If you watch the Food Network, you may recognize this jewel. Guy Fieri, accompanied by 7 lbs. of "bling" and his platinum blonde hair, stopped by Happy Gillis and featured the restaurant on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Smart move, Guy.
This place is definitely what you would consider a "dive". With only five tables, a vintage couch and two plush chairs, this place seats about 25. And while the restaurant may be small, it doesn't stop the masses from showing up. Open for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday through Sunday, this place rocks! From daily homemade soups like carrot-orange bisque with herbed celery slaw to ridiculously delicious sandwiches, Happy Gillis is a place that I frequent about once every week.
Here is what we had on our visit last week.
The entrance to this old-school dive which is located in Columbus Park, just northeast of downtown KC.
No paper menus here folks. The chalkboard menu displays your choices. Here, Todd Schulte, owner, takes orders. The menu generally stays the same, except for seasonal changes. However, they do offer different soups every couple of days and will usually have a specialty sandwich during the week.
The BLT. Okay, so I know what you're thinking, "It's a BLT, right. Big deal. A monkey can make a BLT. What's so special about this one?" Well, sorry. This isn't just your ordinary BLT. This is a Happy Gillis BLT.
No thin slices of bacon that have been sitting in a plastic package for weeks. No ordinary, run of the mill tomato. And not your standard white bread. Nope. Happy Gillis uses Webster City bacon, which is this really flavorful, thick cut bacon that has a bit of smokiness. And instead of a regular tomato, they oven roast the tomatoes, which brings out their natural sugars and really concentrates the flavor. This is what makes the sandwich. Finally, they use Farm to Market bread, which is a local favorite here in KC.
Another sandwich, which is another favorite, is the Curried Chicken Salad with Toasted Cashews, Cilantro and a Sweet Chili sauce. Personally, I'm indifferent to chicken salads normally. But to use one of Guy Fieri's signature lines, this chicken salad is the mayor of "flavortown". Plus, they serve it on a whole grain bread baked by Farm to Market.
I think this sandwich is genius. Obviously curry chicken salad is something you don't see very often. But the flavors meld so well together. The hint of spice in the curry powder is balanced with the sweetness of the chili sauce.
Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Happy Gillis. I try to eat there at least once a week and when I don't, it seems like a part of me dies inside. I mean, I ate there the morning of my wedding because I hadn't been there in 10 days. Not only is there lunch fantastic, their breakfast is great as well.
So, if it is around breakfast or lunch time, turn off your computer and run, don't walk, to Happy Gillis. It'll be the best decision you will make all day.
549 Gillis Street
Kansas City, MO 64106