Kansas Travel Blog
November 2008

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
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Kanas Travel and tourism
Saturday - November 29, 2008:  I started the day with a visit to the new Kolache Factory in Overland Park, Kansas. So new that their website says they will open soon. The rapidly growing chain currently is open in 7 markets and this is their only location in Kansas or Missouri.

A kolache is an Eastern European fresh baked pastry, traditionally filled with sausage, cheese, or fruit. They warm them by request. 

I tried pineapple, cream cheese and sausage & cheese kolaches. While the pineapple one did little for me, I enjoyed the other two. There wasn't much cheese in the sausage & cheese kolache, and the next time I will probably order just sausage.

Lunch was at Skillet Licker Cafe in Kansas City, Kansas. Skillet Licker is at 501 North Sixth Street in a lovely old building in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood.

The small family run cafe opened in May of this year and has already built up a reputation for tiny donuts which are sold 6 for $2 or 12 for $3. Unfortunately for me, the donut fryer was shut down for cleaning this day. I did have a very good, large hand breaded pork tenderloin. The bun was rather tasteless, but the tenderloin was one of the best I have had this year.

Joined friends for supper at Garozzo's Restaurante in Overland Park, Kansas. I had a dish I had never tried before, Vitello Spiedini alla Sophia Maria (lightly breaded and rolled veal, filled with Genoa salami, provel cheese, diced tomatoes, red onions, and pine nuts, char broiled and served in Marsala wine sauce with sautéed mushrooms).

It is my new favorite! 

Added a new page devoted to Ari's Greek Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas.


Kolache Factory - Overland Park, Kansas Kolache Factory

Skillet Licker Cafe- Kansas City, Kansas Skillet Licker Cafe

Friday - November 28, 2008:  Had lunch at 54th Street Grill and Bar in Olathe, Kansas. The small regional chain is based in Kansas City, Missouri and has only one location in Kansas at this time. I had not been to a 54th Street Grill since a terrible service experience at a now closed location in Overland Park, years ago.

I was pleased with my meal. Although the French fries were only average, the burger was large and cooked to order. Most restaurants in Olathe only cook their hamburgers well done.

I need to return to 54th Street and try more of the items on their rather large menu.

In the evening, I checked on some of the Kansas City area Christmas displays. The unusual geometric light displays on 63rd Street west of State Line Road are not here this year. But the fabulous Christmas display on Falmouth Street in Prairie Village, Kansas is still there and still improving. New this year, there is a window decorated as a pond with animated turtles and frogs. 

I will be returning for new photographs in the next couple of weeks.


Wednesday - November 26, 2008:  Revisited and photographed Imo's Pizza on 135th Street in Overland Park. The weekday lunch buffet is only $5.99 and includes pizza and a better salad bar than I expect from a pizza parlor. Although I arrived well before noon, Imo's was packed and only a couple of tables were available.

Imo's doesn't do the best job of keeping an attractive selection of pizzas on the buffet. But those pizzas that are on the buffet are quite good.


Tuesday - November 25, 2008:  I tried to have lunch at India Palace in Overland Park, Kansas, but found a sign on the door saying they are closed every Tuesday. Other people were arriving there making the discovery at the same time.

Since I was in the mood for Indian Food, I decided to continue to 9036 Metcalf Avenue Overland Park and try the India Cafe, which has a lunch buffet and Indian fast food other times. Indian Cafe is at location that has had 3 or 4 other Indian restaurants since the first Johnson County Indian Restaurant opened at this location in the 1980s..

The staff was friendly and I really wanted to like their restaurant but was pretty disappointed. The only items on the buffet that I found average or better were the lentil wafers and masala dosa (Potato filled crape appetizer). The chai tea was also good, but they brought only a half cup and never refilled it. They did refill my water, but never asked if I wanted anything else to drink.

I was happier with supper at Wallaby's Grill & Pub in Lenexa, Kansas. I used to be a regular at this pub, but it is just a little too far from me for a regular haunt.

The menu and interior appeared unchanged from my last visit 3 or 4 years ago, though I didn't recognize any of the staff. The Cheesy Chicken Soup was very good. A cheeseburger and fries were a little above average.

Added new pages today devoted to Big Bubbas' Bar-B-Q and Gringo's Restaurant, both in Olathe, Kansas.



India Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas India Cafe

Wallabys Grill and Pub in Lenexa, Kansas Wallaby's Grill and Pub

Sunday - November 23, 2008:  Dined at Bo Ling's Chinese Restaurant on Metcalf in Overland Park, Kansas. The Sunday Dim Sum was good, as always. My favorite item was the steamed pork rolls.

