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Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Pork Dishes In Kansas City In 2018

A sandwich with meat, cheese, pickles and mustard on a wooden surface.
Pigwich's Cuban sandwich is the Monday special and comes with ham, pork roast, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. The sandwich show, and it's parent butcher shop, The Local Pig, are moving from the East Bottoms to the River Market in early fall.

Located in the heart of the Midwest with some of the most famous barbecue joints in the world, it's no surprise there are lots of meaty meal options to be found in Kansas City. 

"Since the dawn of Kansas City I would say pork's been having a moment," KCUR Food Critic Jenny Vergara said. "It's definitely on the menu."

But what menus have the best pig dishes around?

Vergara, along with KCUR's Food Critics Bonjwing Lee and Mary Bloch, joined Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann to share their favorite pork picks at restaurants (and butcher shops) in the Kansas City metro area. 

Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure:

  • Columbus Park Ramen — tonkotsu ramen. Super rich pork broth with thinly shaved pork belly melting on top. 
  • Tacos El Gallo — tacos al pastor. The pork is slightly crispy!
  • Kin Lin — pork and dried tofu stir-fry. Terrific texture. 
  • Rye — double pork chop. Thick and juicy.

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Novel — tagliatelle pasta. A white bolognese sauce with ground pork, veal and sweetbreaks, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
  • Hogshead — B3LT. Featuring tender pork belly slices, crispy bacon, bacon jam, romaine, pickled green tomato and scallion aioli. 
  • Waldo Thai — khao tod nam sod. Tasty salad featuring crispy seasoned rice, kaffir lime leaf, scallion red onion, pickled pork sausage, basil, lettuce and peanuts. Ground pork laab is also a favorite.
  • Wiener Kitchen/Wiener Wagon — bacon, sausage and chorizo verde. Bacon sausage is a breakfasat favorite featuring ground pork, black pepper, brown sugar, cure mix and their chorizo verde (black pepper, poblano, jalapeno, spinach, cilantro, pepitas, tequila).
  • EJ's Urban Eatery — pork tenderloin sandwich. Their Wednesday lunch special is pork tenderloin served with bacon jam, red onion, yellow mustard and homemade pickles on a brioche bun. 
  • The Rieger — $30 charcuterie tray. With arguably the best housemade charcuterie program in Kansas City, The Rieger's gorgeous tray features unique porky picks such as the housemade porcetta di testa (i.e. pic's head roulade), and the sweetbreads and bacon terrine along with the Casella's prosciutto really makes the tray.
  • Freshwater — grilled heritage pork loin. Features long beans, carrot puree and pepperonata. 
  • The Sundry — the Berkshire sandwich. Shaved roasted pork loin, Swiss cheese, slaw and horseradish cremé on a toasted hoagie roll. 
  • Port Fonda — chicarrones. Pork rinds dusted with chipotle ranch seasoning.
  • Our Daily Nada — prosciutto toast. Served with mascarpone cheese, peaches and arugula drizzled with balsamic glaze. 

​Mary Bloch, Around The Block:

  • Succotash — pork hash, Cuban sandwich. Both are made with a roasted pork shoulder that is tender and juicy. The meat falls apart, which is just as it should be.
  • Pigwich — Cuban sandwich. Again, I'm all about the Cuban sandwich. (You also can't go wrong with the pork chops next door at the Local Pig.)
  • The Reiger — pork soup. It's a staple on the menu and one of the few things that hasn't come off of it since the restaurant opened. It's French onion soup meets pork confit, reach and decadent. 
  • Port Fonda — El Comedor. A large format dish that serves eight to 10 people. It's a ridiculously delicious whole pork butt with crispy skin, served with tortillas, salsa, and Rancho Gordo beans. It has to be ordered in advance. 
  • Happy Gillis — BLT. No frills, just the best of each ingredient.
  • Broadway Butcher Shop — DIY. Stop in if you you want to make your own pork chops, pork shoulder, tenderloin, etc. Even their ground pork and sausages are going to be far superior to anything  at a regular grocery store. 
  • Princess Garden — Szechuan noodles. This Kansas City institution serves its noodles with pork, shrimp and chilcke and it's all tossed in a somewhat spicy sauce. Another favorite, a harvest vegetables dish, is based on their a harvest pork dish, both of which are stir-fried with garlic and ginger black bean sauce.
  • Hogshead — stew. A wonderful stew made with tender pork cheeks, smoked tomatoes, corn and potatoes. Very spicy!
  • The Bite — Boss Hog sandwich. Made with roasted pork, Korean barbecue sauce, candied jalapenos and sesame slaw.
  • Joe's KC — Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich. Served with Bubba's sauce and slaw — it's a classic!

Listener recommendations: 

  • JJ's — pork chop. 
  • Humdinger Drive In — pork tenderloin sandwich. A Kansas City classic. Listener has been eating this sandwich since the 1970s. 
  • Carniceria San Antonio — al pastor. Best pork dish the listener has ever eaten. 
  • Christine's Fire House — fried pork sandwich. Listener said fried pork is a staple at dive bars in North Kansas City, and this is one of the best. Here, it's a huge piece of pork that swallows the bread.
  • Bun Mee Phan  — pork belly sandwich. Comes with a fried egg, marinated carrots and fresh herbs. One of the listener's favorite weekend breakfasts.
  • Strip Chicken — pork burger. Listener grew up on a farm and often ate pork burgers and said this one is huge  — a burger pattie, bacon and chicarrones  — and juicy.
  • Rudy's  —  carnitas. Great comfort food and served with thinly sliced fried potatoes on the side.
  •  Los Tules — canitas. Nothing fancy, but the meat is cooked to perfection.

Kathleen Pointer is a digital and associate producer for KCUR's talk shows, Up To Date and Central Standard. Reach out to her at kathleenp@kcur.org or find her on Twitter, @kathleenpointer