I challenge anyone to find a street as chock full of good food as Merriam Lane/Drive. Stretching roughly from Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas and following I-35 around and down to Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam, this stretch of road isn’t much to look at, but delivers the goods when it comes to simple, delicious food.
It all starts at Quick’s Bar-B-Que where you can pick up some of the best ribs in town. They also have fried bologna sandwiches and deep fried, spiral-cut hot dogs if that’s your bag.
Next up, Tacos El Matador, a highly under-appreciated Mexican joint that serves good, traditional food alongside American diner favorites like burgers and tenderloins. The tacos are excellent, especially the barbacoa.
Further down the way is Woodyard Bar-B-Que, fresh off a stint on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The food is pretty good here but the laid-back atmosphere out on the deck is what keep me coming back. Try the salmon or the burnt ends.
The Burger Joint is another old fashioned diner that I don’t visit enough. Honestly I’ve only had the burgers here because they are so damn good, made from freshly ground, never frozen beef. The owner is a real character too.
Speaking of burgers, up at the intersection of Merriam Drive and Antioch lies Grandstand Burgers, an old-school shack that dishes up excellent burgers and fries. Don’t expect to eat inside, however since there are only a handful of seats at the counter. Fortunately a few picnic tables in the parking lot get the job done.
Head over into Merriam proper and check out La Cabana del Pollo. This place has been through more iterations than Joan Rivers forehead but this one is probably the best. While the grilled chicken is fine, their classic dishes like cochinita pibil and tamales are the strong suit.
Lastly, the gem of this jaunt down Merriam Drive is El Pulgarcito, a Salvadoran joint that seems to charm everyone who tries it. They had no air conditioning on my last visit, but don’t let that stop you from stopping by for some excellent tamales and pupusas.
While 39th street west, Main street south of the Plaza and Westport road are sometimes referred to as local restaurant rows, this stretch of road, while not highbrow, can compete with any of them.