Food Critique: C. Withers Kansas City’s Finest

Down on Broadway tucked in to a tiny room, a wonderful man makes wonderful food he simply loves to cook.  C. Withers is his name, outrageously good smoked food is his game.   The man has no trepidation about putting something in his smoker: prime rib, steaks, cabbage, green beans, strawberry cake, cornbread, baked beans. All of these are regulars for his guests.  It is really most appropriate to consider yourself a guest in his world rather than his customer.  The whole experience is more down home than any Southerner could ever pretend to be.  He makes what he feels like making that day- and we’re all delighted every time.  He comes out and checks on you.  He’s the only cook.  He’ll make 3 to 6 things each day.  There is a menu but it’s more of a guideline than any literal representation of the offerings that day.

The food is comfort food at it’s finest and the prices are embarrassingly low. He regularly has lunch specials for 3 wings and two sides for $5. It’s what your friend would make you if your friend was a world class chef that could cook for Oprah or the President (let’s face it I believe Oprah always has and always will eat better than our Presidents). C. Withers makes most of his money from catering.  If you want your guests undying thankfulness you should order some.  But lucky for us, he also does lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, although he closes around 7 or 8 (I told you he’s not real tied down to printed information).

The food, oh man the food.  I’m a girl who knows a good steak.  Both his prime rib and his strip steak are phenomenal.  His strip steak is my favorite steak I’ve ever had.  At $10 (I told you it was embarrassingly low prices) it was better than the $55 steak I’ve had- better flavor, better texture, better tenderness, WAY better sides.  You can cut through the oh-so-tender prime rib with a fork.  His chicken and sausage pasta is truly out of this world.  He smokes the chicken and the sausage and peppers and combines it with the spaghetti noodles and some kind of luscious broth I slurp up every time.

And the sides, my God the sides.  He roasts potatoes simply- olive oil, garlic, salt- and they’re gone by lunch every single day.  I have twice eaten just a side of potatoes ($2.79) for lunch and been completely happy.  He makes 5 or 6 different types of cornbread- cheesecake cornbread, strawberry cornbread, cherry cornbread, grape cornbread, watermelon cornbread.  I’m feeling a little like Bubba from Forest Gump right now and my affection for his food certainly rivals Bubba’s for his shrimp. Speaking of shrimp, C. Wither’s shrimp, sautéed in lime and herbs or fried, are really, really good.  The mashed potatoes are peppery and creamy and smoky because they’re made with (what else) smoked potatoes.  The smoked cabbage (a food I normally won’t touch) makes me love vegetables all over again.  He makes a macaroni and cheese that my niece eats hand over fist- and makes me wish that I was the age I could do the same.  It’s ultra-rich cheesy goodness reduces me to two year old table manner status.

I could go on and on about the food but really you should try it for yourself.  You’ll thank me a thousand times.

If you still need them here are three more reasons you should go:

  1. The prices.  He has specials daily that range from $5-$10.  Where can you get a steak for $10 let alone a steak of this quality.
  2. The quantities.  Each meal has gigantic portion sizes.  The half sizes are mounded plates of food that is more than one person should eat in a sitting.
  3. This is a really good man.  He feeds the homeless every holiday.  He believes it’s his life work to bring good food to humble people.  He considers it a privilege to cook for you.

It’s KC’s finest down home food and KC’s finest restaurateur.

Location: 3613 Broadway
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: Inexpensive

I give C. Withers 5 “more cornbread please!” out of 5

by Laura Shrader

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