Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
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Indian Creek Bison Ranch - Haven, Kansas
Wednesday - February 29, 2012: I had recently learned that La Bodega is offering an unlimited tapas bar from 11AM - 2PM for $12 including beverage. That sounded like a great option, and today I hurried to the Leawood location to check it out. It has obviously been popular and the dinning room was packed for noon.

Sadly, the hot foods were not very hot and the staff was not doing a good job of replacing items as they ran out. Overall, the food looked better than it tasted. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't try the tapas bar again. This was my third visit to this location and I think that the original Kansas City, Missouri location turns out higher quality food in a more fun atmosphere.


LaBodega Tapas Bar - Leawood, Kansas  La Bodega Tapas Bar
Tuesday - February 28, 2012: We revisited McGuire's Tavern in Overland Park, Kansas. Many of the tables were set aside for poker that would be played later in the day, but we managed to find a high top table in the corner. 

The menu at this fairly new neighborhood bar & grill is still quite limited, but they are doing a fairly good job on the dishes they are putting out. The fish in the fish & chips ($9.99) was average, pre breaded frozen, but the optional house made sliced potatoes were better. The 12 ounce KC Strip ($16.99) was cooked exactly as ordered and came with toast, vegetables and the choice of mashed potatoes, French fries or sweet potato fries. The steak and fresh made mashed potatoes were both quite good.


Fish and chips at McGuires Tavern in Overland Park, Kansas McGuire's fish & chips
Saturday - February 25, 2012: Linda and I returned to the Snack Shack on Santa Fe in Overland Park. After the original Snak Shack closed last summer, this second incarnation opened in September. It had been several months since our last visit and this was a chance to see them in full stride. I had the $7.50 Bobby burger - two 1/3 pound beef patties with cheese, grilled jalapenos and onions.

The new restaurant still makes great burgers, but the side dishes are ordinary. I can make better fries from frozen at home.


Snack Shack - Overland Park, Kansas Snack Shack
Friday - February 24, 2012: We had supper at Joy Wok in Overland Park. This huge Chinese buffet oppened nearly two years ago and it had been over a year since I last tried it. 

The restaurant has a very large dining room and I was surprised that we had to wait 10-15 minutes to get a table at 8PM. It was even better than I remembered - perhaps the best Chinese buffet I had ever visited. Not that it is authentic, it is a combination of Chinese American, Japaneise American and Italian American food. On Friday evening, Saturday evening and Sunday it includes a LOT of seafood. There were two kinds of crab, frog legs, vlams, mussels, several shrimp dishes, several fish dishes and much more.

My favorite items were the beef short ribs, fried shrimp, frog legs and garlic kale.


Joy Wok - Overland Park, Kansas Joy Wok
Thursday - February 23, 2012: I paid a third visit to Pho 2, a Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian restaurant in Olathe. This was the first time that the service was good, and it was very good. Today I tried the green curry beef. Frankly, I couldn't tell much difference from the red curry, but it was good. The big treat was the ginger salad, a cucumber salad topped with house made ginger dressing. It may be the best dish I have had there. 

Added Pho 2 to the Olathe Restaurant Guide.

In the evening, Linda and I made my second visit to Sweet Siam Thai Bistro in Lenexa. Although not unique, this restaurant is turning into a great addition to Olathe. We started with the Crab Angels, whish are variation on crab rangoon. They were just OK.

But my $10.50 Pad Thai was very good. Maybe just a little more sweet than I would choose, but the flavor was good and there was lot of chicken in the dish, plus several large shrimp on top. Linda had the $18 Ka Proud Lamb, which was a handsome presentaion of 6 large chops arranged around a large serving of shrimp fried rice.


Pho 2
Wednesday - February 22, 2012: Added a new page devoted to the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons, Kansas.


Tuesday - February 21, 2012: Added a new page devoted to The Miracle Cafe in Reading, Kansas.

