quirky decor at succotash kansas city

There are numerous exceptional restaurants in Kansas City, but sometimes they can start to feel a little too similar to one another. If you’re looking for restaurants that are pretty cool and outside the norm, we have a list for you!

So, what is “cool”? To us Kansas City locals, it means unique, sometimes trendy, locally owned restaurants that are true Kansas City – you know, restaurants with a vibe that can’t be replicated. 

While our list highlights the unique atmospheres, you can be assured that we’re only sharing restaurants with exceptional menus. 

You’ll love dining at these neat establishments!

Kansas City’s Coolest, Most Unique Restaurants

1. J. Rieger’s Hey! Hey! Club

Neighborhood: East Bottoms
Cuisine: New American
Pricing: $$$

What makes the Hey! Hey! Club unique is its location in the underground of a historic distillery – add on the intimate, trendy vibe and it’s every bit “cool.”  

This speakeasy-style bar is a toast to the rich and spirited history of Kansas City’s cocktail culture. Located beneath the distillery, the Hey! Hey! Club promises a cozy craft cocktail experience and elegant small plates. 

Upon entering the space, you’re greeted by an ambiance that has old-world charm. The low lighting, plush seating, and vintage decor transport you to the roaring 1920s, a time when Kansas City was abuzz with jazz and speakeasies.

The distillery dates back to the 1880s, so a visit to the facility is unique in itself. Although the menu is on the smaller side, the dishes are exceptional.

They have live music on Thursdays. Reservations are recommended. 

green booth at speakeasy in kansas city
Hey! Hey! Club at Rieger

2. The Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club

Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisine: Steakhouse
Pricing: $$$$

The Majestic Restaurant, offering old-world charm in downtown Kansas City, carries the rich history and tradition of the city within its walls. This vintage steakhouse, set in an underground speakeasy of the historic Fitzpatrick Saloon Building, dates back to 1909.

What makes this restaurant truly unique? As evening descends, the restaurant transforms into a vibrant jazz club, echoing the tunes that made the city famous. This modern speakeasy stands as a homage to the Prohibition era, when the original saloon was converted into a hidden bar.

Famous for its dry-aged steaks, which are a testament to Kansas City’s reputation as the cattle capital of the United States, The Majestic never fails to impress its guests with its fine dining experience.

The menu extends beyond its renowned Kansas City Strip Steak. With an array of over 150 whiskeys and numerous wines, The Majestic caters to every palate, providing an impeccable pairing to complement each meal.

Menu highlights include dry aged ribeye, creme brulee, seafood etouffee, scallops, and onion soup.

3. The Campground

Neighborhood: West Bottoms
Cuisine: Midwest
Pricing: $$

Nestled in the historic Stockyards District, The Campground is a trendy, intimate aperitivo cocktail bar and restaurant with a woodsy aesthetic that invites you into a nostalgic dining experience.

Rooted in the influence of locally sourced, hunted, fished, and foraged ingredients, The Campground creates a haven where good drinks, comfortable conversations, and homemade eats converge.

You should know that the menu is small – typically 4 – 5 entree options and a handful of small plates.

The warm lighting and rustic decor create an ambiance reminiscent of a campy Wes Anderson film, offering a perfect escape from the city hustle. The food offerings, which include an excellent brunch, are a testament to Midwest Harvest Cuisine, emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients used in unexpected ways. 

Craft is at the heart of The Campground, not just in their cocktails but also in their culinary creations. They take pride in making everything from scratch, from syrups, liqueurs, and bitters to a diverse food menu. Embracing a “whole product use” philosophy, they utilize locally-sourced ingredients. 

Menu highlights include a double smash burger, brussel sprouts with white cheddar and aleppo, and potato salad with fried egg aioli. 

4. Lonnie’s Reno Club

Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisine: Steakhouse
Pricing: $$$$

Lonnie’s promises a dining experience like none other. As you step into Lonnie’s Reno Club, you’re immediately transported to the 1930s and 1940s, the heyday of jazz. 

The club’s decor is an elegant nod to this era, with plush seating, dim lighting, and vintage accents creating an atmosphere that’s both intimate and swanky. 

The heart and soul of Lonnie’s, of course, is the music. The club features some of the finest jazz musicians from Kansas City and beyond, offering a stage lineup that’s as diverse as it is talented. From smooth, sultry ballads to upbeat swing numbers, the music here is a celebration of jazz in all its forms.

The club encourages a deep connection between the musicians and the audience, creating an immersive experience that’s both moving and memorable. It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the rhythms, the melodies, and the sheer joy of live jazz.

