|Tio was tops in 2009|
For over a decade we've honored, in the pages of the "Best of Kansas City" issue, the men and women who really make a restaurant work: the chefs, bartenders, waiters and waitresses. Last year's nod for "Chef of the Year" went to Celina Tio, who had just opened her Brookside bistro, Julian.
|Blanc Burgers served the premier patty of 2008 -- and are still rolling along|
Ten years ago -- long before burgers came into froufrou vogue -- we chose an iconic local snack shack as the winner in the "Best Burger" category. Today the place still serves winning burgers: Fritz's Railroad Restaurant.
|Joel O'Laughlin is waiting for his big break while waiting tables|
And what are those credentials?
She's not sure what her next step will be. "I need to find a new job in the restaurant business," says Loehr, who previously worked as a manager for the New Theatre Restaurant and Ameristar Casino. "If you hear of anything, call me."
Thin crust or deep dish? Classic or modern toppings? If you want to have an intense debate about food, just ask someone for their favorite pizza joint in Kansas City. The Readers' Choice in this year's Best of Kansas City poll was Waldo Pizza.
It appears there will also be a potential new entrant for next year, as Pizza Bar opens in the Power & Light District this week. Below are some of the other strong contenders in our readers poll:
Minsky's -- This is the pizza to get while watching the game or having friends over for drinks.
d'Bronx -- Its thin crust and they make slices to order. This is where you go when you need to escape on your lunch hour.
Spin Neopolitan Pizza -- You can split a pizza and salad, so it's healthy, right?
Grinders -- Proper barbecue chicken pizza in a town known for barbecue.
Joe's -- This is where you end the night -- in victory or shame.
Pizza 51 -- Slices as big as your head. When you're short on cash and long on appetite.
[Image via Flickr: ercwmttn]
First dates are not always the time to take risks. There is enough that could go wrong in terms of your outfit or conversation that you want to have a place that feels like a sure thing. So we understand why Pitch readers chose the Country Club Plaza as the Best Place for a First Date. There are plenty of other people around for people-watching, and even the pickiest eaters will find something.
But our readers had a wide variety of alternative suggestions, too. This random list of runners up is as close as we will likely come to being Cosmopolitan:
Eden Alley -- Show support for the locavore movement while still staying in the safe comfort of the Plaza.
Missie B's -- It's one place where you'll always have something to talk about.
Melting Pot -- Fondue on a date can be cliched, but it still exists for a reason.
Westside Local -- Some places can help improve your cool factor, and this is one of those places.
JP Wine Bar -- A great wine selection to calm your nerves, and the laid-back menu means that the first date could be mercifully short or last the entire night.
Cafe Trio -- When you need to impress a date, this is a good option.
Nara -- A vast menu of cocktails and sushi makes this a choice for the adventurous.
RecordBar photo booth -- Sitting close together makes for instant memories.
Whether you are an insomniac or just looking to soak up some of the alcohol in your system, everybody has a weakness when the night turns into morning. In our annual Best Of Kansas City issue, readers deemed the Best Late-Night Food to be Chubby's on Broadway, because as Charles Ferruzza wrote in 2000, "in midtown, no one ever needs to go hungry after midnight."
Beyond Chubby's, readers also sought comfort in the arms of chains -- Denny's and Taco Bell were popular choices for the fourth meal. Here are four more choices from the readers, each of which is the go-to place for plenty of people in the city:
Pancho's on Main -- The staple for quick-mex offerings in Kansas City. We've all been here late at night. We'll all be here again.
El Pueblito -- It's open until 4 a.m., a full four hours after reverse happy hour ends at midnight on Friday. This is where you go to cheat on Pancho's.
The Jerusalem Cafe truck -- If you wanted to explain happiness to an alien, you could just point to the before-and-after line on the sidewalk next to the truck in Westport.
Helen's Just Another Dive Bar -- This Northland bar can help to ease the pain of a bad night at the casinos. The kitchen is open til' 2 a.m.
[Image via Flickr: elyse explosion]
|The Sunday brunch rule: Pick up a plate and try everything|
Since buffets can be an expensive endeavor for some restaurants, the order-off-the-menu brunch is becoming a more popular option. That's the format at the European-style boite that we chose as the winner of this year's Best Brunch: Brookside's cozy Cafe Europa.
But our readers apparently like off-the-menu brunches and the classic buffets in equal measure. Their numero uno vote-getter this year was First Watch, which has numerous locations throughout the metro. And the runners-up encompassed the full range of brunch possibilities: from the hip to the homey and everything in between.
The Top 10 runners-up were, in ascending order of popularity:
9) A tie: Mama's 39th Street Diner and Nick & Jake's
6) A tie: The Blue Bird Cafe and Granite City Food & Brewery
2) The Farmhouse
So, make your weekend plans accordingly.
(Image via Flickr: tapenade)
It can be relaxing to sit at the bar and have a drink and a quick bite to eat. But some bars are simply better equipped for a meal than others. Mike & Charlie's at Harrah's Casino gets our official nod this year, while our readers chose the Record Bar. But Pitch readers clearly spend a lot of time eating at bars, because there were lots of worthy contenders in this category.
Some are considered restaurants first, while others are clearly bars -- but all of them are fine places to pull up a stool and chow down. Below, in no particular order, are the Top 9 runners-up for places to eat a bar:
Blanc Burgers & Bottles -- If there's a seat at the bar, take it -- those alcoholic milkshakes will be that much closer.
Tanner's Bar & Grill -- The grill in the "bar and grill" is often an afterthought, but Tanner's is the kind where you're as likely to grab lunch as a drink.
Harry's Bar & Tables -- We recommend the goat cheese dish.
Westport Flea Market -- Sit here and eat with both elbows up on the counter. Lean forward to keep the drippings on your plate and off your shirt.
Boozefish Wine Bar -- You're close to your neighbor, so enjoy the people-watching over small plates or a full dinner.
The Peanut -- If you've ordered the spicy chicken wings, you don't want to have to wait too long for a refill on your beer. Sit by the taps.
McCoy's Public House -- An order of their crackling macaroni and cheese or oversized pretzel sticks is as filling as their current stout or dark brew offering.
Diamond Joe's -- A meal with a view. The kitchen's open until 11 p.m.
Stroud's -- As one reader explained, "It's a restaurant, but I always eat at their bar." On a crowded weekend night, that sounds like the right strategy.
As far as we're concerned, every local restaurateur who had the courage and the imagination to open a new dining spot this year -- one of the hospitality industry's toughest in memory -- is a winner. James Beard Award winner Michael Smith got our nod for taking a gamble on the casual but iconoclastic Extra Virgin. But Pitch readers cast their votes for another new restaurant, this one located in an appealing storefront space in one of the city's most charming historical neighborhoods. The Westside Local is both a sophisticated bistro and a city saloon, a laid-back, hospitable urban boite that serves small plates, sandwiches, dinners and many varieties of beer.
The five runners-up were:
The Farmhouse, the new organic restaurant in the River Market neighborhood.
The Well, the new Waldo watering hole and restaurant with a fabulous rooftop deck where, on a clear day, you can see Ward Parkway.
Kate's Kitchen, the Northland's family-owned breakfast, lunch and brunch spot.
Adam's Rib, restaurateur Hope Loehr's first-rate barbecue joint -- which serves brisket, ribs and apple fritters -- in Overland Park.
Zest, veteran restaurateur and bon vivant Joe DiGiovanni's Leawood lounge and dining spot, featuring the cuisine of celebrity chef Linda Duerr.
Congratulations to all of you -- your customers are clearly noticing your hard work.
(Photo by Jonathan Bender)
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