Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
Art Prints

Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014
Monday - August 2, 2021: It had been many years since I visited the Shawnee Kansas location of Fritz's Railroad Restaurant. I love their original location in Kansas City, Kansas, which opened in 1954, but have not carried as much for this location or the one in Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

In general, I still prefer the original location, but lets face it, most people are coming here as a treat for the children. I was the only party in the nearly full restaurant who did not have children at their table. They love placing their order by telephone and having it delivered by at "Skat Cat" on the overhead track. I believe that most children will be every bit as satisfied with their experience here.

The food is above average drive-in fare. I had a jalapeno Swiss burger, fries and a small chili. The chili isn't heavily seasoned, but you can request hot sauce to spice it up. The staff are very good at bringing whatever you want and although they just bring the order, rather than taking it, they check back several times during the meal to see if everything is as you like it.


Fritz's Railroad Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Food lowered to the table from the track

jalapeno Swiss burger, fries, chili - Fritz's Railroad Restaurant jalapeno Swiss burger, fries, chili

Tuesday - August 3, 2021: I have probably passed Sushi Mido in Shawnee, Kansas more than 100 times, but had not gone there until today. They have a street sign advertising All-You-Can-Eat, but the menu didn't mention it and I didn't want that quantity of food anyway. I chose the lunch "Any three rolls for $14.95" option and selected Las Vegas Roll, Dynamite Roll and grill salmon skin roll. It also came with Crab Rangoon and hot and sour soup. The price seemed quite reasonable.

ALthough I very much enjoy sushi and have been eating it for about 35 years, I don't feel qualified to do a detailed review. I felt this was average quality sushi with a nice presentation. The grill salmon skin roll (grilled salmon skin & cucumber garnished with masago) was my favorite.

The Las Vegas Roll contains salmon, cream cheese, crab meat & masago in a tempura fired roll garnished with spicy mayo, yuzu aioli & eel sauce. The Dynamite roll has spicy salmon, asparagus & crab meat and is deep fried and served with spicy mayo aioli & eel sauce on top. It has the highest price when ordered individually ($8.35) and was my least favorite of the three.

Near the restaurant I spotted a monument with an anvil on top of it. It turns out to be in honor of the 1860s Star Blacksmith Shop.



Sushi Mido - Shawnee, Kansas Sushi rolls

Thursday - August 5, 2021: I had lunch at Sutera's Italian Restaurant, Pizza & Catering in western Shawnee, Kansas. I believe it has been at least 15 years since I last dined here. I went with 3 whole hot wings and Tom's Buffalo Chicken Dip, which I thought was reasonable priced at $6.99 & $8 respectively.

The wings were seasoned with a dry rub. and there was no sauce or dip. The Buffalo chicken dip was traditional and quite enjoyable. The leftovers were good a few days later.

I added a new page devoted to the large and well curated Inman Museum in Inman, Kansas. It is normally open on Sunday afternoons, but they are so serious about trying to make the museum available to everyone that they have a list of 11 names and phone numbers on the door to call to see museum.


Sutera's Italian Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Hot wings
Sunday - August 8, 2021: We had supper at Big Q Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. Big Q is the only surviving restaurant which grew out of Quick's family Barbecue which started in Kansas City, Kansas in 1953. This a repeat visit, following up on a meal here in April. 

We had a short end of pork ribs, half chicken, spicy fries and baked beans. Once again, Linda preferred the ribs, while I preferred the chicken. The spicy fries aren't very heavily seasoned, but they are fresh waffle cut and my favorite of Big Q's sides which have tried.

We ordered at the counter and our food was brought to our table. Service was fairly attentive for counter service.


Big Q Barbeque - Kansas City, Kansas half chicken and spicy fries
Monday - August 9, 2021: I drove to the west side of Edwardsville, Kansas to await the arrival of Union Pacific's historic Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014 which is on a nine state tour. It had a half hour stop scheduled in Edwardsville at 5:15PM, but I wanted to be where I could get photos of Big Boy in motion and without a surrounding crowd.

I pulled into the drive leading to a business which had a private crossing and settled down in a lawn chair with shade from an umbrella. There were just 3 other people there when I arrived, but as 5PM approached there must have been 30 - 40 people. At 5PM, a gentleman from the business came to lock the gate and we all had to move our parked cars, but then returned to await the steam engine.

After getting photos and video as Big Boy came through, I moved to a second location on the east side of Edwardsville and had a second photo opportunity 45 minutes later. The photo at the right was taken at the second location with I-435 crossing above the tracks. The cars on the right had side were from people watching the train.



Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014 Big Boy

Wednesday - August 11, 2021: I added a new page about the hand dug well in Seneca, Kansas. Tours are only available by advance appointment. The large 1895 well is no longer in use, but is rather interesting. It is one of two Kansas wells which vie for billing as the 2nd largest hand dug well in Kansas. 

I drove near Bucyrus, Kansas to await the passing of Union Pacific's historic Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014 as it traveled from Kansas City, Missouri toward Parsons, Kansas. This was the same location where I recorded it approaching Kansas City in 2019. It will be returning through Kansas in early September and I have added a page with Big Boy's route and schedule.

