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Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Seafood Dishes In Kansas City

Liz West
Flickr -- CC

It’s a misconception that we can’t get access to fresh seafood here in the landlocked Midwest.

Locally, we can get catfish, trout and now shrimp grown in Oak Grove, Missouri. And fish wholesalers bring seafood from far-away oceans to KC.

“Somewhere between what we’re able to get locally and what we’re able to bring in, we have a nice selection of seafood in Kansas City,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Vergara, along with Food Critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, uncovered the best seafood dishes in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

  • Blvd Tavern — octopus. Currently served with potatoes bravas, green olives and pickled celery.
  • Extra Virgin — octopus.
  • Story — octopus, ceviche. Story’s ceviche is a cult favorite; it’s always on the menu. It’s made with fluke, apple, tomatillo, jalapenos and lime.
  • Novel — octopus, ceviche. Novel’s ceviche always varies a bit, but the hamachi crudo is garnished with yellow watermelon, jalapeno and yogurt.
  • Bluestem and Rye — shrimp and grits. Love the gravy; it’s more of a red-eye with a kick.
  • Happy Gillis — crab roll. Comes with pickled peppers.
  • Café Sebastienne — fish tacos. Served with Rancho Gordo beans.
  • Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos — ceviche. I love the scallops ceviche with lime, cucumber, onions and cilantro on a fried tostada (it can also be served in a cocktail glass).
  • Carmen’s Café — Fettuccine al Diablo. Shrimp, mussels, clams and squid in a spicy tomato sauce.
  • JJ’s Restaurant — tuna appetizer. Seared rare ahi tuna, thinly sliced, served with JJ’s teriyaki, house-pickled ginger, wasabi, fennel and apple salad in a yuzu vinaigrette.

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Voltaire — Spanish octopus dish. It’s a large roasted tentacle cooked with chorizo, roasted poblano, Calabrese olives, purple potatoes, curly endive and a sherried Mezcal vinegar.
  • Jarocho — omakase menu (chef’s choice). It’s by reservation only and starts at $65 per person. Come hungry and put yourself in the chef’s hands to taste some of the best and most creative seafood in the city right now.
  • Krokstrom Klubb — smoked trout potato cake. Available on the brunch menu, it features their goat cheese potato pancake with smoked trout and a sunny side up egg. It’s creamy and rich.
  • Red Snapper — crispy whole red snapper. It’s the namesake dish of this restaurant; it’s served with white rice and stir-fried vegetables in garlic sauce. Plenty for two people.
  • Berbiglia’s Roost — jumbo fried shrimp. You get seven crispy golden fried shrimp served with coleslaw and cocktail sauce and your choice of side, which includes hand-cut seasoned fries.
  • Happy Gillis — crab roll. Made with lump crab, pickled peppers and arugula on butter-toasted brioche. It is simply one of the most satisfying “seafood” roll experiences in Kansas City.
  • Meshuggah Bagels — pastrami salmon, whitefish salad.
  • Rockhill Grille — calamari steak appetizer. Thick-cut calamari steaks are battered, fried golden brown and served with parmesan aioli, tomato jam and aged balsamic.
  • The Burger Stand at the Casbah — catfish po boy. Moist and crisp with a Creole coleslaw. Mouthwatering.

On my list to try next:

  • Journeyman Cafe — oven-roasted salmon. Served with cucumber, red onion, farro tabouli, grapefruit, radish and citrus yogurt on their dinner menu.

Charles Ferruzza, The Independent and Shawnee Mission Post:

  • Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar — lobster roll. It’s just an old-fashioned presentation: lobster with just a tiny bit of mayonnaise on a simple buttered roll. Delicious and full of flavor.
  • Bristol Seafood Grill. The cuisine here is extraordinary. Those famous drop biscuits, on the other hand, may be the most overrated bread product served in town.
  • Jarocho. Chef Carlos Falcon does an impressive job in his tiny kitchen. It’s become a real see-and-be-seen place over the last few years.

Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at