Best Survivor

Harling's Upstairs Bar & Grill

3941 Main | 816-531-0303

The most New York spot in Kansas City is the stretch of Main Street between Westport Road and 39th Street. Buses hiss, bums huddle, buildings announce themselves with silver art-deco lettering. It's a real-deal, big-city type of grit — not dangerous but not exactly safe, either. Lately, gentrification is seeping in. MainCor has installed solar beacons on the light poles, red-and-white crosswalks, custom-designed street signs. A violently hip coffee shop, Oddly Correct, is open for business. We applaud these changes, with one caveat: They must in no way affect Harling's, the million-years-old upstairs saloon perched above all this civic progress. Harling's, where everything costs about $2. Harling's, where the UMKC Conservatory Jazz Band practices on Tuesdays, a pingpong league holds court on Wednesdays, and a scuzzy punk band sets up on Thursdays. Harling's, where black iron bars shield the windows like crosses. Harling's, where you are as likely to encounter a divorced, middle-aged lawyer as you are a Kansas City Art Institute design student. Yes, bring on the new development. But leave us our city's finest drinking institution.

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