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Food recs: Kansas City’s best restaurants for eating outdoors

Pigwich in River Market accommodates its outdoor diners covered or uncovered depending on the weather.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Pigwich, in River Market, offers diners covered and uncovered accommodations.

Spring is a magical time in Kansas City. To take full advantage of all the season has to offer, Up To Date asked food writers and enthusiasts to share their favorite places across the metro to dine al fresco.

Between subzero temperatures and scorching hot summers exists the mild, fleeting season of spring — those few glorious weeks when the evenings aren’t frosty and the humidity has yet to become oppressive.

Flatland writer Jill Silva tells KCUR's Up To Date she savors the buzzy, festive energy of spring, and, with it, outdoor dining.

“I love it when there are plenty of people on the patio," she says. "There’s a sense that it's a party outside."

Carlton Logan, co-administrator of Facebook’s Kansas City Eats page, praises the perks of rooftop dining, like the kind available at The Well on Wornall Road.

“A rooftop gives you that sort of elevation that you may not get on a patio,” he said.

Whether you take your meal at ground level or higher, one thing's for certain, Silva says: “It's good to have options."

Below Silva, Logan and Mary Bloch, ofAround the Block, share their recommendations for dining outdoors in the Kansas City area.

Jill Silva:   

  • Jones Bar-B-Q — homemade sausage. My first visit to Jones Bar-B-Q was in 2015. Weather has warped many of the tables and planters but, really, what more do you need than their coarse-ground sausage, charred burnt ends, a bit of conversation and a huge hug?
  • Cafe Equinox — pastries. Walk to the back of the store and hang out in the greenhouse space with tables, comfortable garden chairs and plenty of plants. The food includes seasonal baked goods from Heirloom Bakery plus a good array of interesting coffees and teas.
  • Jack Stack Lenexa has expanded their outdoor seating area into an outdoor living space with a full-service bar and flat-screen TVs. Enjoy all your barbecue favorites – ribs, pulled pork mac and cheese, the Poor Russ or onion rings.
  • Messenger Coffee Co. — kouign-amann. I enjoy sitting on the rooftop with a chai latte (I’m not a coffee drinker) and a sugar-studded kouign-amann, a sweet Breton cake made of laminated dough.
  • Earl’s Premier is a great neighborhood spot with Black Lives Matter painted on a picket fence and kids playing laser tag in the dark. The patio is a memorable space where you can enjoy clam dip, fresh oysters and a frozen gin and tonic.  
  • La Bodega's awnings and planters offer a perfect place to stop for wine and Spanish-style tapas. At happy hour, Tortilla Espanola and Papas Fritas Con Ajos are my favorite, along with half-price pitchers of sangria.
  • Lenexa Public Market is a great gathering spot with fire pits on colder days and live music on Friday nights during the summer. You can eat at any of the interior restaurants, including Cosmo Burger, Red Kitchen, and Sohaila’s, to name a few.
  • Grinder’s Stonewall has a funky little patio with picnic tables. Like the Crossroads location that was started by “starving artist” Stretch in 2004, the  menu centers on New York-style pizzas and Philly cheesesteaks, as well as live music. 

Carlton Logan

  • Cafe Trio is famous for its fabulous holiday decorations. The patio and bar in the back have a great view of the Country Club Plaza, and the menu is eclectic, with small plates and creative cocktails. 
  • The Well's rooftop patio/deck is a popular place during happy hour and warm weather. A wide-open space with a railing that has visibility to Wornall Road, it’s a great spot for beer, pretzels and burgers. 
  • Trezo Mare is one of my all-time favorites. It has a large, stone patio with different seating arrangements and plenty of surrounding space. I love everything on the menu, including brunch, appetizers, pasta and pizza. 
  • The Classic Cup — all-day breakfast and lunch. The Classic Cup is classic Kansas City. There’s seating right on the street — a great place to see and be seen — and there’s a patio in the back with a wooden fence, tables and umbrellas.
  • Parlor is a food hall with seven kitchens serving various cuisines, including Filipino, Korean and American. There’s an upstairs deck that’s close to one of the two bars on site.
  • Iron District — ice cream. An open-air food hall with wooden picnic tables, umbrellas as well as other seating arrangements. New vendors have been added this year. Meltbox Ice Cream is one of my favorites.
  • Bar K is unique in our area for the fact it may be the only dog park with beer, cocktails, casual bites and a dog menu. There’s lots of sunshine on the patio, and it’s a great place to let the dogs run around and enjoy the weather.

Mary Bloch

  • Fox and Pearl’s patio is a cozy, private oasis enclosed by trees and wood fencing, and has a brick terrace and wood tables. It’s a great place to enjoy delicious cocktails, a bowl of homemade pasta, smoked meats and coal roasted vegetables.
  • Novel recently renovated. With a pergola, new furniture, and attractive lighting, you won’t have to juggle the heat or sun while enjoying pasta, a huge pork chop, octopus or any of the specials chef Ryan Brazeal has to offer.
  • Pigwich has a great space overlooking City Market's Farmers Market. Stop by for sandwiches, and then grab some steaks or pork chops for the grill from the Local Pig butcher shop next door.
  • Rye Leawood has a lovely patio overlooking a pond, with table and lounge seating. You can’t beat the fried chicken, burger or shrimp and grits.
  • Tailleur — bistro burger. Small but charming, you don’t even notice the patio is right next to a parking lot. Go for the awesome burger, steak frites, scallop risotto or a Cobb salad.
  • Extra Virgin is always an ideal patio for a drink during happy hour, or a leisurely meal. A recent renovation means there is now complete cover, and heaters. Plus, it's one of the few places open on a Monday!
  • Gram and Dun is the most coveted patio on the Country Club Plaza. I love the huge homemade potato chips with a sauce flight, the tuna tartare with wonton chips, and the burger and fries. Don’t miss the salads, either.
  • Verbena has a big terrace overlooking the Meadowbrook Lake, and is often used for special occasions like bridal showers or a ladies luncheon. 

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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
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