guide to downtown
Kansas City

Downtown KC, MO, isn't the webmaster's usual stomping ground, but after 20 years in the metro area, I have picked up a little info which I hope will help you enjoy SMOFcon. This will be far from a comprehensive list, but will be a place to start you on your explorations.

Kansas City's downtown isn't very dynamic after business hours, but there there are a number of attractions and interesting restaurants with walking distance of the hotel. 

The Hotel Philips is near the south edge of KC's downtown, in an area currently bounded by the construction of an $835 million entertainment district zone to the southeast and Barrel Hall Convention center to the west. Most of your walking exploration will be to the north.

You are unlikely to be able to hail a taxi on the street, but service can be ordered by calling Checker Cab (816) 444-4444, Yellow Cab (816) 471-5000, or Advanced Suburban Taxi (913) 209-9393. Bus service (816) 221-0660 is available to the City Market, Crown Center (connected to Union Station), Liberty Memorial, Nelson-Atkins and Crown Center ($1.25 each way).

Places to visit within walking distance...

Kansas City Public Library - 3 blocks north on Broadway is the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library. They moved into the current building about 4 years ago and the former bank building is gorgeous. The Huge book spines along the edge of the parking garage provide a popular photo opportunity. 4 W 10th St. (816) 701-3400.

Arabia Steamboat Museum. This museum in the city market has been a big hit with everyone I have taken there. Joe Haldeman called it "It's a remarkable time capsule of 19th-century everyday life" and took 11 paragraphs to describe it. The museum exhibits the frontier bound cargo recovered from the Arabia steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1856. The excavation in 1989 recovered 200 tons of supplies, including clothing and shoes, medicines, guns, bottled fruits and vegetables, jewelry and perfume. Includes a theater presentation, guided tours and a working preservation lab. Monday-Saturday 10AM-5:30PM, Sunday noon-5PM. 400 Grand Boulevard (816) 471-1856.

Architecture. The area north of the Philip's Hotel has many beautiful buildings from the 1880s to the 19340s. Take your time walking and look up above the street level. This area inspired "everything is up to date in Kansas City" and many of those buildings are still there. 

Folgers aroma. You may not have to travel to enjoy the smell of coffee. Since 1908, Folgers has has been roasting coffee at 701 Broadway Boulevard in downtown Kansas City. If the weather is right, the area smells wonderful, even to a non coffee drinker like myself.

Kansas City Ballet presents: "The Nutcracker" at the Midland Theatre. 1228 Main St. (816) 931-2232.

The Phoenix Piano Bar & Grill has live jazz nightly. 8th & Central (816) 472-0001.

Short drives...

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum  10,000 square foot museum with interactive displays, artifacts, photographs, and a popular museum store. Sharing the building with the jazz museum.  1616 E 18th St. (816) 221-1920

American Jazz Museum 18th and Vine is the place where Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, and hundreds of others developed the music of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  Includes the Blue Room, which is a museum by day and a great working jazz club by night. And because of the exhibits, the bar has no smoking. 1616 E 18th St.  (816) 784-1117 

Segway Tours a little farther away at the Country Club Plaza, but I bet some of you have been dying to take a segway tour. 446 West 47th Street (816) 531-0600

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is one of the country's premier art institutions. Three miles from the Philips hotel, it has prestigious collections of European and American art, but it is known above all for its magnificent collection of Asian art, notably the arts of China, which has made it one of the  nation's centers for the study of Chinese art. The Museum also is home to outstanding collections of ancient art,  decorative arts and the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Tuesday–Thursday 10AM-4PM, Friday 10AM-9PM, Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday noon-5PM. Admission free, except for special exhibits. 4525 Oak Street (816) 751-1ART.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is a smaller museum featuring art from the past 95 years. Café Sebastienne in the museum is a nice place for lunch or dinner when the museum is open. Free admission and free wifi. Tuesday–Thursday 10AM-4PM, Friday-Saturday 10AM-9PM, Sunday 11AM-5PM. 4420 Warwick Boulevard (816) 753-5784.

The Hallmark Visitors Center is much more interesting than you might suspect. Includes original art by Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses and Winston Churchill; Hallmark Hall of Fame displays; and craftspeople at work. My favorite exhibit is their commercials from other countries. Tuesday-Friday 9AM-5PM, Saturday 9:30AM-4:30PM. In Crown Center. (816) 274-3613.

