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.

Follow me on Twitter & like me on FaceBook.

Visit my Michigan Straits of Mackinac site:  www.mightymac.org

Nerman Museum - Overland Park, Kansas
Tuesday - May 31, 2011:  We went to Fan's Tea and Dumplings in Overland Park for lunch. Fan's fairly recently opened in the space which was previously occupied by a great Greek restaurant - Olympic Village. It had been billed as a very authentic Chinese Restaurant, but other than very low prices, I saw nothing to distinguish Fan's from other Kansas City Chinese restaurants.

Fan's offers several complete lunch specials for $5.99. I had the Szehuan chicken with egg roll and hot and sour soup. The soup was surprisingly bland. They only serve only one style of dumplings and they were fairly good with a thick, tasty pasta covering a a sweet meat filling. 6 small dumplings were $4.50.

The best item we tried was the chicken kabobs. Four good sized kabobs were only $3.95. THey were heavily seasoned, but not too hot, and quite tender.

 

Sunday - May 29, 2011:  We took advantage of being in Kansas City's Crown Center to have lunch at the nearby Grunauer, a fairly new, upscale Austrian and German restaurant in an old freight house a few blocks from the hotel. The assorted fried mushrooms was good and I liked 2 of the six sausages in the sampler. The Käsekrainer (pork with cheddar cheese) was my favorite.

The side dishes that came with the sausage were both very good. I'm not a big fan of mashed potatoes without gravy, but these mashed potatoes were great. Linda never likes cooked cabbage, but she did enjoy the sweet red cabbage.

 

sausage sampler at Grunauer sausage sampler
Friday - May 27, 2011:  I returned to Mariscos Veracruz in Olathe for the first time in a year and a half. I tend to forget just how good this authentic southern Mexican food is. The women who waited on me today seemed to know no English at all. The ordering was all handled by pointing at items on the menu. The menu had not changed since 2009.

I selected one of the most expensive dishes on the menu, the $14.99 mojarra al mojo de jo, which was a whole fish covered with a great garlic sauce. Though I reeked of garlic for the rest of the day, I loved it.

The meal came with chips and salsa. The chips were warm and thick (made with coarse ground corn) and served with two salsas - red and green. The green salsa had more flavor and heat, but both were good.

I spent the weekend at ConQuesT 42, a science fiction convention in Kansas City, Missouri. I participated on panels related to social networking and Star Trek fandom. Also took many photographs and posted 15 pages of photos from ConQuesT on the MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive.

 

mojarra al mojo de jo - fish in garlic sauce mojarra al mojo de jo
Thursday - May 26, 2011:  Updated & expanded the review of the Russell Stover Candies factory & store in Abilene, Kansas.

 

Wednesday - May 25, 2011:  Had a second meal at ABC Cafe in Overland Park. This time it was the $2.88 stuffed green pepper dim sum and the $8.88 deep fried intestine entree with rice.  The 4 slices of stuffed pepper were pretty traditional and came with a sweet sauce.

The fried intestine was ovals meat with a thin layer of white meat and a crispy casing. It came with a sweet sauce that accented the flavor of the fairly bland meat.

For supper, Linda joined me in trying the fairly new KC Sports Grill in Lenexa.  When we pulled in, the parking lot was completely full, but the hostess said that a table would be available in 15-20 minutes. We decided to wait, which was a mistake. It took about 35 minutes to get a table and when we were seated, the server said that the kitchen was backed up and the food would be slow.

Over 30 minutes after we placed our order, the server returned to say that they were out of one of the items we had ordered and ask for an alternative. The food ended up taking another 30 minutes.

We sampled a grilled chicken & strawberry salad, provolone wedges, wings, potato skins, onion rings and a bacon, mushroom & swiss burger. The food was fine, but nothing special. The best item was the chicken wings, which might have been very good if they had been a bit warmer.

 

deep fried intestine - ABC Cafe
deep fried intestine
 

KC Sports Grill - Lenexa, Kansas KC Sports Grill

Sunday - May 22, 2011:  Added a new page today about Teterville & Teter Rock.  Updated and expanded the pages devoted to Russell Stover Candies factory & store in Abilene, and Botanica - the Wichita Gardens.

Also greatly expanded the section of on my northern Michigan sister site devoted to the Mackinac Bridge 50th Anniversary Celebration.

 

Teterville & Teter Rock Teter Rock
Thursday - May 19, 2011:  Out of town family joined me for the first visit to ABC Cafe which opened last fall in Overland Park. ABC Cafe has been building a reputation for good, authentic Chinese food.

