2020 was a weird year. A coronavirus, murder hornets, Kobe, mask mandates, Tiger King, a presidential election, pandemic fatigue, and so much more. The year may be over, but we still have a 2020 hangover, both the bad parts and the good. And one of the good leftover parts that’s evolved: ghost kitchens. Suddenly, they’re everywhere! If you don’t know what a ghost kitchen is, it’s a delivery-only restaurant, though some are branching out to carryout as well.
A chef or kitchen staff uses an established kitchen to prepare online orders and then uses in-house delivery driver, a third-party app, or curbside carryout. It’s usually more casual than what the host restaurant usually offers. Who knows if they’ll still be around when the pandemic is officially over, but for now, let’s enjoy the change-up and look to keep local restaurants and chefs in business. Here are some of the notable ghost kitchens in the Kansas City are.
At the moment, the only way to order the burgers and chicken sandwiches from Smash-N-Nash is through DoorDash. Fortunately, because they’re operating out of at least four different restaurants, including Third Street Social and all three Summit Grill locations, they have a pretty large delivery radius. They also have crispy steak fries, tater tots, and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. A small menu helps to guarantee good quality, which attracts repeat customers.
And if you’re really craving a burger, Cosmo Burger, operating out of Dodson’s Bar in Waldo, might be the spot for you. Run by Chef Jacob Kruger, Cosmo Burger really only has burgers. You’re basically getting a single, a double, with or without tots, but they do have a vegan burger option and choices for toppings like pickles, onions, and cheese.
And for yet another burger joint—burgers are easy to make on the fly, I guess—Epic Burgers is based in the Marriott Downtown, seven days a week, from 6am until midnight. You can either order through the Epic Burgers website or the DoorDash website. And more than just burgers, too. You can order wings, other sandwiches, wraps, tots, and most appealing of all: smoked gouda mac & cheese bites. Oh yeah, and dessert!
For my money it doesn’t get any better than a big plate of wings, so Johnny Wings, operating out of District Pour House in Waldo is really exciting to me. You can order them naked, crispy and breaded, boneless, or Special Extra Krunchy. And there’s a wide variety of flavors, from sriracha buffalo to hot honey to tequila agave lime. Plus, four different types of fries and surprisingly enough, salads. Or for your vegetarian friends, toss in some spicy cauliflower bites.
The Tender Project
Following along with the chicken trend is The Tender Project, out of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. All types of chicken cuts paired with rice and kimchi, various dipping sauces, and all types of family and party packs that are perfect for a crowd! Or a solo crowd if you’re still being socially responsible.
Also out of Jax Fish House & Oyster House, is The Post, which serves fried chicken and beer. Yeah, that’s right, they can deliver beer. It says so right on their website. And the chicken dinners come with sides, salads, biscuits, and a dessert. Plus, there’s an option for everyone’s favorite comfort food, chicken pot pie.
The Lasagna Project
Yet a third ghost kitchen operating out of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar is the Lasagna Project, which breaks from the chicken trend, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for Italian food. And donations help provide meals for the food insecure, those in our community who need it most. Order lasagna for your family or group of quarantine buddies, complete with salad, garlic bread, dessert, and even wine. And because they’re hosted by a fish house, you can add on oysters or crab legs, shrimp, and more.
Cult of Pi
On Wednesdays nights and only on Wednesday nights, from 5 to 8pm, you can order one of three specialty pizzas for $13 from Cult of Pi, based in Clay & Fire. Or until they sell out, which definitely happens. You can send a DM via Facebook or Instagram with your name, email address, choice of pizza, and ideal pick-up time.
Another pizza joint is growing out of the Bauer Building in the Crossroads Arts District called Observation Pizza, which was founded by chef Nick Vella. Though he was killed in a motorcycle crash in August of 2020, the ghost kitchen lives on! Lots of unique pies that are named for famous musicians, but if you’re not finding something to satisfy your cravings, you can always make your own.
Nashville Hot Chicken Shack
Wait, more chicken? Operating out of Fox & Hound Kitchen at 105th and Metcalf, Nashville Hot Chicken Shack features hot chicken sliders, hot chicken sandwiches, tenders, chicken cauliflower, mac n’ cheese, and… wings. You can pick your heat levels and pick your favorite side items.
And from Waldo Thai comes Thai Now, which features a menu of dishes from Northern Thailand, including curries, crispy garlic wings, fried rice, crab rangoon, pork dumplings, egg rolls, and of course pad Thai. DoorDash delivers so you feast on Thai at home!
Night Goat Barbecue
And last but certainly not least in the barbecue town is Night Goat Barbecue, operating out of Fox and Pearl and running on Sundays only, from 10am until they’re sold out. The menu, which is posted on their website, Facebook, and Instagram, changes weekly. They start taking orders on Saturday afternoons at 2pm via the phone number 816-437-7001 and serve carryout only.
Keep in mind these ghost kitchens come and go pretty quickly and some don’t operate during typical restaurant hours, so do some research before you order. It’s almost ironic that two of the comorbidities that puts people at greater risk for coronavirus complications are obesity and type 2 diabetes and we’re gorging ourselves on takeout and baked goods. Come on, vaccine! For some career advice, check out our website at https://www.chiefofstaffkc.com.
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh