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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Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area - western Kansas
Sunday - May 27, 2012: We went to Grunauer (Austrian/German Restaurant) for lunch, but they were closed for a private party. It was a little irritating, because they hadn't posted anything about closing on their web site or Facebook.

Instead, we went to the Majestic Restaurant, the latest restaurant and bar to occupy the 1911 Fitzpatrick's Saloon building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It is the first time I have visited the Majestic since its ownership change a few years ago. 

We had the dining area almost to ourselves and the bartender provided good service. The Sunday brunch menu turned out to be much more reasonably $28 rib eye was one of the most expensive items on the menu and came with salad and 2 side dishes. Grilled asparagus was $2 extra and was the best part of the meal. The $18 grilled salmon was OK.

For us, the Majestic was more about the atmosphere and history, than the food. I wouldn't avoid going there again, but wouldn't make a point of it, either.


Majestic Restaurant - Kansas City, Missouri Majestic Restaurant
Saturday - May 26, 2012: Since we are already in the area, we walked over to Kansas City's Union Station for photographs and lunch at the Harvey House Diner in the station, It has moved to the location where the Union Station Cafe had been located. We sat on the upper floor and had a good view of the station. 

The crab artichoke dip was very good, with the crispy, warm pita bread adding a lot to the appetizer. The chili personal pizza were also good. The onion rings were ordinary. The fries were fairly good, but could have been crisper.

I think this restaurant is making a mistake in not playing up the "Harvey House" beyond the name. Featuring a few dishes from the old menu and dressing the servers in the Harvey House girls' uniforms could turn this into a real draw for train fans.


Harvey House Diner - Kansas City Union Station Harvey House Diner in Union Station
Friday - May 25, 2012: We are attending ConQuesT 43, a science fiction convention at the new Sheraton hotel in Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri, taking photographs for the MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive.

When this was the Hyatt Hotel. there were some great restaurants, but Sheraton has closed Skies and The Peppercorn Duck Club. The last remaining restaurant, Spectator's Bar & Grille, had extremely slow service. It took over 45 minutes to get burgers.


Kansas City Missouri downtown View of downtown Kansas City from the Sheraton
Monday - May 21, 2012: Out of town guest joined me on my second meal at Quick's BBQ in Kansas City, Kansas. They were both quite impressed and helped me sample most of the rest of the dishes at the 48 year old restaurant.

We continued to downtown Kansas City, Missouri, where we toured the Steamboat Arabia Museum in the City Market. It is my favorite unique local attraction for visitors from outside the region. The Arabia was a side wheel steamboat which hit a snag in the Missouri River and sank near today's is Parkville, Missouri in 1856. A group of local treasure hunters located the remains in a corn field which is a half mile from the now moved river and several families excavated the 171' boat in a single winter. 

They have sold none of the items which were dug up and are still working on the slow process of preserving the many tons of cargo which were excavated. There is a nice video about the project and members of those families are still on hand to talk about the project.


Steamboat Arabia Museum - Kansas City, Missouri 6 ton preserved section of the stern of the Arabia
Saturday - May 19, 2012: I had lunch at Flavor of India in Lenexa. It had been nearly a year since I last checked this restaurant. The chili fish, Tandoori chicken and naan were among the best items sampled from the large buffet. The imli baingan (crispy coconut eggplant) was my favorite item.

I feel that $10.95 was a little too much for this Indian lunch buffet.


Flavor of India - Lenexa, Kansas Flavor of India
Thursday - May 17, 2012: My day job took me to Gardner, Kansas, so I took advantage of being in town to try out Todd's Diner, which has opened in the space once occupied by Mom's Family Diner. My bacon cheese burger & chili were both fine and the kitchen was fast.

No items on the menu stuck out as "must try." The selection is strictly short order which minimal preparation in the restaurant.

In the evening, we went to Stix Restaurant at the Kansas Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. The service was very bad during our last visit in 2010, but we gave them another chance. The service was much better this time and the food and cooking were typical for a teppanyaki style restaurant.


