I love serendipitous restaurant discoveries and it’s a big bonus when they are vegan and match a cuisine style I’ve long wanted to see in Kansas City. I recently went looking for Mattie’s Foods on 63rd Street. I had been following their food truck and then restaurant, on social media for years. They’ve been on my shortlist of restaurants to try.
When I looked them up on Google Maps, their entry said they were temporarily closed. I was in that neighborhood and decided to drive around their parking lot. I saw people inside and opted to get out and see if Mattie’s was opened.
I was greeted by a very friendly person at the counter, who asked “How did you hear about us?” When I explained how I had been following the restaurant and food truck on social media for years, the person said that they were a different operation and pointed me to a page listing their socials. Looked at the menu and saw what looked like something similar to soul food vegetarian, a cuisine I’ve been hoping Kansas City would see in restaurant form. I know that a handful of black-owned food trucks and restaurants have opened in recent years that might be described as soul food vegetarian, but thanks to the pandemic I haven’t been able to explore them.
Vegan Jurnee is taking over the kitchen at Mattie’s Foods for the month of January. Their menu is a mix of vegan takes on diner and bar food with breakfast and salads. I tried their Boundless Cheezeburger (pictured below) and their baked beans. I’ve eaten many different takes on vegetarian burgers over the past three decades and this is one of the better ones. Crunchy, with juices and plenty of flavor. Has a note of chicken, which might turn off some vegans, but maybe I was just struck be some flavor notes I don’t normally get in a veggie burger.
Why have I been hoping for a soul food vegetarian restaurant or two in Kansas City? When I lived in Washington, DC in the late 1990s, I visited several vegan soul food restaurants, including the late Soul Veg, which was across the street from Howard University. At Soul Veg, you could get burgers, lasagna, green beans, corn on the cob, collard greens, mac and cheese, fries, and other vegetable sides. While Vegan Jurnee tends more toward diner and fast food dishes, the menu is similar. Like the baked beans! Why can’t get vegan versions of that in more restaurants?
Late January Update: Vegan Jurnee has completed their month of operation at Mattie’s Foods. I’m not sure if they are doing a food truck next or something else. Follow their active Facebook page for their latest plans. I hope they continue, because I’d like to try the rest of their food. Kansas Citians also need and want more vegan dining options like Vegan Jurnee.
633 E 63rd Street, Kansas City Missouri