Best kid-friendly dining with plenty of barbecue and Midwest hospitality
Kansas City is a destination city due to its vibrant arts scene, major league sports teams, jazz heritage, and yes, food! Farm-to-table options are abundant here, along with craft breweries. The Midwest hospitality (and barbecue!) will have your family coming back again and again!
Photo courtesy: Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue
Barbecue. Bar-b-que. BBQ. However you spell it and however they make it, this is what you want to eat in Kansas City. You can’t go wrong by sampling some of the freshest pork, beef, and chicken on either side of the state line with homemade sauces, gourmet seasonings, and smoking methods that Kansas Citians have been bragging about and perfecting for years. Here’s a few of my family’s favorites:
The secret is supposedly in the sauce that Arthur Bryant, a.k.a. The King of Ribs, used to store in five-gallon glass jars. Known to columnists, celebrities, and former presidents as one of the best BBQers in the country, Arthur Bryant created quite a name for himself in Cowtown and beyond. Although he has passed away, his legend lives on in the same no-frills location with the same secret recipes and slow-smoked meats that made Arthur Bryant’s an institution. My family recommends the burnt ends, brisket, and fries. Additional location at Legends Outlets. $$
Gates Bar-B-Q is an original family restaurant with a no-fuss attitude and humongous portions that will last you a few days. The ribs are often the most talked about menu item, and they don’t disappoint. Also make sure to try our favorite, the BBQ Beans. Additional locations. $$
The Fiorella family started Jack Stack in the 1950s and taught themselves the tricks of the trade by creating new recipes over hickory wood, including their famous Cheesy Corn Bake and Hickory Pit Beans. The beans are our favorite, along with their spicy sauce and barbecue chicken. Jack Stack’s Freight House location is a fancy stranger on the BBQ scene and is great for groups. Additional locations. $$
Ever heard of The Z-Man Sandwich? Ever heard of some of the best BBQ in the country in a gas station? You can find both at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Joe’s KC is always top of the list in town for those in search of the best smoked meats, ribs, and burnt ends. And in our opinion, the Z-Man is the hero of the menu with expertly smoked beef brisket, cheese, and onion rings. However, my daughters give the kids’ menu kudos for the Lil Joe’s Smoked Hot Dog that they order every single time. Additional locations. $$
Make a reservation for this relatively new restaurant on the BBQ scene. The clean and chic interior will make you wonder if you’re in the right spot, but the fantastic smells will keep you in your seat. And it’s worth the wait, especially if you order the smoked and grilled pork belly! Also the Mr. Burns sandwich with beef burnt ends, chipotle BBQ sauce, pepper jack cheese, and onion straws could possibly be your new best friend. $$
Photo courtesy: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
2/Spin! Neapolitan Pizza
4950 Main St.
Watch the cheese melt on your wood-fired pizza while you wait at Spin! Neapolitan Pizza. These neighborhood pizza spots are perfect for family outings and offer a “Per Bambini – For The Kids” menu that features homemade pizza or mac and cheese with a drink and a side of mini gelato for just $4.95. Multiple locations. $$
Photo courtesy: Spin! Neapolitan Pizza
3/BRGR Kitchen + Bar
11 E. 14th St.
We visit BRGR Kitchen + Bar for the not-so-standard tots and craft burgers, but every single thing on the menu is bursting with flavor. And the staff is so friendly to families! Kids (ages 10 and under) can choose from the $6 Little BRGR’s menu that includes my kids’ favorite Smac (yes, Smac) & Cheese with additional toppings of peas, hamburger, hot dog or bacon. Multiple locations. $$
Photo courtesy: BRGR Kitchen + Bar
12635 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park
Located in one of Kansas City’s largest suburbs, Mama Resch’s bakery in Overland Park is a destination in its own right due to its carefully-crafted delights that are free of most allergens, including gluten, dairy, and nuts. As a mom of kids with multiple food allergies, a trip to Mama Resch’s is worth the drive to pick something safe and scrumptious from the display case. $
Photo courtesy: Mama Resch’s
5/Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
250 N. 18th St.
An overhead train delivers a delicious burger and fries to your table at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant in downtown! You won’t be disappointed by a stop for lunch at this Crown Center staple. Order your meal via phone at the table and watch the engine head your way. Additional locations. $
Photo courtesy: Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
6/One More Cup
7408 Wornall Rd.
A go-to spot for locally-sourced sips and locally-made treats, One More Cup is a Waldo neighborhood coffee shop that has grown in popularity because of the owners who are dedicated to all things KC. Works by local artists are always featured on the walls, and little guests are encouraged to create their own masterpieces while parents sip coffees and teas. $
Photo courtesy: One More Cup
7/Rozelle Court Restaurant
4525 Oak St.
Located in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, lunch at Rozzelle Court Restaurant is reminiscent of dining al fresco in Italy. The restaurant features a kids’ menu and self-service dining for lunch on Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Table service with live music is available on Friday evenings, beginning at 5 p.m. The plates here, especially the desserts, are stunning works of art themselves! $$
Photo courtesy: Rozelle Court Restaurant
8/Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard
6235 Brookside Plaza
This is the original frozen custard shop in Kansas City, started by a man nicknamed “Foo” and his fabulous family. Split a medium Concrete for Two for a little more than $5. My tiny divas also suggest the Sassmaster which is a blend of strawberry, raspberry, and peach custard created from fresh, local ingredients. Additional location in Leawood. $
Photo courtesy: Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard
101 Emanuel Cleaver III Blvd.
“Skyscraper, skyscraper, coming your way… we’re having fun the Winstead’s way!” That’s what you’ll hear from the wait staff when you order a Skyscraper Shake (chocolate, vanilla or strawberry) at Winstead’s. And it’s what you’ll hear for many days later when your kids beg to go back. We prefer the Plaza location for fresh burgers, fries, and fountain delights, but there are additional locations. $
Photo courtesy: Winstead’s
1009 Westport Rd.
Select your donut, icing, toppings, and drizzle to test which combo may be your newest favorite at Donutology. Your kids will go wild over this shop in the Westport neighborhood. And let’s be honest, so will you! $
Carla Corban Kath is a Mississippi girl who now resides in Boston with her husband and two daughters. The family lived in Kansas City for eight years. She longs for some decent 'cue.