Gay Bars, United States

Guide to Gay Bars in Kansas City

Kansas City spans two states, but Missouri is home to every LGBT bar in the area. On your next night out, use this complete guide while hopping between the gay bars in Kansas City.

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Upscale Bar: Bistro 303

If you’d like to explore some nightlife outside of the gay clubs in Kansas City, this is a good starting point. With its location on the edge of Westport, Bistro 303 sits within walking distance of the Midtown bar scene. This spot is popular in the early evening and after work and smaller than your average McDonald’s, so on the weekend, it gets pretty packed. There’s a nice bricked in patio out back – and a lot of smoke, unfortunately. Come later in the night, and there’s a little more breathing room. A lot of people use 303 as a starting point before walking or driving the half-mile to Missie B’s.

Most people go here in a group, so the crowd can get cliquey. I’ve been frustrated on multiple occasions while trying to make conversation (can you imagine, even with my winning personality?) If you’re visiting alone and from out-of-town, I’d suggest a different bar. You’ll have a better shot of meeting people at Woody’s.

Bistro 303 is not open on Sundays, but Saturday brunch is popular.

Go to Bistro 303 with a group, for food, or for pre-gaming Missie B’s.

The second floor of Missie B's on a busy weekend
Missie B’s by Kevin Russo – 2016

Dance Bar: Missie B’s

Gay Kansas City fall into two categories: Missie B’s and not Missie B’s. While some have dance floors, none compare in size and turnout to the two-level Missie’s. With at least four large bar tops inside, getting a drink doesn’t take long – even on busy weekends. Kansas City’s drag scene doesn’t get rave reviews, but you’ll find relatively good shows here on Friday and Saturday. Due to the cramped quarters, there’s never as much crowd work (which, in my opinion, is the best part). If you’re trying to get a friend up on stage, I’d suggest Hamburger Mary’s.

A five or ten-dollar cover is standard on weekends, but a Very Important Bitch (V.I.B.) card can get you in for free. You’ll have to earn it, of course. Missie’s serves some of KC’s stronger drinks. David, the bartender through the front door and in the back, has a reputation for a heavy pour. But a larger-than-average tip doesn’t hurt your chances either.

For the sake of competition, Kansas City would be well-served to have another LGBT dance bar. Missie’s feels dirtier and more dungeon-like when compared to bars in other cities. The late-night crowd ends up drunk and horny. Unwanted touching and ass-grabbing is not an epidemic here and isn’t unusual by “hook-up” bar standards. Take a visit and experience the place in your own right.

Go to Missie B’s for dancing.

Relaxed Bar: Woody’s

Woody’s is laid-back and my bar of choice in KCMO. It’s labeled as a sports pub and loaded with paraphernalia, but you’re more likely to catch looks than a game on television (Beauty and The Beast was playing when I last went). The patio has a couple of high-top tables for groups and three or four tables big enough for two or three people.

It’s an excellent, low-key place to have a conversation with friends – and meet some new ones. It’s easy to approach a group and introduce yourself. Plus, it’s close to Westport and within a half-mile of other KC gay bars. This is just about the only place to meet people who you’ll hang out with the rest of the night.

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To its credit, Woody’s also has the most diverse scene in terms of gender, identity, and orientation. They’ve gone out of their way to be inclusive of all people.

Go to Woody’s for a place to talk and meet new people.

Hamburger Mary's dining room during a busy drag lunch
Hamburger Mary’s – John Stallman – June 2018

Mainstream Bar: Hamburger Mary’s

Hamburger Mary’s is a known quantity in most large cities, and KCMO is no exception. It’s a good place for gay people, straight family, women and all gender identities.

This is where Monique Heart got her start hosting bingo and Sunday Drag Lunch and is a launching pad for other aspiring queens. If you’re looking for a show, Hamburger Mary’s has one most days of the week, but the crowd tends to clear out as soon as it’s over.

Go to Hamburger Mary’s for food, shows, and an extra-gay atmosphere.

Neighborhood Bar: Sidekicks

Sidekicks isn’t in the consideration set for most people I know, but the friendliest staff of any bar in town. The owner Buddy (ironically, no relation to Buddy’s next door) has a close relationship with his staff and patrons. The crowd was older and close-knit but left plenty of room for outsiders. If you’d rather meet in a quiet place with some bar games, hit up Sidekicks.

They also have a distinct collection of Pinnacle Vodka behind the bar – 37 flavors in all. The bartender was eager to tell me about the different drink combos, and even let me sample a few small shots before buying. You won’t get that anywhere else.

Go to Sidekicks for cheap drinks and super-friendly staff.

Back patio of Sidestreet gay bar with plenty of room in the summer

Dive Bar: Sidestreet

There can be different crowds at Sidestreet Bar on the weekends, but it’s usually older white men and a handful of gays in their 20s. A lot of people are friendly when you start a conversation — and it’s easy to do. But on more than one occasion, I’ve spoken with older men who turn salty, condescending and condemning of younger patrons. This is very much a neighborhood bar, and outsiders don’t always feel welcome.

Drinks are cheap but limited, and you can have anything on tap as long as it’s Bud Light. Grab something and make a beeline out of the claustrophobic indoor bar and for Sidestreet’s patio. The area is big, well-modeled, and always has open space. I’d go with a friend or two and enjoy a warm night in the open air.

Go to Sidestreet with a friend for a big, comfortable patio.

Going up north? See the top gay bars in Madison. Are you heading down south? See my guide to gay Mexico City.

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Kansas City gay bar guide