Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith Stokes' adventures while exploring and photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact Keith at sfreader@sff.net.

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Sunday - September 27, 2009: L and I went to supper at La Bodega restaurant on Southwest Bouevard in Kansas City, Missouri. It had been over 10 years since I last visited this popular tapas restaurant.

We split 4 of the less expensive small plates: Pincho de Pollo yChorizo (Skewered chicken and chorizo with garlic cumin aïoli - $8), Pincho de Solomillo (Skewered pork and apple with red onion & currant relish - $7.5), Crespelle de Feta y Puerros (Thin crepes layered with feta cheese, leeks and basil - $7), and Queso deCabra alHorno (Goat cheese baked in tomato sauce and garlic bread - $7.5).

Every dish was spectacular. This was food to be savered. The skewered chicken was my favorite, but I would gladly have any of those again.

We need to return when there are a couple of others with us, so we can try more of L Bodega's menu.

 

 
Saturday - September 26, 2009: We traveled to Lawrence, Kansas for Band Day at Memorial Stadium at the University of Kansas. This year's game against Southern Mississippi had a 11AM start, which preventer the anual parade of the various high school bands hrough downtown Lawrence.

It was a close game thoughout and KU won 35-28.

Following the game, four of us had an early supper at the Five Guys restaurant in Lawrence. When it opened, it was the western most 5 Guys location in the country. We were all pleased with the high quality hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fresh cut French fries.

 

Mass band at the University of Kansas Band Day Band Day - KU

Five Guys - Lawrence, Kansas Five Guys

Friday - September 25, 2009: I had lunch at Stir It Up Café in Olathe, Kansas, a breakfast and lunch restaurant that has only been open about 4 months. The interior is stylish and modern. The large menu is displayed over a counter at the front of the restaurant where you place your order. The prepared food is brought to the tables.

Breakfast is served all day. lunch service begins at 11AM am includes a single fresh made soup, a variety of salads with house made dressings and many sandwiches.

For this, my first visit, I tried Bleu Salad (Mixed greens, fresh blueberries, bleu cheese, glazed walnuts and red onions tossed with blueberry & raspberry vinaigrette) for $6.59. The salad was very good, but the vinaigrette was so light I really couldn't tell it was there. Near the end of my meal, the manger came by the table asking if I wanted more dressing and saying that they purposely but it on very light. I wish they had said something when I ordered it.

 

Stir It Up Café - Olathe, Kansas Stir It Up Café
Wednesday - September 23, 2009: I had a supper just a few blocks from where I dined Monday. This time it was a revisit of Adam's Rib BBQ in Overland Park. The coleslaw was fairly good, but the standout for my taste at Adam's Rib is still the spicy smoked Buffalo wings. They have a lot of flavor - worth making a special trip. 

 

Adam's Rib BBQ - Overland Park, Kansas Adam's Rib BBQ
Monday - September 21, 2009: L joined me for lunch at Indian Palace restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. I have been giving Indian Palace a very strong recommendation, but hadn't managed to revisit it this year. 

The lunch buffet was every bit as good as I remembered. It isn't the largest Indian buffet in Overland Park, but they continue to offer very good dish after dish. I was particularly pleased with the lamb and eggplant dishes. The onion chutney is my favorite anywhere

 

Indian Palace - Overland Park, Kansas Indian Palace
Saturday - September 19, 2009: Friends joined me for lunch at Sugarfoot & Peaches BBQ in Fort Scott, Kansas. The 2 year old, self service restaurant has a great "dive" atmosphere both inside and out, but I thought that the BBQ meat was only average. 

Sugarfoot and Peaches offers a wide variety of side dishes, and between the four of us, we were able to try most of them. The most popular sides with our group, were the beans and the BBQ flavor kettle potato chips.

In the afternoon, I toured the Gordon Parks Museum which recently opened in the Fine Arts Center on the campus of Fort Scott Community College. Part of the Gordon Parks Center for Culture and Diversity, the museum is only scheduled open during the school year and is closed on the weekends, but I was met and shown through the museum by Executive Director Jill Warford. It will be another year before all of the exhibits are complete, but I enjoyed the small museum devoted to Parks, who grew up in Fort Scott.

Gordon Parks was a successful photographer, writer, poet, and film director. He may be best known for directing Shaft, and writing & directing The Learning Tree, portions of which were filmed in Fort Scott and neighboring communities.

