The Men's Field Guide to the Northland 1

The Testosterone is strong north of the river.

The North American habitat of the male species of homo sapiens in Kansas City, Missouri, specifically the territory bounded by the Missouri River to the south and Clay and Platte counties to the north, known colloquially as the Northland, is a wild, wonderful environment rich with resources for food, drink, adventure, and entertainment.

Provisions must be acquired before mounting an expedition throughout the Northland. Should the explorer be inclined to indulge, The Outlaw Cigar Company (6234 N. Chatham Ave., OutlawCigar.com) is an unabashedly testosterone-fueled den of cigars, accessories, clothing, and camaraderie. Cigar aficionados are still allowed to indulge inside the smoke shop despite the citywide smoking ordinance. For those that do not smoke cigars regularly, consider the Arturo Fuente Hemingway, a $10-15 line of mild- to medium-bodied cigars suitable for novices and experienced smokers alike.

Next, a stop at one or more local taprooms for food and drink is in order. The Northland is home to many local breweries. Rock & Run Brewery & Pub (110 E. Kansas St., Liberty, RockAndRunBrewery.com) in Liberty’s historic square offers a diverse selection of beers made in-house and a rotating selection of other craft beers. Favorites include Liberty Squared Golden Ale and 5K IPA. The pub menu includes pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and more. 
In North Kansas City, visit Cinder Block Brewery (110 E. 18th Ave. NKC, CinderBlockBrewery.com) for pints of beer and cider, outdoors games like giant Jenga on the patio, and food from Back Rack BBQ. The Big Rip Brewing Company (216 E. 9th Ave., NKC, BigRipBrewing.com) also offers a roster of locally-brewed beers, including gluten-free options, with Happy Hour Fridays, noon to 5 PM. The brewery celebrates its third anniversary on June 4th with an outdoor festival. Newcomer Calibration Brewing Company (119 Armour Rd., NKC, CalibrationBrewery.com) is also due to open in summer 2016).

Chappell’s Restaurant and Sports Museum (323 Armour Rd., NKC, ChappellsRestaurant.com), founded by Jim Chappell, is an award-winning restaurant known for its extensive collection of more than 10,000 professional and college sports artifacts. Chappell’s was recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of 2005’s 25 Best Sports Bars in America. Grab a burger, jambalaya fritters, sirloin steak, or fish and chips and marvel at the sports memorabilia covering every wall and even the ceiling. If Jim’s in the house, then don’t hesitate to chat with him about local sports history.

Looking for adventure? Book a scenic charter flight with ATD Flight Systems based out of the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (10 NW Richards Rd., KC, ATDFlightSystems.com). The company books flights from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, using a high-wing aircraft piloted by a qualified pilot. Soar around Kansas City, over Kauffman Stadium, or the surrounding area for an aerial view. The aircraft’s wing placement allows for unobstructed views so bring a camera and lens. Rates vary based on flight plan and length.

Prefer a getaway on the ground? Head to Basswood Country Inn and RV Resort in Platte City (15880 Interurban Rd., Platte City, BasswoodResort.com). This secluded resort and 73-acre country estate offers lodges, suites, and cabins for a romantic escapade or a break from city life. Tent and RV campsites are available near stocked fishing lakes. No state fishing licence is necessary to fish for catfish, crappie, bass, bluegill, and carp. The Country Store stocks bait, tackle, and other supplies.

Before getting ready to rumble on the road, take a factory tour of the vehicle and powertrain operations of Kansas City’s Harley Davidson plant (11401 N. Congress Ave., KC, Harley-Davidson.com). Built in 1998, the plant spans 358,000 square-feet, where employees build the Sportster, Dyna, Street, and V-Rod families of motorcycles, along with Softtail models. From fabrication to finishing to final assembly, the plant produces some of the finest vehicles on two wheels to grace the highways of Kansas City and beyond. The free one-hour tour offers a limited view of the assembly line and designated fabrication areas at regularly scheduled intervals from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets are first-come, first-serve.

Even modern men can use a little cave time on occasion. Book a tour at SD Strong Distilling (8500 NW River Park Dr #136a, Parkville, SDStrongDistilling.com), where SD Strong Vodka and Pillar 136 Gin are legally distilled in a cave. Distiller Steve Strong opened the distillery in 2012 and works underground making craft spirits from scratch. Learn about the mash, fermentation and bottling process before sampling the spirits.

Take a trip to Paradise at least once in your life. Paradise Locker Meats’ retail store, that is. The Fantasma family owns and operates a meat-processing facility and retail store (405 W. Birch St., Trimble, ParadiseMeats.com) with some of the finest meats on the planet. The company only uses farmers that raise animals without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. From steak to pasture-raised Berkshire pork to 20 varieties of housemade sausage, Paradise Locker offers a tempting selection of meats, packaged gifts, and even sides of dry-aged beef and pork. Order online if you’re not able to make the trip.

After exploring the Northland, wind down the adventure with a meal at Justus Drugstore, an award-winning restaurant (106 W. Main St., Smithville, DrugstoreRestaurant.com) where guests may eat like a king. Owners Camille Eklof and Chef Jonathan Justus provide attentive service and fine food often using ingredients sourced from the region. For example, a Missouri version of a classic Caesar salad combines charred romaine, cured Westover Farms trout (instead of anchovy) dressing, catfish ‘croutons’, and local Shatto ‘Lily’ cheese. Adventurous eaters will find a combination of rustic and refined presentations of duck, lamb, pork, freshwater fish, pork, and vegetables. Make advance reservations, whether dining indoors or on the patio.

It goes without saying (but let’s do) that any of these exploits involving food, drink, and amusement are not limited to men. The Northland abounds with ample opportunities for members of either gender to explore their territory and make fun discoveries.

[photo credit: cigar images courtesy of Arturo Fuente Cigar Co.]