Here’s the next thing they should add to that blog Stuff White People Like: hidden, local, organic, neighborhood restaurants.
Why? Because it’s exactly the type of thing white people, especially those who deem themselves as in-the-know, tuned-in to their local scene, down-to-earth and perhaps artsy/urban, seek out (me, me, me, me – Guilty on all four counts). That’s why it’s no surprise that when someone turned me on to You Say Tomato at 28th and Holmes, I immediately started spreading the word to all my friends. I’m a hog for that white guy street cred.
I say these things not to diminish You Say Tomato in any way, but to properly characterize part of my love for the place. The food is good, the service nice, the ambience chill – but when I recommend You Say Tomato, I’m doing so partly, ever-so-slightly, because of an inborn desire to amass white guy street cred.
Let me break down the categories that give this place the mojo I’m talking about:
Location: The neighborhood around YST is classic old Kansas City. The houses are brick and have been there since just after 1900. Character exudes out of ever imperfection. It also bumps up against a socioeconomically diverse area of town which gives it that anti-suburban cred. It’s not some cul-de-sac ridden mulch-covered “bubble” neighborhood (*cough* LEAWOOD). It’s a little gritty. It’s real. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s the authentic type of neighborhood where you certainly will not find the Desperate Housewives of Johnson County. Major bonus. In fact, that leads into the second factor…
The crowd: Like I said – this isn’t the First Watch Sunday brunch crew that just got out of 11 o’clock church service. The people here are younger, more urban-minded, bike riding, community gardening, art loving types who, as a group, define the word “eclectic”. Some are sort-of the hippies of the new millennium. Others are (like me) probably hipsters who hate the idea that they are, in fact, hipsters. At any rate, this crowd helps preserve the relaxed atmosphere the building’s façade and décor convey.
Funky-factor: It’s original. Not only are there great meals to be purchased here, you can also buy a selection of great products: from locally grown produce to a selection of marinara sauces from KC’s iconic Italian mainstays. The display cases, seats and chairs are all vintage. When you walk in to YST, you feel like you’ve warped back to an era when people worked harder, were more connected with the earth and community around them, and lived simpler, more sustainable existences. It’s funky. And you like it.
Local/organic: They’re more than buzz words. To the type of crowd that eats here, these truly are important factors. By eating at places like YST, you are supporting the community around you and eliminating unnecessary shipping-bred pollution. Moreover, locally grown/raised products, more often than not, taste better than imported ones. The restaurant itself is buried in the 28th/Holmes neighborhood, not planted in the middle of a 4 sq. acre parking lot. To go is to bury one’s hands into the soil of this city.
Early morning appeal: I read a quote in a review/blurb on YST that said, “If you go to You Say Tomato for breakfast, the rest of your day will be 68% better than it otherwise would have been." That pretty much sums it up from my perspective, too. Also, you’ll leave with an incredible caffeine buzz! The coffee is hot, rich and delicious. It sits in constantly-refilled pump-thermoses on a small table in the middle of the restaurant. Self-serve. Heh heh heh.
Okay, so, by now you get the point. Let me “dish” on the food, then.
I’ve been to You Say Tomato three times now, each time for breakfast. Really, that’s what it’s good for. Get yourself up by 9:00, get there by 10:00. You’ll be glad you did. Then go take advantage of something in the city you’ve been meaning to but just never do (might I recommend a visit to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Contemporary Art?). Not a fan of big breakfasts? You can go for one of the delectable sweet treats, like the coffee cake, or something more healthy, like a fruit and yogurt parfait. The coffee cake definitely comes across every bit as home made as your mom’s did. And the fruit is fresh and juicy. Big breakfast fan? You’re in luck. This is one of the few restaurants in town where you can get good biscuits ‘n gravy. Perhaps even more uniqure were the cheesy grits I had there on my first visit. Creamy, salty, just riiight. But when people talk about the food at YST, I think the big winner is usually the quiche. There are several different varieties and they’re all warm, freshly baked, have fantastic from-scratch crust and make for the perfect brunch item. I challenge you to find one better at any other restaurant in this city.
I must admit, I’ve not lunched at YST. And as mentioned earlier, I feel strongly that it should be patronized, most often, for breakfast. Especially for your first trip. You’ll leave feeling as though you are on the path to becoming that better you you’re always chasing, and when You Say Tomato to someone else, you’ll instantly gain mega white-guy street cred. Try it. You’ll see.
Rating - 3 Napkins