We began with the $5.88 hot & spicy beef tendon appetizer. The generous serving of thin slices of meat didn't have a great deal of flavor. The taste it did have, reminded me of pork rinds.

For main dishes, we had salt & pepper pork chop, pork chop Peking Style, salt & pepper squid and sautéed chicken with Chinese vegetables. The two pork chop dishes were quite generous, but the chicken dish was a whole chicken with a ginger sauce on the side.

The meats were cut into small pieces and almost every piece had some bone.

The salt & pepper squid was was the most familiar dish. Lightly coated in sea salt and pepper seasoned flour and then quickly fried. It was very good, but my favorite dish was the salt & pepper pork chop. The deep fried pork chop pieces were flavored with soy and very different from the salt & pepper squid.

 

ABC Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas ABC Cafe
 
 
 

Wednesday - May 18, 2011:  There will not be many entries here this week. My stepdaughter graduated tonight from Shawnee Mission High School and we have a out of town family visiting all week long. Mary is addressing the senior class of 2011 in the picture at the right.

Yes we are very proud!

 

Mary Lipp Mary Lipp addressing the Shawnee Mission West graduating class
Tuesday - May 17, 2011:  I revisited Backfire Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. The menu has physically changed. It used to have immense metal covers, but other than prices, the content appeared to be the same. I tried three meats: chicken, brisket and pulled pork. The brisket was a little dry and had less flavor than I like in smoked meat. But I liked the chicken which was tender and tasted sweet. 

The pulled pork, which was also slightly sweet, was my favorite meat. The coleslaw and fries were both better than average, but the beans were mushy with large chunks of rather tough meat.

Add a new review of the Cabin where the poem that was turned into the song, Home on the Range was penned.

 


 
 

Home on the Range Cabin Home on the Range Cabin

Monday - May 16, 2011:  Today was our third visit to 119th Street Diner in Olathe. This was the first time trying anything but salads or sandwiches. The fish and chips was pretty good. The fries were good, for shoestring style (not my favorite) and the haddock was very lightly battered. The larger piece of smoked salmon in the diner wasn't quite as appealing as the smaller piece they served with salmon BLT sandwich. 

Service was still good, but they are still having a problem accidentally serving people Diet Dr. Pepper instead of Diet Coke. The servers get confused by the DP label on the soda dispenser.

 

Saturday - May 14, 2011:  We had lunch at the Shack on Santa Fe in Overland Park. They are doing a consistently good job of serving organic burgers, fries and onion rings. They are adding Sunday hours, effective tomorrow. They want to be established as being open on Sundays prior to the start of the Overland Park annual free summer concert series in the adjacent park.

 

Snak Shack - Ovarland Park, Kansas Snak Shack on Santa Fe
Friday - May 13, 2011:  I returned to McGuire's Smokehouse in Olathe for lunch today. The last time I had diner there, they had replaced the wonderful smoked corn with substandard corn on the cob. I was delighted to learn that they had returned to the smoked cut corn. McGuire's also serves smoked green beans and mixed vegetables.

Updated and expanded the review of the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison, Kansas with photos taken last weekend.

Supper was at Supper was at Shogun Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse in Lenexa, Kansas. The food and service were typical of Kansas City area Japanese Steakhouses, though Shogun is a bit less expensive than most. The servings were very large and we took quite a bit of meat home with us.

 

McGuire's Smokehouse - Olathe, Kansas McGuire's Smokehouse
Thursday - May 12, 2011:  Linda joined me for lunch as I had a second meal a Old 56 Family Restaurant in Olathe. The food is consistently good, if not spectacular. The chili was the best dish sampled today.

 

Wednesday - May 11, 2011: Today I made a second visit to 119th Street Diner in Olathe. The $8.95 pork tenderloin was good, but nothing special. It came with the choice of side dish and I went with the sweet potato fries.

I am not a big sweet potato fries fan, but these were some of the best that I have ever had. They were tender inside, but crispy and perfectly accented with sea salt. The service was much better this time. There was one error, when I was first brought Diet Dr. Pepper instead of Diet Coke, but the rest of the service was perfect.

Added a new review of of the Quindaro & Western University Ruins in Kansas City, Kansas.

