I belong to this fabulous group of local bloggers, BlogKC. We get together once a month or so for dinner and drinks, to share ideas and talk shop. This month we met in my part of the Kansas City metro, Liberty.
It is my guess that most people think of dining in Liberty as the collection of chain restaurants located near the highway. People who don’t live in this area may not venture off of the crowded corridor of typical restaurants and big box stores to visit our charming Square with it’s unique shops and locally-owned restaurants. I wanted to share a few of these restaurants with my BlogKC friends.
I started with a list of 8 or 9 places around the Square that would be fun to visit and narrowed it down to 4, which proved to be more than enough food and just the right amount of time for a weeknight gathering. There are so many great places to share on the Liberty Square, it was challenging to choose just 4. With a budget of $20 per person, each of these restaurants joined in creating a night full of great food in a beautiful historic setting.
The Liberty Chamber of Commerce was helpful in creating a small packet of information about our area, including brochures and a postcard. I also stopped by Classy Chocolate and got a chocolate dipped pretzel rod (not gluten-free) for each person, a sweet way to greet everyone as they arrived.
Our first stop was La Tienda Chiquita. When La Tienda Chiquita first opened, I couldn’t imagine a Mexican market doing well in our area. That’s because I had not tasted their food nor explored the diverse ingredient offerings on their shelves! With a tiny stove and deli counter in the back, Christal and Mannie are turning out amazing food. Last year I got Christmas tamales from them, including pineapple anise dessert tamales. When I needed Masa Harina, they were the only place locally I needed to look. I’ve learned so much about south of the border food from them and they are always great about preparing gluten-free food.
Our menu at La Tienda Chiquita included two tacos on corn tortillas. For the meat-eaters among us, a conchinita pibil pork taco and a chicken taco with fresh mango salsa. For the vegetarians, a terrific vegetable blend which included greens and black beans. We also had our choice of Jarritos sodas. Christal surprised us with a warm cup of Alote, a Mexican spiced drink which was made with rice flour, chocolate and cinnamon that can be thin or as thick as porridge. I’m looking forward to making Alote at home!
Our next stop was Amy’s Cakes and Exceptional Sweets, known as ACES Cake Shop and Bakery Supply. Amy assembled a fun box of treats for each of us, which included cupcakes, two kinds of bars and three pastries. Amy has recently added gluten-free and vegan sweets to her offerings and I hope to tell you more about those soon.
The third stop was a spot I frequent. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen photos of my lunches at Crepes on the Square. I enjoy eating there and they have a hearty buckwheat crepe batter, which is gluten-free. We had a cup of butternut squash soup and our choice of either a Greek crepe or an apple and brie crepe.
Our final stop was The Jem. We had a sampling of Adam’s Greek Salad and the Hey-Zeus pizza. The Jem doesn’t currently offer a gluten-free pizza crust, but they were happy to create a pizza on a crust I dropped off earlier in the day. On Thursday nights, The Jem has $5 martinis for ladies and they were reportedly quite good. On my next visit, I plan to try their strawberry basil martini.
It was fun exploring my own town with friends and eating at more than one restaurant in a single evening. I hope to explore more of the city like this!
A note for my gluten-free friends: A couple of the restaurants included on this tour have a small upcharge for gluten-free offerings. While it did cost a few bucks more for me to participate in this tour than for a gluten-eater, it was easily arranged and the restaurants were all very happy to prepare food that met my needs. Please don’t be afraid to ask, to educate the restaurateurs in how to cook safely for you and shell out a couple extra bucks to share a meal with your friends this holiday season! La Tienda Chiquita on Urbanspoon: