Missing Meals – What Kansas City has Lost

Kansas City is a great restaurant town, and I think it’s even getting better. We are blessed with more creative chefs than I can count, and they keep moving us forward. But, every now and then, my thoughts will trip back to restaurants that have disappeared, and I’d like to step back in time for a couple hours. Here are a few places I would visit, in no particular order:

1. Leonard’s, for biscuits and gravy. Leonard’s was a previous occupant of what is now Governor Stumpy’s, and they put out the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had. The gravy was peppery, with lots of tasty sausage, and the biscuits were soft with a crisp crust.

2. La Mediterranee for lunch. On the east side of the Plaza, a quiet, elegant French restaurant used to serve top-notch fare on fine china with white tablecloths for around $5.

3. Al Roubaie’s (sp?) for lobster. Up the hill on Main from the Plaza, back when Main went straight over the creek, was a spotty little restaurant with a great lobster special. If I recall correctly, you got lobster and sides for $15, and it was a feast.

4. Thirsty’s Cantina for lunch. I don’t know how they packed so much flavor into a simple chicken sandwich, but it was wonderful. There used to be a great bar in the space now occupied by Panerra in Westport. They also served a burrito thing I can’t remember the name of (chicken cantina?), but it was filled with chicken in a creamy, cheesy sauce with just enough jalapeno to make it shine. All that, plus chips and salsa.

5. TJ Cinnamon’s. I know that the name lives on as a corporate asset of the Arby’s chain, but, if you weren’t around to experience it, you have no idea how mouth-watering a walk through Ward Parkway mall could be back in the mid-80s. The aromas of butter and cinnamon wafted through the then-active halls of commerce. The rolls were warm and soft – the size of softballs – and they were individual treasures, not boxed products.

This trip down memory lane has not truly been a lament. I think we have more, better restaurants today than we did 20 years ago. I wouldn’t even trade the dependable neighborhood friendliness of Governor Stumpy’s for the breakfast of Leonard’s. Things change and they sometimes get better. But these are some fond food memories I have of Kansas City . . .

8 Responses to “Missing Meals – What Kansas City has Lost”

  1. GMC70 says:

    Ah, TJ Cinnamon –

    A heart attack on a plate, and worth every bit of it. Fresh butter, goopy cinnamon, sweet icing; you couldn't eat one without being sticky all over your hands – wonderful!.

  2. Anonymous says:

    6) 75th street brewery removing the French dip from the menu.

  3. CityBluz says:

    Leonard's was (seriously) voted the dirtiest restaurant in Kansas City – and for cause. Of course, where else in this town except for Waid's could you see servers doing the Thorazine shuffle?

    The one I miss is "S&J Oyster Bar," which was at Ward Parkway only oh-so-briefly. Nothing like their shrimp poor boy – nothing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I miss S&J Oyster Bar (used to be at Ward Parkway Shopping Center) – never had a better shrimp poor boy. (Of course, I'd never had one before theirs, but I've had plenty since, and none measures up.)

    Leonards was voted "dirtiest restaurant in K.C." shortly before they closed – and for good cause. Although it WAS fun to watch the servers shuffle around. Always wondered what medications they took.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ross's Grill for tenderloins.

    Annie's Santa Fe.

    The place on 12th street east of the Bolling Building that had the brain sandwiches.

    So true on the TJ Cinnamons.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dan – as a Waldo man, how could you forget the Wornall Cafe a/k/a Top of the Wornall? The Hangover Omlette was the best in town, and the surly waitress and parolee cook served up some mighty fine Bs & Gs themselves.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Try Big Mamas, now in Crown Center, for cinnamon rolls. You can buy a huge dish, four large rolls, for $4.50. The sticker says some of the most beutiful words known to man: "Made with Real Butter."

    Neices is opening at the new location on Troost next week, not bad on the B & G.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Anyone lament the expiration of Venue?

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