A Whirlwind Tour of Downtown Kansas City and the Missouri River

As I mentioned in this post, trying to cover 6 Kansas City neighborhoods in one month turned out to be more than I could do. One of the casualties was downtown near the Missouri River, where I spent perhaps 1 day, or a day and a half, if I count my brief visit to the Power and Light District.

I wore what I thought were walking shoes, but my feet were killing me after an hour, which shortened my walkabout.

An article in Tastebud magazine led me to the Farmhouse, a block west of Main on Delaware.Farmhouse restaurant exterior KC Nov 2009It’s a lunch/brunch place divided into two long high-ceilinged rooms. The bar side, where I sat, had old wooden floors and black tables and was pretty empty on a weekday, but more tables were full in the other room.

I ordered the fall squash salad, which came with local butternut squash and pear, and spinach from Door-to-Door Organics, a Pennsylvania CSA-by-delivery company that has a warehouse in downtown Kansas City and also serves Colorado, Michigan, and the East Coast. The walnuts, blue cheese, and maple-sage vinaigrette were not local.

This salad was much better than a similar one I had at Le Central this year. The blue cheese was cool but firm, instead of sticky, and the salad was fresh and tumbled instead of carefully laid out. The dressing complemented the squash, although I would have liked twice as much of the latter.

As I left, I got directions to the Missouri River path, just one block north and one block east. The short walk gave me a chance to admire the brick buildings remade as lofts. At 1st and Main white irises were blooming as I headed toward the bridge to the river. Walking out scared me, but I was rewarded with this view. MO River from downtown KC Nov 2009And this one coming back. 1st and Main bridge KC Nov 2009At 3rd and Main I found the City Market, where people have been buying and selling since the 1850s at least.City Market entrance KC Nov 2009

The U-shaped building holds Al-Habashi Mart, a Mediterranean grocery, as well as Christina’s Produce, Global Produce, and even KC Produce, where I found carrots from Colorado. Those in search of prepared food can dine at Hien Vuong Vietnamese Restaurant, Tikka House Indian Restaurant, Winslow’s City Market BBQ, Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, and Bo Ling’s Chinese Restaurant. Dos Hombres is up the street, and the Vietnam Café is at 5th and Campbell.

Inside, near Bo Ling’s, is a mini-museum detailing the history of the River Market neighborhood. It was in decline for much of the twentieth century, but revitalization efforts from the 1980s to the present have made it more attractive to homebuyers.

The best time to visit the City Market is Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, during the year-round farmers’ markets. If you have time, you can check out the Steamboat Arabia museum across the street as well. I went there two years ago to see all the cargo that they dug out of the wreck (whose resting site had become a farm field).

As all good walkabouts must, mine led me to a bakery. I might not have noticed Babycakes but for the professional photographer and his assistant holding a reflector. And then I saw the signBabycakes sign with cupcake KC Nov 2009 and scooted past them to get the peanut-butter-and-chocolate cupcake you see on top.

You know what? It made my feet feel better.