Vegan Road Trip: Kansas City, Missouri

Cafe Gratitude + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comKansas City is one of the Midwest’s best-kept secrets. I stumbled upon it 5 years ago while driving across country. Expecting to find another ordinary midsized town, what I discovered instead was a cool place with outstanding vegan restaurants, great shopping, and the benefits of big city living with the easy pace of a smaller town.

So while we were plotting our route for a road trip to the final Vida Vegan Con in Austin, Texas, David and I made sure to get there by way of Kansas City. In total, we spent 10 days on the road and in Austin, and now we are back home with kitty cuddling quotas to make up. (It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it.) So I sit here, happily trapped under Jezebel, and looking back at a fun experience that has convinced me to do road-trips more often. (They’re cheaper, I don’t have to worry about my bag weight, and I can stop for vegan treats any time that I want. Plus, I can buy souvenirs of hummus, hot sauce, and Miyoko’s cheeses with no worries of them getting confiscated at the airport or exploding in my checked luggage. #veganproblems)

Cafe Gratitude + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comBut back to the trip…

After dropping Jezebel and Avon off with my parents in Des Moines for a kitty vacation of their own, David and I continued to Kansas City, where we spent the night near the Plaza. We had dinner at Café Gratitude, a restaurant that also has locations in Southern California and the Bay area.

The menu at Café Gratitude features filling, substantive food that is simple without being boring. I ordered one of my favorites – I Am Humble. (That is the name of the dish – not an overt brag about how humble I am. Although, I am incredibly humble. It’s one of my greatest qualities.) 😉

Awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comI Am Humble is an Indian curry bowl with spicy and smooth lentils, spinach, and roasted sweet potatoes. It’s served over brown rice and drizzled with a sweet tamarind sauce and coconut mint chutney. I like the balance of sweet and spicy, and the lentils reminded me of the curried lentil soup that I like to make for a quick and inexpensive dinner.

Awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comDavid got started early on the 10 Days of Tacos with a dish called I Am Transformed. It includes butternut squash tacos on corn tortillas with black beans, salsa fresca, dollops of guacamole, and a drizzling of cashew nacho cheese. It’s served with a side salad. This is one of David’s go-to orders at Café Gratitude. He can’t say no to a butternut squash or sweet potato taco.

After dinner, I asked to see the dessert menu. This is what they brought…

Awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comWith this sitting within reach in front of you, I had to wonder if there’s anyone who says, “Oh, no thanks. No dessert for me.”

Awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comAll of the options looked fantastic, but we went with the blueberry meringue to share. It was mildly sweet, dense, and creamy.

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comMud Pie Vegan Bakery & other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comThe next morning, we went to Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeehouse to grab coffee and pastries for breakfast. Mud Pie makes some of the best coffee anywhere – rich and bold without being bitter. (It’s the Adele of coffee beverages.)

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comMud Pie Vegan Bakery + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comI got a soy latte and kolache. I don’t think I’d had a kolache since elementary school when we’d occasionally get them on our hot lunch tray. This pillowy pastry was stuffed with non-dairy cream cheese and sautéed mushrooms. It put me to the mind of a stuffed bagel, and I finished every last crumb. David got an enormous and quite tasty cranberry orange scone.

Mash handmade + awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comWhenever we go to Kansas City, we make a point to visit Mash Handmade. I love little stores like this with pottery, necklaces, cards, and prints. It’s small in size but well curated. I find it impossible to leave without buying something. Plus, they have postcards at the counter with the MASH game you may remember from elementary school. (It’s a fortune telling game for kids that helps you find out who you will marry, what kind of car you’ll drive, and where you’ll live, etc.) Since we’re always in Kansas City on road-trips, David and I enjoy playing it in the car to pass the time. To his credit, he took it pretty well that I’ll be marrying Usher. I tried not to gloat too much.

FUD + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comFUD + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comAfter walking around the Plaza and doing a bit of shopping, we ventured to FÜD for lunch. Their menu has grown since the last time I was there, and it made deciding even more difficult. On the one hand, I wanted all my favorites. On the other, I wanted to try new things. In the end, the favorites won out, and I have no regrets about that.

FUD + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comWe started with a small serving of nachos with cashew nacho cheese & sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. It was just as messy and mouthwatering as this picture would lead you to believe.

FUD + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comThen I ordered a half order of the Eggy Sandwich. This was the sandwich that made me realize I needed to revisit that abandoned Vegg and kala namak (black salt) in my cupboard. The fried tofu is served on wheat bread with cashew cheddar, onion, tomatoes, and pickles. It wasn’t as eggy as I remembered from my last visit, but it still had me licking my fingers after every bite.