Built in 1914, Union Station served as an important link in cross continental travel during the glory days of rail traffic. During it's peak, more than 75,000 trains per year stopped at Union Station. Today Union Station houses Science City, KC Rail Experience, restaurants, a planetarium, Imax Theater, and the City Center Stage. In 1933, Kansas City's Union Station was the site of the Union Station Massacre. 30 W Pershing Road, attached by walkway to Crown Center. Open seven days a week.

Liberty Memorial - The National World War One Museum is just completing a multi year expansion and renovation. The grand opening will be one week before SMOFcon. Spectacular view of the downtown. The photo at the top of this page was taken from the Memorial. Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-5PM. 100 W 26th St. (816) 784-1918

Kansas City has four casinos, the closest is the Isle of Capri, which is less than a mile away from the hotel. 1800 East Front Street (816) 855-7777.

Crown Center Ice Terrace - outdoors. $6 (free for adults over age 60) Skate rental is $2, or bring your own. Sunday-Thursday 10AM-9PM. Friday-Saturday 10AM-11PM.  (816) 274-8411.


Nothing much within walking distance. The nearest shopping districts are 

Crown Center which contains shops, restaurants, Hallmark Visitors Center,  ice skating, movie theater and two live theaters in a three level retail center.

Country Club Plaza which was so popular during the Nebula Award Weekend is a couple of miles farther south, but on the bus route. The plaza is known for its 80 miles of Christmas Lights, and over 200,000 people are at the Plaza for the first lighting of the season on Thanksgiving evening..

In or next to the hotel
The Phillips Chop House in the Phillips Hotel has a good reputation and recently received this positive review from the Kansas City, Star. I haven't had a meal there since they changed to the current format, and look forward to trying them during SMOFcon. It is open evenings, only, and closed on Sunday.
Also in the hotel is 12 Baltimore Bar and Cafe, which is open 6:30AM-1AM Monday-Saturday, and 6:30AM-11PM Sunday. 12 Baltimore serves a reasonably priced Sunday brunch. Free Wifi.
City Center Square in the block east of the hotel has a superior food court including Bumble Fish sushi, KoKo Teriyaki and Smokin' Joe's BBQ. Unfortunately most of these restaurants close at 5 or 6PM Friday. Saturday the only places open in the food court are McDonald's and Starbuck's, and they both close at 3PM.
One block farther east is the Mango Room at 12th & Baltimore. Open 11AM - 10PM Monday through Saturday, the Mango Room serves Caribbean Southern fusion. Excellent red beans and rice, great jerked chicken. Reservations can be made at the club's website.  smoke free       1111 Main St. (816) 268-4600 
A few doors farther north is Planet Sub. Inspired by Yellow Sub in Lawrence, Kansas, this Kansas and Missouri submarine sandwich chain bakes its bread daily. Open 7AM-6PM Monday-Friday, 10AM-3PM Saturday.
 1111 Main St., (816) 471-7827 
Farther away but still within walking distance
The Majestic Steakhouse is one of the area's top steakhouses, though I think it is overpriced. The 1911 building is beautiful and listed on the national registry of historic places. Live jazz, seven days a week. This memorable restaurant is smoker friendly. 931 Broadway St. (816) 471-8484 
The Savoy Grill has operated continuously since 1903. This seafood and steak restaurant is particularly known for its lobster and the lobster newburg. The best seating is in the smoking room, including booth number 4 which was Harry Truman's favorite. 4 other presidents, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Lillian Russell, Sara Bernhardt, and John D. Rockefeller have dined at the Savoy. The movies "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" and "Cross of Fire" filmed scenes in the Savoy. 219 W. 9th St. (816) 842-3890.
The City Market area at the north side of the downtown is about has far as most people will be willing to walk. It has many food options open on the weekend...

Winslow's City Market BBQ is known for smoky flavorful meats. The sauce has less flavor than many, but contains no preservatives and is made fresh every couple of days. This place was better when Winslow was still alive, but is still worth a visit. They deliver. 20 East 5th St.    Kansas City, MO  64106   (816) 471-RIBS 

Cascone's Grill has one of the most popular breakfasts in town. Also known for their Italian sausage, spaghetti, cheeseburgers and hot beef sandwiches.  Tuesday-Saturday 6AM-2PM   17 E 5th St. (816) 471-1018.

