Kansas City Connection: Taking a tour up North

In my relentless pursuit of new entertainment options in the Kansas City area, I recently discovered an entirely new city just across the river from downtown Kansas City, Mo. This little-known municipality, referred to by natives as “North Kansas City,” appears to be a self-sustaining community complete with movie theaters, restaurants, breweries and dentist offices.

I’m kidding, of course. But not entirely — North Kansas City (or Kansas City North, as it’s sometimes known) is generally off the radar for most out-of-town visitors. In recent years, however, it’s steadily become more than just a place to kill time when your flight from KCI is delayed.

The best place to start exploring is North Kansas City’s downtown strip along Armour Road, just west of I-35. Readers of this column are already aware of my passion for Le Monde Bakery (308 Armour Road), which serves everything from delicious sugary palmiers to savory chicken curry soup. Le Monde Bakery is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon.

Cinema buffs can count on a steady lineup of new releases and special engagements at Screenland Armour, 408 Armour Road, which serves dozens of beers and is home to 10 different arcade games in addition to its two historic screens.

On Aug. 21 and 22, Screenland Armour will host the annual Arts & Crafts Beer Festival, which brings together independent filmmakers, musicians and artists and a variety of craft beers. Find more details at artsandcraftskc.com.

Speaking of beers, North Kansas City is home to two excellent breweries along Burlington Road (Highway 9). Just around the corner from Armour Road is Cinder Block Brewery (110 E. 18th Ave.), whose year-round offerings include Block IPA, Weathered Wit and Prime Extra Pale Ale. Current seasonal offerings include Rivet Rye (hoppy rye wheat) and Lusus Naturae (farmhouse peach sour).

Check out cinderblockbrewery.com for more current offerings, or visit the brewery from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Cinder Block features live music and a food truck on Saturday nights.

The Big Rip Brewing Company, just down the street at 216 E. Ninth Ave., offers its own refreshing variety of beers brewed on site, with standouts including the Hathor’s Sweet Brown, Imperial Milk Stout and the Aisle 12 West Coast IPA.

Big Rip doesn’t serve food, but the building is connected to El Burrito Loco (another worthwhile North KC destination), and their staff will drop by to take your order from the menus provided at the brewery. For a list of current beers on tap, visit bigripbrewing.com.

And no sports buff in the Midwest should go without a visit to Chappell’s Restaurant and Sports Museum, a laid-back spot on 323 Armour Road that has served tasty pub grub and displayed a staggering collection of sports memorabilia for nearly three decades.

With artifacts from past World Series, Super Bowls, NCAA championships and bygone sports leagues, Chappell’s has been named among the country’s top sports bars by Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

Owner Jim Chappell is often present to greet diners and show them around the collection, which could easily be a museum in its own right. (The food’s good, too.) Chappell’s is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. More info at chappellsrestaurant.com.

If all this beer and burrito talk is making you want to reach for a serving of kale and kombucha, head to Green Acres Market, an organic food market that first opened in Wichita in 1996 and expanded to Kansas City 10 years later.

The Kansas City location is at 4175 Mulberry Drive in the Briarcliff Village shopping center, and offers products from a variety of local partners as well as national brands. I’ve found the prices to be reasonable and the staff to be both knowledgeable and friendly. Find more info at greenacres.com.

Young children will enjoy the Kansas City Northern Railroad at 6060 Waukomis Drive, a miniature train line that operates on a half-mile of track.

The group of railroad and history buffs was formed in 1984 when a group of volunteers restored the former Kansas City Zoo train that had operated in Swope Park.

The KCNRR is open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from May through September, as well as holidays. Rides are only 75 cents a pop. Visit kcnrr.com for more information.

— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.