Leaving the museum, I visited Evergreen Cemetery to photograph Gordon Parks grave. It has a large memorial marker inscribed with Parks essay Homecoming, which he delivered about Fort Scott at the UN Plaza in New York City on October 2, 2001

Before my next visit, I would like to identify the location of his parents graves, which he mentions are located in Fort Scott's "graveyard for Black people." 

Before leaving town, I stopped at another Fort Scott restaurant which was recommended by Jill Warford. Nu Grill opened in 1947. It has a nice classic counter and two additional dining areas. I sat at the counter where I could watch the chef at the grill and see locals stop in to pick up togo orders.

The burger was good, but I particularly enjoyed their homemade onion rings and French fries. 

In the evening, L and I went to the Japan Festival held in the Carlsen Center on the campus of Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. 

It was the wrong time of the day for the entertainment that would have most interested me, but we toured a wide variety of cultural exhibits and sampled some good chicken and beef dishes. 

 

Sugarfoot and Peaches BBQ - Fort Scott, Kansas Sugarfoot & Peaches BBQ

Gordon Parks Museum - Fort Scott, Kansas Gordon Parks Museum
 

Gordon Parks grave - Evergreen Cemetery Gordon Parks grave
 
 
 

Nu Grill - Fort Scott, Kansas Nu Grill
 

Japan Festival - Johnson County Community College Japan Festival

Friday - September 18, 2009: Today I had lunch at Ari's Greek Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas for the first time in over two years. I'm afraid that my experience wasn't as good as on the evenings I have tried Ari's in the past year.

The food was fine, but the service was inattentive and the kitchen was slow. The long waits for the food and to pay the check were were made more noticeable by the dining room temperature being so cold I found it painful. And I tend to be hotter than most other people.

I will limit future visits to the evenings.

 

 
Thursday - September 17, 2009: This was a disappointing evening. I traveled to south Overland Park, where I first searched for a Thai restaurant on Metcalf, that I had found listed on the internet. Unfortunately it has already gone out of business.

Still in the mood for Thai food, I decided to continue down to 151st Street and drive a few blocks west to my favorite Kansas Thai Restaurant - Thai Treasure. But Thai Treasure has the dreaded hand written "temporarily closed for remodeling" sign on the door. That almost always means a restaurant has gone out of business and when I made a follow up phone call, the phone is out of service.

Not willing to give up my quest, I finally had supper at Wai Wai Thai Place Express on 135th Street in Overland Park. I think I would enjoy the chicken laab (minced meat tossed with fresh mint, red onions, dried chili, scallions, cilantro and fresh lime served with fresh cabbage) more without the mint, but it is still good. And a bargain at $6.95.

The miniature garlic pork rib appetizer (marinated pork ribs, fried crisp and served with sriracha sauce) are also tasty, but I would like a little larger serving for $5.95.

 


 
 

Thai Treasure Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Thai Treasure

Wednesday - September 16, 2009: I continued to revisit Johnson County Kansas restaurants tonight. This time it was Bates City BBQ in Shawnee, which is overdue for a full page review and photos. The BBQ ribs and fresh cut French fries continue to be the features at Bates City. The ribs are above average and a bargain, at $11.95 for a 2 pound slab. 

The fries don't look the best, narrow shoe string fries that are very short (many less than an inch long), but they taste great. The first time I went, I thought they had given me the dregs at the end of a batch of fries, but they have looked the same every time.

 

Bates City BBQ - Shawnee, Kansas Bates City BBQ
Tuesday - September 15, 2009: L and I returned to the Pizza Man in Lenexa. My Italian Sandwich was very good and so was her all meat, thin crust (thin is the only kind they serve) pizza. The one thing I would change at the Pizza Man is to add some more interesting side dishes, but they are working with a very small kitchen.

 

The Pizza Man - Lenexa, Kansas The Pizza Man
Sunday - September 13, 2009: I returned to Talk of the Town restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas to try the Sunday Brunch with friends. Talk of the Town squeezes a lot of items (particularly meats) in the small space devoted to the Sunday buffet, but while they also had a nice selection of fruits, they were light on vegetables and salads. I was particularly pleased with the bacon.

Our main disappointment was that many of the dishes were only luke warm. When I have a hot meat dish, I want it to be hot. Also, the large crab legs had been cooked so long that the shells would no longer crack open. When you twisted a leg to open it, the shell would bend limply.

 

 
Friday - September 11, 2009: Although they got off to a slow start L and I enjoyed watching Shawnee Mission West High School defeat Olathe East HS at Football.

