How We Made This List
For this list, we looked at restaurants that have been open since December 2022. We paid our own way and did not announce ourselves. Advertisers were not favored. Restaurants of every type were considered. We picked restaurants that offer an exceptional dining experience and enrich the city’s cultural landscape.
When we first broke the news about Swetha Newcomb’s restaurant Of Course opening in Overland Park this year, she was particular about not wanting it to be labeled as “Indian food”—because it’s not, exactly.
Newcomb, who was born in India but grew up in Kansas City, relies heavily on her heritage to create dishes born from both worlds. She describes her food as new American with Indian influence. Since opening, however, the chef has leaned proudly into her heritage, and we’re officially classifying Of Course as a fine dining Indian fusion restaurant. We’re also naming it our 2023 Restaurant of the Year.
During her years as a private chef, Newcomb developed a style of her own—a sort of worldly fusion cuisine that, while certainly influenced by her Indian roots, couldn’t be put in a box.
“I thought, ‘Why not combine everything that’s popular here in the Midwest with stuff that I grew up eating that I could not live without?’” Newcomb says.
She admits she “struggled for a bit” during her restaurant’s early days while trying to learn her customer base. Sometimes she would lean too traditional, other times too nouveau. Finding an identity is a common difficulty in the fusion genre, but Newcomb has found her sweet spot. The 28-year-old chef has tethered her menu to two baseline characteristics: Midwestern familiarity coupled with elevated Indian flavor.
For Kenichi Ota, ramen is not just his business. It’s his hobby and passion, and he wants others to experience ramen this way, too. Ota’s new restaurant, KC Craft Ramen, is his latest attempt at spreading his love for ramen, and it seems to be working.
Ota was born in Tokyo and has spent the last seven years working as a self-proclaimed “ramen consultant,” educating people across the country on traditional methods for ramen preparation. He also runs Ramen School USA, which offers courses about how to open successful ramen shops.
This year, after in-depth research, Ota decided Overland Park would be the perfect place to open an authentic Japanese ramen shop. He felt the community would be open to experiencing a bit of Japanese culture while enjoying fresh, house-made ramen.
Urban Egg brought a winning brunch format from Colorado to Kansas City, but it was also a homecoming of sorts for founder Randy Price, who graduated from Shawnee Mission South High School in 1983.
Price says the restaurant’s focus on quality ingredients and local suppliers and an “each-guest each-plate approach” are key to the appeal. “Our food is always fresh, never frozen, prepared in-house from scratch in an open display kitchen.”
Like fine wine, Overland Park’s Vintage ’78 Wine Bar keeps getting better with time. After opening in the spring with a deliciously limited menu—but one that paired nicely with the bistro’s extensive wine list—the chic yet comfortable restaurant is slowly expanding its food choices, too.
The focus remains on its libations, as it should, but a few more savory dish choices means there are that many more reasons to go. If you want to just nibble away at truffle popcorn paired with a nice pinot noir, or whatever suits your fancy, that can be done. But perhaps something more substantial is needed. In that case, Vintage ’78’s decadent lobster roll created by chef Kyle Ketchum, who spent much time in Boston perfecting his trademark sandwich, perfectly complements your glass of Champagne.