For lunch I went to Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue for lunch. This good restaurant has even better marketing. So good that I only go there for lunch if I can get there just after 11AM. By 11:20, the line is often the length of the restaurant. I had a half chicken and onion rings. The chicken was tender, juicy and somewhat spicy. The rings were a little better than average and the order was huge.

For supper I tried out the newest restaurant in Lenexa - Sweet Siam Thai Bistro, which opened three weeks ago in the space last occupied by Mezzaluna. The pricing is reasonable for semi fine dining and the dining room is quite attractive and modern. 

I went with a couple of non-traditional Thai items, The Wing of Angel appetizer for $7.50 is an classic Chinese dish with two boneless chicken wings stuffed with shrimp, chicken & spices and served with a honey sauce. Although a bit larger, this dish tasted a lot like the similar dish at ABC Cafe a couple of miles away in Overland Park.

My entree was the $18 Soft Shell Crab, which the menu describes as 2 plump soft shell crabs sautéed to a golden brown with fresh shrimp, asparagus, and red & green bell pepper in a Thai sauce. Although the asparagus didn't work as well as it sounded, I liked this dish a lot and would definitely have it again.


Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue - Olathe, Kansas By 11:20, the Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue dining room is filling up

Sweet Siam Thai Bistro - Lenexa, Kansas Sweet Siam Thai Bistro

Monday - February 20, 2012: For lunch, I visited Downtown Diner in Olathe for the first time this year. I had been watching the daily specials on Facebook and today's special of a Schnitzel Sandwich with side for $6.99. The thinly pounded breaded pork cutlet was quite good. It came with mayonnaise and I think it might have benefited from a horseradish sauce.

The chef, Richard Caines, knows that I write about food and also sent out a sample of a new dish they are trying out - a Dutch croquette.  He had prepared them Saturday for a homesick foreign exchange student and decided to see what the response was from the regular clientele. The cylindrical fried dish looked almost like a corn dog, without the stick. It had beef and cheese inside and was very good, but has more carbohydrates that I dare have


Schnitzel Sandwich at Downtown Diner in Olathe, Kansas Schnitzel Sandwich
Sunday - February 19, 2012: Sunday morning we visited Kansas most famous wetlands: Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. I was expecting huge numbers of geese, but we only saw small groups with just one large flock with a thousand or more snow geese.

The most interesting things at Quivira were a raccoon which was crossing a shallow point in one of the pools and a prairie dog colony where we were able to get quite close to the animals as long as we stayed in the car.

I really was hoping to see snowy owls at Cheyenne Bottoms, but struck out even after stopping by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center to ask what part of the wildlife area they had most often been seeing snowies.

The two best surprises of the day were on the drive to Salina. We stumbled across the most impressive prairie burning that I have ever seen and I discovered that the old, abandoned Brookville Hotel is being renovated.

I've since learned that Judith Dobson, owner of Courtyard on Main and Milan Wine bar in McPherson, bought the Brookville Hotel building. It's a "work in progress" and they haven't yet decided what it will end up being! As they stabilize and renovate the old building, they will have a better idea in time what it will best lend itself to become

The last stop of the day was a late lunch early supper at Tucson's Steakhouse in Salina. The 15 year old restaurant is doing a lot of things well, starting with an loaf of two different kinds of bread twisted together. We did have to send Linda's filet for extra cooking, but they handled it efficiently and courteously.


Raccoon - Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Prairie Fire - Kansas Prairie Fire

Brookville Hotel - Brookville, Kansas Old Brookville Hotel

Tucsons Steakhouse in Salina, Kansas Tucson's Steakhouse

Saturday - February 18, 2012: Many of the BYOC group visited the Underground Salt Museum and Kansas Cosmosphere on Saturday. I have been to them multiple times, so we slept in, then had an early lunch at a place WenDee LaPlant of the Kansas Sampler Foundation had recommended to me - Wilder's on Main Bakery & Bistro Restaurant. The 1.5 year old place is very nice. The interior is modern and hip. Since we were trying it out for Kansas travel, we ordered too much food and it was all good. Linda and I split a large $6.95 bowl of French onion soup, which was described as shallots, red and yellow onions in a beef stock topped with toasted bread planks and melted gruyere. It was good, but gruyere isn't the best cheese for melting on top.