At Lonnie’s, you’ll be treated to an upscale pre-fixe menu. 

The bar menu is a tribute to the classic drinks of the jazz era, with skilled bartenders mixing everything from timeless martinis to inventive new creations.

5. Golden Ox

Neighborhood: West Bottoms
Cuisine: Steakhouse
Pricing: $$$

What makes the Golden Ox neat is its history and the feeling that you’ve been taken back in time. It’s truly a legendary institution. 

Located in the historic Stockyards District, The Golden Ox has been a cornerstone of Kansas City’s dining scene since it first opened its doors in 1949.

hallway at cozy steakhouse
The Golden Ox

Stepping into The Golden Ox is like taking a step back in time to a bygone era of classic American steakhouses. The ambiance features a timeless elegance with its rich wood paneling, comfortable leather booths, and vintage décor.

wooden dining room at a steakhouse historic
The Golden Ox

Known for serving some of the finest cuts of meat in the city, The Golden Ox sources high-quality, locally raised beef, ensuring each steak is perfectly cooked. In addition to steaks, they serve seafood and hearty sides.

Manu highlights include the flat iron steak, risotto, and hearty sides. 

6. Mesob

Neighborhood: Midtown
Cuisine: Ethiopian, Caribbean
Pricing: $$

Mesob is unlike anywhere you’ve dined before – it brings together the vibrant flavors of both Ethiopian and Caribbean cuisine through authentic dishes. 

The chef-owner applies French-inspired culinary techniques to prepare the cuisine with a refined presentation. He is known for plating meals that are as visually appealing as they are delicious, and he continually creates seasonal specials to provide an exceptional and memorable experience.

The dishes are not a fusion of Ethiopian and Caribbean – rather, they are two separate offerings. The menu at Mesob offers a variety of dishes including beef, poultry, seafood, and a wide range of vegan dishes. 

The interior is well-decorated and the ambiance is inviting and cozy. They offer a craft cocktail menu along with their delectable dishes. If you like rum, they’ve got a wide ranging selection.

Menu highlights include fried plantain, shrimp curry, sampler platters, and jerk chicken.

african restaurant in kansas city mesob has brightly colored decor

7. Iron District

Neighborhood: North Kansas City
Pricing: $$
Cuisine: Food Hall

The Iron District in North Kansas City is an open-air food hall built out of repurposed shipping containers with vibrant colors and industrial charm. 

They typically feature seven to nine concepts, each created by local chefs and ranging in cuisine type. While there are concepts that have stayed for several years, many concepts treat it as a startup opportunity and so the options cycle out each year, adding to the variety. 

You order at the window of the shipping container, find an available picnic table, and wait for your order to be called. In the warmer months, they’ve been known to have live music. 

In addition to the culinary concepts, they house a couple of bars as well as local shops. 

8. Corvino’s Tasting Room Experience

Neighborhood: Crossroads Arts District
Cuisine: New American
Pricing: $$$$

Corvino is a culinary standout in Kansas City. The upscale, elegant New American fare is paired with live jazz music and dimmed lights to create an intimate ambiance.

You don’t have to just take our opinion – Corvino has several accolades from the James Beard Foundation, including being named a semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest in 2023. 

For a more unique dining experience, consider their Tasting Room, which offers 10 courses for $150, a small, intimate dining experience complete with an open kitchen, and access to Chef Michael Corvino. 

Over roughly two and a half hours, you’ll embark on a culinary journey that masterfully displays Chef Michael’s relentless pursuit of innovation and simplicity, all grounded in a deep respect for ingredients and techniques. 

The sommelier will provide thoughtfully selected wine pairings that seamlessly complement the menu. You’ll experience not only top-notch hospitality but also the region’s premier showcase of contemporary American fare.

9. Donutology at the Trolley

Neighborhood: River Market
Cuisine: Donuts
Pricing: $

Beloved donut shop Donutology opened a location in a 70-year-old repurposed streetcar in River Market. Before the trolley housed delectable donuts, it ran Kansas City’s rails from 1947 to 1957.

The inside is quaint and includes booths and there is also an outdoor deck with tables. 

While they offer regular-sized donuts, Donutology is known for their smaller versions, which are perfect for trying several of their unique flavor combinations. 

In addition to donuts and coffee, they have a cocktail menu for their late night hours and includes cocktails like jelly donut martini and espresso martini – plus a cocktail flight! 

Is there anything more neat than chomping on donuts in a vintage streetcar along the modernized streetcar line? Nope, which is why you need to visit Donutology at the Trolley!

