The Wings, the Wings, the Wings

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Nationwide wing delivery, “best wings in Kansas City,” full restaurant & dive bar, around since 1933


People in Kansas City talk about the Peanut’s chicken wings with the same religious language reserved for Arthur Bryant’s burnt ends or Boulevard beer. Yes, the wings are worthy of worship and a long pilgrimage across treacherous urban terrain in order to partake of the fiery Buffalo sacrament, but let us not forget the altar at which we pay tribute to Kansas City’s best chicken wing: the Peanut.


The Peanut brand has existed in Kansas City since at least 1933[1]. It’s become a sort of standard-bearer for Kansas City dive bars. The downtown Peanut materialized in 1990 when Rich and Melinda Kenny opened their second location at 418 W. 9th St., home of the former Quality Hill Bar & Grill.


You might find a nice mix of loft dwellers, young people playing a drinking game[2], old drinkers working their alcoholism, and office personnel tipping back post-work rewards. It’s a typical neighborhood joint complete with a front door that’ll remind you of every screen door you’ve ever walked through. The Peanut’s downtown location is clean for a dive bar and has a nice aesthetic of brick walls, dark green paint and a simple wooden bar with a light wood-stain finish. The décor is a hodgepodge of interesting and weird memorabilia: an ancient gas mask and a painting of an alien doctor with a martini in his hand and a background out of Sleepy Hollow, for example.  It’s the type of place that accepts every type of person and doesn’t ask questions—as long as your money spends.


Before you balk at the prices, check out the size of the Peanut’s wings. Wing, drumstick, tip; they’re huge! So huge, in fact, the wings take a full 20 minutes in the fryer before being doused in a fiery, peppery buffalo sauce. Combine the buffalo sauce with the house made blue cheese[3] and you’ve got yourself a little bit of Kansas City’s finest flavors coagulating over your taste buds. You’ll fell entire forests wiping the slick buffalo sauce off your fingers, but what’s a little ecological damage compared to the tastiest fowl arms west of the Mississippi[4]? If you’re not into chicken wings, then the Peanut provides one of the best BLT’s[5] in town and a Reuben well worth ordering.


If you’re anything like me then you’ll stumble out of the Peanut, half-drunk and uncomfortably full, in dire need of a walk to sober up and encourage digestion. Lucky for us, the Kenny’s opened the Peanut in Quality Hill just as the neighborhood was revitalized in the late 1980s. Walk a block south down Broadway and admire the Coates House Hotel. Completed in 1868[6], the hotel became the most luxurious spot in Kansas City and welcomed many Presidents to town, including Grover Cleveland, William Henry Harrison, and Theodore Roosevelt. A stunning achievement when you consider the land at 10th and Broadway was once a cow pasture before Kersey Coates developed the land and most of the neighborhood of Quality Hill, which sits atop 200-foot-high bluff that overlooks the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers.


Walk west from the Peanut and you’ll find yourself in Case Park. Built in 1941 as a New Deal project arranged by city boss Tom Pendergast[7], Case Park occupies the entire edge of that 200-foot-high bluff and offers a picturesque view of the West Bottoms and Kansas City’s creator, the Missouri river. At the north end of Case Park you’ll find a statue of Kansas City’s most famous visitors, Lewis and Clark. On September 15, 1806 the expedition stopped in present-day Quality Hill upon their return from the Pacific Ocean, noting the site presented a “commanding situation for a fort.” Case Park and the Coates House Hotel are only two of a myriad of historical buildings and spots around Quality Hill.


The downtown Peanut location might come off as a mere neighborhood dive with really good food, but the neighborhood itself might be an even better reason than the chicken wings to stop in and prove once again how little self-control you have during happy hour. Sure, happy hours exist all over downtown, but you won’t find one so close to downtown Kansas City’s most interesting neighborhood.