Monday, January 20, 2014

Nosing Around The Neighborhood: 39th St in Midtown Kansas City

Looking down 39th St. toward State Line
Close to the state line, surrounded by the Volker neighborhood and filled with restaurants and shops, the 39th St. area in Midtown is a creative, unique, and eclectic part of Kansas City.

I recently checked out the area and visited four local businesses, including Metuka The Pastry House, Retro Vixon, White Light Bookstore and Anna's Oven.


Delicious Deserts at Metuka
Metuka The Pastry House was my first destination.  

Open since July of last year, this little sweet spot of a bakery came recommended to me by several local residents who knew what they were talking about.  

When I visited Metuka, I found it filled with cakes, cookies, European pastries, chocolate delights and more that sends a sugar junkie like me into a "sweet-tooth high."

I sampled (let's be honest - I didn't sample, I bought and scarfed)  peanut clusters, pecan carmel cookies and triple chocolate-dipped cookies.  They were all yummy. 

Inside Metuka
Most items, including lemon bars, slices of cake, and chocolate-covered Oreos cost between $1.25 and $3.50, which I considered a small price to pay for a trip to dessert heaven.       

Metuka is a very small pastry shop with only two tables, but they do have big plans.  They are expanding their menu soon to include sandwiches, soups and, in the summer months, salads.  

Ellen Hume, Owner of Metuka
They are closed on Mondays and Saturdays, and the business is owned/operated by Ellen Hume, the former owner of JayWaLe's Bakery-Bistro, in Kansas City, KS.

Metuka is located at 1614 W. 39th St. in Kansas City, MO, and definitely worth checking out. 

Your tastebuds will thank you!


Outside Retro Vixon
Next up on my 39th St. adventure was Retro Vixon, a vintage-inspired clothing store which primarily focuses on "pin-up chic."   

Although Retro Vixon is inspired by past fashion trends, all the clothing inside is new. Even better, they offer shoes, purses, jewelry, hats and more.  

A glimpse inside Retro Vixon

This adorable boutique does a good job of combining retro and girly and is moderately priced.

My only complaint is that there needs to be more merchandise, especially clothing. 
Check out the shoes!

Even so, I plan on returning to Retro Vixon next time I am looking for something a little fun and different in my wardrobe.  

Retro Vixon is located at 1620 W. 39th St. It has been open since 2010 and is owned/run by Melissa Evans.


Entering White Light Bookstore
White Light Bookstore and Crystals, which focuses on metaphysics, spiritual needs and more, was my next stop off.  

Entering this unique business felt like stepping out of reality and into one of those mysterious bookshops you see in the movies.  

First, you enter through a nondescript purple door snuggled between D'Bronx Deli and the Blue Koi restaurant - so "Harry Potterish" feeling.  

Gargoyles protect White Light

Then you climb a steep flight of stairs draped in lights and walk through a door which is protected by two gargoyles.  

Inside White Light
Once inside, the store feels calming and overwhelming at the same time.  A strong odor of incense hangs in the air, and the shop is packed with  unfamiliar but fascinating things - stones, tarot cards, specialty candles, books, jewelry and more.     

Stones and Crystals
I decided to purchase a healing stone for a close friend while I was there. 

It felt weird at first to ask about specific rocks and their powers, but the person running the store made me feel comfortable, was very knowledgable and more than helpful.

Jewelry at White Light
On the day I was at White Light, a psychic was also there doing readings for $30.  

Although I didn't choose to learn my future, I did discover that White Light conducts seminars, regular psychic fairs, channeling classes and much more for those interested in exploring their inner knowledge and spiritual growth.  

Incense at White Light
Overall, I found this store seducing, a little bit left of ordinary, and a place I would definitely return to.  

White Light Bookstore is located at 1801 W. 39th St., and a fun step out of the "mainstream bookstore scene."  


Approaching Anna's Oven
Open since 2011, Anna's Oven is a restaurant focused on homestyle food in a charming atmosphere, and it was my last 39th St. stop.

The "premise" of Anna's Oven is based on a real person - a farm wife during the Great Depression who knew how to cook great food.  

Inside Anna's Oven
Hanging beside several other paintings for sale on the walls of this quaint restaurant,  there is a  picture of Anna along with one of her spoons.

A small eating establishment filled with about a dozen perfectly mismatched tables and chairs, Anna's Oven has an "urban eclectic" meets "grandma's kitchen" look and vibe.

Daily Specials
Their menu isn't huge, but it doesn't need to be.  It includes home-cooking staples like meatloaf, potpie, macaroni and cheese, roasted chicken, sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts.  

They do have a decent-sized wine list, have daily specials, and offer carry-out meals.  

Hummus Appetizer
I started off my dining experience at Anna's by trying the hummus appetizer.  It was delicious!  

I followed that with lasagna, which is "the signature dish."  It was quite tasty too - with thin homemade lasagna noodles.

Macaroni and Cheese
I also sampled the macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles, Mediterranean tuna salad and  chocolate cake.

Chicken and Noodles
The chicken and noodles and chocolate cake were wonderful.  

The macaroni and cheese was decent but needed a little more salt or flavoring, and the dressing mixed in with the tuna salad greens was bitter.  

Mediterranean Tuna Salad
As for the service - it was quite slow.  I wasn't in a hurry, so this didn't really bother me, but if I would have been on my lunch hour, it would have been a problem.

It helped that the waitress was friendly, and I didn't hear anyone complaining, but there needed to be more than one person waiting on tables.

Homemade Chocolate Cake
Most meals ran between $8 and $10, appetizers ranged from $3 to $6, and homemade desserts were a reasonable $3.50 - $4.50.  They also had "party portions" on the menu. 

Dining At Anna's Oven
If you decide to give Anna's Oven a try, they are located at 1809 W. 39th St. and donate a portion of their profits to educational causes.  

There is also a public lot behind the restaurant for convenient parking.

So, after spending an afternoon exploring the Midtown/39th St. area and checking out several establishments, I honestly have to say, I enjoyed myself.  

I met a lot of nice folks, would definitely go back to all of the businesses I visited, and, along the way, found many more shops and eating places I would like to try.  

Exploring in Kansas City sure can be fun!

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