Visit the place President Harry Truman is said to have loved to eat, and see why Dixon’s is still serving up the most unique chili in town. Opened in 1919 by Vergne Dixon, Dixon’s has locations in Independence and Lee Summit. They are now owned and run with much attention to detail by Terri Totta-Smith. The chili at Dixon’s is served to you deconstructed. You get a plate heaping with ground beef (served wet or dry), beans (with or without) or both for $7. Then order additional condiments like cheddar cheese, diced onions, jalapeño relish, sour cream or crackers. Mix and spice as you go. ORDER: the chili plain your first time. Adding tamales, a bun, tortilla shell or pasta makes this dish something other than chili.
Jess & Jim’s Steak House
517 E. 135th Street
Kansas City, MO 64145
At a time when Kansas City has few locally owned, family run steakhouses, Mike and Debbie Van Noy are keeping the tradition alive and kickin’ in Martin City. Jess & Jim’s Steak House also has another claim to fame, one that author, Calvin Trillin, wrote about in Playboy magazine in 1972. A steak that later became known as the Playboy Strip and put this little place on the national map. It’s a 25 oz. bad boy that comes with your choice of baked potato, fries, rice or green beans and salad or steak soup for $42. It’s plenty for two, unless you are a really, really hungry playboy. LISTEN: to your waitress, they are wise about what they serve, and will help you navigate the menu.
Seth Morris, Brett Conner and Tommy Treccariche (the pitmaster) have opened a solid new barbeque joint on 39th Street called Matchstick BBQ. The trio met while working together at the Hitchin’ Post Meat Company. This breakfast and barbeque place has a smoker on-site, and they use certified Angus beef and fruitwood to smoke-up some mighty tasty meat. If you are looking for a barbeque sandwich that shows off their specialty, beef brisket, get the Tommy Gun. A one-pound sandwich with slices of tender, smoky beef brisket stuffed between three slices of soft Texas toast and handcut house fries for $9. GET: their homemade ice cream for dessert, in flavors like kiwi lime and toasted almond. They change frequently and are a nice way to cool the heat from the barbeque.
The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s
Lawrence, KS, 66044
Lawrence Chef Robert Krause, along with his right hand, Chef Simon Bates, decided to put their considerable talent towards running a gourmet burger kitchen, thus capitalizing on a hot trend. The Burger Stand is run out of the back of an old Irish pub called Dempsey’s, located one block off Mass Street in downtown Lawrence. The atmosphere is definitely more college bar than hip gourmet burger place, but the burgers are sizable half pound patties and oh-so-juicy, like running down your arms juicy. If the special burger of the day doesn’t tempt, then order the Kobe burger with a brioche bun, pickled red onions and truffle butter for $9. SEND: someone in your party to grab seats while you order food at the end of the bar, this place fills up fast.
417 E 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
(Photo borrowed from Daniel van der Veen's blog, and is not an actual philly from Stretch's. It is merely a simulation.)
Local sculptor and colorful man about town, Stretch Rumaner, has built a Crossroads culinary & entertainment empire. But the original Grinders, is where you can get the South Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. A whole sandwich is $9 and a half is $6. Grinders most popular sandwich is made from a fresh baked Amoroso rolls shipped in from Philly filled with a pile of chopped beef, grilled onions, green peppers, banana peppers, mushrooms, "Cheese Wiz," an authentic Philadelphia tradition, or provolone cheese. These Philly-style sandwiches are wonderfully authentic and well worth a trip downtown. VISIT: on Monday nights when George Detsios, former owner of George’s Cheese and Sausage Shop, is in the kitchen cooking up Hungarian dishes for all to eat. Seriously, go!