When you think of Spanish restaurants in Kansas City, most people’s minds jump straight to the taquierias and other Mexican spots that are all over the metro. While Spanish culture and Mexican culture do have many commonalities, Spanish food in Kansas City is something different entirely.
Spanish cuisine is creative and flavorful, drawing on influences from all over Europe while also building on the foundation of Spaniards’ distinct heritage. There aren’t many Spanish restaurants in Kansas City, but you can find an authentically Spanish meal if you know where to look.
This guide will point you in the right direction.
What is Spanish Cuisine?
Spanish cuisine is fresh. Olive oil and garlic are used in nearly every dish, as are vegetables. The meats used are often lighter — seafood is heavily involved, as is ham, pork and lamb. Many Spanish dishes will also involve nuts, legumes, eggs and a myriad of spices. Spanish culinary history is rich with diversity, as the many different regions in Spain each contribute something distinct. The way these ingredients are mixed and cooked can vary significantly.
Most Spanish food in Kansas City is cooked by roasting, sautéing or frying the food. Some meats are grilled, although it is not as common. Most Spanish recipes do not call for baking or broiling, either.
What are Tapas?
Spanish tapas restaurants are the signature of Spanish cuisine in Kansas City and around the world. Tapas are small plates served for the whole table. Instead of ordering separate meals, you may order eight or nine different tapas and try them all.
This is a communal style of dining that is a tradition in Spain. There’s no standard of what type of food is served in tapas. It can really be anything. The point is to enjoy several things in a way that brings everyone at the table closer together.
Tapas in Kansas City: La Bodega
Anyone searching for a Spanish tapas restaurant in KC has one primary destination: La Bodega.
La Bodega is located conveniently on Southwest Boulevard near downtown Kansas City. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. The food is diverse and delicious. This is a place to come with friends and family — the way Spanish tapas restaurants are supposed to be experienced.
“Tapas is a way of life,” according to La Bodega’s website. “It signifies leisure, camaraderie and good humor.”
La Bodega is built to bring this way of life to Kansas City, one small plate at a time.
While La Bodega is the sole Spanish restaurant in Kansas City that specializes in tapas, there are a couple other places where you can find tapas on the menu. The first is Extra Virgin, which is just down the street from La Bodega’s location on Southwest Boulevard. Chef Michael Smith has created one of Kansas City’s most heralded restaurants. The menu is made almost entirely of tapas, but the food on those plates draws influence from all over the world.
Another spot for tapas in Kansas City is Trago. This is a local, family-run operation on the north side of Kansas City. You’ll find a full bar, tasty food and live music at Trago. The vision for this restaurant is of “sharing, community, socializing and energy.”
What to Order at a Spanish Tapas Restaurant in KC
There are more than 30 tapas options on La Bodega’s dinner menu alone. Add in the other tapas restaurants in Kansas City, and you have hundreds of possible choices. Here are a few that stand out:
- Queso de Cabra al Horno: A house favorite. This tapa is goat cheese baked in tomato fresco and served with garlic crostinis.
- Champinones a la Plancha: If you are a mushroom fan, give this a try. The roasted mushrooms are soaked in a delectable white wine parsley sauce.
- Patatas Bravas: This translates to “brave potatoes.” The dish is made by serving potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. Give it a try, if you are brave.
- Papas Fritas con Ajo: Refried-roasted potatoes with garlic, parsley and garlic-cumin aioli makes for the perfect snack.
- Happy Hour Sangria: You can never go wrong with discounted liquor.
Any of these options will be tasty, but you should always choose what sounds best to you. We may have missed your favorite plate, so get out there and discover tapas in Kansas City for yourself!