What’s not to love about Westport

STORY BY Kelly Cannon
PHOTOS BY Kenny Johnson

Bon Bon Atelier has more crafty materials than most people would know what to do with, so the shop also offers classes to get people inspired and started on handmade projects.

Westport sets the scene for everyone from history buffs to live-music fans. It’s a city bedrock for food and entertainment, so there’s little chance you haven’t spent some time enjoying the neighborhood, but have you been lately? Old favorites are still offering top-notch food, drinks, movies and music while new discoveries are debuting wonderful wares guaranteed to make you a regular.

Restaurants in Westport have always offered some of the best eating in town with legends like Mario’s Grinder Co. (204 Westport Road), which was originally the first hot-dog stand in Kansas City. Mario’s still serves first-rate grinders out of its bright yellow building, like it’s been doing since 1976.

Another Kansas City favorite, Broadway Café (4106 Broadway), has been pouring coffee for 20 years. Its beans are roasted at the Broadway Roasting Company just up the street from the café, and in addition to serving some of the best coffee drinks in Kansas City, the café also sells whole beans to individuals and businesses across the United States.

Murray’s Ice Cream & Cookies (4120 Pennsylvania Ave.) remains a Kansas City institution, serving some of the most delicious ice cream in town for almost three decades. Its professional scoopers post just-made flavors on its Facebook page, so you never have to wonder whether One Drunk Monk, Three Nuts in a Tub or A Tale of Two Toffees are available. Don’t leave without getting a gingersnap. Murray’s might be known for ice cream, but the sweet savants there also know how to bake amazing cookies.

Of course, no discussion of Kansas City mainstays is complete without mentioning the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill (817 Westport Road). The cheeseburger ($8.49) has long been my favorite in Kansas City, and they offer fried pickles ($4.99), which I can’t resist. On Sunday nights, go for the live music and half-price burgers. Wednesdays and Thursdays are trivia nights. Who knows, you and your smartest friends might just win enough money to pay your bar tab for the night of revelry.

There also are plenty of newer restaurants that are so good they’re destined to become stars in the Westport scene. At Sung Son Vietnamese Bistro (4116 Pennsylvania Ave.), you can order from the menu or eat from the buffet for both lunch and dinner. With the buffet, you also get your choice of 10 types of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). If you come for dinner, get the banh xeo (Vietnamese rice flour crêpe).

Across the street, Korma Sutra (4113 Pennsylvania Ave.) offers fresh, delicious and—in keeping with its name—sensual Indian food. The lunch buffet always tastes fresh and offers a nice bit of spicy heat in most dishes. Too often, Indian buffets try to cater to the least adventurous palate and lose what makes the cuisine unique. There are plenty of choices for vegetarians and enough variety to satisfy omnivores.

One of my latest discoveries and subsequent favorites is the Little Egypt Café (3927 Broadway St.), owned by Egyptian-born Mohamed Hakam, who used to be an Egyptian tour guide. I have yet to venture beyond ordering the house grill (a selection of grilled meats including chicken, lamb and beef) with the veggie combo platter because the two give me a little bit of everything I love, but I have friends who rave about the lamb shanks and chops.

If you’d prefer to make your own exotic foods, Pryde’s Old Westport (115 Westport Road) is the place for you. I can spend hours poring over its extensive selection of kitchen accessories. Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers will not be disappointed with the variety of pots, pans, gadgets and dishes that are available. Don’t forget to go downstairs where you can find canning jars in all sizes, a huge selection of Fiestaware and the Upper Crust Bakery (open only on Fridays and Saturdays), where two sisters bake buttercrust pies and quiches that often are sold right out of the oven.

Bon Bon Atelier (314 Westport Road), coincidentally also owned by two sisters, features a wide variety of goods for creative types. It offers the best selection of Liberty fabrics in the area and dozens of other designer fabrics that you’ll fall in love with. Books on fashion, clothes, crafting and travel dot the surfaces throughout the store. There’s also yards of hand-printed papers and art tape to make wrapping gifts a completely unique experience. For those of you who knit and crochet, you’ll be inspired by Bon Bon’s selection of yarns and floss. It’s also one of the few places I know of to get 100 percent cotton thread.

If you love to look at all the raw materials but don’t know how to get started on your own project, don’t fret. Classes on projects like button headbands, infinity scarves, zip pouches and appliqué pillows are held in the back room. One-on-one classes are a very reasonable $20 per hour.

Vintage shoppers often drop in to Re-Runs (4041 Broadway St.) for its huge selection of shoes, clothing and accessories from the 1920s to the 1980s. Check back often because the selection changes frequently.

One of my favorite Westport hangouts is City in Motion (3925 Main St.). The dance studio offers children and adult classes in multiple types of dance. I’ve taken burlesque, ballet, hip-hop and Pilates in the studio, but my new favorite is Dance for Musical Theater, taught by Spinning Tree Theatre founder Andy Parkhurst. There’s no better way to spend a Monday night than pretending to be a Jet or perfecting the famous Fosse finger snap.

Westport is such a huge part of the Kansas City scene that there’s no way to actually do it justice in a single article. The weather is nice, the drinks are waiting, and the good times are in the making.

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