Todd's Diner - Gardner, Kansas Todd's Diner

Stix Restaurant - Kansas City, Kansas Stix  (2010 photo)

Saturday - May 12, 2012: For lunch, we made our annual visit to the Santa Fe Cafe to update its listing in the Overland Park Restaurant Guide. The service and food we homey and good as always. The strawberry crepes were exquisite.

Several friends accompanied me to try more of the menu at The Orient in Lawrence. The Orient now houses the remains of three restaurants in one dining room. One is Vietnamese & Thai, one is southern food and the third is seafood.

I have loved the food here for over 20 years and it was still good tonight. But the service was extremely bad. Our server wasn't just slow and ignoring us for long periods of time. She lied to us and made several huge errors. The friends who were with me said they would not go there again.



The Orient - Lawrence, Kansas Fish and chips at The Orient

Friday - May 11, 2012: I drove to Kansas City, Kansas to revisit Quick's BBQ. This 48 year old restaurant really should be better known. 

I had the $10.59 two meat dinner which includes two sides. The burnt ends at Quick's are more like a traditional bbq beef sandwich. They aren't what I would choose when looking for burnt ends, but they are good in their own right. The sausage is spicy and good and the wedge fries were wonderfully crispy on the the outside and tender on the inside. I couldn't taste the smoke in the smoked green beans.


Quick's BBQ - Kansas City, Kansas Quick's BBQ two meat dinner
Thursday - May 10, 2012: Linda joined me for our first meal at Jumpin' Catfish in Olathe in a year. She enjoyed the fired catfish, while I was a little less thrilled with the lemon pepper grilled quail and catfish. For my taste, these weren't the best spices for these meats. I have been much happier with the cajun grilled catfish in the past.

For supper, three of us went to the fairly new Mac's Sports Pub in Overland Park. The menu is large and interesting, with the burgers, chicken wings and onion rings turning out very nice. The fries were made from frozen, and limp. The jalapeno bottle caps were disappointing. 

Mac's  is more about being fun, than the food.



Mac's Sports Pub - Overland Park, Kansas Mac's Sports Pub

Sunday - May 6, 2012: The second day of the Kansas Sampler Festival was preceded by the annual meeting of the Kansas Explorers Club. It was much cooler today (low 60s versus yesterday's upper 90s) with high winds making it feel even colder and causing trouble for vendors who were setting up for the day. Marci Penner conducted the fastest meeting which I have seen. The brief meeting included updates on upcoming Explorer activities.

With the conclusion of the meeting, I went on the road, starting with a quick run to the Oklahoma State Line, south of town, to take a photo of the welcome to Kansas sign.

I then head home with only the briefest of stops for photos at the Samson of the Cimarron railroad bridge and in Greensburg. But I didn't stay long, as we intend to return to Greensburg in less than two months to participate in another Kansas Explorers event.


Ann Zimmerman and Marci Penner
Marci Penner holding Ann Zimmerman's hat in the high winds

Greensburg, Kansas Greensburg

Saturday - May 5, 2012: Liberal is at the opposite diagonal of Kansas from me, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity when I am there. With only three meal opportunities, I skipped the breakfast which came with my hotel and went to The Pancake House which has a good online reputation. The breakfast and lunch restaurant was, busy, but I was seated and waited on promptly.

I went with the previously recommended Kijafa crepes, which are described as red sour pitted cherries simmered in kijafa (a fortified fruit wine from Denmark) and rolled in tender danish crapes. They were very good and I was tempted to have too much. The side of bacon was also good, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had been crisper.

I drove on to Liberal's Light Park, arriving at the 2012 Kansas Sampler Festival a little before 9AM. The festival would not officially start until 10AM, but Opening Ceremonies began at 10AM. As I hurried across the festival grounds, I received hugs from old friends and festival organizers within the first 5 minutes.

The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance National Anthem and "Home on the Range." After introduction of dignitaries and comments by city officials and Marci Penner (Director of the Sampler Foundation, the program concluded with a long presentation by a local dance troupe called Danza Matachines.

My next three hours were spent renewing our Kansas Explorers memberships, researching Kansas communities & attractions, taking photographs and playing Kansas trivia at "The Stump."

