Located inside a gas station and convenience store, Oklahoma Joe's has developed a devout following. The winner of numerous barbecue competitions (including three grand championships at the annual American Royal contest), Oklahoma Joe's serves meaty ribs and smoked chicken with a rich flavor. — Charles Ferruzza
Twin City Tavern could be Kansas Citys most quintessential neighborhood bar. On the corner of State Line and Westport Road, this Midtown institution attracts a steady stream of regulars who settle into well-worn stools for fat, greasy burgers, buckets of domestics and good conversation seven days a week. Around happy hour, sassy but friendly bartenders divide their attention between the customers in the booths and the ones at the bar, who compete in Jeopardy! and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? On Fridays and Saturdays, Twin City serves up its famous spicy, beer-boiled shrimp dinners to a packed house. Its a cozy, warm meal that keeps the customers lingering, especially during the colder months, when the smoking patio stays covered and the bourbon flows.
When the owners of Café Rumi packed up at this location, they took the Sumac Chicken recipe but left the hookahs and the outdoor tents for the current owner, Zade Iskandrani, who also owns the popular Aladdin Café in Lawrence. The Aladdin menu offers somewhat less exotic fare than its predecessor, but its appetizers, salads, grilled meat kabobs, gyros, chicken shawarmah and vegetarian dishes are excellent in quality and presentation. This restaurant doesnt serve wine or alcoholic beverages, but the laid-back atmosphere is intoxicating enough. — Charles Ferruzza
A comfortable, casual South American-style churrascaria, this restaurant doesnt have a menu. Instead, a single price — about $35 (which doesnt include drinks, dessert or gratuity) pays for as much freshly grilled meat as you want to eat, sliced off a metal rod right at your table by a team of strolling passadores, as well as unlimited trips to a gourmet bar generously stocked with salad items and cold specialties. The meat selection might include roasted chicken, Brazilian sausage, top sirloin, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, lamb, bacon-wrapped turkey, skirt steak and pork ribs. As an alternative to the traditional Kansas City steakhouse, Em Chamas is a distinctly meaty pleasure. — Charles Ferruzza
Nightlife provocateur Casey Adams has been around the local scene for years, and now has a place to call his own, which just happens to be one of the hippest haunts to hit the Crossroads. Naras cuisine is Japanese, with sushi and robata dishes, and its cooler-than-cool, loftlike interior is streamlined and sexy. (Dont be surprised if you get the feeling that you should have coordinated your outfit to match the décor.) Nara marks First Fridays with colorful and delicious sake martinis on special and the owner himself manning the turntables.
Built in the 1920's during the Spanish Revival Period, the Madrid is one grand venue. With full restoration of its original trappings completed in 2001, doors were opened to eager audiences and several memorable shows have since followed- Interpol, the Cramps and Modest Mouse to name a few. Doing right by its heritage, the Madrid also features salsa dancing every Friday night, and while it's hard to miss the ornate fountain in the tiled lobby, the art nouveau angels in the ceiling are best seen from the capacious upper level and balconies. If ever backstage, keep an eye out for the bullet holes that riddle the area just beneath the stage- it's rumored they're a result of sharp shooting by Al Capone himself.
This burger bistro was an immediate hit in its original Westport location. After just a couple of years, its owners shrewdly moved it to a bigger, more high-profile location on the Country Club Plaza and quickly replicated their success serving expensive but beautifully crafted hamburgers (including a Surf + Turf version with American Kobe beef topped with a grilled lobster tail) along with fries, onion rings and spiked milkshakes. The dining room is stark and noisy, but the energy level is upbeat. If you dont mind the close proximity of some of the tables (which make intimate conversations nearly impossible), its all great fun. Chef Josh Eans tweaked the original menu, adding several creative choices, including a $100 Burger priced at $15 thats filled with red-wine-braised short ribs. — Charles Ferruzza
A lot has changed at this Mass Street nightclub since the days when fish tanks lined the front martini bar and 80s retro dance parties were all the rage. In recent years, the stage here has held everyone from Gwar to Blitzen Trapper to Insane Clown Posse, packing fans into the pit in front of the stage, reserved balcony seating (for selected shows) and everywhere in between. Doubling as an event space, the Granada hosts wedding receptions, burlesque performances and fashion shows. It's large, scrubbed-up and the sound is better than ever. It's dark inside, but it's sturdy and solid enough to hold down even the most destructive of Juggalo crowds.
In the heart of Westport, the Beaumont Club brings in heavy-hitting rock, indie-rock and country acts: Buckcherry, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Broken Social Scene, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, and the Dropkick Murphys, to name a few visitors. Once a country bar with line-dancing nights and a mechanical bull, it's now sleek and all-purpose with two bars, a game room, and plenty of seating when standing around gets old. Some of the city's discerning music snobs complain about the sight lines and sound, but most patrons find no fault with the experience. It's easy to park (there's a four-story garage next door), it's accessible (many of the shows are all-ages), and the beer is fairly priced. It's an institution that gives both cred and variety to KC's original entertainment district.
When Sangeev Harry Kumar took over the space formerly occupied by the Great India Restaurant, he gave the interior a tasteful makeover and expanded the offerings at this venues well-laden lunch buffet. During the evenings, Kumars kitchen serves tasty, well-presented Northern Indian fare — including Clay Oven Weight Watchers Specials for patrons who want to indulge without guilt in tandoori chicken and sensually seasoned lamb seekh kabab sausages, served with a basket of puffy naan. — Charles Ferruzza