Kona Grill

Happy Hour

It’s been a drawn-out day at the ‘ol J-O-B, consisting of meetings followed by meetings, lectures from your boss regarding productivity and you’re sadly stuck eating your lunch al desko. But when it’s finally over, all you want to do is kick back, relax and forget the past 8 hours. That’s when you know the cure for the common workday is upon you:

Happy hour.

It’s become a cultural tradition to unwind after work by hanging with friends and co-workers for some cheap drinks.

We don’t know much about how the phrase “happy hour” came to be, but it was first used by the Navy in the 1920s to describe a period of entertainment. However, the real feature of drinking in the afternoon really developed during Prohibition. Due to the annoying fact that it was illegal to serve booze at any establishment, it only made sense to get a buzz going before dinner.

And for that, we thank you.

Nowadays, the most common way to select a happy hour is where can you get the most bang for your buck, but without skimping on the quality of food. Some places may offer you a feeble plate of slimy calamari, a weak Cosmo or some room temperature wings, but that’s not the way it has to be.

  • Kona Grill is located in Kansas City’s premier shopping district, Country Club Plaza and is often dubbed the best Happy Hour in KC. The long wait for tables can feel like life or death, but the prices and portion size make the wait worth it. Most known for their Sushi, the $6.50 Saké Sangria is my personal favorite paired with the Ahi wonton chips.

Tip: Download the free ‘Happy Hours’ App on your smart phone to show you all the food and drink specials going on in your area.


Stefanie Penn

Coal Vines Pizza & Wine Bar in Kansas City

In Italy, you can easily find a plate of wonderful without much effort. Locate any local café or nearby tabacchi and you can undoubtedly find something to tantalize those taste buds. It’s what I miss most about my personal culinary mecca. Italy to me has the richest flavor of any other cuisine. Here in the U.S., we work hard for our flavor, but over there, it’s just in the air, and the water. By utilizing fresh traditional ingredients, typically, the outcome is the best damn thing you’ve ever had. My world was completely turned anew after I fell into a deep, rich, and indulgent relationship with cheese.

Honestly, ask yourself, where would the world’s everyday cooking and cuisine be without the quality and decadent cheeses of Italia? Everything from pasta to pizza relies on artisan cheeses made or imported from Italy. Many are already familiar with the country’s beloved cheeses found in almost every nook and cranny of Italy. However, the fact that there are more than 450 varieties is enough to drive this American to deliriously salivate at just the thought. Pizza all over Italy has subtle variations depending on regions, but overall you can do no wrong with a cheesy slice of iconic pizza.

I began to take this trip down memory lane after eating at Coal Vines Pizza & Wine Bar in Kansas City for restaurant week. Although the establishment considers its pizza New York style, I found it remnant of a slice you can find in Firenze, but do yourself a favor and share the 14-inch pie. The white special consists of the holy trinity of cheese: mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan. So, for good measure, I added chicken and mushrooms. Though a little overpriced, the trademark coal oven, ensures you a tasty thing and crispy crust.

The atmosphere is inviting, and it’s an obvious place for dinner and drinks with friends.


Stefanie Penn

Mestizo Restaurant Review Leawood Kansas

Mestizo Restaurant Review Leawood Kansas

7-DSC_0148When I heard Chef Aarón Sánchez, the co-star of the Food Network’s hit series Chopped was opening a Mexican restaurant in what’s considered Leawood’s downtown, my first concern was that the food would be overpriced, and the menu limited because let’s be real, in Kansas City, we are used to one thing.

Mexican food in this town is rather one note. You have your classics like El Patrón and Manny’s over on Southwest Boulevard, but at Mestizo’s, good luck ordering a burrito spread. It is anything but traditional, but that’s Sanchez’s intention; reinventing and reimagining authentic Mexican dishes.

If you’re one who’s not impressed by the celebrity association, let the food speak for itself.

To start off, I recommend the savory, cheesy goodness that comes in the form of the Queso Fundido. While you have three options, I of course chose the chorizo and potatoes. Upon arrival to the table, you could still see the cheese bubble from the heat of the cast iron and there was enough chorizo to flavor the dish without overpowering the cheesy goodness. The appetizer comes with homemade tortillas that are thick and filling, and oh so comforting.

Mestizo offers four taco options: skirt steak, braised beef tongue, crisp pork belly and grilled mahi-mahi, all vibrant in flavor, but lacking in heat. The mahi-mahi can fall a little bit flat, but the skirt steak is juicy tender heaven.

The menu mainly has tapas style sharable plates, so it is definitely a place to try new things and get a feeling for Sánchez’s culinary background. Even though this is Sanchez’s first endeavor outside of New York, I’d say he brought something innovative and oh so savory to the heartland.

Mestizo is meant to represent Mexico as a fusion of cultures and Sanchez successfully incorporates that diversity and uniqueness into his Mexican cuisine.

Stefanie Penn

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