Cristina & Gary Worden

Owners of Piropos

If you ever get the chance to meet the Wordens, Cristina and Gary, who are the owners of the fabulous Argentinean themed restaurant and event space, Piropos in Briarcliff Village, we highly recommend it. They are delightfully charming, funny, and clearly passionate about their restaurant. They also know the meaning of hospitality. Our interview, intended to be brief , but over a glass of wine [or maybe it was two] and some bites from the kitchen, we covered a wide range of topics, laughed, and discussed the origin of the venue’s name, family, food, and life. love and everything.

Gary says “Cristina is the star of Piropos – not only its face, but the heart and soul” and she has a hand in everything. A native of Buenas Aires, she was a fashion model and became a celebrity as Miss Coca Cola of Argentina, and is stilled recognized today when they make regular family visits. Cristina says that the restaurant was actually Gary’s idea, and she was a “reluctant restaurateur” although she always loved to cook and once engaged in the project she found that it quickly became a passion.

Together they opened the original Piropos [which translates to mean an amorous, flirtatious but gentlemanly compliment] in 2001 in a beautiful historic building in downtown Parkville. Cristina created a menu that captured the flavors of Argentina with its eclectic European heritage [Polish, Italian, Spanish] and populist meat and potatoes approach that resonates very well here in the Midwest. Of course, it had to feature empanadas, the traditional stuffed pastries that range from sweet to savory and the special dipping sauces that accompany them. Spices and oils, and even salt, are imported from Argentina to impart an authentic profile. They accompanied that with a cellar of excellent Argentinean wines. The original Piropos quickly became one of Kansas City’s most popular dining destinations.

In 2006 the developers of Briarcliff Village, their current location, offered the opportunity for them to build out their own space and once again they took a leap of faith and designed the new Piropos to capture even more of the feel of Buenas Aires. The ambiance exudes the European style in architecture, eclectic furnishings and local artistry that melds into a relaxed atmosphere where conversation and gracious dining are comfortably paired. And the property, set on a hill, boasts a most spectacular view of the downtown Kansas City skyline. When guests enter the space the “WOW” they utter is totally sincere. “Of course,” Cristina warns , “everyone wants a seat at those windows. We try to accommodate those requests. but can never guarantee that they will be available. What we guarantee is that our guests discover food and service and the overall ambiance are the real reasons to dine with us.”

In recent years they have made some changes to engage with the growing guest base of the Briarcliff area as well as more visitors from KC proper which is less than 10-15 minutes away in downtown and midtown. An expanded bar area and outdoor patio accommodates the crowd that packs Piropos for Happy Hours to enjoy cocktails, great wines, beer and small plate items. Their catering and event business has also been booming with the addition of a small wedding chapel adjacent to the ground floor event space that seats 100+. And they host a wide range of events other than weddings as their guests find the Piropos experience perfect for nearly every occasion.

Of course the real stars of this cultural immersion are the friendly and hospitable staff, and the amazing food. One of their most popular items is the “Peppercorn Filet” that is our featured recipe this month, “mouthwateringly delicious.” The empanadas, with various stuffings and served with a trio of amazing sauces can be an appetizer or an entree themselves. There are grilled meats, seafood, fresh salads and local vegetables as well as extraordinary desserts. The menu reflects the diverse Argentinean culture that permeates the dining experience. You’ll want to try it all.

In fact, Cristina and Gary wanted leave us with precisely that thought. “come and see it, taste it. Don’t be frightened by a foreign name but come and try it for yourself and that will make all the difference.” She’s right. you’ll love it! Visit Piropos on line at www.piroposkc.com for menus, hours of operation and more.

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