KC Magazine City’s Best 2015: Staff Picks

We decided to celebrate more of the City’s Best by picking our favorite people, places and things.

We took a break from deadline to share what we love about this great big beautiful city—and this eclectic list proves that we like to color outside the lines.



Once upon a time, Stern requested three wishes and a generous genie granted them: To be named as editor-in-chief of KC Magazine; to join Cannoli King, Locavore and Chef Jasper Mirabile as co-host of LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen every week on KCMO 710/103.7; and to live in a city where the barbecue runs as freely as the fountains. Although she isn’t pressing her luck, Stern has one more request: To appear on the Jumbotron at The K.

Patio with a view: Trezo Mare

Trezo Mare Restaurant’s al fresco patio boasts lush plantings, a fire pit and statuary with a uniquely stunning view of Kansas City’s skyline and seating for more than 100. A wonderful happy hour (all night on Mondays) features drink specials and bar bites—including a highly addictive goat cheese fondue with warm pretzel sticks.

Brunch with a local twist: The Farmhouse

Chef-owner Michael Foust creates an inspiring atmosphere at this River Market fave, fueled by an ever-evolving menu that showcases local growers, producers and food artisans. When not doing a radio show on Saturdays with Jasper Mirabile, I drive to the River Market, park my car and wander the City Market, ending up at The Farmhouse for a late brunch. After ordering a French press and whatever yumminess Foust is serving up that day, I people watch and daydream. Perfect place to pass the time post-deadline.

Pizza with a passport: Il Lazzarone

Erik Borger has two locations—one located in a former grungy radiator shop in St. Joseph, Missouri—a Missouri River town famous for the beginning of the Pony Express and the end of Jesse James. The newest spot is in Kansas City’s urban River Market, and fans flock to both.

He adheres to the strict standards set forth by the Italian association that oversees authentic Neapolitan pizza: the dough is four ingredients only—sea salt, Caputo 00 pizzeria flour, water and yeast, combined in a spiral fork mixer, rolled out by hand. I always get stuck on ordering the same thing: an Americanized Neapolitan recipe—the dreamy Uovo that features hunks of salami, a dusting of pecorino Romano, fresh basil and a farm-fresh egg baked into the top of the poofy crust. The payoff is when the yolk breaks and that golden goodness takes an already-elevated pie even higher.

Photo by Zach Bauman

Hostess with the mostess: Sidelines

Karyn Brooke, AIFD, known for styling spectacular weddings and private parties, has a good thing going on in Martin City. Not only can you pop in for a ready-made bouquet to take home after a long day, you can browse the small store for unique hostess gifts, ranging from candles to tabletop items and home décor.

Coolest place that changes from winter to summer: Park Place Ice Rink

Although I’m not—and never will be—an ice skater, I like to sit on the sidelines of Park Place’s Barkley Square during the winter months when “The Ice,” Johnson County’s only outdoor ice-skating rink is in full swing. Sipping on hot chocolate, I try to figure out how people can balance on the blades. Then, come summertime, when The Ice magically transforms into a community gathering spot of colorful Adirondack chairs, I attend concerts, street fairs and other events. Oh—and shop. What’s not to love?



Executive Editor

Van Luchene prefers the title “Kansas City’s Head Cheerleader” and is thrilled to be part of a publication that champions her hometown’s fascinating people, exciting arts scene, food, fashion, attractions and events. She’s most proud of the many ways KC Magazine and its social media outlets support the city’s philanthropic events. Van Luchene was a member of the team that launched the publication in 2004 and still gets goosebumps every deadline when putting the issue to bed.

When is a florist not a florist? When it’s a gift shop.

When looking for a hostess gift, I skip the bouquet of flowers and bring a candle, pretty linen cocktail napkins or other invite-me-back present from the well-curated collections at one of my favorite floral boutiques in town. Randy Neal, The Little Flower Shop and Sidelines Florals are just three of my go-to choices.

“Who Knew?” Wardrobe Finds

When people compliment me on an outfit, they’re often surprised to learn the name on the tag. Three retailers who’ve made their reputations in other categories have upped their games when it comes to women’s fashions. Florist Trapp & Co has an expansive selection of jackets, tunics and handbags while antiques purveyor Webster House is where I’ve found flattering tops for day to night along with a dazzling array of jewelry. Terrasi Living and Scandia Home has a tiny fashion boutique with chic travel wear, hats and caftans tucked behind the bedding displays.

Making Your Mark

Leaving a legacy while supporting your favorite organization starts with writing your name on a check. Purchase an engraved granite brick to memorialize a loved one who served in the military in the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s Walk of Honor. Pay tribute to someone at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden with an inscribed bench, brick or paver or by adopting a flowerbed. And while the names Kauffman, Helzberg and Brandmeyer are the big names at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, your moniker can also appear on a seating plaque—or a child’s handprint can grace the Children’s Wall.

Best Job Description

Mr. Bean, a Cairn Terrier/West Highland mix from Wayside Waifs, is the cuddly Director of Love and Compassion at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City. It’s a dog’s life as he spends his days playing with kids, napping, listening to troubles and providing welcome moments of cheer to patients and families staying at the house— many of which miss their own pets at home.



Associate Editor

Outside of the office, where she writes for KC Magazine and curates content and writes and edits stories for and its digital products, Cipolla can be found at the dog park with her canine partner in crime, April, and dining her way through Kansas City—in the name of research, of course.

Happiest Happy Hour: Nara

The Crossroads sushi spot boasts beer, wine, sake and martini specials, but it’s the food—including $3 sushi, flavorful $4 grilled robata skewers and an array of other tasty appetizers—that makes it a must for happy hour goers. Delicious deals run Monday through Saturday 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.

Nonprofit: Girls on the Run of Greater KC

As a former Girls on the Run coach, I’m undeniably biased, but it’s hard not to be moved by seeing girls as young as eight develop healthy habits that will last them a lifetime. And the international program is definitely making its mark in KC with sites at schools in 11 counties serving more than 3,800 area girls in 2015.

Coffee House: Quay Coffee

The River Market’s Quay Coffee has helped give KC its burgeoning rep as a standout caffeine destination with delicious coffee and housemade syrups (including Old Overholt), all while supporting other local businesses. The java is made with Oddly Correct’s beans, Hugo Tea Company’s blends are offered and there’s an Easy, Tiger card vending machine tucked in the back of the cozy-cool space.

Up next: KC Magazine art and web staff picks