Following the game, we joined the parents of some of the Shawnee Mission East marching band on the deck at the Longbranch Saloon in Lenexa, Kansas. It was the first time I have been on the Longbranch's huge deck and we had a good time, A small band was playing, but not too loud for our group to have conversations. 

My chef's salad was pretty good and much larger than I needed. L's kabobs (shrimp and chicken with peppers, onion and mushrooms brushed with teriyaki) were the best items I have had at the Longbranch Saloon. I got to eat all of her mushrooms, plus a taste of the meats.

 

Longbranch Saloon - Lenexa, Kansas Longbranch Saloon
Wednesday - September 9, 2009: Today I tried another Overland Park restaurant - Touch of Asia - an Indian restaurant at Metcalf and 105th Street. It has been at least 4 or 5 years since I tried this restaurant and I am afraid that I am still unimpressed by Touch of Asia. It isn't terrible, but there are several Indian restaurants which I enjoy much more, within a few miles. 

I sampled several dishes from the buffet. The only dish that impressed me enough that I would order in the future was the bhartha (eggplant roasted in the Tandoori oven and cooked with green peas, fresh tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic).

 

Touch of Asia - Overland Park, Kansas Touch of Asia
Sunday - September 6, 2009: I dined at two Overland Park, Kansas restaurants today. Lunch was my first return to Cinzetti's Italian Market Restaurant since having to restrict carbohydrates. The selections at the various cooking stations made it easy to have an enjoyable meal while staying within restrictions. I was very tempted to cheat big time with their wonderful Cioccolata Amore, but settled for one small bite from L's dessert.

For supper, we planned to eat at J Murphy's Irish Pub & Grille in south Overland Park, but were disappointed to learn that it has closed and the building is empty. We substituted Johnny's Tavern on 119th Street. But while the menu looked very good the kitchen was very slow and the dishes sampled were only average. 

I was impressed by our waitress. She was handling the entire restaurant (including patio) by herself. But she still did a good job, literally running between tables. I haven't yet given up on this small Lawrence, Kansas chain - I plan to try another location in the near future.

 

Cinzetti's Italian Market Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Cinzetti's Italian Market Restaurant
Saturday - September 5, 2009: After staying overnight at the Bacani Hotel in Fredonia, we started the day with a visit to the Old Mill Dam on the Fall River about a half mile south of town. There was more water going over the dam than when I first visited it 2 years ago, and the road's low water river crossing didn't look like something I would want to try. The morning was too overcast for the kind of photos that I wanted to take.

Our next stop was a drive through the town of Fall River, Kansas, where I photographed several old buildings and the raised sidewalks. We were going to buy stamps at the small post office, but it had closed for the day at 9:30AM.

We continued to Howard, Kansas to Hubble's Rubble, a lot filled with grassroots' metal sculptures, right on Highway K-99. I saw only a couple of sculptures that looked new from my last visits, but many of the folk art pieces had been freshened up.

In downtown Howard we toured several of the buildings devoted to the Benson Historical Museum. It normally is only open by appointment, but was open today for visits by the Kansas Explorers. SOme of my favorite exhibits included a folding, self heating bathtub, beautiful old school stage advertising curtain and a 1916 Tumley oil pull tractor. If you find yourself in Howard, be sure to stop by the museum where about 10 different phone numbers are listed for residents willing to come down and open the museum for you.

At 11:30, the Kansas Explorers held a Bring Your Own Lawn Chair (BYOLC) gathering on the Elk County Courthouse lawn. About 70 people from around Kansas enjoyed learning about the dreams and achievements of the community in bring in opportunity, maintaining services and adding new attractions such as the clock in the courthouse tower and new memorial to all war veterans.

The gathering was a chance for me to catch up with Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant, who direct the Kansas Sampler Foundation. I also renew acquaintances with other Explorers and met new ones. This photo at flyoverpeople.net catches me with other Kansas photographers and bloggers including Frank Thompson and Larry Hornbaker. I regret not meeting Cheryl Unruh, who took the photo.

Following the meeting, L and I visited Poplar Pizza, two blocks away on Wabash Street. The restaurant quickly filled with Kansas Explorers, but fortunately there is a second large dining room in an attached building at the back. Olathe residents Charles & Ina Kay Zimmerman sat to one side of us, and a gentleman and lady from Humboldt, Kansas sat at the table on the other.

Since Poplar Pizza moved to Howard from Buffalo, New York, I had high hopes for their Buffalo wings. Sadly, those wings seemed pretty ordinary to me, but we were impressed with the generous personal size pizza and the fresh fried potato chips with french onion dip.

