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The Westside Local: Creative Casual Dining That Lives Up to Its Name

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The Westside Local opened in 2009, one of the first restaurants to bring the farm-to-table concept to Kansas City. Since then, they’ve been serving the eclectic Westside neighborhood and beyond, gaining an equally eclectic and loyal following.

Owner Brandon Strick turned an unassuming storefront in a humble neighborhood into a charming destination eatery. Exposed brick, wood floors and local art create an intimate and authentic KC vibe, where somehow suits and ties sit comfortably next to eyebrow piercings and combat boots. It’s part hipster, part urban chic, but mostly it’s just cool.

The contemporary American menu offers food for Midwestern sensibilities, but dressed up with trendy embellishments and creative twists. Brandon cultivates friendships with many local and regional farmers, staying true to his passion for keeping it close and fresh.

The man behind the menu was also sourced locally, picked straight out of the Westside neighborhood. Executive Chef Tony Gordon is a self-made Kansas City treasure who has made magic happen in Westside Local kitchen for the past seven years. Rising through the ranks, Tony started as a grill cook, then supervisor, kitchen manager and sous chef before taking on the executive chef role. His culinary pedigree came from the Guadalupe Center youth culinary program and from life. Tony began cooking as a kid; his mom worked long hours so he helped out by making dinner for himself and his brother. He found that he loved cooking, and after a brief experiment with welding he decided that food was his thing.

Tony is happiest back in the kitchen, and his team is also his family. He is as humble and gracious as they come. But when he walks through the dining room and sees smiling guests enjoying his food, or reads a positive Yelp review, he is proud. “I never thought I’d be a chef, making this kind of food, or cooking with these ingredients. I was just Line Cook Tony. But the chef job opened up and I went for it, and Brandon gave me a chance.”

Tony has a lot of creative freedom with the menu, which he changes twice a year to showcase seasonal ingredients and give guests new dishes to try. One of the new spring/summer features is a salmon burger with sriracha bacon, maple sriracha glaze and chili garlic aioli, garnished with local butter lettuce on a Farm to Market brioche bun.

There is also a Surf ’n’ Turf dish, grilled, dry-aged, 10-oz. hanger steak and tequila lime shrimp with chimichurri roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, I recently swooned over the Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with bourbon sauce, but since all desserts are made in house and change weekly, you’ll have to wait and see what Tony has cooked up.

Soon, Westside Local will expand beyond brick and mortar and join the food truck craze. Their new truck will feature some handheld favorites from the restaurant plus a few new items. The truck will available to reserve for special events; you just need to call the restaurant for more information. They are also opening a new prep kitchen, which will allow them to do more catering business. In particular, they’re interested in business catering, so if you really want to impress at your next big meeting, consider Westside Local.

Patio season is upon us, and I love the courtyard biergarten-style outdoor space at Westside Local. It feels like you are sitting in your best friend’s backyard, and it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a few amazing cocktails. There are a few tried-and-true signature drinks with impressive ingredients on the cocktail menu, along with a rotating list of the most creative seasonal sips I’ve ever seen. They are as nice to look at as they are fun to drink, and they make the Westside Local a perfect happy hour choice for the adventurous type. I had the pleasure of sampling a few new drinks appearing this spring and summer. The Hermit is made with chamomile bourbon, muddled lemon and sage, licorice spice syrup and cola bitters. The Hierophant, my favorite, packed a punch with Uncle Val’s Botanical, yellow chartreuse, crème de violette, lychee purée, orange bitters and lemon juice. I don’t know what most of those ingredients are, but I know I liked it. It was complicated but light, fresh and unique. The bartenders are truly masters of their craft.

A little off the beaten path, both in location and cuisine, The Westside Local is definitely worth the detour. It is a place with character, charm, and fantastic food and drinks made by homegrown KC people.

Find The Westside Local at 1663 Summit Street, Kansas City, Missouri, and visit for menu previews and reservations.

The Westside Local’s Shrimp Ceviche
1 lb. raw medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded & diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
½ cup red onion, diced
1 cup roasted corn
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Tapatio hot sauce
Salt to taste

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water or beer. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on size of shrimp. Shock in ice-cold water. Drain the shrimp and cut each piece in half. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or plantain chips.

Cravings writer Erin McIntosh works at the Kansas City Art Institute and is a freelance writer and portrait photographer. In addition to writing about the amazing KC food scene, she contributes to KC Parent Magazine. She is currently working on her first book – part memoir and part single parenting survival guide. Erin is a mother and stepmother to four children and the family table is the hub of the household. But whether at home or out on the town, Erin believes that sharing a great meal with family and friends is vital to health and happiness.