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This is my third year living in Kansas City and I feel like I have finally gotten a good feel for the best spots to eat here. And of course, there’s nothing better to do during the holidays than feast, so here are six amazing dining and dessert spots to hit if you ever find yourself in the KC area:

Jerusalem cafe

This restaurant has some of the best Mediterranean food I have ever had, and that’s saying something because I’ve tried many. Not only is the service and atmosphere fantastic, but the vegan/vegetarian inclusivity is off the charts. I never thought I would be losing my mind over something as simple as a lentil soup side, but it was the perfect balance of sweet n salty and a testament to how they can make seemingly unappetizing meals delicious. If that doesn’t have you sold, Mediterranean food is known to be well-balanced and healthy, so it made me feel good afterwards too. To be honest, this is the eatery that inspired this entire article, so if you check out any place on the list I hope it’s this one.

betty rae’s ice cream

Baby, it’s definitely cold outside, but hear me out! You can always make an exception for ice cream—just ask your lactose-free buddies. Betty Rae’s has so many unique and rotating flavors that you can’t find at your run-of-the-mill parlors. You can go wild with flavors like ‘Goat cheese, apricots & candied walnuts’, ‘Maple bourbon crumble’ and ‘Golden milk’ (with turmeric) or stick to the classics with flavors like matcha, cereal and chocolate brownie. Additionally, there are plenty of non-dairy and gluten-free options for everyone.


PokeSan is also a sake bar and lounge, but their bowls are to die for. Think Chipotle, but for Hawaiian food. Yes, it’s not totally authentic, but it totally smacks. You can add plenty of toppings to your rice bowl including tofu, tuna, kimchi, seaweed salad and more. It’s especially great if you need a quick to-go meal for your finals studying.

moti mahal

Moti Mahal is one of the best Indian food places I’ve found in the KC area and it hits the spot whenever I miss my mom’s cooking. The tikka masala and garlic naan are an unbeatable combo for those of you who have had your Tik Tok feeds inundated with people trying Indian food for the first time, but definitely don’t sleep on the mutter paneer and vegetable kofta. You’re guaranteed to have leftovers for days, too, so this is the perfect restaurant for all the other college students that are struggling to cook just as much as I am.

burrito bros

Okay, you’ve already heard of the Hawaiian version of Chipotle now, but this locally owned burrito restaurant is the flavorful version of Chipotle. The burritos are absolutely amazing and perfect for those who are accustomed to adding a little more seasoning and spice to their food. Plus, the guac is free and it comes with complimentary chips and salsa. Burrito Bros is in the heart of City Market, so it’s the perfect little pitstop to take while exploring the farmers market, local vendors and the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

Paleterías Tropicana

This dessert shop specializes in serving authentic Mexican ice cream, but the menu includes so much more like fruit cocktails, smoothies, churros and delicious tacos. I tried horchata ice cream for the first time here and trust me, the hype is all worth it. It’s a light cinnamon and milk flavor that can not only be found in ice cream form, but can also be tried as an agua fresca (a sweet drink made using fresh fruit, water and sugar). Other crowd pleasers include the mango entero, which is fresh mango with spices, the dulce de leche and the strawberries & cream. If that still hasn’t convinced you to drop by, my favorite part about Paleterías has to be the ambience–the bachata and reggaeton music is so groovy and I always go home with a couple extra songs on my playlist.

Hopefully, some of these restaurants are to your tastes or you get a chance to take your taste buds on a trip outside your comfort zone. The holiday season is all about bulking up to make it through the cold winter months, so make sure to check out one of these places if you’re in the area!

Hey! I'm a third year in UMKC's BA/MD program I love listening to music, watching Netflix/YouTube, singing, and learning new languages :)