FUD + other awesome vegan options in Kansas City, Missouri | cadryskitchen.comI also ordered a fried taco with Jack Chkn (young jackfruit that has been roasted with herbs & seasonings). It was stuffed with cashew cheddar, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa. You can’t go to FÜD and not get one of their tacos. It’s a must. (David ordered two of them.)

FÜD set the bar very high for the trip, and was actually one of my two favorite meals from the road trip. (Surprisingly enough, the other favorite meal wasn’t from Austin either!) For the first time, I had a chance to chat with the owner, Heidi Van Pelt-Belle, who was serving us that day, and let her know that I’m a big fan I am of what she’s doing. Kansas City is very lucky indeed.


  1. Nikki says

    My home! Also my brother is one of the bakers at Mud Pie, so I just got really excited and proud reading your post! I love living here!

    • says

      Oh, that’s terrific, Nikki! I’m so glad to hear that you love living there. David and I have toyed with the idea of moving to Kansas City many times.

  2. says

    FRIED TACOS?! ZOMG! I need to get to KC! I’ve also always wanted to try Cafe Gratitude. I was supposed to go to Kansas City for Amber & Matt’s wedding (Almost Vegan blog), but I ended up not being able to go. :-( Soooo, what if you just go ahead and marry Usher (David won’t mind!) and have the wedding in KC and invite me. K?

    • says

      That’s too bad you were unable to go to Amber’s wedding. I remember looking at the pictures she posted on her blog, and it looked like a really unique and beautiful event. I promise that I won’t marry Usher without you! Maybe FUD can cater it. 😉

  3. Stephanie Meehan says

    I live very near KCMO and I love going there and eating up all their delicious vegan food! Glad you enjoyed your visit!

  4. says

    yum! I have had FUD on my radar for a long time! I don’t anticipate getting to Kansas City anytime soon but if I ever do, that will be my first stop. I can’t wait to hear more about your VVC trip! I have been living vicariously through all my vegan Instagram friends! I really wish I could have gone :(

    • says

      I wish you could have gone too! I am bummed that it’s the last one, but I’m hopeful that someone else will pick up the charge and start another vegan bloggers’ conference.

  5. says

    Yay road trips! Particularly when you can find decent food along the way! When we did a year-long trip around the country, the best I could look forward to at some stops would be an icy pole (not that I don’t love em!). That may be a small serve of nachos but they have certainly packed it high!

    • says

      Yes, road trips are a lot more fun when there are tasty treats along the way. This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone call a popsicle an icy pole. I like that!

  6. says

    ugh i love your travel recaps SO MUCH. ALL THE FOOD. i really hope cafe gratitude opens a location in philly. everything always looks so amazing. and i totally want a kolache.

    • says

      I am so happy to hear that, Caitlin! I love doing travel posts, but I often worry that people will be less interested if it’s a place they may or may not visit. That would be terrific if Cafe Gratitude keeps expanding. I think their style of food would really appeal to you.

    • says

      Yes, the next time I want a quick sandwich, I’m going to turn my eggy tofu into a sandwich with pickles. I often forget about the Vegg in my pantry too. Luckily, it keeps!

  7. Liz Ardell says

    I live in KC now, and the vegan choices here are wonderful! Next time, you’ll need to try Waldo Pizza – they have their own vegan menu with vegan mock meat choices (their taco pizza is great with chorizo), be sure to ask for the “Ardell blend” of the vegan cheeses for the traditional pizzas. Its all 3 varieties of vegan cheese they have available blended together on the pizza.

    And you can get Fud Sandwiches to go at One More Cup coffee café.

    And don’t forget Eden Alley, the very first vegetarian and vegan place in KC. Its on the Plaza, can’t believe that you missed that one with your staying on the plaza. Their Tofu Ruelke sandwich is outstanding!

    • says

      Thanks for the great suggestions, Liz! I will definitely try the taco pizza at Waldo Pizza the next time I’m there. Taco pizza is one of my all-time favorite foods, but finding a vegan version in restaurants is nearly impossible. I will add that to my “musts.”

      I went to Eden Alley on a different trip to Kansas City, and I was underwhelmed by it. Perhaps I didn’t order the right thing. I will remember the Tofu Ruelke for next time.

      • Reba says

        I live in KC and have eaten at Eden Alley several times. I want to like it, but you are correct. It is always underwhelming, much to my disappointment.

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