I had a $9.95 bistro burger, a grilled 7 ounce patty topped with cheddar cheese, bacon secret sauce and homemade onion rings and served on their own cheddar foccacia. It was a good burger, but they hadn't asked how I wanted it cooked and it came more well done than I care for. It came with a choice of sides and I had the shoe string style fries with a garlic dipping sauce

Linda had the $12.95 pizza blanco which was topped with garlic oil with a hint of raw chili, goat cheese, house made mozzarella, fontina and white cheddar. She enjoyed it more than I and might well get it again. She asked for some marinara sauce for dipping the crust and it was a nice addition.

We drove northwest, stopping in Sterling to photograph several interesting buildings including the old Santa Fe Depot, and amazing ornate old home and buildings on the campus of Sterling College.

Then on to Lyons where we toured the Coronado Quivira Museum. I ad been planning to tour this museum for a long time, but had been putting it off until I could go on one of the museum led tours of the Serpent Intaglio, but decided I shouldn't wait any longer. It is a very nice little museum with well designed and labeled exhibits. I was particularly interested in the exhibits related to early Native American culture in Kansas.

Before leaving town, I photographed the 1910 Romanesque Revival courthouse a block away. Someone, passing by while I was taking pictures, stopped to tell me some of the history of the courthouse and the community.

On the way back through Hutchinson, we stopped to visit the Hutchinson Art Association Gallery. Even though their web site and the sign by the door said that it was the gallery's open hours, it was all locked up.

We drove on down to Haven, Kansas where we had a 3:30PM appointment at the Indian Creek Bison Ranch. The ranch does not maintain regular hours, but offers group events and sells bison meat through Wichita farmers' markets. When we arrived, the owner, Jerry W. Schmidt was busy with a client from Texas who was filling 4 ice chests with buffalo meat.

The ranch currently has about 35 buffalo and Jerry drove us out to view the animals in a Ford Explorer. He threw out some buffalo pellets and we were soon surrounded by about 20 of the large animals. We had a nice conversation about the animals and their habits has I took photo for about 20 minutes.

Before leaving, we purchase bison burger, summer sausage, bratwurst, and jerky sticks to enjoy later.

The ranch also sells buffalo hides, furs and skulls.

In the evening we joined a group of about 20 from BYOC for dinner at Mi Tierra Restaurant & Cantina. The restaurant did a good job of handling our large group. The food was mostly good and extremely reasonable in price.

I had one of the most expensive dishes, the $11.50 Steak Mi Tierra. It was a large T-bone steak topped with Mexican chorizo and served with beans and rice. The flavor was very good, particularly the spicy chorizo sausage. It was rare, rather than the medium rare that I had ordered, but with the large group and the time involved, I didn't send it back for more cooking. The steak was quite tough, but I didn't have that high a standard for $12 T-bone.

Linda's Mi Tierra Fajitas were better. The $11 dish included beef, chicken, shrimp and chorizo.

Back at the hotel, we watched the last half of the KU basketball game, before returning to the hospitality suite for 4 hours of conversation and drinks with friends. About 10:30PM, Roger Tener started calling our friends in other cities and putting them on the speaker phone while we toasted them with "smoothes," a ritual among science fiction fans which involves Beam's Choice bourbon.