10. Succotash

Neighborhood: Midtown
Cuisine: Breakfast/Brunch
Pricing: $

Succotash is known for its eclectic, artsy vibe – it’s like stepping into a kaleidoscope of colors and creativity, with local art adorning the walls, mismatched furniture, and a whimsical charm.

This quirky, casual breakfast spot is located in a historic storefront in midtown. They feature hearty breakfast and brunch options, and have been a longtime local favorite. 

In addition to the classics, they offer creative dishes alongside juices and delectable coffee drinks. 

They serve a range of vegan and gluten free options. 

Menu highlights include the biscuits and gravy, homefries, monte cristo, and blueberry pancakes. 

blueberry pancakes at succotash kansas city

11. The Ship

Neighborhood: West Bottoms
Cuisine: Southern
Pricing: $

Ahoy! The Ship has a storied history going back to 1935, shortly after the repeal of Prohibition. Although it had its share of closings and reopenings since then, it has been in its current location in the West Bottoms since 2014. 

While it is not in its original location, many features of it remain the same as it did all those years ago when it was a sought-after ‘grand lounge.’

Today, The Ship features two rooms, a larger space with an expansive bar and stage for local live music, and the original smaller space, which is an intimate room meant to make you feel as though you are under the deck of a vintage ocean liner. 

The nautical theme includes portholes, anchors, creaky wooden floors, and paintings of captains and vintage ships. 

Their offerings include a range of casual items with several that lean towards southern-style food. They have several craft cocktail options, many that include locally distilled spirits. 

Menu highlights include fried pickles, po’ boys, red beans and rice, and fried green beans. 

12. Clay & Fire

Neighborhood: Westside
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, “Near East”
Pricing: $$$

Offering a dining experience that weaves together history, culture, and culinary delights, Clay & Fire is something special. Although we’re convinced that not many people know about it, reservations are hard to come by unless you book further out, primarily because of the limited number of tables and dedicated regulars. 

Located in a turn-of-the-century home with steep granite steps and historic charm – including a clawfoot tub in the bathroom – the interior is every bit of cozy and intimate. 

kansas city mediterranean and middle eastern restaurants
Clay & Fire

Whether you sit on the main floor or make your way up the creaking stairs to the second floor, you’ll be surrounded by warm wood tones, colorful tiles, bright accents, and beautiful textiles.

Their farm-to-table menu is filled with authentic dishes melded from a variety of places: Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Lebanon. The dishes are beautifully presented, adding to the elevated experience.

The menu is mainly focused around mezze like charred eggplant spread, seasonal pickles, grilled halloumi, olive medley, and guajillo humus, among many others. The move here is to order several of the small plates and share so that you can get a taste of all the exquisite flavors.

In addition to mezze, they offer kebabs, woodfired chicken, and a highlight – Turkish pizza. It’s perfectly charred, just like the variety of flatbreads they offer, due to a large traditional clay oven.

At Clay & Fire, you’ll experience a welcoming, intimate ambiance with authentic food that showcases a fusion of flavors and culinary traditions. You’ll need to be patient – their kitchen takes care in creating the dishes. It’s not quick, but it’s more than worth the wait.

13. The Antler Room

Neighborhood: Midtown
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Pricing: $$$

The Antler Room has been recognized for their unique culinary approach by the James Beard Foundation. The chef’s culinary philosophy marries innovation with tradition, resulting in a menu that both surprises and comforts.

We love that each time we visit, the small plate menu is different – it makes it feel like a new experience with every reservation.

With an unwavering commitment to quality, they sources local ingredients, allowing the natural flavors to take center stage on the plate. The dishes are a symphony of textures, colors, and aromas, are designed to engage all your senses, promising an unforgettable dining experience.

The dining experience involves creative Mediterranean cuisine presented in elevated small plates to share.

Menu highlights include the smoked whitefish tartine, Georgian soup dumplings, winter squash tortellini, and seared duck breast.

And A Noteworthy Mention From The Kansas Side

Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue

Neighborhood: Westwood, Kansas
Pricing: $$
Cuisine: Barbecue

This unassuming spot has not just captured the hearts of locals but has also garnered national acclaim for its mouthwatering, authentic Kansas City-style barbecue.

The first thing that strikes you about Joe’s is its unique setting. Yes, it’s actually inside a functioning gas station. This quirky detail only adds to the charm and authenticity of the experience. 

They are known for their Z-Man sandwich, a local icon in its own right, loaded with brisket, smoked provolone, onion rings, and barbecue sauce on a toasted Kaiser roll. The sides are not to be missed either.

Dine-in space is limited, and lines run out the door at peak times

Menu highlights include the ribs, baked beans, and pulled pork sandwich.