 

Pork tenderloin and sweet potato fries at 119th Street Diner Pork tenderloin & sweet potato fries
Tuesday - May 10, 2011: I flew to Denver, Colorado the night before and spent the day at a Google Adwords Seminar for Success. This was an intermediate level program and it was a worthwhile.  I've been using Adwords for somewhere around 9 years, but had not had any training before. It was a fairly useful meeting, with less than an hour covering things of no use to me. I now have more ideas than I will have the time to use.

Breakfast and lunch were included with the seminar, so my only meal at a restaurant was supper at Timberline Steaks & Grille in the Denver Airport. When I ordered Rocky Mountain oysters and buffalo rib eye, the server asked if I knew what mountain oysters were:-0

The oysters had a nice presentation, were fairly good and the serving was very generous. The rib eye had a poor presentation, was quite tough and came with fries that had sat too long. But the service was good, they have free wifi and I took my soda to an easy chair next to fireplace to use the internet while I waited for my plane. Not a bad experience on balance.

 


 
 
 

Timberline Steaks & Grille - Denver Airport Timberline Steaks & Grille

Monday - May 9, 2011: I had supper at Arthur Bryant's Barbeque at the Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. I think that Bryant's best meats are the sliced beef and sliced pork. The beef & pork combination sandwich with fries for $11.10 is enough food for two people.

 

Sunday - May 8, 2011: Today was the second day of the 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival and we drove up to Leavenworth, parking near the Chapel of the Veterans. It was a short walk to the festival entrance and we were arrived just before the start of the annual meeting of the Kansas Explorers. 

The meeting had just started when the Executive Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, Marci Penner, noticed my bride sitting next to me. It was Linda's first Sampler Festival and Marci introduced Linda and and Karen, the new wife of Kansas photographer and blogger, Larry Hornbaker.

The brief meeting included updates on upcoming Explorer activities and a presentation about next year's Sampler Festival which will be held in Liberal, Kansas. The meeting ended at 9AM and we had time to visit the Kansas Sampler tent to pick up our 2011 pins and purchase some Explorers' apparel before the Festival opened at 10 AM. 

The Festival included food, crafts and entertainment, but I was mainly there to visit the booths devoted to over 150 Kansas communities. I took along a tote bag and plastic bags, putting the brochures from each region of the state into a different bag. We encountered several people who I recognized from having visited their attractions, including Erika Nelson from Lucas, Jack Crispin from Lincoln and the curator of the John Brown Museum is Osawatomie.

There were many food vendors at the Festival, but I haven't had many opportunities to dine in the Leavenworth area recently, so we went to lunch at Luigi's Italian Restaurant. Luigi's came highly recommended by WenDee LaPlant and others, and we were not disappointed.

The restaurant looked small at first, but we were were lead up a flight of steps to a second, larger, packed dining room. We started with a $.95 sliced sausage appetizer. It was a large serving of sausage which has been sautéed in olive oil, garlic, basil, marinara sauce & sherry. It was very garlicky and very good.

Linda selected the $6.95 manicotti. The pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella was as good a manicotti as I have ever had.

I had the second most expensive dish on Luigi's menu, the $19.95 lamb chops. The 6 grilled chops had even more garlic than the sausage and were served with mashed potatoes which had been lightly covered with melted cheese.

The meal also came with some very good toasted bread with olive oil and spices for dipping. This was a great meal!

We drove through Leavenworth and on to Atchison to photograph a small waterfall, next to the Santa Fe Depot which doubles as a museum and home to the Atchison Chamber of Commerce. There are actually three, very small falls. Two of them are under Kansas Highway 7. The narrow creek was named named 4th of July 1804 Creek by Captain William Clark when Lewis & Clark paused near the creek on that date.

A covered pedestrian bridge crosses the creek just below the falls in the photo at the right.

We drove across Atchison to the waterfront to photograph the Atchison Riverfront Park with its Lewis & Clark Pavilion, Veteran's Memorial and a small section of the aft deckhouse superstructure of the battleship U.S.S. Arizona which sank during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

Continuing north, we investigated another small waterfall, but it had no water at this time.

Then back a mile or so south and west to Independence Creek Historic Site. Independence Creek was the second Missouri River tributary visited by Lewis and Clark and named on the 4th of July 1804 Creek.

The historic site has a recreated Kanza Lodge which is periodically open to the public and can be viewed through a gate at other times. It is also a trail head which is connected to Atchison Riverfront Park by a 10 mile hiking and bicycling trail.

