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Food Critics: The Best Sandwiches In Kansas City In 2018

Aug 11, 2018
A Reuben sandwich wrapped in white wax paper.
Stu_Spivak / Flickr

Sure, Kansas City is a food town when it comes to some dishes, but are we a sandwich city?

Yes, according to KCUR's food critic Charles Ferruzza. 

"It really is a meat and potato town — but it's sandwich meat and french fries."

That's because of the Stockyards and the people who spent time there.

"Cowboys could eat them with their hands and just wipe their hands on their jeans," he notes. "They were very easy that way."

Specifically, a "loose meat" (i.e., Sloppy Joe) was likely the most common one.

A piece of funnel cake, dusted in powdered sugar.
Jamiesrabbits / Flickr - CC

Summer in Kansas City means braving the heat and humidity for the metro's many outdoor festivals, where snack offerings are so plentiful and varied that we asked our food critics for guidance on navigating the options.

"Sometimes in those festivals, you can get foods that you can't find in any restaurant in Kansas City. It's a real treat," said Charles Ferruzza.

715 Restaurant / Facebook

Noodles are having a moment Kansas City.

“There’s an awful lot of chefs in the city right now with small pasta menus within their main menu,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “It’s because they’re making it in-house and they’re very proud of it.”

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best noodle dishes in and around town.

Café Provence/Facebook

Many people consider French cuisine to be the ne plus ultra in the culinary world. And French culinary techniques are considered to be standard in many restaurant kitchens.

Whether it's hearty stews or delicate fish dishes, airy pastries or baguettes with crackling crusts, French-inspired dishes are on menus all over town.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our food critics searched out the best French food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

One More Cup / Facebook

Kansas City's coffee shop scene has really blossomed over the past few years.

In addition to coffee and tea drinks, a number of shops have also been serving great food: pastries made in-house, breakfast, light lunches and grab-and-go snacks.

From quiet spots to linger to more convivial spaces to meet up with friends, KCUR's food critics searched out the best coffee shops in and around Kansas City.

 

Here are their recommendations:

 

Scott's Kitchen and Catering / Facebook

Burritos and wraps are glorious things.

Just about anything can go in a tortilla. And voila, a complete meal that's portable and ready to go.

But what's the difference between a wrap and a burrito?

"A burrito is typically warm or hot, and a wrap is generally cold, in my experience," food critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Logan, along with fellow food critics Jenny Vergara and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best burritos and wraps in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Segment 1: Peruvian food in Kansas City.

A chef at a Lenexa restaurant shares how she makes lomo saltado, a classic Peruvian dish. Then, a home cook from Lima tells us about Peruvian food.

Segment 2, beginning at 15:00: The Food Critics recommend South American dishes.

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Burgers are a classic KC menu item.

"As a steak town, Kansas City has always had a lot of good burgers, too," Charles Ferruzza told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Whether diners prefer a thin or thick patty — or something meatless — local menus have plenty of options.

Ferruzza, along with fellow Food Critics Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best burgers in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Daniel Chow / Flickr -- CC

It’s the time of year when you may need to feed a crowd — perhaps for holiday gatherings or for college bowl game-watching. And what better way than with pizza?

Courtesy photo / Twitter

The armed assailant who entered a Lenexa Costco store on Sunday was a 58-year-old Kansas man who was shot by an off-duty policeman who happened to be shopping at the store.

Lenexa police say the gunman was Ronald O. Hunt of Edwardsville, Kansas. No other details about the man or his motives have been released.

Russell Watkins / Flickr - CC

Even though the winds and rain have subsided, the carnage wrought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left parts of the Caribbean without power and everyday necessities. Today, we find out how recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are progressing from two Kansas City relief workers who saw the devastation firsthand. Then, learn interesting facts, folk-wisdom, and oddities of the Show-Me State, via a brand new Missouri Almanac.

Aaron Leimkuehler

Restaurants come and go. On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have kept up with the latest goings-on in our local dining scene from over the past several months.

courtesy: Heart to Heart International

Puerto Rico is still digging out from Hurricane Maria.