When we first set down, there was a server with a cart or tray of items stopping at the table every minute or so. Too quick for us to be ready for even more items. By the time we had finished a few small dishes, they were pretty much ignoring us and staying in other parts of the restaurant. I had to ask for the pork buns three times before we had any, and the cart that would have had those and other similar items never appeared at our table. 

I think we tried 6 different items. Our total bill before tip was $30.

Posted a longer review and photos of Johnny's BBQ in Olathe, which was updated again on Monday after a second visit.


Saturday - November 22, 2008:  Traveled to Lawrence, Kansas to Christmas shop on Massachusetts Street, which is the heart of Lawrence's neat downtown. This main street still has the kind of businesses that could be found in downtown's 40 years ago. If you decide to visit Lawrence, be sure to take some coins with you. The town is one of the very few in the whole state of Kansas to have parking meters. And they are strictly enforced.

I took advantage of the trip to try Lawrence's new seafood restaurant, Angler's Seafood House. My meal was good and interesting. The calamari fritto misto appetizer of Yellin calamari and artichoke hearts was a first for me. The lemon garlic aioli for dipping was less successful.

The crab cake sandwich was equally good, though the waffle fries that accompanied it was average.

I made two other stops on my way back to Johnson County. 

The first stop was as Davenport Orchards and Winery located in Eudora, Kansas, where I picked up some apple and watermelon wines for holiday meals and parties.

The second stop in western Johnson County,  my first visit to Steve's Meat Market in De Soto, Kansas. Steve's isn't just a full service meat market, but prepares many specialty meats, including bratwurst, sausage, slim jims, pickled pig's feet, and pickled polish sausage. The pickled sausage is a real bargain at only $5.75 for a 2.5 pound jar.



Angler's Seafood House - Lawrence, Kansas Angler's Seafood House
dining room

Steve's Meat Market - De Soto, Kansas Steve's Meat Market

Friday - November 21, 2008:  Joined friends for lunch at Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant in Lenexa, Kansas. Jalapenos has been in business since 1991 and also has location in Overland Park and Kansas City, Missouri. I found the food and service to be average. Jalapenos has several lunch specials that are served Monday - Saturday. Most come with rice and they are priced from $6.50 - $7.15

For supper, I revisited and photographed Ari's Greek Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. The Friday night seafood buffet was even better than I remembered from my first visit. My favorite items were the spicy calamari and Mediterranean style gumbo The only item tried that disappointed was the roast beef, which was tough and not that flavorful.


Thursday - November 20, 2008:  Had lunch and supper at Big Bubba's Bar-BQ in Olathe, Kansas. These were my first meals at Big Bubba's in several years.

The food was fairly good. The BBQ sauce is unlike any that I know in the Kansas City area - sweet and very similar to a seafood sauce. Low carb versions of the sauce are also available but I didn't try those.

My favorite items tried were the brisket and pulled pork. The pork ribs, smoked (baked) potato and French fries were also good.

The menu is large and complex, but is not on the wall at the counter. Instead, you walk up to the counter and have to consult a multi paged binder. When I stepped up to the counter, the person at the register pointed out a couple of specials, than waited expectantly, not giving me time to make a decision.


Big Bubbas Bar-BQ - Olathe, Kansas Big Bubba's Bar-BQ
Wednesday - November 19, 2008:  Revisited Gringos' Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. The popular little Mexican restaurant isn't very authentic, but I like their chili, tacos and chips & salsa. At lunch on Wednesday and Friday Gringo's has a Mexican buffet for only $6.49.


Gringos' Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Gringos' Restaurant
Tuesday - November 18, 2008:  A friend and I revisited the new Parkway Cafe in Lenexa, Kansas to see what it is like now that it is opened to the public. She had a bacon cheeseburger and I had a chicken sandwich. Both were very good (and good values). 

The manager scored big points when my friend requested lemon for her ice tea. Rather than say they didn't have lemon, the manager went to the kitchen and poured some lemon juice into a small cup.

I also tried the chili. It was good, and an unusually large serving, a large bowl for $2.09.

For supper, a friend joined me at Kyoto Japanese Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. We did the teppanyaki style dinning where the chef chops and stir fries the meal in front of the diners. I also tried a tempura shrimp sushi roll.

The chef did a nice job, even making a heart with an arrow out of the fried rice, that I hadn't seen done before. The atmosphere was nice and the service was superior. But the food was only average.

Added Advanced Laser Tag, Cosmic Mini Golf, Hidden Glen Arts Festival, Sadler's Indoor Racing and Summer Concert Series to the Olathe Restaurant and Attraction Guide.



