Kansas City is a perfectly centralized city in the middle of the United States. Having only heard of how delicious the BBQ was and the quote from The Wizard of Oz “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”, I was anxious to see what this iconic state’s namesake had to offer. Through the course of a few days, pounds, and miles, I found 10 things that you may or may not know about Kansas City, a city I found enthralling and full of energy.
#1 MeMa’s Old-Fashioned Bakery uses Authentic German Recipes
A good bakery is hard to come by these days, but MeMa’s Old-Fashioned Bakery has been pleasing the palate of Kansas City folks for over 25 years. You have to try the honkin’ big pastries and baked goods to taste the deliciousness for yourself. The huge Avalon cinnamon rolls were strategically drenched in icing, while the apple and cherry strudel was clearly the more popular choices. My favorite was MeMa’s German Povitica, something new to me and definitely unforgettable. Take home a box or glass jar of your favorite sweet treats from the well-stocked pantry.
#2 1889 Pizza Napoletana Offers Cooking Classes
This is one serious pizzeria, with fresh, local ingredients and a killer menu. 1889 Pizza Napoletana has gorgeous, gleaming decor, Nehi sodas (a big thrill for me!), and a 1,000-degree burning oven, which creates an amazing pizza. Try the Green Eggs and Ham pizza or the Chopped Salad, my favorite. Be sure to start with Pizza Napoletana’s epic house-made Burrata and a glass of wine from the admirable selection. Want to learn the art of pizza making? Take a class! 1889 Pizza offers cooking classes as well as special dinners and tasting menus. During my class, the owners showed us how to turn a perfect dough ball into a mouth-watering pizza.
#3 Sleep in a Jungle, Ship, or Desert at the Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa
Have you ever stayed in a themed hotel? The Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa is one of the best! Offering 61 guest rooms with a variety of 23 themes, you may end up sleeping in an exotic Tahitian Treehouse (adventure room), mythical Camelot (luxury room), or in the Mayan Rainforest (adventure room) styled room. Dream big and enjoy the novelty of this unique luxury destination that has the charm of a bed and breakfast. An intimate wine/tapas bar and spa are onsite as well. Breakfast can be ordered and delivered to your door; it is marvelous!
#4 The Kansas City Steak Company Has More Than Just Steaks
The world-famous Kansas City Steaks is located in, you guessed it, Kansas City. I was privy to take a tour and see how the Kansas City Steak products are automated for world-wide shipping purposes. KC Steak Company’s premium steaks are known for being tender and juicy with mouth-watering flavor. If you’ve never tried one, you are in for a treat. My mom has been buying them for years through QVC. KC Steak Company also carries non-beef items such as desserts, side items, and appetizers. The gift shop in front of the factory has lots of neat items for sale with their logo, such as chef’s aprons, cutting boards, and grilling tools.
#5 What an Authentic Taco Tastes Like at El Camino Real
This award-winning Mexican restaurant is known for its no-frills tacos. In a modest family-setting, the owner and his family at El Camino Real feed dozens of people a day with their perfectly flavored tacos. No cheese, sour cream, or overly seasoned meat here, just deliciously cooked and seasoned meat served with house-made corn tortillas. Guests may use fresh onions and cilantro jazz to up these babies, but it is not necessary for the perfect authentic taco found here at El Camino Real. The steak is phenomenal! I loved watching the tortillas being made in the open kitchen.
#6 Krizman’s House of Sausage Has Been in Business 70+ Years
This family business has been serving Kansas City for more than 70 years. Krizman’s House of Sausage processes their own meat while supplying restaurants and other businesses plus manage a storefront location. Be sure to try the Andouille, Cheddar Jalapeno Bratwurst, and Apple Sausage. I’m a huge sausage fan and would put Krizman’s up there with the best I’ve had ever. Don’t miss the homemade Sauerkraut and Sour Cabbage Heads, my first time ever having them.
#7 KCK Is the Cool Nickname for Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Kansas is not to be confused with the neighboring city, Kansas City, Missouri, as the two cities straddle the Kansas and Missouri borders separated by the Missouri River. While the other half is larger (and is home to the Chiefs football team), locals designate the cities by KCK or KCMo, which I found very cool.
#8 Slap’s BBQ Owners Created the Recipe for a Heinz BBQ Sauce
If you are a BBQ fan, Kansas City is perfect for you. After tasting quite a few local BBQ items, the award-winning Slap’s BBQ was hands-down the best! Slap’s melt-in-your-mouth brisket was really good, but my favorite was the roast turkey. The side dishes at Slap’s BBQ stole my heart: cheesy corn, baked beans, hot potato salad, and macaroni & cheese. Don’t bother counting calories when you eat there, but instead, enjoy every delicious bite. Slap’s BBQ has been featured on the Food Network and owners Joe and Mike Pearce teamed up with Heinz to create the zesty recipe for Kansas City Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce.
#9 Gambling and Racing Go Together at the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway
My favorite thing about Kansas City was this stellar casino—super clean, full of enticing games, spacious, and beautiful! Try your luck at the Hollywood Casino with craps, blackjack, poker, or over 2,000 slot machines. The casino is decorated with classic movie memorabilia and is worth perusing. While you are there, partake in the awesome food choices, ranging from American fare at Turn 2 Sports Bar & Restaurant, all you can eat at the Epic Buffet, to elegant fine-dining at the Final Cut Steakhouse. Be sure to check out the views of neighboring Kansas Speedway across from the Turn 2 Sports Bar outdoor dining area. It is a great place to watch the sunset.
#10 Original Juan Speciality Food Creates and Packages Major Retailer Name-Brand Products
Original Juan Speciality Foods creates, bottles, and ships thousands of mustard and/or vinegar based sauces, snacks, dips, and salsas right in the midst of Kansas City. In fact, businesses can hire Juan Speciality Foods to create their signature sauces, which get bottled, labeled, and shipped from this 60,000 square foot meticulously clean and organized facility. On my tour, I saw more than one thousand kinds of sauces and watched workers pulling them for shipment. At the onsite factory outlet store, buy or sample your favorite sauces. If you sign a disclaimer and contract you can taste “the source”, the world’s hottest sauce. Pick up a bottle of American Stockyard Harvest Apple BBQ Sauce–yum!
Kansas City is Worth Getting To Know
I enjoyed having a dose of delicious food and culture during my Kansas City visit. Did you learn anything that you did not know about the city? The business owners and staff were friendly and proud of the years that they have dedicated to their local community. I felt a sense of family at nearly every establishment that I visited. I look forward to exploring more of the Sunflower State and definitely more of KCK.
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