The Historic Northeast has plenty of delectable food options, and Lord knows I’ve consumed my fair share. Of course, I have my favorites – Carniceria San Antonio; the El Si Hay de Camargo food truck (Independence and Bales); heck, Musaletti’s, located inside of a gas station at St. John and Belmont, can whip together a $3 breakfast burrito that’s well worth your time – but sometimes I want a break from the status quo. For this month’s edition of the RideKC sponsored content series, I decided to expand my horizons by testing new restaurants that could reasonably be reached from Northeast Kansas City during a typical lunch hour.
It’s important to state from the outset that I failed in this endeavor, at least initially. But through hard work and determination, I managed to get things right in the end. Here’s the story of my lunch hour (mis)adventures, beginning with a bus trip to the Northland.
I thought I’d have a nice meal at Taco Luchador, and with that in mind, I left the Northeast News office at 11:43 a.m. Thanks to the speed of my gait – and the unspoken, self-imposed obligation to “beat” the RideKC app’s estimated time of arrival – I made it to my bus stop with several minutes to spare.
After a few minutes, the northbound 21 bus retrieved me. On our way to the Northland, one motorist had the gall to cut in front of our bus and slam on their brakes for an upcoming right turn, only to abort the maneuver last minute and proceed northbound. It was a dangerous move, and I was reassured to find that our driver was having none of it. She greeted the offender with an earful of bus horn that I would have been too meek to deliver. It felt fantastic.
Maybe I’m burying the lede here, but the reason my trip to Taco Luchador was a failure was because it doesn’t exist anymore. I found out after I disembarked at my stop that several weeks back, a new place called Sissy’s Diner had taken over the space. I also realized in a moment of clarity that my return bus southbound wouldn’t even return for another hour. With a deep breath, I walked in the front door for an unplanned sit-down meal.
Sissy’s was a pleasant surprise. They had an enticing special: three sausage-stuffed muffins, hash browns and two eggs made to order for $6.59. The food was delicious, and it was prepared quickly; almost too quickly. I was finished by 12:45 p.m., but unfortunately my return bus wouldn’t arrive until 1:20 p.m. So despite finding a new spot for a delicious meal, my timeline was way off for a typical lunch hour. I didn’t return to the office until after 1:40 p.m., and that just wouldn’t do.
So I did what any self-respecting individual would do in that situation: I tried again the very next day. This time, I was prepared with a restaurant and a route: the Mediterranean restaurant Zaina in downtown KCMO, and the Independence Ave. 24 bus line – which, crucially, arrives at Avenue stops every 15 minutes. I mapped out a plan: 1) a 1:19 p.m. departure from the intersection of Independence Ave. and Hardesty; 2) calling in an order of a chicken gyro (with baba ghanouj) on the way to 11th and Grand, where I would depart the bus at 1:40 p.m. only a few feet from my final destination; 3) pick-up the food at Zaina and then return to the bus stop by 1:55 p.m. for transport back to Independence and Hardesty; 4) arrival back at the starting point around 2:17 p.m. It would be 58 minutes round-trip.
I know I spoiled the thrilling conclusion at the top, but it’s worth noting again that the gambit worked. I even managed to wolf down my lunch like a man possessed before the 1:55 p.m. bus arrived to return me to the Historic Northeast. I made it back to Independence and Hardesty with a full stomach by 2:14 p.m. – three minutes earlier than estimated.
A proper lunch hour, indeed.