Kyoto Japanese Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Kyoto
Japanese Restaurant

Monday - November 17, 2008:  Had lunch and took photos at Smokin' Joe's Bar-B-Q in Olathe Kansas. Joe's lunch specials for only $8 including beverage and tax are real bargain. Added a new page devoted to Smokin' Joe's.


Saturday - November 15, 2008:  Had lunch at Cafe Colao near downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Cafe Colao is the new name for Cafe Venezuela, which I first visited in September.  They are in the process of remodeling the restaurant, but the process is being very slow.

I loved the appetizer and dessert, but was less impressed with my sandwich.

The page that had been devoted to Cafe Venezuela has now been updated with photos of the food I sampled today.

The drove to Lenexa to the Lithuanian Holiday Marketplace at the Lenexa Community Center. The free annual event was only one day this year. I enjoyed the costumed dancers and picked up a loaf of wonderful  povitica bread from the the Old Country Bakery who had one of the booths at the festival. The holiday bread was a big hit at the pot luck I attended that evening.

I might have tried some of the hot Lithuanian food offered for sale, but the line was fairly long and didn't appear to be moving.

Also added a new review of Ty's Diner in Wichita, which was visited last week.


Cafe Colao empanadas Pork & chicken

Lithuanian Holiday Marketplace - Lenexa, Kansas Lithuanian
Holiday Marketplace

Friday - November 14, 2008:  Revisited Johnny's BBQ in Olathe, Kansas. I dined at Johnny's several times when it first opened in town 5 or so years ago. But I never was very impressed with it. Didn't dislike Johnny's, but in a metro area with so many great BBQ options, nothing stood out.

I had the Friday lunch special: BBQ Ribs with fries, bread, pickle, and a regular drink for $7.49. There were 6 ribs, which was a generous serving of meat for the price. And they were quite good. Good flavor and striking a good balance between being tender without being over cooked.

I will be returning to Johnny's soon.


Johnny's BBQ - Olathe, Kansas Johnny's BBQ
Thursday - November 13, 2008:  Photographed the few remaining decorated 6 foot cowboy boots from Welcome Back! Cowboy Boots!, an Olathe, Kansas outdoor art display from 2007. I also visited Best Regards bakery to sample great gourmet soft cookies. The small retail showroom is in the front of the wholesale bakery in a small industrial park in Olathe, Kansas.

Added three new pages devoted to Olathe: Cowboy Boots, Best Regards, and Mom's Kitchen.


Best Regards - Olathe, Kansas Best Regards
Tuesday - November 11, 2008:  Had lunch during the shakedown run of the Parkway Cafe which will open at 8550 Quivira in Lenexa, Kansas tomorrow (November 12). The location was originally a KFC. More recently it was a Mexican Restaurant.

The Parkway Cafe is owned by Charles and DeAnna Barnett. You may remember Chuck as the manager of the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence in the early 1990s. The Parkway Cafe has counter and drive up service and will be open for breakfast and lunch.

I had a cheeseburger, French fries and 24 ounce soda. That combination is a bargain at only $5.59. The 5 ounce handmade patty was served on a good, toasted bun. The fries (which had been hand cut an hour earlier) were the stars of the show. A friend raved about the chicken sandwich he tried.

In the evening, I revisited Fred P. Ott's Bar & Grill in Olathe, to sample the Tuesday evening special: 8 ounce fillet, potato, toast & salad for $11. For an extra $2, they added 4 shrimp. THe salad came in a plastic bowl and with plastic fork. It was probably made up well in advance. It was OK.

The server did bring metal utensils with the filet. The steak was very tender and had a fairly good flavor. These are the same steaks served by the Plaza 3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Also added a new page devoted to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Olathe, Kansas using photos that were taken on Friday.


Parkway Cafe - Lenexa, Kansas Parkway Cafe
Monday - November 10, 2008:  Revisited Austin's Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas and added a new page devoted to Austin's restaurant to the recently started Olathe Restaurant Guide.


Sunday - November 9, 2008:  Revisited Garozzo's Ristorante in Olathe, Kansas. I hadn't tried their Sunday Brunch since shortly after it was introduced a year ago.

The brunch has expanded since then and I was much more pleased with it on this visit. All of the food was good and the visit was only marred by poor service by the person cooking at the omelet bar.


Saturday - November 8, 2008:  The day began with our enjoying the early morning views of Wichita while having almond croissants from the European BakeShop.