Back in Atchison, we stopped at Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. I previously visited the museum before starting this web site and this was an opportunity take photographs of the interior of Amelia Earhart's birthplace. One of the new displays has costumes which we worn by Hilary Swank in the movie, Amelia.

The final stop of the trip was at Angel Falls in Lansing. There was very little water falling on the tiny falls I don't think it will be finding its way on to the Kansas Waterfalls Page.

 

Karen and Larry Hornbaker Karen and Larry Hornbaker
 

Kansas Explorers' Meeting - Kansas Sampler Festival Kansas Explorers' Meeting
 
 
 
 

Luigi's Italian Restaurant - Leavenworth, Kansas Luigi's Italian Restaurant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

4th of July 1804 Falls - Atchison, Kansas 4th of July 1804 Falls

Lewis & Clark Pavilion - Atchison, Kansas Lewis & Clark Pavilion in Riverfront Park
 

Kanza Lodge at Independence Creek Kanza Lodge
 

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum Costumes from the movie, Amelia

Saturday - May 7, 2011: We had an appointment to tour the Old Quindaro Museum & Information Center in Kansas City, Kansas, but no one was there when we arrived. We called again at that time, but got only an answering machine and our call has never been returned.

While we were in Quindaro, we drove by the bluff overlooking the ruins and discovered that a new overlook pavilion and plaques have been erected. Quindaro was founded in 1856 as a port of entry for free soil immigrants into Kansas. During its brief existence, it was an important station on the Underground Railroad.

We stayed in Kansas City, Kansas and had lunch at Quick's Seventh Street Bar-B-Q. Though Seventh Street is also owned by descendants of Earl Quick, it shouldn't be confused with Quick's Bar-B-Q, a few miles away.

We tried a wide range of items (ribs, sausage, pulled pork, turkey, onion rings, French fries, baked beans & coleslaw), but none of the dishes stood out as something special. My favorites were the onion rings and turkey, but I wouldn't hurry back.

After lunch, we walked across the street to Bichelmeyer Meats to stock up on their house made bacon and several sausages: cheese bratwurst, old world Polish sausage, Italian sausage and BBQ sausage. We haven't had a chance to try them yet.

We returned to Kansas City with our girls in the evening, to have supper at Woodyard BBQ. Woodyard has received a fair amount of attention in the press, but has never been one of my favorite spots.

The meats were better tonight than they have ever been before. In the past, the meats have been so smoky that my mouth would still be smoky hours later.

I do wish Woodyard offered French fries or onion rings. To me, they are a key part of a BBQ meal. The ribs and hot chicken legs were my favorite dishes tonight, though the girls did not care for the chicken.

It was a warm, pretty evening and dining on the patio was made even more pleasant by a man singing and playing guitar. He said the Woodyard now has music on Thursday through Saturday evenings.

 

Quindaro Ruins - Kansas City, Kansas Quindaro Ruins pavilion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bichelmeyer Meats - Kansas City, Kansas Bichelmeyer Meats

Woodyard BBQ - Kansas City, Kansas Woodyard BBQ

Friday - May 6, 2011: Today's lunch was at the Old 56 Family Restaurant in Olathe. It had been nearly 2 years since the last time I dined there and I thought it was better than ever. Not just for the food, but even more for the way that it feels like a small town restaurant in 1956. Not like it is recreating that feel, but like you have gone back in time.

Added a new page devoted to Veterans Memorial Park in Olathe, Kansas.

 

Old 56 Family Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Old 56 Family Restaurant
Thursday - May 5, 2011: Yesterday I received four photos in an email from Earl Hooper from Emeryville. California. Earl's father, Clearance, was born near Ellsworth, Kansas in 1911 and these photos were from a family visit to Mushroom Rock State Park in about 1920. These photos are great and I have added them to the page devoted to Mushroom Rock State Park.

We had lunch at an Olathe, Kansas restaurant which opened just 3 days earlier - 119th Street Diner. The building is just a few years old, but this is the third restaurant in this location. The last one was Domo, a sushi restaurant which lasted only 6 months.

We started with the roasted shrimp cocktail. The roasted cold shrimp tasted pretty good, but $8.95 seemed like a lot for 5 medium sized shrimp.

We were happier with the other food. My $8.95 spinach salad was good, but Linda's $9.95 smoked salmon BLT was spectacular. The bacon and salmon complimented each other and went well on a toasted bun that wouldn't have worked with a regular BLT.

Our server was nice but made many new restaurant mistakes. I look forward to trying 119th again in a few weeks and seeing how they are coming along.

