The 5 Best Vegan Eats in Kansas City

When I first learned I’d be traveling to Kansas City regularly for work, I was… not thrilled. But over the course of several trips, I’ve found a budding vegan food scene that would delight any traveling foodie. Read on to learn about the five most memorable vegan eats from my trips to KC!

1. Pirate’s Bone Burgers

Pirate’s Bone Burgers is perhaps the best restaurant in Kansas City. This all-vegan burger joint started with pop-ups and opened its brick and mortar location in 2019. My non-vegan Uber driver raved about it and reportedly eats there often. The atmosphere is hip, casual, and friendly. Their burgers are served in buns made with activated charcoal. This means all of the buns are black, which is a fun signature twist on all of their sliders. 

I have tried the black bean burger, Beyond burger, and the beet burger, as well as the chili cheese fries and activated charcoal muffins. According to the staff, the beet burger is what really got them their start. My experience is that the beet burger is… true to its name. I love beets, so I enjoyed it, but I would not recommend it for those who do not like beets. My favorite was the black bean burger, perfect in every way. I’ve visited Pirate’s Bone Burgers several times, and I’ve never tried something I didn’t like. It’s a unique dining experience that no one visiting Kansas City should miss.

Beet burger (left) and black bean burger (right) with chili cheese fries at Pirate’s Bone Burgers
Activated charcoal muffin at Pirate’s Bone Burgers

2. Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude has locations in San Diego, LA, the Bay Area, and Kansas City. They serve exclusively organic plant-based foods and offer many gluten-free and raw options. One of the many things that make this restaurant unique is that meals are listed as statements about the customer. If you want the chef’s rainbow salad, you would order it off the menu under the name “I am luminous.” In turn, when the dish is served to you, the server will say, “You are luminous.” These ordering affirmations at first felt unnatural and awkward, but over time, I’ve come to find them delightful and affirming. I am luminous! 

I’ve been to several locations of this restaurant, and the food is consistently outstanding. In my visits to the Kansas City location, I’ve tried the “I am mucho” Mexican bowl, “I am magical” veggie burger, “I am present” bruschetta, “I am sensational” spaghetti squash alfredo, “I am gentle” banana bread, and more. Can you tell I like the place? 

The “I am magical burger” was among the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had, and the “I am present” bruschetta with house-made mozzarella was unforgettable. (The banana bread and spaghetti squash alfredo were not worth ordering again, however.) 

The service shows room for improvement; it was frequently hard to get my check, and staff often appeared overworked with little patience. But whether you’re in California or Kansas, you can’t miss this place and the abundant list of healthy vegan options.

Blueberry lavender cheezecake at Cafe Gratitude
“I am mucho” Mexican bowl, featuring black beans, pico de gallo, cashew ricotta cheese, and much more
“I am magical” veggie burger topped with cashew cheddar and veggies
“I am present” bruschetta with house-made mozzarella

3. Succotash

Succotash is a welcoming and unassuming little brunch spot. Several items marked vegan appear on their menu. I tried the Vegan Shortstack, which comes with a side of fruit. While it’s not listed on the menu, you can add vegan chocolate chips. (Which I of course did!) The pancakes come with a tasty house-made vegan butter. Breakfast at Succotash is a great way to start the day.

Vegan Shortstack at Succotash

4. Blue Bird Bistro

The Blue Bird Bistro is a charming little restaurant with exposed brick and low lighting. They serve very few vegan options, and they are unmarked on the menu. The only vegan entree is their green curry. However, while attending a wedding, I was able to indulge in a slightly larger list of vegan options available for private events. I enjoyed their butternut squash ravioli and an amazing orange cake covered in chocolate sauce and almonds. I would recommend them for special events. For everyday dining, I appreciate restaurants with more vegan options.

Orange cake at the Bluebird Bistro

5. West Side Local

The West Side Local is a cozy candlelit venue with an upscale vibe. Their menu features several items marked as vegan. I tried their Creamy Garlic “Alfredo” Penne. The alfredo sauce was remarkably creamy and paired perfectly with their choice of vegetables. However, the meal cost $17, and I left hungry. (I could have added Beyond Meat sausage for a whopping $5.) I enjoyed the atmosphere, and the food tasted great, but I can’t rationalize the price for such a small entree. 

Creamy Garlic “Alfredo” Penne at the West Side Local

The growing vegan food scene in Kansas City makes trips there especially fun. These abundant and delicious plant-based food options in an unexpected place make me feel even more certain that the future is vegan!

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Have you gone on a trip recently? We want to hear about it! Guides like happycow.net are great to start planning a trip, and so are tips on how to make and keep your trip to somewhere vegan from folks who have visited prior.

Let us know if you’d be willing to share your trip and some of its highlights with us at info@exploreveg.org.

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