When I visit Poplar Pizza again, I want to try the fried chicken.

Before leaving Howard, we made one final stop, at an outlet for the Red Barn Soap Company where L purchased gifts for her family.

Time was running short, so we hurried to Elk Falls Pottery in Elk Falls, Kansas. About 30 Kansas Explorers were meeting there for a tour, but first we met the Frys and got to watch Kansas Sampler Foundation Director Marci Penner take a turn at the potter's wheel. More than a dozen cameras were snapping away as Marci did a creditable job at shaping a bowl.

We caravaned a few blocks north to a Rock Garden and 1896 farmhouse which was purchased in 2004. The abandoned farmstead has perhaps hundreds of rock and shell folk art pieces, which were completely overgrown. The Frys are slowly clearing and restoring the property and someday it will be the home of Elk Falls Pottery. They grassroots art was mostly created in the 1930s and 1940s.

Now heading toward home, we had two more stops. The first was at the Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast and Museum in Cherryvale. But the gentleman who was supposed to meet us to show us around did not show up and the building was locked. I tried calling him, but we could hear the telephone ringing in the hotel.

Our last stop was at Big Ed's Steakhouse in Thayer, Kansas. I enjoyed Big Ed's when I visited it with friends a few years ago, and I was looking forward to trying Big Ed's again. It was Homecoming Weekend in Thayer, so we made a point of arriving at 5PM when it was scheduled to open for the evening. The restaurant was already packed and we shared a table with another couple. Otherwise it was going to be a long wait. 

Our experience at Big Ed's wasn't bad, but was disappointing. The salad bar was small and tended more toward things like macaroni salad, rather than a large selection of salad fixings. It took over an hour for our meal to arrive and my shrimp appetizer never did appear (I canceled it when our steaks arrived). 

My steak was tasty, but my medium rare rib eye was more thoroughly cooked than L's well done fillet. My fresh cut fries were my favorite part of the meal.

 

Old Mill Dam - Fredonia, Kansas Old Mill Dam

Hubble's Rubble - Howard, Kansas Hubble's Rubble
 

Benson Historical Museum - Howard, Kansas Benson Historical Museum
 

Bring Your Own Lawn Chair - Kansas Exporer Bring Your Own Lawn Chair
 
 

Poplar Pizza - Howad, Kansas Poplar Pizza
 
 
 
 

Marci Penner Marci Penner

Rock Garden in Elk Falls, Kansas Rock Garden
 
 
 

Big Ed's Steakhouse in Thayer, Kansas Big Ed's Steakhouse

Friday - September 4, 2009: After work, L and I drove down to Fredonia, Kansas to spend the evening with various family members. Her aunt and uncle joined us for supper at the Stockyard Restaurant in the livestock sale barn. Shortly after we sat down, her uncle pointed out the Cape buffalo head mount on one of the walls and explained that he had shot it in Africa three years earlier.

Although it is a sandwich place for lunch, 4 days during the week, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the Stockyard Restaurant is primarily a steakhouse, and steak is what we each had. I enjoyed my 13 ounce ribeye ($17.99), garlic coleslaw, green beans and onion rings. L was disappointed that her beef tips ($9.99) did not come with the peppers that were mentioned on the menu.

 

Stockyard Restaurant - Fredonia, Kansas Stockyard Restaurant

Cape buffalo

Wednesday - September 2, 2009: Tonight I had supper at Talk of the Town in south Overland Park, Kansas. Talk of the town has a pretty full menu for a sports bar and I tried the raspberry chicken salad (tossed greens with grilled chicken, bleu cheese, honey pecans, sliced strawberries and a raspberry vinaigrette served on a bed of spinach leaves). It is just one of several appealing salad offerings

Talk of the Town has free wifi and participates in the Rewards Network which gives airline miles or cash back with registered credit cards.

I want to return to try their Sunday Brunch.

 

Talk of the Town - Overland Park, Kansas Talk of the Town 
Tuesday - September 1, 2009: Added a new page devoted to Waterfall Park on Turkey Creek in Merriam, Kansas.

L and I had lunch at Mezzaluna, an Italian restaurant in Shawnee, Kansas. I am undecided about how strong a recommendation to give to this restaurant. I like it, but something doesn't quite come together. The decor is old fashioned and kind of formal. It makes me think of a parlor from 50 years ago.

 

Turkey Creek Waterfall - Merriam, Kansas Turkey Creek Waterfall
 
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