Dish & Drink KC: Mexican barbeque from Poi-Ō, colorful ice cream cones in Leawood, and poke bowls from Freestyle
For lovers of smokey, sweet, and spicy flavor.
Cuisines collide at Poio in KCK
If there’s one thing Kansas Citians love, it’s barbeque. As much as the locals respect the traditional, there’s also plenty of room for creative twists on the cuisine. And Poi-Ō has mastered that twist.
The Mexican barbeque joint is serving up deliciously smokey chicken, ribs, carnitas, and even ‘que-style jackfruit in sandwiches, combo boxes, and more. They also have a drive-through, making it easy to pick it up on the go.
The combo boxes, which are based around varying sizes of your meat of choice and served with a generous helping of tortillas, salsa, house pickles, and sides, are perhaps one of the best plates I have had since moving to this city.
I went with the half chicken box and chose the poblano mac & cheese and elote for the sides. The chicken is perfectly shred-able and mouthwateringly smokey, complete with a signature char that gives the skin a great flavor and a little bit of crisp.
The white corn tortillas—the best kind—are also the ideal street taco size, maximizing the number of perfect bites per plate. Just be sure to stock up on the napkins, and if you don’t get your hands dirty, then you are doing it wrong.
I also got to steal a few bites of the kimchi fried rice, which brought a subtly sweet flavor that was a nice balance to the smoke.
But perhaps the biggest home run at Poi-Ō is the salsa. It’s house-made and comes in four varieties: verde, macha, Thai chili, and charred habanero.
If I could take one of those squeeze bottles and squirt it directly into my mouth I would. Well, maybe not the habanero, but if you can stomach the spice then you’d probably want to drink that one too.
They’re all damn good, but my favorite was easily the macha. The amount of smokey flavor in just a few drops is truly enough to send your tastebuds into overdrive in the best way.
As an added bonus, the half chicken box is only $10.95, and the sheer amount of food is easily enough to leave you with leftovers to bring to work the next day. And it will definitely make your co-workers jealous.
Poi-Ō Mexican BBQ is located at 800 S. 7 Street Trafficway, Kansas City, KS, 66105. They are open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and they are closed on Sundays. Check out their website to learn more.
Ice Cream Bae serves up colorful soft serve swirls in Leawood
Ice Cream Bae in Leawood’s Park Place specializes in scoops, shakes, and soft serve, putting innovative twists on a school cafeteria classic. Does anyone else remember having competitions with their friends to see who get could the tallest swirl on their cone? Just me?
Their flavors range from the traditional like cookies and cream and chocolate and can be topped with an endless amount of cereal, candy, and other mix-ins.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, they also have more out of the box flavors such as the Bamm Bamm, a scoop chock full of fruity pebbles adorned with Pocky Sticks, or the Ube You My Bae, an ube soft serve also topped with fruity pebbles and pocky sticks.
I ordered the ube variety first and googled it after, being familiar with its purple hue but unfamiliar with its flavor profile. My tastebuds were very pleased to make its acquaintance.
Other notable varieties include Trix is The Captain now, another rainbow concoction featuring Trix and Captain Crunch cereal as well as gummy bears.
Keeping with the cereal theme is also the Cinnamon Toast Brunch, a scoop with vanilla, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon toast crunch, and teddy grahams.
If you need to add a bit more color to your dessert, go with one of the artisanal cones. They have options like blue and pink vanilla, giving a crispy rainbow bite to the end of your sweet experience.
It can also be enjoyed under the neon blue light of the ice cream parlor’s signature sign, reading “Before Anything Else,” creating a great photo op and adding to the colorful ambiance.
Ice Cream Bae is located at 5260 116 Place, Leawood, KS, 66211. They’re open from noon-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. on Sunday. Check out their website to learn more.
Poke right off the trail at Freestyle in River Market
The Kansas City metro is in the middle of half-enjoying and half-lamenting what I like to deem the “spring mirage,” also known as those surprise warm days in the middle of February often followed by vicious cold snaps.
Something about this time confuses my cravings, not sure if I should go for something heartier or keep it light and fresh in the spirit of warmer weather ahead.
Something that happily enjoys the middle ground of these two culinary concepts is poke. Usually featuring a good portion of fresh vegetables, rice, and raw fish, it brings freshness and fullness together in a harmonious way that makes my stomach happy.
Freestlye Poke in the River Market is there to satisfy all your poke cravings. It’s also conveniently located a few blocks from the Riverfront trail, making it the perfect post-walk stop after you enjoy some time outside before winter weather rears its ugly head.
If you aren’t into raw fish, there’s no need to worry—there are plenty of cooked protein options that still let you enjoy the experience. You can choose from a build your own menu, starting with your carb base.
Options include traditional sushi rice, “forbidden” black rice, quinoa, or zucchini noodles for those who want to pack in as many veggies as you can.
You can then top it with your desired protein, ranging from raw and cooked fish as well as tofu or chicken, and then choose your mix-ins like onion, cucumber, edamame, or wasabi for those who like it hot.
Then drizzle your bowl in a marinade of your choice, topped with more veggies, sauced, and finished with final touches like crispy garlic or nori sheets.
If you’re scared of picking the wrong combination, although you really can’t go wrong, choose from the signature bowls.
I went with the classic, which features raw tuna chunks, spring onions, cucumbers, crab mix, pickled ginger, roe, and siracha mayo. It’s then topped with nori, giving it a sushi bowl feel that’s sure to satisfy.
Other options include the Ride the Wave, a sushi-grade salmon bowl with truffle yuzu ponzu, seaweed salad, avocado, and sweet potato; or the Freestyle Teriyaki Bowl with cooked chicken, teriyaki sauce, carrots, and mango.
Freestyle Poke is located at 509 Delaware Street, Kansas City, MO, 64105. They’re open every day from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Check out their website to learn more.