A Cut Above: 9 Great Kansas City Steaks

by Jenny Vergara

No matter how much the food scene evolves in Kansas City, we are first and foremost a cow town. From our barbecue to strip steaks, both that bear our city’s good name, the bovine is as much a part of Kansas City’s rich culinary history, as it is a true symbol of our deep Midwestern roots.

A Little Background

In 1871, the Kansas City Stockyards boomed in the West Bottoms. This was due in part to our central location in the country, and because the trains that ran right next to our stockyards, ready to transport cattle in and out of our city limits with ease. In fact, until the Great Flood of 1951 that wiped our Stockyards out, Kansas City’s were second only to Chicago's in size.

Stockyards in the West Bottoms
Photo courtesy of KCHistory.org

Then, in 1899, the American Royal was born out of our love and respect for the cattle industry. “The Royal,” as it is called, lives on today with livestock shows that culminate into the American Royal Barbecue competition, which will be hosted for the first time in 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in the Truman Sports Complex.

In fact, we are so proud of our “cow town” roots that in 2002, a long standing mascot of our bullish status, a 19 foot-long fiberglass sculpture of a Hereford bull, nicknamed B.O.B. (which stands for “bull on building”) was placed back up on a pedestal in Mulkey Square Park just across the highway from its original location on the top of the building that served as the headquarters for the American Hereford Association, which was founded in Kansas City in 1883.

Kansas City’s access to quality beef has lead to the opening of many excellent steakhouses over the years. Much like the stock market, beef continues to be an indicator of how well our economy is doing. In times of plenty, decadent steakhouses have multiplied in our fair cow town. After all, what better way to show how "flush" you are with a prospective date or business client than to take them for a fine meal at the local steakhouse.

But we love our beef no less during lean times, when our chefs may choose to serve less expensive, but more flavorful cuts of quality beef, like the popular hanger steak. When cooked properly, Kansas City knows how to enjoy all cuts of the cow ... with a little salt and pepper, and hold the steak sauce.

So, from the old school steakhouses, to right now restaurants that know how to season and sear a prime cut, these are some suggestions on where to get a great steak out in Kansas City.

Majestic Steakhouse

The Majestic Restaurant

You go to the Majestic Steakhouse in downtown Kansas City to experience what a night out on the town looked like back in the days of Prohibition. This is a locally owned, traditional steakhouse that proudly serves USDA dry-aged prime cuts, prepared just the way you like it with all of the traditional sides. You’ll find a jazz club with live entertainment blowing hot and hard in the basement and an excellent craft cocktail bar upstairs serving up drinks from a time when our city was supposed to be dry. All that is left for you to do is grab a table, settle in and enjoy this step back in time. 931 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO.

Grille at Park Place

The Grille at Park Place

If you find yourself out south craving a solid steak dinner, then this new addition to Leawood’s Park Place is just the place to satisfy your red meat desires. This locally owned, clubby restaurant keeps it simple by serving a fantastic filet, traditional ribeye or 12- or 16-ounce roasted prime rib to tease your taste buds. Start your meal on their open-air rooftop patio, with a drinks and appetizers, before heading downstairs to the dining room for the main event. Finish your decadent dinner with the Grille’s signature Chocolate Wow! dessert. 5270 W 116th Pl., Leawood, KS.

The Capital Grille

With its tony location on the Country Club Plaza, and its consistently solid service and steaks, The Capital Grille feels nothing like the chain that it is. Kansas City has adopted this steakhouse and made it our own by celebrating business deals and anniversaries in its bar with Stoli Doli’s all around. The restaurant boasts a stellar wine list, and has all the steakhouse charm you could ask for with their masculine, dark wood and leather booths. Steaks are the specialty here, where you can get anything from a fantastic steak burger to a 24 oz. dry aged Porterhouse steak. 4740 Jefferson St., Kansas City, MO.

