Blanc racks up nominations for Best Burger in America left and right. “For a while I named the Kobe burger, the au Poivre burger and the Buffalo burger the best three burgers in town,” says Haught, indicating that while Blanc remains the best, it’s not the only game in town. Not to mention, the word “bottles” receives co-billing in the name and the well-curated beer list truly is all bottled, no taps. “The chef/owner, Josh Eans, knows beer and really takes care to only carry good beers.” The list contains around 150 selections including many from western and eastern Missouri (such as Schlafly, but no A-B).
What bumped Blanc off of the silver standing on Haught’s personal burger podium? Head to the Westport District, the hub of bar culture, where you’ll find Beer Kitchen (435 Westport Road, beerkitchenkc.com) their Bravo burger (crispy prosciutto, Maytag Blue cheese, sun-dried tomato relish, etc.), though he stresses the entire menu is rather delightful. In addition to eight taps, the extensive bottle list has a stellar burger companion―O’Fallon Brewing Smoke, a smoked porter from O’Fallon near St. Louis. They also have a great selection of bottled beers and eight rotating taps selected with care. Often, Beer Kitchen is the only place in town that has a certain rare beer on tap.
Additionally, you’ll always find a beer from The Foundry (424 Westport Road, foundrykc.com), as it just so happens to be a brewpub across the street under the same ownership. Here, Haught gives additional kudos to the owners because the Foundry also slings good burgers and excellent beer including all of the McCoy’s brewpub beers as well as many Belgian selections on tap. Not incidentally, the adjacent McCoy’s (4057 Pennsylvania Ave., mccoyspublichouse.com) shares a private room with the Foundry since it too, is under the same ownership. House beers range from an Unfiltered Wheat to Newcomb’s IPA that refreshes and cleanses the palate between bites. That room is often used for KC Beer Blog Gents tasting parties so hopefully a visit to town will be well-timed to coincide should you be inclined to crash.
Continuing Haught’s list is Swagger (8431 Wornall Road, swaggerkc.com) in Waldo, possibly the premiere beer district, “which is a more blue collar, tattoo-y kind of place. Swagger is real popular with many Boulevard employees.” The mighty beer list is almost 200-strong including bottles from Missouri’s Flying Monkey and Cathedral breweries, and Kansas’s Tall Grass, plus an eclectic menu that features sandwiches well-known in other regions such as “beef on weck” (more of a roast beef sammy from western New York).
Haught says their burgers are “one of a kind,” like the Suribachi, which is tempura battered and fried with Asian slaw. But the one that’s now on my bucket list―perhaps the one that will actually cause me to kick the bucket―is the Dead Texan. Two Texas toast grilled cheese sandwiches are employed as the bun, and betwixt that is a 1/3 burger, an egg, three slices of bacon, jalapenos and peppercorn mayo. Viva el Texan; el Texan es muerto. Should you survive, walk over to the 75th Street Brewery (520 W. 75thSt., 75thstreet.com) for some more local suds served in a cozy spot.
Rounding out Haught’s argument that KC is Burgertown, USA, BRGR Kitchen + Bar (4038 W. 83rdSt., brgrkitchen.com) in the area of Prairie Village. In addition to offering the Twin Cities classic, a Lucy with the cheese on the insideand a Pittsburger topped with fries and cole slaw, Haught sticks with the Roadhouse, a half-pounder with onion strings and barbecue sauce. They have at least eight taps and carry some beers from Free State Brewing (from neighboring Lawrence, KS) that aren’t on tap in any other places in Kansas City. “Their other schtick is they only carry cans of beer, so their beer list is a little limited, but they do carry every canned [craft] beer available in Kansas.”