At Niecie's, Kansas City’s Finest Soul Food Comes with a Smile

Niecie’s Restaurant has a simple formula to keep customers coming back: serve seriously satisfying, affordable comfort food, and maintain the lightest and quite possibly friendliest atmosphere in town – where the host memorizes your name on first visit, and even the window washer says hello and hopes you enjoyed your meal.

Denise Hayes, owner of Niecie’s, has been serving soul food to Kansas City for more than 30 years, both from the restaurant’s original location on 59th and Prospect, and now from its two current locations: one at 64th and Troost and the other in Raytown. The Troost location, open since 2009, bears the familiar shape of an old Pizza Hut, but its interior – clean, outfitted in floral wallpaper and with light tile flooring – certainly feels more like Grandma’s house than a pizza empire. Traditional counter service (where the best conversations are always had) is available, as well as full table service.

Niecie’s signature dish, of course, is chicken and waffles. The staff’s t-shirts proclaim it the best chicken and waffles in town – and it would be difficult to disagree. A fluffy, inch-thick waffle, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a heaping spoonful of butter, is topped with three crispy, fried full chicken wings. You can eat the dish any way you like, but we may humbly recommend at least one forkful of the crispy chicken with skin along with a bite of syrup-coated waffle: savory meets sweet, crunchy and buttery. It is a satisfying portion but not overwhelming, and at under $10, it is also likely the most affordable chicken and waffles available in KC.

You really could stop at the chicken and waffles and leave satisfied, but the restaurant offers much more, and is a particularly good Sunday breakfast spot. People file in and out in their church finest, savoring hearty full-plate dishes including pork chops, a T-Bone, or even the incredibly-priced $3.85 Sunrise Breakfast, which comes with sausage or bacon, egg, toast or a biscuit and coffee.

One can also just skip straight to dinner. Niecie’s meatloaf is another star: it is tangy, moist and coated with a shimmery brown gravy that is dangerously rich and good. All dinner meals are served with two sides: options include greens, black-eyed peas, navy beans, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, and all are served with cornbread or dinner rolls (we vote cornbread).

The daily specials also feature items that you are unlikely to find almost anywhere else in Kansas City: overflowing bowls of navy beans with ham hocks are served on Tuesdays, or come Thursdays for the oxtails and pork neck bones. More conventional, though no less home-style, offerings include salmon croquettes on Mondays, or whole fried catfish on Saturdays.

Dessert here is also a must, though it’s understandable if you have to take it home. Guests can choose from homemade chocolate and caramel cakes, loaded with hand-swirled icing, or the restaurant’s specialty: peach cobbler. Preserved, spiced peaches are baked under a layer of folded, butter-rich pastry, and the dish is served hot at the table. Ice cream is served on top by request.

And the food is just part of the visit (perhaps the most important part, but still not everything). Many of the servers and hosts have worked at Niecie’s for decades, and genuine warmth and friendliness is clearly part of the job. The fantastic service and consistently good food have proven to be Niecie’s keys to longevity. May it last another 30 years.

Niecie's Restaurant, 6441 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.444.6006 and 8686 E. 63rd St., Raytown, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.358.8100

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April Fleming

April is a Kansas Citian by way of New Mexico, worker bee, freelance writer and photographer, food, music, animal and travel lover.

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