Blvd Tavern

Blvd Tavern

Blvd Tavern is an unexpected gem located in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District. Opened by local chef Derek Nacey and his wife, Meghan, these two will make you feel right at home in their new pub-style restaurant. To wet your whistle, choose something from their diverse drink menu featuring creative craft cocktails, local beers and a thoughtful selection of wines by the glass or bottle. Chef is dry curing his own beef, and has added a grilled 14-day, dry aged, prime Kansas City Strip to the menu that is served with roasted potatoes and creamed kale. Order the steak frites and get a prime flat iron steak that is served with crispy fries, shallot-herb butter and a baby greens salad. 320 Southwest Blvd/, Kansas City, MO.

Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse

Celebrating more than 75 years in business, Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse is one of our longest running, family owned, steakhouses left in Kansas City. Located out south in the Martin City area, this no-frills, steak-centric roadhouse has seen the suburbs of Kansas City grow right up to their front door. Writer Calvin Trillin, who, now famously, penned an article for Playboy magazine about his favorite hometown steakhouse in the early 1970s, literally putting Jess and Jim on the map. Today, this award-winning steakhouse still hand cuts its steaks daily, and theirs is one of the few places where you still get your steak and all the trimmings for one price. Every steak they serve at Jess and Jim’s comes with a house salad, garlic toast and choice of one side. 517 E. 135th St., Kansas City, MO.

Cleaver & Cork

Local chef-turned butcher Alex Pope opened his artisan butcher shop, The Local Pig, in 2012. Since then, he has opened up a food truck called Pigwich, a casual dining and beer hall in Westport and his third concept, Cleaver & Cork, is his most upscale to date. Cleaver & Cork is a gourmet gastropub featuring Midwestern influenced offerings in the heart of the Kansas City Power & Light District. The menu showcases the quality meats from the Local Pig butcher shop, as well as cleverly curated cocktail and wine list. At dinner, you will find a several steaks to tempt the carnivore in you, including a traditional Kansas City Strip and a show-stopping smoked ribeye. After dinner take a stroll out the back door and into the Living Room area of the Power & Light to see if there is a band playing or one of our home teams playing on the big screen. 1333 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO.

801 Chophouse

The first 801 Chophouse opened in Des Moines in 1993, but Kansas City’s steak town was the second market for this restaurant group. There are two 801 Chophouse locations now in Kansas City, one in the Power & Light District and the other is in Leawood in the Park Place shops. With a softer and more romantic atmosphere than some of the more masculine steakhouses in Kansas City, this should be a date night destination. All of their steaks are USDA prime beef and they boast an extensive wine list. Dress up your steak by choosing one of eight different preparations including favorites like au poivre with cognac cream, bone marrow butter bath or béarnaise sauce. 71 E. 14th St., Kansas City, MO, and  11616 Ash St., Leawood, KS.

Anton’s Taproom

Anton’s Taproom opened in the Crossroads in 2013 in a gorgeously repurposed red brick building, and quickly became known as a hot spot for a burger and a beer with 60+ beers on tap. Since then, Anton’s reputation has been built on its quality steaks that come from whole sides of beef that are butchered in-house and dry aged on site. The steaks are priced based on the day’s market price for your cut based on the number of ounces you choose to order. Choose your cut from filet, KC Strip, ribeye or bone-in ribeye, then choose the size you want, and finally how you would like it cooked. They cut and cook each steak to order. You must order the minimum allowed for each cut to ensure a quality experience with your steak. The national press has given Anton’s Taproom a lot of love, and you should too. 1610 Main St., Kansas City, MO.

Rye

Chef Colby Garrelts is a 2013 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Midwest, and he, along with and his wife and pastry chef Megan Garrelts opened their second restaurant, Rye, in the Mission Farms shopping center in Leawood in 2012 to much fanfare. Unlike their first fine dining restaurant, Bluestem, this restaurant is the couples’ love letter to the traditional and comforting cuisine of Midwest where they were both raised. Using USDA prime and choice quality steak cuts as part of their reserve steak program; choose from a strip, filet, ribeye and T-bone steak from their menu, which also includes your choice of soup or salad and one side dish. Be sure to ask for the stellar wine list to get a bottle to go with your meal. Arrive early, and start your meal with a quality craft cocktail at their comfortable bar or out on their patio before you indulge. 10551 Mission Rd., Leawood, KS.

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