As a resident of the Crossroads Arts District in downtown Kansas City, there is no shortage of good pizza near me. And so, in honor of National Pizza Day, I would like to give a little tour of five of my favorite neighborhood spots (in no particular order).
New Kid on the Block
Papa Keno’s recently opened its Crossroads location in the old Snow & Co. spot on Wyandotte. With locations in Overland Park, Westport and Lawrence, it’s a well-established regional brand that touts slices ‘as big as your face’. And they deliver. A ‘slice’ of pizza at Papa Keno’s is essentially your own personal pizza, which they mercifully cut into smaller pieces. They don’t give up quality for quantity, either. The specialty slices I’ve tried so far have all been delicious. They also deliver, have a patio I’m looking forward to checking out some day when it’s above freezing (thanks a lot, groundhog) and run a solid lunch special (a slice of pizza, a salad or bread stick and a drink for $6.99).
PAPA KENO’S CROSSROADS – 1815 WYANDOTTE ST. KANSAS CITY, MO 64108
All Fun & Games
You may know Up-Down as the awesomely funky arcade bar on the corner of Baltimore and Southwest Boulevard, but back behind the skee-ball is a hidden gem: Up-Down pizza. They keep it simple, a limited menu of a couple classics and a couple more unique flavors, but I am here to tell you that the Mac & Cheese Pizza (cheddar cheese sauce, mozzarella cheese, ACTUAL MAC & CHEESE, bacon and cheddar cheese) is in my top three favorite pizzas of all time. The slices aren’t far behind Papa Keno’s in portion size and are ONLY $4. I’ve walked over and gotten a slice to-go for dinner before with no intention of spending any time at the bar because it’s just that good. Their small and cozy pizza operation is surrounded by awesome games, a full bar and a two-story outdoor patio space. If you’ve been there and haven’t given their pizza a try, you are seriously missing out.
UP-DOWN – 101 SOUTHWEST BLVD KANSAS CITY, MO 64108
UPDATE: Pizzabella has recently closed its doors in the Crossroads Arts District location. It will soon be replaced by Baramee Thai Bistro. To satisfy your wood-fired pizza cravings, check out Homeslice Pizza & Pints on the corner of Truman and Grand.
Pizzabella makes up the final ‘piece’ (sry, had to get at least one pizza pun in here somewhere) of the Crossroads pizza triangle. Located on Baltimore, it nearly shares an alley with Papa Keno’s, and Up-Down is just down the street. In contrast to its neighbors, though, Pizzabella offers a much more intimate vibe. While I wouldn’t use the word ‘fancy’, it is a sit-down-and-be-waited-on restaurant. With wood-fired ovens you can see from your table and a ‘modern rustic’ aesthetic, it’s perfect for date night . Snack on an antipasta, I recommend the Brussels sprouts (which are the first Brussels sprouts I’ve ever tried in my life and led me to believe that I could like them) or the wood fired mussels. Then, share a pizza, the Margherita and Prosciutto varieties are personal faves. There’s also great wine, local beer and a front sliding glass window that opens on warmer nights onto a cute and airy patio.
PIZZABELLA – 1810 BALTIMORE AVE KANSAS CITY, MO 64108
Pizza and A Show
Grab a booth inside either side of Grinders, each with its own quirky design, and order a piece of their New York style pizza. Choose your own toppings, or if you’re feeling bold, order one of their more unique specialty gourmet pizzas. On my last visit, I tried the Bengal Tiger for the first time. Creatively topped with house-made pesto sauce, tandoori chicken, crab meat, hearts of palm, cilantro and of course, cheese, it’s easy to see why it was featured on the Food Network. There’s also some kind of yellow curry sauce drizzled over the top that has a delicious kick to it. Of course, the best way to enjoy a piece of Grinders pizza is at one of their live music shows in the venue out back. They make it easy with a walk-up window. Grinders also has pizza specials on Mondays (2 for 1 slices) and Fridays (slice of the day, chef’s choice).
GRINDERS CROSSROADS – 417 E 18th ST KANSAS CITY, MO 64108
You can’t talk about Kansas City pizza without mentioning Minsky’s. And while it’s technically not located in the Crossroads, it now delivers to our end of town thanks to the opening of the Southwest Blvd location. Growing up on this iconic pizza joint, you know it’s all about those glorious cheese pulls and creative toppings combinations. And now Crossroads residents can enjoy all that hometown goodness without having to leave the house.
MINSKY’S PIZZA SOUTHWEST BLVD – WESTSIDE & CROSSROADS – 3063 SOUTHWEST BLVD
KANSAS CITY, MO 64108