See You at the Crossroads: Five Spots You Must Visit
Contributor Weston Owen invites us along for a tour down Grand Boulevard with five can’t-miss destinations in the Crossroads Arts District.
Messenger Cafe | 1624 Grand Boulevard
If you love good coffee and stellar atmosphere, there’s a high probability you’ve already visited Messenger Cafe. If not, you are in for a real treat. In a bright, beautifully-renovated building rich with character, enjoy a great cup of artisan coffee, delectable treats from Ibis Bakery and all the ambiance and people watching one could hope for. There is ample seating and three levels where you can post up: on the first floor, watch bread and pastries being baked from an incredibly talented team of pastry chefs; on the second floor, coffee is roasted and separated in hypnotic, small-batch roasters; and the rooftop, which boasts cozy seating, a fire pit and a wonderful view of downtown. The staff and baristas are second-to-none and among some of the friendliest folks I’ve met—it’s easy to tell that customers and coffee are their top priorities. So if you’re looking for a fantastic spot to meet up with friends, escape a rainy afternoon or have some much needed relaxation time, look no further.
Discover more of Kansas City’s best coffee shop vibes in The Five Best Kansas City Coffee Shops to Read In.
Swordfish Tom’s | 210 W 19 Terrace
Speakeasies and underground bars are certainly the rage right now, yet Swordfish Tom’s cultivates an atmosphere that feels different than most of its counterparts. In true speakeasy fashion, finding your way into Swordfish Tom’s is part of the experience. There’s limited signage to guide your path, but after you’ve found the entrance, you’ll have all your friends asking for directions. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a seating area and a lantern—if lit green, knock on the door and get excited; if red, have a seat and be patient. The space, which once served as a boiler room at the turn of the century, is dimly lit and inviting. Comfy couches and thoughtful decor help create an environment conducive to conversation; just make sure to put your cell phone away and enjoy your company—house rules. A meticulously developed menu features some of the best cocktails in Kansas City and, while ordering, be sure to ask Jill, Tim or Pat about the “Little Black Book Club.” Swordfish Tom’s is a classy establishment and an experience that I highly recommend.
Swordfish Tom’s catch your fancy? Going underground at a speakeasy is on our 10 Things to Add to Your Kansas City Bucket List.
The Belfry | 1532 Grand Boulevard
The stairs that greet you at the entryway are symbolic—The Belfry provides an elevated experience, both literally and figuratively. Overlooking passers-by on the street below, The Belfry has a rich and diverse selection of whiskey, wine, cocktails and craft beer. Paired with fantastic appetizers and main course menu items, it’s easy to lose track of time here. The lighting is minimal yet warm and candles are strewn across the room to add to the ambiance. Bartenders and staff are knowledgeable and attentive, and the space never feels crowded, even when it’s busy. There is an abundance of places to go in the Crossroads, but when it comes to first dates or catching up with close friends, The Belfry should be near the top of your list. We all want that elevated experience and, while The Belfry is well known in Kansas City, it feels like a hidden gem that you’ve stumbled upon when you visit.
SoT | 1521 Grand Boulevard
SoT, or South of Truman, is a dope spot that showcases a unique cocktail selection blended with an ambiance that is tough to top. Boasting bookshelves and an eclectic vibe, SoT has all the makings of a New York style bar in our very own backyard. The drinks are as delicious as they are Instagrammable, so no matter what you choose, you won’t go wrong. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, I highly recommend the Bartender’s Workshop; simply tell your server some place you wish you were at that particular moment (i.e. a beach in Australia, springtime, 83 degrees) and they’ll create a drink to help take you there. Enjoy. Once you’ve made your way back to reality, make sure to take advantage of their incredible back patio during the summer months. Strung lights create a warm atmosphere and it’s tough to imagine a better setting to have a drink with your friends. For a great time, SoT is the key.
SoT lands our list of the best places to spend those perfect spring days and balmy summer nights on Best of: Patio Drinking.
Black Dolphin | 1813 Grand Boulevard
It’s no secret that Kansas City has a historically rich culture in jazz music. So when you step into Black Dolphin, a steady stream of rhythm and soul is injected directly into your veins. Black Dolphin, sister bar to the always popular Green Lady Lounge, is candlelit and has a warm and embracing allure to it. Add incredible live music to the mix and you’ll find yourself never wanting to leave. Whether you prefer a table in front of the band or a comfy leather booth in the back, there’s not a bad seat in the house. The drinks are fantastic, further adding to the experience—I highly recommend their Moscow Mule or French 75. Thanks to Black Dolphin and the incredible musicians featured throughout the week, Kansas City jazz is alive and well—so enjoy the music, bask in the atmosphere and relish the company. Most importantly, at the end of the night, don’t forget to tip the band.