Story by Dave Eckert
With football season in full swing, area bars and restaurants are packed with hungry Chiefs fans looking for game day dining and drinking options. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of most of the sports bar food offerings around town as many seem to serve up the same old tired combination of bad beer and mediocre food. That’s why I was so excited when I happened upon a sports bar with a scratch kitchen and an expansive menu – Saints Pub + Patio. There are two Saints locations in the metro, one in Lenexa and a second in Independence. I visited the Lenexa location and came away impressed.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAINTS PUB + PATIO
Also of note is the homemade, 72-hour fermented dough, cracker crust pizza which was just added to the menu last month. I was the first person to sample the pizza prior to its debut and it is legit! Order a sausage pizza if you’re a fan of authentic Italian sausage. Saints get theirs from Scimeca’s, and it has a nice bit of spice to it. Purists will also love the Margarita. But honestly, you can’t go wrong with any pizza offerings.
For Gilmore, it all comes down to execution and authenticity. “I’m not gonna lie. We buy some things like our pot stickers and eggrolls, but we fry the eggrolls in a higher-grade oil and we steam our pot stickers. Plus, they’re both served with sauces we make ourselves. Plus, I have a real chef in the kitchen; that makes a big difference,” Gilmore told me. As Gilmore points out “Anyone can fire a burger or some chicken wings, but can they cook them properly and have them come out fresh and delicious every time?” When it comes to Saints Pub + Patio, the answer is a resounding yes!
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PIG & FINCH
I also sought out some viewing venues for sports that might not spring to mind. I found a great one in Leawood’s Town Center at the excellent Pig & Finch. When the Chiefs play, they turn down the music and crank up the game in the cozy bar area. The food options are awesome. And depending on when the game’s played-early or late on Sunday afternoon, or in the evening on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday, diners can sample a very different style of football feeding. “Noon games on Sundays happen during our brunch,” General Manager Seth Welch pointed out. “I think we have one of the better brunches in the area. Everything’s ala carte and really solid.”
With three different kinds of eggs Benedict, Bananas Foster French toast, buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh fruit, and one of the best versions of biscuits and gravy around, I would agree. Meantime, late afternoon games on Sunday fall during Pig & Finch’s Happy Hour. With items ranging from nibbles at $3 to full on meals at $12, and an impressive list of reduced-price cocktails, craft beer, and wines by the glass, Pig & Finch’s Happy Hour is one of my favorites. With an evening game, you’re going to experience Pig & Finch’s dinner offerings, which don’t afford the bargains you’ll find during Happy Hour, but provide some pretty tasty items from a braised pork shank that Welch says qualifies for a Flintstones’ cartoon to a pork double stack, a giant burger with two patties that are 70% pork, 30% beef, and 100% out of this world!
Not known as a sports bar, Welch also says it’s generally not packed during Chiefs games. Another bonus as far as I’m concerned. “If you’re wanting to watch the game in a fun environment and not be shoulder to shoulder with people, and also get great food and drinks, we’re the place,” Welch exclaimed.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF O’DOWDS
Lastly, I found a terrific place to watch the Chiefs pummel their opponent on the Country Club Plaza – O’Dowd’s. Known for live music and one of the best rooftop patios in the metro, O’Dowd’s also has some tasty food and beverage options and plenty of big screens to take in the game. Manager Devin Reynolds says there’s a great Chiefs atmosphere along with lots of good food and adult beverages come game day. “We have the game on regardless of the starting time. You can come in for brunch if it’s a noon game on Sunday, or our regular menu if it’s a late afternoon or evening game,” Reynolds shared. “And if the game is Sunday night when we have a band, we have them play before the game and at half-time so we don’t interrupt the action.”
As for the food, Reynolds pointed out the stuffed French toast and the chicken and waffles from the brunch menu as standouts. “The French toast has a mixed berry comport stuffed inside the bread along with crème cheese. It’s decadent, a very generous portion, and it is delicious. And the chicken and waffles are unique. The waffles are made with brown butter, which brings a little nuttiness into the mix,” Reynolds said.
Dinner offerings at O’Dowd’s range from a bunch of shareables, to sandwiches, to more traditional entrees. There are always a number of specials on offer as well. I stumbled upon a double patty onion cheeseburger that was one of the tastiest I’d had in a while.
So, there you have it-three options for upping the ante on your food and beverages come game day. Go Chiefs!