The first stop of the day was a visit to the Mid-America All-Indian Center, which has a very nice, small gallery, plus a lovely space for powwows. We didn't stay for the special Veteran's Day dance they were having in the afternoon and evening, but did check out some of the vendors setting up booths around the edge of the dance area.

Lunch was at Ty's Diner, which isn't a diner, but a 55 year old hamburger joint. It was good, has plenty of atmosphere and will make my state wide list of unique restaurants. Though actually there was too much atmosphere. I could smell the place in our clothes and hair for most of the day.

Following lunch, we drove east a half mile to Old Town and visited Cero's Candies, which has been in business in Wichita since 1885, and was still operated by the original family until just 9 years ago. We were waited on my a nice lady and charming young girl, whom I assumed were the owners, but I have since learned that Cero's is owned by Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. We left with a half pound of small, delicious chocolates.

Back in the Museum district along the river, the next stop was Cowtown. While the staff were friendly and helpful, I'm afraid I was a bit disappointed with Cowtown. When we entered, the cashiers told us about interesting activities that would be taking place. But they didn't.

There are about 40 old buildings that have been moved to this location. One of the most interesting was a recreation of the old Wichita Eagle newspaper office with a man in period clothes who told us some of its history. The blacksmith shop had a man at work, and the grain elevator was interesting, though it didn't take long to see.

But the rest of the buildings were so much like the other collections of buildings that are scattered around Kansas. I suspect Cowtown is more interesting in summer when more is going on.

Driving back through the river side museum area, we passed a sign that said, "Valentine Diners for sale." The yard contained at least 3 old Valentine Diners, and other old buildings. The diners were clearly in poor repair, but I didn't get a real good look, due to a locked gate and barking dog. This location turned out to be just a couple of blocks from Ty's Diner.

Continuing back down the street, we stopped at Exploration Place. Most of this river front museum is devoted to traveling exhibits. At this time, those include Discovering Chimpanzees, Our Body, and The Scoop on Poop. But I more enjoyed the permanent displays such as Exploring Flight & Design, and  Exploring Our Only Home.

Enough time remained, that we made an unplanned visit to the Kansas Sport's Hall of Fame in Old Town. TOuring the facility begins with 9 minute video on Kansas Sports which my companion thoroughly enjoyed. As we toured the rest of the facility, she kept pointing out exhibits devoted to Kansans like  Lynette Woodard ( the first woman to play with the Globetrotters), Gale Sayers and Wilt  Chamberlain. Although I am not a golfer, I was surprised that there wasn't a display devoted to Tom Watson.

Before leaving Wichita, we were joined by a friend for supper at Larkspur Restaurant and Grill, which was only a few blocks away in Old Town. The meal was fine, but none of the dishes stood out.


View from the Wichita
Hyatt Regency

Mid-America All-Indian Center Painting at the
Mid-America All-Indian

Ty's Diner - Wichita, Kansas Ty's Diner


Kansas Sport's Hall of Fame - Wichita, Kansas Kansas Sport's
Hall of Fame

Friday - November 7, 2008:  Left work at mid afternoon to head down I-35 toward Wichita. Made only one stop, at the European BakeShop in Hartford, Kansas where we picked up some almond croissants, coffee flavored cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookies. Wonderful - as always.

We checking into the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita, Kansas, which I had booked at what I thought was a reasonable price on Priceline. After paying $22 more for internet and parking, it didn't seem as reasonable. The hotel is in nice condition and the north facing rooms have a beautiful view of the Arkansas River and downtown Wichita.

We joined friends for dinner at the Scotch and Sirloin Restaurant. The group split a very good deep fried vegetable appetizer and variously tried prime rib, rib eye, sirloin and Kansas City Strip. Although the prime rib was more rare than I would have chosen, it looked like the best steak in the group. My ribeye was only so-so, and a friend's butterflied filet was significantly overcooked.

My pot roast soup was quite good, but the salads everyone else had looked better.

Although my friends from Wichita thought it was pretty pricey, the meals were typically in the upper teens to mid 20s including potato, vegetable and the choice of soup or salad. Reasonable for a upscale restaurant. Later in the weekend, someone else said that the Scotch and Sirloin was mostly known for the waitresses outfits - short skirts and low cut tops. Frankly, other than one server have a short dress, we hadn't noticed.



Scotch and Sirloin Restaurant - Wichita, Kansas Scotch and Sirloin

Thursday - November 6, 2008:  It had been a couple of years since I last visited the Old 56 Family Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas and I was pleased to find the restaurant better than I remembered. My meal included some of the best chicken soup I have had in a long time.

