“Hidden Gems with a Southern Exposure”
9129 Elmhurst Drive
Overland Park, KS 66212
Can you keep a secret? Torreon Restaurant might be one of the oldest and best-kept secrets in Mexican food in KC. The Ibarra family opened their restaurant in 1960, and now the third generation carries on the tradition. Be amazed (perhaps even skeptical) at how simple the food looks, but wait until you taste it. Get the Gorditas - 3 perfect masa biscuits stuffed beans, your choice of chicken or beef, onions, lettuce, cheese and Pico de Gallo, served with oregano rice and beans for under $10. The tamales are simply terrific, a guest favorite. SIT: On the outdoor patio, squint your eyes a bit, and feel like you are dining in Napa Valley, as the fence surrounding this charming restaurant is covered in gorgeous grape vines.
8430 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO 64114
If you were a foodie fan of the original New Peking restaurant in Westport, then follow the chef and owners, Casey and Linda Chao, to their current upscale bistro - Red Snapper. With roots in traditional Chinese cuisine, they’ve broadened their style, calling it “Pan-Asian.” Different Chinese cooking styles mix on the menu with Thai and Korean dishes. Lunch Specials hover between $8-$10, which includes a bowl of the soup of the day, salmon rangoons and your choice of lunch entrée plus steamed or fried rice. PUSH: Out of your comfort zone at dinner and order the dish the restaurant is named after, the presentation of this whole, deep-fried Red Snapper will have you reaching for your camera and your chopsticks.
4821 W. 117th Street
Leawood, KS 66211
Cassis is the latest, and by far sexiest, French restaurant of Executive Chef Patrick Quillec, who also owns Café Provence in the Prairie Village Shops. Cassis is the more upscale, sophisticated and passionate little sister concept. Cleverly located in a little crook on the backside of Town Center, Cassis takes the friendliness of a French bistro and mixes it with true culinary heavy hitters. Order the fantastic steamed mussels cooked in white wine, cream and Pernod. Try the succulent seared duck breast served with a cassis sauce. All dinner entrees sit between $25-$35. Do not skip dessert here, just don’t! FINISH: At the Champagne bar and you could find yourself sitting next to Chef Patrick while he enjoys a late bite after the dinner rush is over.
The Wine Bar at Lukas Liquor Superstore
13657 Washington Street
Kansas City, MO 64145
The Wine Bar is not trying to be sneaky by hiding inside the giant Lukas Liquor Superstore on 135th and State Line. Come on in and visit their gorgeous wine tasting bar and sample lovely light bites from Chef Terry Barkley, a long time Kansas City culinary talent who most recently came from Nara’s downtown. Ready to taste? Purchase a swipe card; hand it to your wine attendant and point to the wine you would like to try. With over 95 wines you are guaranteed to find one you love. Order the Charcuterie & Cheese Plate for $12 and easily have enough food for 4 people to snack on. KNOW: State law requires that the wine attendants are the only people allowed to serve wine directly from the machine into your glass. Make friends with them, they have wine knowledge to share.
CC’s City Broiler - OUT OF BUSINESS
8550 W. 151st Street
Overland Park, KS 66223
Don’t judge this restaurant by its outward “chain appearance,” inside it has the same ambiance and class as any other upscale steakhouse in KC. The real difference is in CC’s prices, which are about $10 less than the others. Full of tempting USDA prime beef, every steak comes with your choice of soup or salad and one side item all for around $25. Independently owned by Scott Cleeton, who opened his first CC’s in Columbia in an abandoned bus station and then decided to make KC home to his second restaurant. SPLURGE: CC’s also offers several tempting side dish “upgrades” for an additional fee. If you are willing to spend a little of that money you saved, try the Creamed Spinach or Lyonnaise potatoes.