Since I was already south of Overland Park, I revisited Tay's Burger Shack, which I first reviewed last year. I had an $11.89 double cheeseburger with hand cut fries and a drink. I think this is about the right size for a hearty eater. Surprisingly, there have been almost no new photos on their "Home Run Hall of Fame" of people who have eaten one or more of their 4 patty "homer" burgers with fries.

The prices are unchanged from last year. 


Hand dug well - Seneca, Kansas Hand dug well 

Big Boy in Bucyrrus, Kansas Big Boy


Saturday - August 14, 2021: Family joined us for a light meal at El Pulgarcito in Merriam, Kansas. It has been a couple of years since I last dined there and it was a chance to check the current menu. We were afraid there might be an extensive wait for a table, but were surprised to find several tables available a little before 7 on a Saturday evening. I had a papusa and lengua (beef tongue) & barbacoa (Caribbean barbecue) tacos. I was happy with all of them, but particularly liked the flavor of the tongue.

I am pleased that they continue to bring a smaller helping of curtido in a bowl, which is more hygienic than the the large jars of curtido which used to be moved from one table to the next.


El Pulgarcito - Merriam, Kansas Tacos
Sunday - August 15, 2021: I added a new page about Koch's Service Station Museum in Baileyville, Kansas, you can also have your vehicle fueled from a 1960's gas pump at the Philips 66 across the street. 

We hosted a family cookout today and I had told a niece that we would have vegan sausages from Wiener Kitchen in Overland Park, but I messed up and was unable to get to the sausage restaurant on Saturday. I sent a pleading Facebook message to Wiener Kitchen yesterday and someone met me at the restaurant to sell me vegan sausages. He even threw in vegan buns and gave tips on grilling.

We had lunch at Burnt End BBQ in south Overland Park, Kansas. I like the sauce bar they have with a selection of BBQ sauces. We had a half chicken platter with fried corn bread bites and fries and a smoked and charred bone in wings. Both kinds of chicken were good, but I particularly enjoyed the wings. They were served with a choice of sauces on the side and blue cheese or ranch dressing. The fried corn bread bites sounded  great, but no one wanted more than two of them.


Wiener Kitchen - Overland Park, Kansas Wiener Kitchen

Burnt End BBQ - Overland Park, Kansas smoked & charred wings

Monday - August 16, 2021: I revisited 4th Street Cafe in Edwardsville, Kansas, a 5 year old lunch only restaurant in a neat, little stone building which first held a cafe in the 1930s. Everything is made fresh and they normally have a long, predominantly sandwich menu which covers most of one wall of the dining room.

Due to Covid, they are still doing carry out only. Although they still had the full menu when I dined here in February, they have now gone to a much shorter menu, which I understand.

I got a mushroom Swiss burger for $9.95, including French fries and enjoyed it at a nearby park.


4th Street Cafe - Edwardsville, Kansas temporary menu
Tuesday - August 17, 2021: I added a new page about the Rock and Critter Garden northeast of Wetmore, Kansas is a grassroots arts environment created by retired farmer and welder Paul Fritz. The critters are set in a garden with trees, flowers, shrubs and many large decorative rocks.


Wednesday - August 18, 2021: I drove to Topeka, Kansas to have my second meal at Prize Package small carryout restaurant and connivance store on the east side, which first open 70 years ago. I ordered a Polish Sausage, onion rings and a limited time hot link. The public area is tiny and after customers place their orders, they return to their cars. When there food is ready, someone opens the door and calls out the customer's name on a bull horn.

The hot link was good, but the Polish sausage was superior. It had a very nice flavor and I would get it again. It was only $3 (the hot link was just $2.90) The onion rings were previously frozen and very ordinary.

The main reason for driving to Topeka has to check out the sunflowers at Berry Hill UPick Farm in Berryton, Kansas today. The weight of the sunflower seeds has pulled most of the flowers face down, but there are still isolated interesting flowers.

I stopped by Lake Shawnee on the way back to the highway. There is no water flowing out of the lake at this time, but I did get some nice photos of a red tailed hawk which let me get within 50 feet.

The final stop of the day was at Grinter's Sunflower Farm in Leavenworth County, which is the most popular public sunflower field in northeast Kansas. It looks like the sunflowers are still about 3 weeks away. The map on our page about the farm has been updated with the location of the 2021 sunflower fields and we will post updates when the flowers begin to bloom.


Prize Package - Topeka, Kansas Hot Link, Polish Sausage & onion rings

Red tailed hawk - Lake Shawnee in Topeka, Kansas Red tailed hawk

Thursday - August 19, 2021: I added a new page about Werner Wagon Works & Guest House in Horton, Kansas, which is a unique piece of Kansas Americana. Don Werner is one of the rare, non Amish wagon makers and his shop is open to the public daily with tours available by appointment.


Saturday - August 21, 2021: Off for a day in southeast Kansas. Driving south on US69, I decided to pull off in Louisburg, to see what I might find new and to take new daytime photos of Powell Observatory, operated by the Kansas City Astronomical Society. It has been many years wince I've visited the observatory.

