A co-worker and I go to Breit’s Stein and Deli so frequently on Friday nights that one Friday afternoon, Google suggested to him on his phone if he needed directions to get to Breit’s that evening.
It’s amazing how judgmental technology can be sometimes. And despite Google’s passive aggressiveness, we still went, not just to prove a point to Google (that we were predictable in our habits), but also because Breit’s is one of the best bars in KCK, and maybe all of Kansas City in general.
Now, just to be clear, Breit’s is a “local watering hole” in every sense of the phrase. This is not a Power and Light bar with 10 dollar covers, and scantily dressed UMKC sorority girls wearing chaps and cowboy boots. This is not a Johnny Kaw’s in Westport that is frequented by KU, KState and Mizzou grads who work for Cerner. This isn’t even a psuedo-speak easy in the West Bottoms that serves super-trendy hipster types or recent college grads who live in JoCo who think they’re hipster because they listen to Bon Iver, vote democrat, and host “craft beer nights” with their neighbors in Shawnee.
No, Breit’s is for locals, plain and simple. It’s for old-school KCK types, those who grew up in Strawberry Hill and went to the Croatian church St. John the Baptist or Slovenian parish Holy Family when those churches had schools still open a hot minute ago. They go bowling in the St. John’s Club league in the bottom of the church on Thursday night, and come to have a beer at Breit’s on Friday night after a high school football game where they watched their sons or grandsons at Bishop Miege or Rockhurst (I wish I could say Bishop Ward, where I teach, but less and less kids of Ward grads send their kids to the only Catholic high school in Wyandotte County). Breit’s is for neighborhood types, teachers from KCK public and Catholic schools that want to blow off steam after a rough week, and even local politicians. Sharice Davids hosted her primary watch party at Breit’s, and it’s common to see the mayor and Wyandotte County commissioners come in for a beer or two after a Unified Government meeting.
There is no place in Kansas City like Breit’s. It’s a microcosm of the neighborhood, both young and old, in a way that makes you proud if you live in Strawberry Hill or in KCK. It’s a place for buddies and banter, grilled Reuben sandwiches, and cheap bottles of Bud Light. I always am stunned by my bill at the end of nights, though I know that probably has to do with the generosity of Bobby, the owner, who puts Ted Danson to shame in multitudes of ways.
Why you should visit Breit’s
Breit’s is great for a sandwich and a beer, or just a beer if it’s after meal hours. Breit’s is cozy and laid back, with little frills, even in comparison to its competition in Strawberry Hill. There are no pool tables or dart boards, and even though they have an “entertainment only” video slot machine, it’s hardly used, as it is in a weird location right by the door to the back patio.
But, despite the lack of “diversions”, Breit’s still rises to the top in many ways in comparison to other KCK bars. It’s a place for conversation. You don’t go there with people you don’t know, or on a first date. It’s truly a neighborhood bar in the sense that people go there to hang out, plain and simple. People know one another there, and unlike some neighborhood bars, the patrons aren’t dicks to those who are visiting for the first time. Actually it’s quite the opposite: Bobby and the regulars (which I include myself in) are quite friendly to new people. Just be prepared to talk about KCK, the Hill, Bishop Ward, and Notre Dame football in the process. If those don’t interest you, then probably another bar in the area may be a better choice.
The sandwiches at Breit’s are simple yet satisfying. The Reuben, stacked with nicely seasoned corned beer, kraut, and topped with Russian dressing on two slices of marble rye bread is the kind of Midwest lunch treat that will placate any appetite. Sides are standard fare: Lay’s original chips, potato salad, and macaroni salad. They have specials daily, ranging from grilled sausages, nabbed from Krizman’s up the street (best smoked polish in KC, period) to Chicken and Tuna salads. And that’s really it. You’re not going to find wings. You’re not going to find burgers. Sandwiches and beer is what Breit’s does best, and they do it well.
In terms of beer, those who are into the craft scene may be better served going to the 403 Club or Chicago’s. Breit’s is a place where you drink bottles of american light lagers of some variety, have a decent number, and do so at a reasonable price. The Guinness is a reasonable deal, but to be honest, if you’re looking to order anything other than Bud Light, Coors Light or Miller Lite, you’re probably in the wrong place. And don’t get me wrong…I like a good Sour or IPA as much as the next guy. At the same time, I’m drinking one thing and one thing only at Breit’s, and I would suggest that if you become a frequent visitor to Breit’s you should do the same.
Is it a good place to watch a Royals game?
Yes. Breit’s has about four televisions located around the bar, and whenever the Royals are playing a game, it’s on, even during a lost season at the end of a season such as this one. That being said, just having the game on isn’t enough for a bar to be a good place to watch a Royals game (though it does help…obviously). There has to be a genuine interest in the Royals from people around when it comes to the game itself. Sure, it can be on at one of the hundreds of televisions at one of the dozen of Johnny’s Taverns around the KC Metro. But are people really watching it? Do people really care? That’s another story…
However, at Breit’s I’m always amazed how people are truly watching the games with some kind of investment. You hear the banter about how tough this year has been. You hear people talk about the Soler home runs. You hear people talk about 2014 and 2015 like it was yesterday…or even 1985 if you find the right person. When a game is on, people in the bar are into it, and you better not ask for it to be changed because you and your friends want to watch “This is Us” or something.
Whether it’s the game that is always on one of the televisions, the Royals banners scattered around the bar among all the Notre Dame memorabilia, or the conversations about the Royals that you’ll eavesdrop on, Breit’s, without a doubt is a Royals bar at the core. If you just want to watch the game, have a sandwich, and a couple of beers with no bullshit, then go to Breit’s in Strawberry Hill.
Or if you want to pick up chicks, drink over-priced beers, and feel a lot worse about yourself the next morning, go somewhere else. Leave Breit’s to the KCK locals and Royals fans who live on the Hill.
More Reuben sandwiches and bottles of Bud Light for us.