Guide to Kansas City Star Neighborhoods in the Westside

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The Mattie Rhodes Center celebrates the Day of the Dead festival in the Westside neighborhood. Dead Betty, a puppet created by the StoneLion Puppet Theater, led the sugar skull parade.

Kansas City Star

Jose Luis Valdez moved to Kansas City’s Westside with his family 18 years ago. After leaving Chicago after working in the restaurant industry, he and his family decided it was time to start their own business in a new corner of the Midwest.

The Westside remained in Valdez due to the large Mexican population. After learning how to make traditional Mexican ice cream and opening their shop, this little neighborhood became my home.

Formerly called Palaterias Tropicana, palacana has since expanded to six locations, and it all started in the Westside.

The neighborhood is perched on a hill just off I-35. The gateway to downtown Kansas City and the Crossroads, the multicultural neighborhood is full of gems, some that have been there for years and others that are new to the scene.

A hotspot for the Hispanic community for more than a century, the Westside is growing beyond its small village, as Valdez put it. If you’ve never visited before, here’s your guide.

BEHIND OUR REPORTS

This is one of many upcoming KC Neighborhood Guides

The Star is working to create a series of neighborhood guides based on recommendations from Kansas citizens who call each neighborhood home. We’ll be adding more guides to this series over the coming weeks and months.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood you want to make sure we write about, or something about your neighborhood that we definitely need to include? Let us know at [email protected] or by fill in this form.

MUST EAT OR DRINK

Take your pick from a plethora of Mexican restaurants in the Westside. Whether it be Los Tules, The Fonda El Taquito Where Taqueria MexicoYou can not be wrong.

If you go further up Summit Street you’ll get Westside classics like Los Alamos and new favorites like:

  • Blue bird bistroan organic, all-natural restaurant serving everything from breakfast favorites to dinner classics

  • The Westside Local, one of Kansas City’s top rated restaurants according to Zagat. The farm-to-table restaurant serves up sandwiches, desserts, and an endless supply of beer.

  • Chez Elle Creperiea café and a specialized creperie.

  • Goat barbecue at night for lunch and Fox and Pearl For dinner. Both share the same building and offer assortments of food and beverages.

LosTules.jpg
The outdoor patio of Los Tules, a Westside Mexican restaurant. Salvador Tule took over the old Las Chiquitas spot and renamed it, but kept the same menu items. Courtesy of Salvador Tule.

MUST DO

Although part of the celebration was rainy this year, a massive Dia de Los Muertos celebration organized by the Mattie Rhodes Center and Guadalupe Centers takes place in the Westside.

Vendors from all over Kansas City set up shop and neighbors come together to celebrate Hispanic culture and community identity.

The Guadalupe Center also hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo festival. The cultural festival has existed for more than 100 years. In addition to showcasing Mexican culture, it helps raise funds for the center.

For athletes or people who would have turned pro if they hadn’t suffered an injury, take part in the annual event Tony Aguirre Latino Men’s Basketball Tournament. The tournament honors Aguirre, a longtime Westside resident who coached all manner of sports and used them to teach valuable life lessons to children.

On a nice day, take a walk 4.33 acres of Jarboe Park and around the neighborhood.

Los Tules owner Salvador Tule said his daughter’s school friends had never been to the Westside, and when they came to visit, they loved how walkable the community is.

“They go get pancakes in the morning, they run to the little shops and the (Palacana) on the Westside and they love it,” Tule said. “I can see their faces light up. It feels like a little piece of Mexico here.

EMBLEMATIC THING OF THE DISTRICT

The role that churches have played in the Westside cannot be underestimated, and none is more iconic than the Guadalupe Center.

Founded in 1919, a group of wealthy white Catholic women, originally called the Amberg Club, moved from the northeast to the west side to provide services to the immigrant community.

Since its inception, the Guadalupe Center has provided social services to the Hispanic community and fostered the community needed to make Hispanic citizens of Kansas feel at home.

Sandra Enriquez, professor at UMKC, told the star that people of Mexican descent were often denied access to hospitals and schools, and that places like the Guadalupe Center stepped in and provided those services.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

As stated earlier, The Guadalupe Center, Mattie Rhodes Center and Tony Aguirre Community Centerr all come together to help the Westside. There are tons of events and activities you sign up for to help around the area.

You can volunteer to help students with their learning development, plan events, fundraisers and more.

The Westside Neighborhood Association is also a good place to follow and stay involved in the community. They display when events occur and when members meet monthly.

HISTORY INFORMATION

The Westside was one of the central places where Hispanics migrated to Kansas City after the Mexican Revolution. The area used to be a Swedish hub, but as they moved people of Mexican descent started moving there due to its proximity to industrial areas and because they could afford to live there. ‘to live.

Many Mexican immigrants moved to the Westside to work on the railroad or in the meatpacking plants of the West Bottoms.

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Joseph Hernandez is a member of The Star’s duty journalism team. A Kansas City native, Hernandez is a graduate of Cristo Rey Kansas City High School and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously wrote for the Columbia Missourian and The Pitch.

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