Kansas City Connection: The hidden gems of Westside
Happy New Year, dear readers. For this first column of 2014, I’d like to continue our exploration of some of Kansas City’s most interesting neighborhoods, businesses and events.
I’ve spent a good deal of my adult life in Kansas City, but am only now coming to appreciate the diversity and funky character of the Westside, a historic neighborhood just west of downtown that has experienced a recent growth of businesses, restaurants and new or refurbished homes.
In addition to the fine dining at Westside Local, The Bluebird Cafe and Novel, all of which feature locally sourced ingredients, you can grab a fresh cup of gourmet coffee at Little Freshie, which makes up in charm and character what it lacks in size.
Little Freshie also serves sandwiches, baked goods and handcrafted sodas and snow cones with exotic flavors like fig and vanilla, pineapple and serrano pepper, and blackberry lavender. The coffee shop is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 811 W. 17th St.
Vegans and raw food enthusiasts will be right at home next door at Füd, a spunky vegan restaurant that offers a wide variety of dishes in a colorful, casual environment.
Füd’s dining room is quite small, and it can take a little while for your order to be prepared, but if you’re there with a good friend and aren’t in any rush, the rainbow salad (made with local greens), mayanizza (South American-style bruschetta) or portabella wrap are among the many colorful, tasty dishes that are well worth the wait.
The shakes and juice cocktails are invigorating, similar to those at Cafe Gratitude though slightly less expensive. Füd is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends, closed Sunday. Visit eatfud.com to see a full menu.
After you eat, stop by the Utilitarian Workshop, a design and craft shop that sells an eclectic array of furnishings, ceramics, jewelry, vintage clothes, artwork and accessories made by local designers and craftsmen.
In addition to the retail component, Utilitarian Workshop is a furniture and graphic design shop — a great resource for anyone looking to outfit their dwelling in a unique and progressive fashion.
Visit the workshop, located at 1659 Summit, on Friday or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Or check out the site at utilitarianworkshop.com.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is hardly an obscure destination, but the sheer variety and impressive scale of the special exhibitions can make it easy to miss presentations like the current Impressionist France exhibit, which closes Feb. 9.
In addition to the Parisian street scenes and plein air beauty of Monet, Renoir and Pissarro, this exhibition presents many views of France you’re likely to have never seen before, from early photographs and daguerreotypes of the Fontainebleau forest to paintings of peasants in the provinces. The exhibit costs $8 for adults and is free to members.
Also wrapping up soon in the Museum’s Bloch Building is “About Face,” a presentation of contemporary portraiture featuring 29 artists from around the world. All of the works in the exhibit are from the year 2000 or later. The exhibit is free to the public and runs through Jan. 19. Visit Nelson-Atkins.org for more details.
It might still be frosty outside, but a warm bayou breeze will blow through the Folly Theater on Saturday night when legendary New Orleans rhythm and blues artist Allen Toussaint performs an 8 p.m. set.
At 75, Toussaint still swings, and after a career in which he specialized in production and arrangements for other artists, including The Meters, Dr. John and Lee Dorsey, it will be fun to see the Toussaint himself take center stage. Tickets start at $20 and are for sale at follytheater.org.
— Lucas Wetzel is a KU graduate and Kansas City native who has worked as a writer, editor and language trainer in the U.S. and Europe. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.