Once again, Kansas City is the center, or at least in the primary solar system, of college basketball this week as the second and third round of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament comes to Sprint Center on Friday and Sunday. Kansas and Kansas State fans will dominate the crowds, given those two teams' games at Sprint Center, but we should expect decent numbers coming to the ol' Cowtown from Wisconsin, North Carolina, Mississippi and either Boise State or LaSalle.
Here is a visitor's primer for our out-of-town guests:
Barbecue: How can one start any list for out-of-towners with a topic other than Kansas City barbecue? Don't look around downtown for the best 'cue in K.C.--head 1.5 miles east to the original Arthur Bryant's at 18th and Brooklyn. If vinegary sauce isn't your thing, then your second best bet is to cab it to Oklahoma Joe's at 44th and Mission Road on the Kansas side, where you'll find a national treasure--the Z Man sandwich. And, finally, another closer-in option is Danny Edward's Barbecue on Southwest Boulevard. Listen up, Carolina fans--this list only scratches the surface of what real 'cue is about, as Kansas City has a long list of mouth-watering venues ready for barbecue sampling.
Bar: The best bar in town is a short walk south from Sprint Center--Manifesto, a speakeasy-type establishment below the Rieger Hotel restaurant that, simply put, makes the best cocktails in town.
Beer: Kansas City is home to one of the best craft beer makers in the U.S.--Boulevard Brewing. If you get a chance, head to Boulevard for a tour and sampling of the Smokestack Series.
Burgers: The options are plenty but, if you want to walk, then go to one of the downtown locations of Town Topic. If it's good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it's good enough for you.
Dive: Don't head to the P&L District in-between tournament sessions--go a block south from Sprint Center to The Cigar Box. This dive offers up quality grub, cold beer and cocktails, all in an atmosphere that all but requires a flashlight.
Pizza: The best pizza downtown is at Grinder's, another short walk from Sprint Center. But, my advice is to skip the pizza and get Grinder's meatball grinder accompanied by a hearty order of Tater Tots. Now, that's good eatin'!
Tex Mex: Where to start? Manny's, Ponak's and the small establishments along Southwest Boulevard are all quality stops but my advice is to cab it to Rudy's Taqueria on Westport Road for the best tacos in town.
Steak: Red meat, you say? Downtown offers The Majestic Steakhouse but my suggested best steak in town resides at The Capital Grille on the Country Club Plaza. Yeah, I know it's a chain but it's still, in my opinion, the best meal in town. And, the wine list is first rate.
Culture and History: Oh, okay, if you need something to do on Saturday besides watching hoops at some sports bar establishment, then go to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the same vicinity at Arthur Bryant's (see above.) The Museum commemorates the forming of the Negro Leagues, which started in Kansas City, and honors the greats of the game, including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Kansas City's own Buck O'Neil. If art is your thing, then check out the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, just east of the Plaza area of town, where the art inside is perhaps only overshadowed by the sculptures outside combined with the architectural magnificence of this museum.
Enjoy your time, visitors, in this city that has "more boulevards than Rome" and "more fountains than Paris." And, do us a favor--let those Jayhawks and Wildcats move on to the Sweet 16, will ya?