Blue Nile Cafe is KC's best Ethiopian restaurant Tuesday-Saturday 11AM-3PM, 5-9PM  20 E 5th St. (816) 283-0990.

Hien Vuong - This simple Vietnamese restaurant services up huge dishes of inexpensive but good food. Huge menu, but only about 10 tables. 417 Main St. (816) 842-1020

Tikka House is the newest Indian restaurant in town. I haven't tired it yet and it hasn't yet developed a reputation. Only about 3 tables.

Habashi House  Middle Eastern Cafe and grocery. Serving lunch seven days a week from 10:30 until 2:00. Grocery open 9AM-5PM. 209 Main 421-6727

Carollo Groceria Italiana - meat market, grocery and deli. On weekends they cook sausages and other meats on outdoor grills (816) 474-1860  10-6 Monday-Friday 7-4:30 Sat, 9-4 Sunday

Harry's County Club 40's honkey tonk one block from the City Market. great chili with warm corn bread. Live music Wednesday - Saturday 112 Missouri Avenue  Open 11-1:30AM Monday- Saturday (816) 421-3505

Succotash is known for its breakfasts, and for comfort food. 15 East Third Street 816-421-2807

Short drives:
American Restaurant - At Crown Center. Arguably Kansas City's finest restaurant, the American has won many national honors. The lunch is a special value, with any three courses for $24. Open for lunch Monday-Friday and dinner seven days a week. 25th & Grand (816) 545.8000.
Arthur Bryant's  Kansas City's most famous BBQ restaurant. Step up to the counter for large servings of french fries cooked in lard, and well cooked meats. I've seen people take half a sandwich home with them and still have enough meat for two people. Operating since the 1930s. Calvin Trillin says this is the best restaurant anywhere. Go only to the original location at 18th and Brooklyn for the best experience. Monday-Thursday 10AM-9:30PM, Friday-Saturday 10AM-10PM, Sunday 11AM-8PM. 1727 Brooklyn Avenue 816-231-1123.
Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue in the Freight House District just south of the downtown is popular with several of the people attending SMOFcon. I think it is over-rated and over priced. 101 W. 22nd St. (916) 472-7427 
Garozzo's is a very popular Italian restaurant. Michael Garozzo came to Kansas City from "The Hill" in St. Louis and created a restaurant that out does The Hill. I recommend the chicken spedeni and the stuffed artichokes. Or order the 3 way pasta and have enough food to feed a small family.  526 Harrison (816) 221-2455 
Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill  This is the farthest location from the hotel, that is included in this guide. Genghis Khan is the restaurant by which other Mongolian BBQ's are measured. If you get there early, they deal very well with large groups. During local science fiction conventions, we have given them 30 minutes notice that we were on our way with 30 people, showed up with 40, and still been well taken care of.  11AM-9:30PM Monday-Thursday, noon-10:30PM Friday & Saturday. 3906 Bell (816) 753-2600 
Lidia's   Good Italian food, large servings and good service. In the same building as Fiorella's Jack Stack.  101 West 22nd Street (816) 221-3722
Los Tules Restaurante & Cantina small, authentic Mexican restaurant with great food. Almost within walking distance, but not as pleasant an area to walk through. 1656 Broadway St. (816) 421-9229
Manny's Restaurant  This popular Mexican restaurant is the closest of many Mexican Restaurants along Southwest Boulevard. Asking Kansas City natives which one is the best, is like asking which BBQ restaurant is the best. Other contenders along Southwest Boulevard include Ponak's, Margarita's and Taqueria Mexico.  207 Southwest Boulevard (816) 474-7696 
Smokin' Joe's Bar-B-Q  Good ribs, good fries and great smoked chicken wings. Nothing fancy. 101 Southwest Boulevard  (816) 421-2282
Town Topic Sandwich Shops These two, small, classic dives are only 2 blocks apart. Open 24 hours, they serve great burgers, breakfasts and chili. This is where you go if you have to have a burger at 3 in the morning. Almost within walking distance of the hotel, but not as pleasant an area to walk through. 2021 Broadway St. (816) 842-2298, 1900 Baltimore Avenue (816) 471-6038