Reading or listening to an outsider's assessment of Kansas City can be excruciating. The Show-Me State showed me lot of a hot barbecue and cool jazz!
So credit Brian Lambert, a contributor to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, for recognizing Kansas City as something more than a plate of burnt ends and a place where Charlie Parker developed a taste for narcotics. Describing ways to spend a weekend in our "legendary cow town," Lambert provides crisp takes on the World War I Museum, the Living Room at the Pearl (2010's Best New Theater, according to us) and the Broadway Café, said to concoct "the best lattes anywhere."
Lambert wrote his getaway guide with the idea that the magazine's readers already know about the Country Club Plaza, which Lambert laments is "rife-to-overrun with goods and services from Anywhere USA." Instead, Lambert gives the visitor's perspective on Power & Light District ("slick and glitzy"), 18th and Vine ("KC has done a very good job honoring the deep cultural influence of its African-American population") and the Crossroads (First Fridays is "a 'must do' for the town's scenesters, style-setters, and art mavens as well as folks who actually know avant from poseur").
Fulfilling the terms of the Travel Writers' Accord, barbecue ("God's chosen food") gets a mention. Lambert identifies three bib-worthy joints: Arthur Bryant's, "the Anthony Bourdain-anointed" Oklahoma Joe's and Danny Edwards' Boulevard BBQ.
Lambert says the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will be a "Kansas City landmark for decades to come," and he enjoyed watching Nikita, the Kansas City Zoo's 700-pound polar bear, splash around a 140,000-gallon tank.
The big winner in the travel guide is the Broadway Café. Lambert's "keenly developed coffee palate" found the lattes to be exceptional. Lambert credits the Broadway Café with driving a neighboring Starbucks out of business. The folks in Seattle would probably note that a successful store opened at 41st and Main after the Broadway Café-adjacent one closed. But it's a good story nonetheless.