The storm knocked out power, and fuel supplies are low. People are struggling to meet basic needs, such as access to food and water.

"We bring hope to people. We're going to help make those circumstances better," said Heart to Heart International chief operating officer Kim Carroll. "Puerto Rico will recover if we help it, and that's what we need to do." 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Less than two months since its opening, Lenexa’s City Center development is already transforming the way that city’s residents interact with their government, and changing how the metro thinks about the Kansas suburb.

The project, just one in a set of sprawling properties centered around 87th Street and Renner Boulevard, is the culmination of 20 years of work to make real a long-standing community vision for a new downtown.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In a live broadcast from the Public Market in Lenexa's new City Center, we talk with officials about the 20-year odyssey to make real their community's vision for a new town square. Also, the vendors behind Frannie Franks Coffee Cakes and Red Kitchen Tamales share their start-up stories and explain why they've set up shop in the new development.

m01229 / Flickr -- CC

When it comes to food, everyone has a guilty pleasure.

According to KCUR Food Critic Jenny Vergara, it may be something that’s full of fat and calories. Or it could be a retro throwback (like spinach artichoke dip) or a childhood favorite.

It could also be something that you like but everyone else thinks is gross (who else mixed Hawaiian Punch and milk? Anyone?). Or maybe it's that one dish from a chain restaurant that you crave.

Courtesy Zachary Stevenson

Outside a Small Circle of Friends,” by Phil Ochs, is not a typical protest song.

The song tells the biting, sardonic tale of all-too-normal people walking away from tragedies without helping — because, after all, “outside a small circle of friends,” who would care? The message is simple: just help.

On the 10th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant, chef Michael Smith talks about embarking on a new concept: making his version of Tuscan cuisine. Then, a local filmmaker on his new documentary about the growing conflict between coffee plantation workers and elephants.

Guests:

Courtesy CLIC Abroad Foundation

Fewer than 750,000 elephants are left in the world, according to conservationists’ estimates. And the average American drinks more than 1,100 cups of coffee very year, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study.

These statistics might seem unrelated, but D.K. Bhaskar, a Lenexa photographer, author and now filmmaker, shows they are crucially connected.

Pauline Mak / Flickr -- CC

What’s the mark of a good bakery?

“You can taste when butter is used,” Food Critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “You can tell when real ingredients are used. It has a very different taste compared to something you get in a supermarket.”

Logan, along with critics Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best bakeries — and best baked goods — in and around Kansas City this year.

Here are their recommendations:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentation: A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Open Golf Championship is underway this week in Wisconsin. A Lenexa man has a special connection to this golf major. But he’s not playing on the course.

He helped design it, and Ron Whitten took an unusual route to becoming a golf course architect.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Erin Smith doesn’t watch a lot of TV.

Instead, the 17-year-old spends her evenings perfecting an online tool she created. The tool, called FacePrint, can detect Parkinson’s disease years before current diagnosis methods by recording your facial reactions with a webcam at home.

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A typical high schooler's concerns don't usually include developing a method for early detection of Parkinson's disease. Today, we meet a 17-year-old who is using face-recognition technology to do just that.

Courtesy Summer Breeze

Lenexa drummer and philanthropist Billy Brimblecom says he’s put blood, sweat, and tears into trying to be an original musician.

“But seriously, one of the most fun and — dare I say — at least locally successful things I’ve done, is this.”

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Chicken isn't the most exciting protein.

“It’s like the vodka of the food world,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard. “It takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it or put with it.”

But that’s the beauty of chicken — and why it’s a beloved staple in many cultures. Whether you like it fried, roasted or grilled, in strips or shredded (and, for the kids, in nugget form), you can find chicken at all price points.

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Forget the sad desk lunch. The lunch break is a time to get out and explore new restaurants.

Whether you’re looking for something fast and affordable or luxurious — or something to grab and take to a nearby park (hi, spring!) — KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best lunch spots in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

Many Kansas Citians are familiar with hummus by now. Available at Costco and other area grocery stores, this chickpea puree has become as ubiquitous as guacamole.

But what are some other Middle Eastern dishes that are on local menus?

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