Lunch was at Ruffino's Italian Restaurant in the former Cimarron hotel which used to serve the travelers on the Rock Island Railroad. The building is cool and my food (sliced Italian sausage appetizer and shrimp portabella) were quite good. The service was slow, inattentive and made a couple of major errors. I would definitely still go again, but I would hope for a different server.

The next stop was the Seward County Historical Museum, a small free museum in a very attractive 1918 home. It is part of a complex which includes the Liberal Travel Information Center and "Dorothy's House."

At first glance, Dorothy's House (a 1907 farm house which has been restored and furnished to replicate the house shown in the movie "The Wizard of Oz") didn't look like much for the $7 fee. Not even when including the tour conducted by a young girl portraying Dorothy. But the tour also included the 5,000 square foot "Land of Oz" with its animated displays of the good & bad witches; Munchkins; talking trees; winged monkeys; and Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion & Toto.

The next stop was the Baker Arts Center, which has been open since 1986. Although there were a few items from the foundation's permanent collection on display in the library, the rest of the museum exhibited items available to purchase from Baker's 14th Annual National Juried Art Exhibition.

Supper was at Bisteca Steakhouse, which opened only a few months ago. So far the building and dinning room look rather sterile, but the food was good. The Caesar salad was a true Caesar with a dressing which was made with anchovies. 

The ribeye was slightly over cooked, but I have been warned and ordered my steak medium rare, to get the medium which I wanted. The asparagus with hollandaise sauce and French fries were also good.

My day in Liberal concluded with the Cinco de Mayo parade on main street. The short parade actually took nearly an hour, as the announcer stopped and interviewed every entry.

More exploration of Liberal, Kansas to come.


The Pancake House - Liberal, Kansas Kijafa crepes & bacon

2012 Kansas Sampler Festival - Liberal, Kansas Kansas Sampler Festival

2012 Kansas Sampler Festival Opening Ceremonies Opening Ceremonies

Ruffino's Italian Restaurant - Liberal, Kansas Ruffino's Italian Restaurant

Dorothy's House - Liberal, Kansas Dorothy's House

Baker Arts Center - Liberal, Kansas Baker Arts Center

Baker Arts Center - Liberal, Kansas Baker Arts Center

Cinco de Mayo parade - Liberal, Kansas Cinco de Mayo parade

Friday - May 4, 2012: This is the annual Kansas Sampler Festival Weekend and I was on the road by early afternoon. While passing through Wichita, I stopped at TJ's Burger House on West Douglas.

TJ's is known for its burgers and I had the $5.58 jalapeno cheese burger. The 7 ounce burger came with grilled jalapenos & onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. It really is a good burger and in a different community would probably deserve a special visit, but Wichita has several great burger joints.

The $2.88 half order of onion rings was the perfect size to go with the burger, but were fairly ordinary rings cooked from frozen.

Continuing west, I had planned one stop before getting to Liberal - at Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area, south of Minneola. I didn't luck out and see the buffalo herd, but the prairie was beautiful as the sun set in the west and the "super" moon rose in the east. It was truly a gorgeous spot and I'm sorry it has taken so many years for me to visit.

There will be a new page devoted to the WIldlife area in the near future.


TJ's Burger House - Wichita, Kansas TJ's Burger House

Big Basin Prairie Preserve - Kansas Windmill at Big Basin Prairie Preserve

Tuesday - May 1, 2012: Today's lunch was at Wallaby's Grill & Pub Restaurant. Although the menu and wall decorations echo the Australian theme, the name actually comes from the Wall brothers who opened this neighborhood bar and grill. Arriving at 11:20AM, we were surprised to find them packed, but we were seated within 3 or 4 minutes. 

I went with the $8.99 chicken wings, which were frilled and fairly tasty. The 10 small wing thirds weren't a very large serving for $9. Linda had the $7.49 grilled chicken sandwich, which was a better value with the choice of one side dish.


Wallabys bar and frill - Lenexa, Kansas Wallaby's Grill & Pub Restaurant
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