Pie Scones

Mud Pie Vegan Coffeehouse and Bakery

One of the most popular places along the bustling 39th Street West corridor is Mud Pie, featuring delicious vegan desserts and bakery items made “without sacrificing taste.” Delight your taste buds here with their pumpkin, apple and cinnamon coffee cakes, raw brownies, and scones—sweet ones like blueberry, chocolate chip, cranberry orange and apricot orange, and savory options including cheddar herb, cheddar jalapeno and mozzarella green onion. And for your coffee or tea, choose from coconut, hemp, cashew, soy, almond, or rice milk.

FüD Restaurant

Adopting a conscious concept of offering mindfully, organically grown products, FüD  (pronounced “food”) in the Westside neighborhood is a Kansas City vegan favorite where their signature dishes are made with jackfruit, the world’s largest tree fruit. Even the staunchest carnivores dining here are wowed by the meat-like consistency and intricate flavors in the Jack Reuben—corned jack fruit stacked with sauerkraut, sweed cheese and thrilla on rye bread. The hearty Jack BBQ can stand-up to any traditional barbecue sandwich, served on a sourdough bun slathered with spicy chilla or sweet thrilla, onions and kosher pickles. FüD also offers several delicious varieties of macaroni and “cheese,” the latter made from cashews.

Chez Elle Creperie & Coffeehouse

Right around the corner there’s Chez Elle, a Parisian-themed café creating savory and sweet crepes using fresh made-from-scratch batters. Vegetarian options include the savory Petite Maison, a combination of Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and crème fraiche, while caramelized green apple with spices, toasted walnuts, fig compote, Brie cheese and crème fraiche fill the Le Franco. And for any of their crepes, you can substitute Brie buckwheat, vegan or gluten free batter.

Café Gratitude

Not just good food but a great feeling is what you get when dining at Café Gratitude in the Crossroads Arts District. The plant-based menu here includes dishes with names like “Grounded,” made with garlic potatoes and served with spicy nacho cheese, and “Transformed,” two organic corn tacos with butternut squash, black beans, guacamole, salsa fresca, verde and cashew nacho cheese.

“Whole” is a macrobiotic bowl brimming with braised butternut squash, adzuki beans, sea vegetables, kale, homemade kim chee, black sesame seed gomasio, sprouts and brown rice with garlic-tahini sauce and teriyaki almonds, while “Awesome” is a delightful sandwich made with herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant, marinara sauce, cashew ricotta, tomatoes, Brazil nut parmesan, arugula and basil on a grilled whole wheat bun.

Awaze

Awaze Fusion Restaurant

Located in the heart of Midtown, Awaze combines hearty Ethiopian and soulful Caribbean fare into a variety of lip-smacking meatless dishes cooked to perfection. The Shiro Wot features Ethiopian-style ground split peas simmered in a spicy berbere sauce, while carrots, potatoes, cabbage, peppers, and onions in a special turmeric sauce meld seamlessly into a tantalizing vegetable stew called Atkilt Wot. On the Caribbean side, customer favorites include the Vegetable Sambussas—thin dough shells stuffed with lentils, onion, hot green bell peppers, and herbs.

These are just a few delicious spots to get your vegetarian and vegan groove on in the Barbecue Capital of America. Who knew?

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