 

Mushroom Rock State Park - Kansas Mushroom Rock State Park

119th Street Diner - Olathe, Kansas 119th Street Diner

Wednesday - May 4, 2011: We made our second visit to The Snak Shack on Santa Fe in downtown Overland Park. In particular, I wanted to try the French fries and grilled cheese sandwich.

The fries were fresh cut. They weren't bad, but they would have been better if they were crisper. But the cheese sandwich was a real treat. The Shack offers a $3 regular grilled cheese sandwich, but I ordered the $4 Bobby C's Grilled Cheese sandwich.

Wow, the Bobby C's includes grilled onions, grilled jalapenos, and two slices of tomato on Texas toast, grilled on the flat-top grill. This was a wonderful sandwich. 

In the evening, I made a review of the Shack on Santa Fe.

 

Snak Shack - Ovarland Park, Kansas Snak Shack on Santa Fe
Tuesday - May 3, 2011: I revisited the Nerman Museum on the campus of Johnson County Community College in Overland Park and had lunch at Café Tempo in the museum. Parking is at a premium at JCCC when classes are in session and I had to visit several parking lots and take nearly 10 minutes to locate an empty parking spot.

It has been two years since my last meal at Café Tempo. The Café is no longer open on Saturdays and has slightly reduced the scope of the menu, but the food is still very good. They no longer offer the wonderful grilled flank steak salad which I loved, but the cobb salad was both attractive and made with the very best ingredients.

Added a new page devoted to the Creamery Bridge and Osawatomie Dam in Osawatomie, Kansas.

 

Nerman Museum - Overland Park, Kansas Nerman Museum
Monday - May 2, 2011: I had lunch at Sam's Tastee Treat in Olathe. Sam's began as a Tastee Freeze in 1963. The menu includes over 40 flavors of shakes, plus items as diverse as chili dogs, cheeseburgers, burritos, crab rangoon, and egg rolls. This is a place I like more for what it is, than necessarily for the food.

Neither the chili dog or double bacon cheese burger were anything special. The chili had lots of beans. The onion rings were average, machine made frozen rings. The best thing at Sam's is the sundaes and malts.

While I was waiting for the food, I picked up a copy of today's Johnson's County Gazette and found that it had a Hidden Mystery Lost Olathe Location Contest. By coincidence, it was a small structure adjacent to Cedar Creek Falls which I photographed just Friday. It is on the left side of the photo at the top of this page. I called the Gazette right away and won a free sandwich at Celebrity's Sidewalk Cafe.

For supper, Linda & Jesi joined me at Mezzaluna Italian Restaurant in Shawnee, Kansas. Mezzaluna serves classic Northern Italian dishes in a rather over decorated dining room.

Dishes sampled included minestrone soup, spaghetti, chicken spiedini, bisteka di Vittelo con insalata "Gorgonzola" - organic mixed green salad with grilled steak, Gorgonzola cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All of the dishes were good, if not outstanding, and portions were fairly good sized. The meals ranged from $12-19.

 

Sam's Tastee Treat - Olathe, Kansas Sam's Tastee Treat
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mezzaluna Italian Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Mezzaluna Italian Restaurant

Sunday - May 1, 2011: We drove to the Lee Arena at Washburn University in Topeka for the Governor's Scholars Award Program. It was preceded by a meal of cold fried chicken, cold beans, coleslaw. That seems like a lot of effort and expense by the organizers for a meal that isn't going to be a treat. I would recommend that in the future they start the day a little later and just provide some nice cookies and beverages.

The top one percent of Kansas High School Seniors came from across the state at the invitation of Governor Sam Brownback. There were several brief speeches followed by a photo opportunity with Governor Brownback with each senior. My step daughter was one of the students recognized. Yes, I am proud of her!

2011 was the 28th annual Governor's Scholars Awards program. 

Supper was at a brand new restaurant in Overland Park - Ruby Buffet. This is the second Chinese restaurant at this location across from Oak Park Mall. There weren't very many people dining in the restaurant and the food had been sitting too long to be a treat. Some of the dishes were updated before we finished and they were quite a bit better. The best dishes on this day were beef with mushroom and chicken with jalapenos.

 

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Governor Sam Brownback

Ruby Buffet - Overland Park, Kansas Ruby Buffet

Current Month     Kansas Travel Home

2015: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2014: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2013: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2012: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2011: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2010: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2009: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2008: May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December

Copyright 2008-2016 by Keith Stokes.