Thursday, January 29, 2009

YJ's Snack Bar - Kansas City, MO

YJ’s Kansas City, MO

Welcome, new readers, most of whom, I’m imagining are touring musicians. This one’s for you guys:

If you are ever in Kansas City, Missouri, YJ’s is a must. Local, organic food at a good price. Great coffee. Interesting crowd. Definitely one of the best hidden spots I have seen so far.

I was first turned on to YJ’s by a guy named Ed who was booking our show in KC in October of 2008. Jack and I had some time to kill. Jack and I killed a lot of time in Kansas City due to our severe lack of funds at that particular juncture. After a considerable break in shows we played one almost impromptu show at a bar in Columbia, MO. No amps, standing next to the old drunks at the bar. We felt like the Blues Brothers just showing up with our instruments and saying, “Hey, we’re the band.” At which point all the rednecks in the bar did that slow head turn, as if to say, “We don’t take kindly to you young’ns.” The crone behind the bar gave Jack a verbal dressing down when he asked her to turn off the jukebox. I was pretty confident that we were going to get beat up and die in a ditch in the middle of Missouri, which is not my preferred way to go, especially after we played a Hank Williams song and one of the kindly bartenders was unaware that Hank Williams, Jr had a famous father. Now THAT’S redneck.

Anyhow, we managed to squeeze a couple of free beers and about 25 bucks outta the joint (mostly thanks to the crone who gave a similar verbal dressing down to the bar patrons when they wouldn’t put money in our tip jar, thanks lady!) After spending a night on the floor at a house which had far too many people sleeping on the floor (I got the last floor space, Jack got the confusingly still available couch?) Jack and I headed for KCMO.

Kansas City is an alright place to kill time. Downtown KC is a nice grid, plenty of free parking, lots of old abandoned buildings to wander around as well as a pretty cool open space by Union Station which is also worth a quick walkthrough if you’ve got the time.

YJ’s tucked in a little corner on the outskirts of downtown on 18th and Wyandotte (it’s there, although it requires a bit of maneuvering to locate it, I assure you, it’s worth it.) Roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes, YJ’s can only seat about 10 people at one time, although it was still nice enough to sit outdoors when Jack and I visited which just about doubled YJ’s capacity. The food was fantastic and, relatively cheap. The great thing about YJ’s is if you order off of the menu, which is generally comprised of one lunch item and one dinner item, you get an entire meal. The first time we ate there, we got a North African dinner complete with hummus, couscous, lamb kebab and a salad for somewhere around eight bucks.

The staff at YJ’s is also extremely cool. Very laid back folk usually playing interesting music. There is a bit of a library in one corner full of weird magazines, books on interesting subjects and local poetry. There is also generally a cadre of interesting kids hanging out at YJ’s and, if you talk to them you could get them to come out to your show (by the time we left Jack and I had about half the café and the girl behind the bar coming to our show).

The greatest thing about YJ’s, though, specifically for those of us who are broke and traveling, is that if you ask them if they have leftovers they will usually whip you up something delicious to the tune of about 5 bucks. So, if your wallet is hurting and you don’t have enough to pony up for the actual dinner menu (which will be delicious and a lot of food) there are other options to get a little food. YJ’s is also open 24 hours (I believe) so if you are just passing thru town in the middle of the night and need a cup of strong coffee before you drive all the way across Kansas it’s also a good pit stop.

Quirky atmosphere, good food, great value. If you’re traveling through Kansas City I highly recommend checking out YJ’s.

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