Wilder's on Main Bakery and Bistro Restaurant - Hutchinson, Kansas Wilder's on Main Bakery & Bistro Restaurant

The Santa Fe Deport - Sterling, Kansas The Santa Fe Deport in Sterling is now a law office

Coronado-Quivira Museum - Lyons, Kansas Coronado Quivira Museum

Rice County Courthouse - Lyons, Kansas Rice County Courthouse

Indian Creek Bison Ranch - Haven, Kansas Indian Creek Bison Ranch

Mi Tierra Restaurant and Cantina - Hutchinson, Kansas Group dinner at Mi Tierra Restaurant & Cantina

Friday - February 17, 2012: Linda and I went to Hutchinson, Kansas for the weekend, stopping on the drive down to check on the tornado recovery progress in the tiny community of Reading. Reading was hit the day before Joplin, Missouri had its tornado. Though the isolated destruction in Reading was as severe, its much smaller size kept it from getting the levels of support which Joplin has. I visited Reading two weeks after the tornado and have 3 pages of photos devoted to the tornado recovery.

A new bank branch has opened in the building which had housed the Tightwad Bank. The post office next door has been demolished and at least so far has not been replaced. I could see where other buildings had been completely removed.

The Miracle Cafe had opened in the oldest home in Reading, about 14 months before the storm. The building was destroyed, but has been replaced with a brand new structure which is purpose built to be a restaurant. Much of the work was done by "angel" members of the community.

We had supper at the Cafe. The menu is short and the food is just simple home cooking. The meal was nothing special, but I loved the friendly atmosphere. The tables have sheets with the history of Reading. There is Reading memorabilia including a large three ring binder which has a more detailed history with newspaper clippings, memorial funeral cards and a hand written list of deaths in the community.

We continued down to the Ramada Inn in Hutchinson where some of the members of the Dawn Patrol were meeting for a low key weekend called BYOC (Bring Your Own Convention). I had my first hug from an old friend before I checked in. We spent the balance of the evening in the two room hospitality suite off a secondary atrium.


Reading Kansas Tornado recovery.
Reading Grain & Lumber Inc. grain Elevator 

The Miracle Cafe - Reading, Kansas The Miracle Cafe

BYOC (Bring Your Own Convention) Roger Tener flying his Night Vapor in the atrium of the Ramada Inn 

Thursday - February 16, 2012: I learned just today that Paradise India, one of the best Indian restaurants in Johnson County, closed on January 31.

We had our third meal at Delhi's Southern Cuisine. Today the meats were fired chicken, smothered chicken, neck bones, and breaded & fried pork chops. Neck bones look rather scrappy, but the beef tasted so very good. We had brought along a friend who was originally from Memphis, to get the opinion of someone for whom this food was native. She liked it a lot, saying shat could have made a meal of just the wonderful greens.


Sunday - February 12, 2012: Linda and I had lunch at the new Kanz's City Pizza and Burgers near old town in Lenexa. This is the third bar and grill at this location in about 3 years. The name comes from their only selling Kanz's of beer (no bottles) from PBR to Guiness and everything in between. The menu is mostly the burgers and pizza in the name. Other items are limited to 3 salads, 3 appetizers, wings and a meatball sandwich.

They are preparing almost all the food in house and I think they may do well, but none of the food stood out for me on this first try. The fries weren't very good for fresh cut. 

My favorite item was the shrimp popper appetizer, which I believe was one of the few items not prepared there.


Kanz's City Pizza and Burgers - Lenexa, Kansas Kanz's City Pizza and Burgers
Saturday - February 11, 2012: We are continuing to visit northeast Kansas restaurants which we haven't been to in some time. Today it was Stroud's restaurant in Fairway. Nothing seems to change at this Kansas City tradition. All the items tried (fried chicken, chicken gizzards, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, cottage fries, gravy, cinnamon rolls, salad) were very good and the servings are still huge. We took home enough leftovers for several meals.

Added a trip report for our Thanksgiving trip to Florida, including St. Augustine, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Downtown Disney.


Stroud's restaurant - Fairway, Kansas Leftovers from Stroud's
Friday - February 10, 2012: We are having bad luck on restaurants. We went to Char House Barbeque and Fried Chicken in Shawnee for supper and it has also closed. They have not updated their web site with that info.

