Through the Grinders

Grinders on 18th and OakI have had a lifelong love affair with pizza. I think if a doctor told me on Monday that I could never have another pizza or I’d die, I’d be in the ground by the end of the week. Nearly two decades ago, my brother and I embarked on a quest to find the best pizza that California had to offer. We hit Blondie’s in Berkeley, Escape From New York in San Francisco, Luigi’s in San Diego, Woodstock’s in Davis, on and on until we had somehow crammed 13 pizzas into a 12-day trip. Then we did it again the next year. All the way, we graded each place on a 1-5 scale in five categories. The grading sheets are scattered somewhere among my things, and what reigned King of the West Coast I forget (Although Blondie’s will always hold a special place in my heart) but the good memories remain.

Now that I’m venturing more into the heart of my home in Kansas City, Missouri, I figured it was time to resurrect the pizza grading. This time joined by my vegetarian girlfriend, Prettybird, and armed only with our tastebuds, we are setting forth once again on a Quixotic journey to find the best slice. We won’t be doing 13 in 12 again, mind you.

The first pizza joint to get the treatment is Grinders in the Crossroads District. I had never heard of the place, but it was ranked #1 overall on Urban Spoon. A natural target, I figured.

The decor of Grinders.And Grinders is the perfect pizza place for the Crossroads District, an artsy, grungy, indie part of town, because Grinders is all of those things. Bands like the Arctic Monkeys blast from speakers above the bar and past a huge metallic sculpture-arch festooned with lights. The servers and bartenders are all from indie central casting; too cool to care, so original they are indistinguishable. Everyone working in this place has said “I stopped listening to that band when they got famous” at least once. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re not gonna want to take your grandmother there, mind you, but I am actually happiest in dives like this.

The pizza is good. Not mind-blowingly good, mind you. Not #1 in KC, mind you. But good. It’s New York style, with crust so thin that Prettybird could see through her cheese slice. And they are huge, nearly covering the paper plates they’re served on. But as big as the slices are, they won’t come anywhere close to filling you up. The crust was scorched here and there, which I didn’t mind overall as it speaks to a non-uniformity that makes independent eateries so appealing. My slice of pepperoni was very tasty with more than a touch of spice. Good, because I hate sweet on my pizza. And the price was certainly right. We went on 2-for-1 Sunday, so our bill came to less than $9.

So, the scores. Next time, I’ll come up with a fancy graphic for this, but in the meantime:

Alex   |||  Prettybird

Toppings –         4      |||     2

Crust –                 2      |||     4

Atmosphere –   4     |||     3

Price –                  5     |||     5

Total –                 15    |||    14


The author devouring a huge slice at Grinders.

One thought on “Through the Grinders

  1. I assume a 5-point scale on each of the individual ratings? Sounds pretty good, though from the description I think I might have come in a little lower than you on the crust. Never was one for a crust I could fold.

    I occasionally try out different pizza parlors around Springfield/Eugene (in fact a new one just opened in Springfield about a month ago and is pretty good), but all too often the thought that comes up is “Why not just go to Roaring Rapids?” Since none of the other places have been quite as good yet, it’s pretty hard to talk myself into going elsewhere.

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