Your Guide to Kansas City Jazz District Restaurants
The 18th and Vine Jazz District is one of the most historic, and overlooked, areas in Kansas City. 18th and Vine is home to a handful of the most foundational jazz institutions in the country, and the list of famous musicians who made a stop in Kansas City is as long as it is prestigious. The district is also home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, an important institution celebrating black athletes who competed despite the terrible burden of discrimination. Through this museum, the jazz clubs going into the early morning hours and the food being served all day, 18th and Vine celebrates black history and culture in a way that few other places can.
If you have yet to visit the area, you’re missing out. This guide to restaurants near 18th and Vine will get you acquainted with the district. From the most historic barbecue in Kansas City to down-home Cajun cooking, 18th and Vine District restaurants offer delicious meals with no frills, just flavor.
Let’s get to it.
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue
Any discussion of restaurants near 18th and Vine has to begin with Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue, an iconic Kansas City institution. This city is known for its barbecue. Joints like Joe’s Kansas City, Gates, Jack Stack and Q39 are household names to food lovers locally and nationally. Amongst this cloud of great names, Arthur Bryant’s occupies its own space in KC barbecue lore.
Arthur came to Kansas City to work with his brother Charlie on a barbecue restaurant. After Charlie passed, Arthur took over the entirety of the operation and elevated it to previously untasted levels of flavor. At the time, historic Municipal Stadium, only a few blocks away, was home to the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Athletics, the Royals’ predecessors. After the ball game, everyone got their barbecue fix at Arthur Bryant’s.
Arthur Bryant’s has served KC barbecue to Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. If it’s good enough for our presidents, then this 18th and Vine restaurant is more than enough for you. Arthur Bryant was specifically known as the “King of Ribs” — consider starting with a half-rack of ribs with his famous sauce.
Restaurants Near 18th and Vine
Seriously, start at Arthur Bryant’s. But don’t stop there. 18th and Vine District restaurants serve a variety of cuisines, all delicious is unique ways. Here are a few more restaurants near 18th and Vine in Kansas City to try out.
- Bayou on the Vine: With its history and swagger, 18th and Vine is the spiritual cousin of New Orleans. It’s only fitting that Bayou on the Vine brings the flavors of the Big Easy to Kansas City. One of the most beloved 18th and Vine Kansas City restaurants, Bayou on the Vine’s menu offers Cajun classics like shrimp, andouille and catfish. This spot also regularly hosts live music, so you might catch a jazz set with your meal.
- Smaxx: In need of comfort food? Smaxx has you covered. There’s no frills or pretense here — just a historic diner serving delicious food at a decent price. If you’re visiting the Negro Leagues Museum or the American Jazz Museum, Smaxx is a great lunch stop after your tour. Put it near the top of your Kansas City Jazz District restaurants list.
- The Kansas City Juke House: Restaurants near 18th and Vine tend to feature live jazz performances, and The Kansas City Juke House is one of the best restaurant/venue combos in the area. Order a drink from the bar and a plate of wings and settle in. You can also find entrees like smoked pork chop, old-school fried chicken and fried catfish, and crispy taco salad.
- The Blue Room: Take in live music with a good drink at this historic Kansas City jazz institution. There’s live music every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Indigo Hour (Friday from 5:00–7:30) is great time to go for a first visit; there’s live music, drink specials and no cover charge.
- Mutual Musicians Foundation: Founded in 1917, this is the spot for night owls. This jazz lounge opens on the weekend at 1 a.m. and doesn’t shut down until 5 in the morning. If late-night jams are your thing, this is your spot. It’s one of the most unique restaurants near 18th and Vine, and an institution that embodies the historic significance of jazz in Kansas City.
More Restaurants Near 18th and Vine
Don’t limit your visit to 18th and Vine to one place. See the museums, listen to the music, get a great meal and a good drink. Appreciate what an area like this means to Kansas City and how lucky we are to be the home of this important cultural history.
You should be able to find a great meal at any of the 18th and Vine District restaurants listed above. Just in case, here are a couple more places to grab a bite in the surrounding area: