Last weekend my best friend came up from Memphis to spend her birthday with me in Kansas City. For the last decade we have taken turns visiting each other’s city (KC in the winter, Memphis in the summertime) and arguing over who has the best barbecue (I think we all know who wins this debate). I love these visits because seeing the city through her eyes brings new appreciation for my hometown. I get to act as tourist for the weekend and do all of my favorite activities gluttonously. Last weekend was no exception. We had such a lovely time exploring the city that I thought I’d share some of the sights and smells with you.
Where We Ate
This is my favorite spot to take couch surfers and friends. Aladdin’s serves a delicious array of Mediterranean food in a casual, eclectic atmosphere and is easy on the wallet. Their lentil soup is heartwarming and the rosewater lemonade is the perfect summer beverage. They have many vegetarian options which I love. Whenever I’m traveling, this is the first place I want to have a meal when I return.
Blue Bird Bistro
This local, organic restaurant is located in an old two story house in one of my favorite parts of town. The menu is seasonal, simple, and delicious. They have a full bar and happy hour specials from 2pm-7pm during the week. They partner with local farms to use wholesome ingredients and it pays off in the depth of flavor found in their dishes. One of my favorite meals is their Bison Burger!
I have a confession, I’m kind of a big food snob, especially when it comes to my pizza. Italy sort of ruined American style pies for me (although I do still love my Giordano’s Chicago deep dish). However, Pizza Bella is so authentic I can forget I’m in a cold Midwestern city for a few moments and pretend I’m back in Venetia while I enjoy the smells of wood fire baked personal pizzas. Here you can order toppings like prosciutto, Romano cheese, and fresh arugula. Why would you eat anywhere else?
This parlor is an ice cream lovers dream. Sample flavors like Goat Cheese and Wildflower Honey or Rosemary Caramel before deciding what your favorite will be (mine is Salty Pretzel). Christopher Elbow (the creator of Christopher Elbow artisan chocolates) infuses unique flavor combinations into these rich, creamy treats perfect for an after meal refreshment.
The Alamo Drafthouse
This dinner theater is infamous for its strict no talking and no cellphone use policies. Perfect for a date night it shows independent films and special holiday classics as well as mainstream movies. It has a small menu you can order from as well as a full bar for enjoyment during the movie. It’s well suited for an outing for two though I would skip the full dinner and stick to drinks or dessert. Their brown sugar lemonade and milkshakes are very tasty!
Al-Amir Hookah Lounge
3535 Broadway Blvd
This hookah bar is a new addition to a plethora of options in Kansas City. We went on a Saturday night and were pleased to find live DJ’s with exceptional taste in music and an appearance later on from a beautiful belly dancer! The crowd is a little young and the bar is non-alcoholic but the hookah is of superior quality. The staff are very attentive and friendly and the overall atmosphere is fun and entertaining. The initial shisha costs anywhere from $10-$15 but the repacks are only $5. We tried the mint and mango combination which was very smooth.
Donna’s Dress Shop
I took my vintage loving friend here for the first time and she was in paradise. Donna’s has a unique collection of vintage and new clothing from fancy dresses to 50’s style sunglasses and petticoats. The collection is small but diverse and the lay-out makes perusing these beautiful clothes a breeze. Everything in this store is worth looking at and priced reasonably. The proprietor Donna is perfectly suited to her job and models the clothes she sells by wearing adorable stylish outfits. You can tell she loves her job and her shop and this makes coming inside even more fun.
Mainstreet Tobacco and Gifts
I normally wouldn’t include a head shop on my list of places to check out, but after helping my friend buy her first hookah here I can’t help but mention this store. First of all, these guys really know their stuff. We talked with Tony whose enthusiasm and knowledge were contagious. He helped us pick the perfect hookah and then started adding all of the bells and whistles my friend wanted to get started at a discounted price. He then thoroughly explained everything she’d need for the best experience and helped her pick out the best products. We were amused and very entertained by the whole experience! Besides hookahs they have a huge array of smoke and tobacco gifts, you really can’t go wrong here.
I’ll admit, after living in Chicago for four years I felt a bit underwhelmed at the prospect of moving back to Kansas City. However, I’ve lived in the city for almost four years now and I’ve just barely started scratching the potential Kansas City has to offer for entertainment. Here are a few things I still have on my bucket list.
Touring the Boulevard Brewery
Seeing a live symphony performance at the new Kauffman Performing Arts Center
Watching my friends perform with the KC Improv Company
Buying a ticket to the new Sea Life aquarium
Eating at Cafe Gratitude, a %100 vegan restaurant only located in California and now KC.
Have you visited Kansas City? What were your impressions? Are you a local Kansas Citian? What are your favorite things to do/see/explore?Google+