Added new pages devoted to the Old 56 Family Restaurant and Celebrity's Sidewalk Cafe to the Olathe Restaurant & Attraction Guide.


Old 56 Family Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Old 56 Family Restaurant
Wednesday - November 5, 2008:  Revisited the Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe, Kansas. The 113 acre Nature Center and park offers 3 miles of free trails that are open from dawn to dusk, and a nature center open limited hours with a stream aquarium and other live animal exhibits.

Added a full listing and photos of the Ernie Miller Nature Center and a brief listing for the Olathe Community Theatre Association & the Buddy Rogers Playhouse to the Olathe Restaurant & Attraction Guide.

Revisited Mom's Kitchen and Celebrity's Sidewalk Cafe in Olathe, Kansas. Mom's Kitchen is much more pleasant now that Olathe has banned smoking. The 10 ounce swiss mushroom burger was good. Celebrity's provides a menu of sandwiches, salads and soup. The steak sandwiches are the stars of the show.


Ernie Miller Nature Center Ernie Miller
Nature Center
Monday - November 3, 2008:  Today a friend joined me for lunch at the newest restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. Taste is in old town Overland Park, in the same space where the restaurant Tonic was located. With only a few changes, the trendy upscale restaurant still looks much the same.

Taste's lunch menu offers seven sandwiches and six salads, but the best part is the tasting menu. For $11 you get to choose 3 items from 17 appetizers and small sandwiches. I had a mini bleu cheese burger with caramelized onions, Thai chili scented chicken wings, and tempura sweet potatoes & portabella mushrooms with a sweet chili soy sauce. My friend had the mini fired crab cake burger, classic mini cheese burger, and waffle cut French fries.

Although meal took too long for lunch, nearly an hour and a half, the food was all very good, including the Warm Apple Crumb Tart that we split for dessert.

Added a new page to the Overland Park Restaurant Guide devoted to Taste Restaurant.


Taste Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Taste Restaurant
Sunday - November 2, 2008:  This evening I drove up to Kansas City, Kansas to try a chicken wing place that has only been open about a year. It came to my attention because they have places Google ads on this website.

Wing Busters USA is a tiny storefront take-out restaurant in the Wyandotte Shopping Plaza on State Avenue. So tiny there are only two tables and customers are discouraged from eating in.  Wing Busters offers 21 flavors of wings and I really wanted to like them, but based on this one experience, the product is pretty average. It may be better if it could be eaten as soon as it is prepared, but unless you live a few blocks away, the quality is going to drop off.

If you try Wing Busters, be sure to buy your wings 3 at a time. The price per wing goes up 30-120% on larger quantities.


Wing Busters USA - Kansas City, Kansas Wing Busters USA
Saturday - November 1, 2008:  I spent the weekend at a convention in Independence, Missouri and took advantage of being on the east side of the metro area to visit two Kansas City, Missouri restaurants that would have a place on a Unique Missouri Restaurants list

The first was LC's Bar-BQ which has been rated as the best BBQ in Kansas City, by folks whose opinions I value, on several online forums.  LC's had opened a second location in Lenexa, Kansas several years ago. But I was unimpressed with it and wasn't surprised when it closed after about a year.

But I quickly discovered that the Kansas City LC's has little in common with the failed Lenexa location. It is a interesting, little dive with a great product. I has a combination beef and pork sandwich, with French fries. My friend had a long end ribs and onion rings.

The rings were average. The fries were very good or just so-so, depending on the individual fry. They were cut different sizes and while I really liked the smaller ones, the larger ones were not cooked enough. But the pork and brisket on my sandwich were both very good.

It is harder to judge the ribs. They were soaked in so much BBQ sauce that we aren't positive how they would taste on their own. But the texture was very good and the sauce was good enough that it was still quite enjoyable.

I will be back, but next time, I will be sue to order the meat served dry.

The second unique Kansas City, Missouri restaurant visited this day was the Peach Tree Buffet. I've dined at the Peach Tree many times before and I'm glad it is on the far side of Kansas City from me, I can't help overeating at the Peach Tree Buffet.

This time there were 13 of us, with about half eating at the Peach Tree for the first time. Everyone enjoyed the southern style soul food buffet. My favorite items this day (the menu changes daily) were the baked chicken, fried catfish, jams, corn bread and peach/apple cobbler. I'm not usually a fan of flavored teas, but the peach iced tea at the Peach Tree is great.

The Peach Tree Buffet isn't at all fancy, it is starkly plain, but it is clean and friendly.



LC's Bar-BQ - Kansas City, Missouri LC's Bar-BQ

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