We revisited Cozy's Cafe at 75th & Metcalf in Overland Park instead. They have made some nice changes and gone from good to great. The menu has been expanded and they have really hit their stride. We each went with specials. I had the sirloin steak served with roasted potatoes and asparagus for $14.99 and Linda had the $12.99 stuffed chicken with mozzarella cheese, basil and polenta. It was a very nice experience.


Cozy's Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Kozeta Kreka taking an order at Cozy's Cafe
Thursday - February 9, 2012: On my way to supper tonight, I drove past the Stonewall Inn and discovered that 34 year old Lenexa restaurant and its adjacent pizza shop had closed the week before.


Tuesday - February 7, 2012: I made my second visit to Pho 2 in Olathe. This time I tried the Pad Thai, crab rangoon and salad. The Pad Thai didn't have the sweet, peanutty flavor I prefer and I have to admit that the egg roll and soup were better. THis place still deserves more visits to try more of the menu.


Monday - February 6, 2012: This morning, Linda and I had a leisurely ride on the Tamiami Trial (US41) back to Fort Myers. Lunch was at another place of character, Skip One Seafood Market and Restaurant. The place was packed and the food was much better. We started with a Seamonster Combo with steamed clams, mussels, shrimp and snow crab. All of them were very good!

Linda had fried shrimp and I had a grouper sandwich. Everything but the French fries was very good, even the coleslaw, and the shrimp were outstanding. I will be back here.

Before going to the airport, we followed up with a visit to Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, which was only one exit away from the airport. It is a nice little park with a large menagerie of small mammals, reptiles, butterflies and birds. 


Skip One Seafood Market and Restaurant Skip One Seafood Market & Restaurant

Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium Calusa Planetarium telescope display

Sunday - February 5, 2012: 4 of us drove to Myakka River State Park. The river has a wide area which looks more like a 2 mile long lake and we did the airboat tour. Not a high speed noisy tour, but using the air prop to negotiate the shallow river with a boat holding 30 or more people. We saw hundreds of large alligators, lots of birds and a few wild pigs. The water is low this year, so we didn't get as close to shore as I needed for the best pictures.

But is was still fun. We saw several osprey fishing and an immature bald eagle chasing one of the osprey to try to steal its fish.

We also did a short hike aong a spur of the Boylston Nature Trail that included a 25' high, 100' long Canopy Walkway and 74' observation tower.

Lunch was at the Linger Lodge Resort on the Braden River - a place which Al Roker named one of the "Top 5 Weirdest Restaurants in America." The restaurant has expanded since then and isn't quite as rustic, but parts of it are still filled with many stuffed animals, snakes and fish.

The food was so-so. The best items were the shrimp & frog legs and Linda said that her hushpuppies were very good, but I liked the idea of this place more than the realty.


alligators - Myakka River State Park. alligators

wild pigs - Myakka River State Park wild pigs & egrets

Linger Lodge Resort Linger Lodge Resort dining room

Friday - February 3, 2012: Linda and I returned to Delhi's Southern Cuisine, the two year old soul food restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas. I was even more impressed with Delhi's this time. Every item was good and the gumbo and catfish were outstanding.

We flew to Florida this evening. On the flight from Dallas to Tampa, I made a new review of Cimarron National Grassland


Point of Rocks Point of Rocks - Cimarron National Grassland
Thursday - February 2, 2012: I learned just this morning that a Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurant had opened last summer in Olathe, so I went to Pho 2 for lunch. Pho 2 is a fairly small neighborhood restaurant.

The service was prompt and friendly, though they didn't clear away dishes when I was through with them. The lunch menu includes 16 complete meals including soup or salad, egg roll or crab rangoon and rice for $5.99. The egg roll was a bit greasy, but very good. The chicken in red curry with red bell peppers, basil leaves, and mushrooms was pleasantly spicy - real comfort food.


Pho 2
Wednesday - February 1, 2012: Added a new review of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Stafford, Kansas which I toured last Sunday.
Tundra Swans - Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Tundra Swans at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
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