Extra Virgin – Crossroads, Kansas City, Missouri

Cutting to the chase here, their food is my favorite. The closest thing to authentic Spanish cuisine in the city- more so than La Bodega, I promise you that. I always order the Chickpea fries with Romesco sauce ($8). It’s like fried hummus people! Who in their right mind wouldn’t love that? They’re hot and crispy, soft in the center and they are stacked like a game of jenga on a plate. I love them SO much and sometimes go just to get them as a quick snack. Don’t even get me started on their Beef Carpaccio ($14) served with argula and a lemon vinagrette and crispy Taro chips. I don’t eat red meat (well, not cooked) but I will eat every last little bite of the thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned carpaccio – joey doesn’t share this food. Here’s a curveball for some of you, Squid Ink Pasta with Uni ($13). Oh yes, black ink pasta. Don’t be scurrred, it’s fantastic and Chef Michael Smith balances the umami flavor with fresh sea urchin for a robust flavor profile that transports you to the coast of Spain on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The only thing he can’t give you a visual of the Mediterranean but the briny taste is present on your palate. I know the menu by heart, no need to see it. What’s next?

Flash Fried Shisito Peppers ($10) covered in sea salt flakes – a simple pleasure. Watch out though, you never know which of these might be spicy. They could all be mild or not, it’s a fun game to play, but even the ‘hottest’ of peppers aren’t so bad and I cannot handle spice. Papas Bravas ($9). Ah, a staple in any Spanish cuisine. These are less potato wedges but potato chips smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. I swear if Michael Smith packaged these up I would be sitting in pyjamas late at night devouring these in the privacy of my own home, six at a time, in my mouth because they are that damn delicioso. Instead, I adhere to social rules and eat each one delicately like I could care less they were even on the table, just know that inside, I am screaming. Did you say, more carbs? You got it. Order the Grilled Rosemary with Ricotta Cheese ($8). Warm and savory with the creamy salted cheese and ohmygosh, it’s already gone. Sorry about that. Looking for something more substantial? Go big or go home with the Whole Roasted Branzino ($25). If you don’t know what this is, you’re going to want to.  Branzino, orEuropean Sea Bass, has delicate, white flesh and a mild, almost sweet flavor. Roasting it whole, little bones and all, is spectacularly flavorful. Fresh herbs and lemon and you’ll imagine you’re on the Italian coast. For dessert, their Churros and Chocolate ($7) are the best. The best ever. They are perfectly made and you must dunk them in the warm chocolate sauce. They’re light and fluffy, sugary and amazing and as you know, your stomach has a seperate pocket for dessert so even if you FEEL full, just know you aren’t really.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their patio. Gosh, I love it. I love it so much. Even when it’s so hot outside it feels like a sauna you can’t get out of, the shade the umbrellas give the tables is enough of a respite to order maybe one more Palmoa and stick it out a bit longer. I especially love sitting out there on First Fridays. The people watching alone makes it worth it and my friends and I have been known to shout out compliments to strangers walking by; “Who gave you permission to look SO cute?!” we say to Roger and Nance’ as they walk by holding hands. “You are slaying in those shoes, hunny!” to the gay man in his white plastic thigh highs. It’s what Extra Virgin does to you – fills you with so much happiness by way of incredible food it bursts out of you in the form of endless unsolicited compliments. And yes, maybe liquid joy in the form of their amazing cocktails helps. Not mad about it. They have Rose All Day Thursdays at 50% off. Whaaaat? Sign me up. My girlfriend and I used to go and get a bottle, a few small plates, bring out laptops and work because if we have to work, we can at least have fun, right?! Correct.

I could go on and on and on about this KC jewel but I’m getting very hungry and am thinking I’ll make a reservation for the patio later. I highly recommend going for their happy hour where many items are HALF price from 4-6. They’re loco but I appreciate it and you will too. I have enthusiastically supported this place for years but one cannot do it alone.
So do your part and eat delicious food, drink delicious drinks and have fun -it’s the least you can do.

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