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A food historian reminisces on Kansas City's iconic restaurants past and present

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A postcard depicting Putsch’s 210, which "epitomized fine dining on the Plaza," circa the early 1950s.
Andrea Broomfield
A postcard depicting Putsch’s 210, which "epitomized fine dining on the Plaza," circa the early 1950s.

The new book "Iconic Restaurants of Kansas City" takes readers on a journey to discover the roots of Kansas City's favorite eateries such as the Colony Steakhouse, Allen's Drive-In and Smaks.

A city's history can be traced through its restaurants. Sitting at the nation’s crossroads, Kansas City has satisfied the appetites of hungry travelers since it was a western outpost on the Santa Fe Trail.

Whether it's perfectly grilled KC Strip steaks, barbecued burnt ends steaming bowls of chili or fried chicken dinners, generations of families and restaurateurs have turned out delectable dishes that became part of the city’s food heritage.

Andrea Broomfield, author of "Iconic Restaurants of Kansas City," says with all the options and history associated with these restaurants, she had to take into account many different factors when choosing which places were iconic.

"You would have generation after generation actually going to the restaurant, and you would also have multiple generations running the restaurant," she says.

"So iconic to me means, almost sadly, the restaurants taken for granted," Broomfield adds. "In other words, it's always there. It's a mainstay, it's the place that you decide to celebrate an anniversary, or a birthday or retirement. And and then suddenly, sadly, some of these restaurants just disappear."

Over the course of writing the book, Broomfield learned how incredibly loyal Kansas Citians are to dining spots that have been around for 50,75 and 100 years. Also, the importance of those older establishments and the sacrifices their operators had to make: the literal blood, sweat and tears that go into running these restaurants and keeping them alive.

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Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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