Guide to Kansas City’s Favorite Drive-Thrus

Supporting local restaurants is something that is really important to my family, even more so during the current pandemic. I especially love drive-thrus because it means I don’t have to get out of the car with my kids. It’s so quick and easy to drive up, order your food, and go. Drive-thrus are perfect for busy nights of kid activities, lunch on the go, or a car picnic when you can’t go to a dine-in restaurant.

I surveyed Kansas City Mom Collective contributors and personal friends; they helped me put together this roundup. Enjoy!

Hawaiian Bros Island Grill Hawaiian Brothers drive thru

Belton, Lee’s Summit, Northland (no drive-thru), Overland Park, and coming soon to Shawnee

Hawaiian Bros is regularly in our take out rotation, it is just SO good. The menu is straightforward and simple. You get rice, meat, and macaroni salad but can adjust it however you want — like have a combination of two meats, extra macaroni salad, or seasoned veggies. They also have sides of fresh pineapple and spam musabi (which I haven’t tried but friends love it). For dessert, they offer Dole Whip in a variety of flavors, which are gluten and dairy free. You get a ton of food, so we like to get it on a Friday night so we’ll have leftovers for lunch all weekend. Our favorites are the Huli Huli Chicken and Honolulu Chicken…and the Luau Pork. Really it is all good, so you can’t go wrong. Once you’ve had it, all it takes is a mere mention of the place to make you crave it; so if you’ve had it before you probably want to go get some right now!

Thank you to Hawaiian Bros for making this guide possible!

 

Dominic’s Casual Italian

Gladstone and North KCMO locations — Known for their spedini bowls as well as classic Italian favorites. They offer lunch specials for under $10, family size meals, and reasonably priced kids meals.

Go Chicken Go

Various locations including KCMO, Olathe, and three in KCK — Go Chicken Go has delicious fried chicken and sides. They are known for their fried gizzards and livers, something most other chicken joints don’t serve, as well as for their G sauce, which they sell by the bottle.

In-A-Tub

This restaurant has two locations in the Northland — They have a bit of a cult following for their deep fried tacos with powdered cheese. I know it sounds weird, but In-A-Tub fans say you have to try it to understand the hype! I also hear their chocolate malts are delicious.

McClain’s Market

Shawnee and Overland Park locations have drive-thrus — I have yet to have a baked good here that wasn’t amazing, but my absolute favorite is their chocolate cup-cookie. As far as a meal, I always order the Waldo Cobb Salad and recently got my 8-year-old hooked on them too so now she gets her own. My husband loves the Market Wrap. The drive-thru menu is limited, so if you want access to all of their options you’ll want to dine-in. They also offer breakfast in the mornings and all day Sunday (no lunch menu on Sundays).

Shawarmar

Midtown KCMO — Shawarmar offers Middle Eastern food including wraps, bowls, salads, and sides. We love Middle Eastern food and will be making a trip here for a meal soon. My friend highly recommends the Shish Tawook

Strip’s Chicken

Located in Olathe with a second location in Waldo opening soon — There are MANY options for chicken strips in town, but this local spot is very popular and for good reason. They have delicious chicken strips and pork burgers as well as special offerings like fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and mini donuts. They have a variety of gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free options making it a popular spot for families with allergies. With an abundance of sides on the menu, I always have a hard time deciding which to choose.

Unforked

Overland Park location — Part of the Sheridan’s Frozen Custard family, Unforked offers burgers, tacos, salads, as well as many of Sheridan’s custard specialties. They always have a few seasonal specialties if you want to try something new. Much of the menu is gluten free. I always make sure to order their guacamole.

Zarda’s BBQ

If you are in need of a BBQ fix, the Lenexa location of Zarda’s BBQ has a drive-thru available during select hours on weekdays and all of their hours on the weekends.

Classic old-fashioned burger joints

There are SO many of these I decided to put them all in this one category. You’ll find classic burgers, fries, onion rings, shakes, and more at these local spots. Many of them do not have websites or a Facebook page, but they’ve been around for decades and locals know them well. On the list are Blazers in Gardner, HiBoy in Independence, Paul’s Drive In in KCK and Paul’s Drive In KCMO (same name, but unrelated), Tay’s Burger Shack in Overland Park and North Kansas City, and Winstead’s at their three remaining locations in Overland Park, Leawood, and on the Plaza.

What is your favorite local drive-thru? Any great ones we missed?

Julia Willhite
I'm Julia and I live in Olathe with my husband of 13 years, my 7 and 2.5 year old daughters, and a sweet old blind pug we call Boopers. I’m a social worker turned SAHM (at least til my youngest starts school). I love Dr. Pepper, thunderstorms, and talking to other adults. I hate coffee, diet culture, and washing dishes. I'll talk your ear off about the best local parks and which restaurants have wronged me by changing their long-standing menu items. I try to walk the line between knowing a lot of stuff and not being a know-it-all. Some days I'm better than others.

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