The Harbinger Online

Places to eat in Waldo Review

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Photo by Ally Griffith

Neighborhood Cafe:

In between Dollar General and Lew’s Grill and Bar, you can find Neighborhood Cafe with an old fashioned red neon sign and a cinnamon roll out front. Located on 75th and Wornall, this spacious and homey place is the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Between the Lee’s Summit and Waldo locations, both restaurants attract a large crowd because they are always packed; but not just because of the food. The original Neighborhood Cafe opened in Lee Summit over 150 years ago and the cinnamon roll scent wafts out of its doors to this day.

Walking through the double glass doors, my family of four was greeted by a waitress who  enthusiastically yelled “Happy Sunday Y’all! ” After waiting 15 minutes (which wasn’t bad considering how many people were there), we were taken to a cozy booth. Old newspaper articles mounted in the glass between booths gave me something to look at until our smiley waitress came with a plate of warm, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls. At that moment I knew this was going to be a weekly spot. Free cinnamon rolls and Sunday breakfast? Yes please!

As I skimmed the menu my usual Sunday order, biscuits and gravy, was calling my name. The “Country Breakfast” with biscuits and gravy, hash-browns, eggs, bacon and sausage sounded delightful… and it was. For $8 I got a plate full of food that held me over until dinner. All prices were fairly reasonable for the amount of food that came with them.

Our waitress came back and checked on us from time to time and even told us the story behind the place. I left fuller and happier than when I came to Neighborhood Cafe. If you’re looking for great service and some tasty biscuits and gravy, this is your spot. Oh, and don’t forget about the free cinnamon rolls!

Papu’s Cafe:

At the back of run down Shell gas station off of 75th and Wornall is the some of the best Mediterranean food you can find in KC; Papu’s Cafe. As soon as I stepped out of my car,I could smell the Mediterranean food and a hint of gasoline. I walked in and there was not a single person in sight, which was peaceful in a sense but confusing because I didn’t know where to order my food.

Luckily, someone came to the counter on the left side of the gas station so I wasn’t stuck in the place alone. I was handed a menu and noticed they didn’t have much to offer besides the classic gyro and a chicken shawarma sandwich. I decided to order the traditional Gyro sandwich and baklava for dessert. Three ladies made me food behind the counter, the baklava came before the gyro. As a kid growing up, most people are told not to eat dessert first but the layered pastry looked too good, I had to try it (don’t tell my mom).The sweet taste of honey flooded my taste buds while the nuts provided the perfect essence of crunch that made me want to order more.

I waited 10 minutes in the otherwise desolate gas station for my gyro. I tried my best to get my mouth around the massive creation of lamb, tomato and onions inside the gyro. I don’t know why I was surprised; hole in the wall places are always better than overrated chains. The lamb was cooked just right, and paired with a crisp cucumber dressing gave it a fresh taste wrapped in warm pita. For $9 I got enough food for a meal and had to take the other half of my sandwich home. Being in a rundown gas station, the environment didn’t feel inviting, but the food is a must have.

Taj Mahal:

Walking into the Taj Mahal restaurant I immediately felt immersed in a different culture due to upbeat Indian music sounded throughout the dimly lit restaurant.  I was greeted by a women at the bar who began to walk me to a booth. I could smell the spices that made my nose run as soon as I sat down at booth near the kitchen.

Browsing through the lengthy menu, which was nicely organized by lamb, chicken, goat, and various other items, I couldn’t decide what to get. Our waiter sat a tray of three mild, spicy and extremely spicy salsas on the table to start us out. Since I was a newbie to eating Indian food I asked what to get and the Chicken Tikka Masala was recommended to me, which consisted of diced chicken cooked in a mild sauce and spices. A short four minutes after I ordered my food, it  came out prepared in a small bowl served with rice.

I was hesitant to try the food at first because I’m not into anything spicy but after smelling it I decided to just go for it. The sauce tasted very similar to marinara sauce and it was perfect on the tender chicken. Taj Mahal also offered a dessert menu so while I was already trying new things I decided to try the Kheer, which is the Indian word for rice pudding. It was served in a bowl the size of a large spoon but when it comes to the rich sweetness of Kheer, less is more.

The overall atmosphere was enjoyable due to the dim lighting and great service.This 20 year old restaurant showcased how I expected an Indian joint to be. I will definitely have to go back and try the lunch buffet because I think Indian food could be a new favorite of mine.

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