It’s not necessary to travel to either coast for good eats; restaurants in downtown Kansas City are some of the finest in the country. The trick is simply to know where to look. Since “downtown KC restaurants” could encompass so many different areas of the city, we’ve broken them down into more specific segments. If you’re interested in eating in the Crossroads Arts District, the River Market or Power and Light, we’ve written articles more specific to the teeming culture in those areas.
If, however, you’re looking for a downtown hotspot off the beaten PnL or First Fridays paths, this article will serve as your guide to the downtown Kansas City restaurants around the Library District and the River Market.
The Library District:
There are multiple districts within the Downtown Loop — the Financial District, the Garment District, the Business District and the Library District. These are some of the oldest and coolest neighborhoods in the city, and it seems that most of the Kansas City restaurants downtown have grouped up to be closer to the Library District.
Kansas City is infamous for both its steaks and jazz, so why not indulge in a little (or a lot) of both at the same time? The live Kansas City jazz calendar is stacked, they cook a mean steak, and they’ve got over 275 whiskeys. You can thank us later.
The Peanut claims itself Kansas City’s oldest bar and grill; before Prohibition was repealed, it was actually a speakeasy. It’s the typical lineup of delicious, greasy bar food, and it’s a perfect stop for a drink after work if your office is within the downtown loop.
Charisse is a classically beautiful restaurant that serves a mix of old French and new American cuisines. (Think escargot and filet mignon.) Also, their dinner menu features an etching of an adorable French bulldog, which may very well be all you need to convince you to check this place out.
Frequently, when someone is looking to find restaurants in downtown Kansas City, this actually means they’re open to suggestions in the Crossroads or the River Market as well. If that’s the case, you might want to check out our articles specifically dedicated to both of those areas, but here are a few of our favorite suggestions from each location:
The River Market:
The River Market makes a strong case for being one of the best destination neighborhoods in Kansas City. With its convenient streetcar access and walkability, the area is a hot spot whether the weekly farmer’s market is running during the summer months or not. The best way to visit the River Market restaurants in downtown Kansas City? Intentionally park a few blocks away and take in all the people and storefronts as you make your way to your final destination.
We’ll give you three guesses about what the Farmhouse prides itself on, but you probably won’t need them. It’s local farmers. In fact, they provide a list of the ones they support on their website, so that you can value them as much as the restaurant does. You’ll know exactly where all of your food came from, and you’ll enjoy each bite all the more.
If you’ve ever wondered which of the places to eat in downtown KC serves up a mean pork tenderloin or a catfish po’boy, wonder no more. Going to Harry’s is like taking a step back into the ‘50s, save for the eclectic mix of customers, which may include a group of older businessmen or a table of young female bikers. You haven’t truly experienced the charm of the River Market if you’ve never had a drink at Harry’s.
This bistro is located in the former Merchant’s Bank building, which was constructed in 1920. The plate glass and verde marble floors are still there, and the sight alone is enough to make this a favorite of the restaurants in downtown Kansas City. The food, however, isn’t to be outdone either, whether you’re in the mood for oysters or chicken fried chicken.
The Crossroads is known most famously for its art scene, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t also house some of the finest downtown KC restaurants. While our Crossroads article goes into more detail, we couldn’t help but include a few here as well:
Lulu’s has been around for more than 22 years, and it’s the go-to spot for Kansas Citians who are looking for authentic Thai food. Whether you’re looking for fiery curries, noodles, satays or rice dishes, you’re sure to find comfort at Lulu’s.
Manny’s has been a Kansas City staple for going on 30 years, and it’s no wonder. In fact, it’s hard to say which we like best — the authentic Mexican food, or the margaritas.