On the way there, I happened across a grassroots art environment. It is mostly in the yard of a home, but appears to be part of the adjacent Captain Cook's Treasure Chest (antique shop). Captain Cook's just opened in 2020, so it makes sense that I hadn't seen or heard about this folk art before. Many small collections of items can be seen along the street, but others, deeper in the lot, can only be glimpsed.

Continuing south to Fort Scott, I tried to take photo of new murals, but in both cases, trucks with attached trailers were parked in front of them.

I had lunch at Luther's BBQ. It is the second time I have dined at this nice BBQ restaurant which opened in 2019. I had the $9.99 Chili Dog, a hot dog with chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onion on a hoagie, served with fresh cut fries. The fries were good, as they had been on my previous visit. The chili was mild and the cheese and sour cream overpowered the flavor to where I hardly noticed the chili. I also had a $2.99 side of street corn. which was flavorful and had lots of butter. Very nice. though I had too much food and put most of it in my cooler.

My next stop was Pittsburg, when I photographed some businesses I have visited before. With a little extra time, I decided to look up the location of the Miners Memorial, which turned out to be just a couple of blocks away in  Immigrant Park. They look like two block long memorials side by side.

Immigrant Park includes a the Pritchett Pavilion, a 19th century Pittsburg mural and a children's play area. A Frisco railroad depot was once on this location and the pavilion appears to have the same roof line as the old depot. There are memorial plaques on the pillars and other people have purchased paving stones in the space. At one end of the pavilion there was someone playing guitar and a (presumably) homeless man was sleeping to one side.

The Miners Memorial is a curving walk anchored at the west end by nine black polished monuments and a larger than life statue of a miner. The walk has several signs telling the history of mining in Crawford County and a couple of artifacts from mining, with room to add more.

The focal point of the trip was a sunflower field along Historic Route 66 as it comes into Baxter Springs from the Rainbow Bridge. The sunflowers are planted by the City of Baxter Springs. I first learned of this field over a year ago, but they did not plant them last year due to Covid. 

The sunflowers are only a quarter to a third of the the height of the other public sunflower fields in Kansas and have much smaller flowers. A women wanting to take photos of the sunflowers with her daughters arrived while I was taking photos and struggled with setting up the photos with the short plants.

After revisiting the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum and the Spring River Dam, I retraced the portion of Historic Route 66 in Kansas. I arrived at Cars On the Route during the posted hours, but it was closed. I travel to Galena once or twice a year, but it has been closed every time I have been there for several years. 

I drove down to Three Corners, the Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas Tri-state point. The metal plate where you can stand in all three states and nearby old stone Tri-State Marker are still in place. The marker has been badly vandalized over the years. I'm surprised to discover that I've never made a page for this location and will add one soon.

On the way back to the Mother Road, I saw many people swimming or sitting in the Spring River near Schermerhorn Park.

After returning to Baxter Springs, I drove west to Treece, which was abandoned in 2012. Most of the buildings and other facilities were demolished due to lead pollution resulting from past mining. The historic marker is still there and nothing new appears to have been done.

Driving north, I took a few photos around the courthouse square in Columbus, than drove on to the Carona Depot & Railroad Museum, which is operated by the Heart of the Heartlands Railroad Club. There is a new locomotive and at least one new railroad car since the last time I was there, but the biggest changes are in their museum building. It had just a few exhibits when I was last there, but that original gallery is now full, and a a large wing nearly doubled the space and added more exhibits around the sides, with function space in the middle. A new wing that hasn't yet opened, but will be 1/3 filled in September with the addition of a 50 year collection from a former BNSF employee.

My last stop was supper was at Josie's Ristorante, a few miles away in Scammon. The 30 plus year old Italian restaurant is open only Thursday through Saturday evenings. I was one of four parties waiting when they opened at 5PM. After we were seated, over half of the remaining tables appeared to be already set up for reservations and by 5:45 every table I could see was full.

They brought bread and a small dish  of olives, artichoke heart, sausage and pickled mushrooms to the table right away.

I had an $11.99 house made Italian sausage appetizer, consisting of three whole sausages in red sauce. The meat was nicely seasoned and I think I would have enjoyed it more without the sauce. I took home two of the sausages as well as much of the $17.50 chicken parmesan with spaghetti. I particularly liked the crispiness and flavor of the coating on the chicken.

For dessert, I had a large slice of of house made Italian cream cake for $6.99. This is a dessert I am unfamiliar with and I was surprised by the coconut in the icing, but it was excellent and I ate more of it than I should have and was stuffed for the drive home.



grassroots art environment - Louisburg, Kansas Grassroots art environment

Luther's BBQ - Overland Park, Kansas Chili dog & fries

Immigrant Park - Pittsburg, Kansas Mural & Pavilion

Miners Memorial - Pittsburg, Kansas Miners Memorial

Sunflower Field - Baxter Springs, Kansas Scouting a photo shoot

Spring River - Galena, Kansas Swimming in Spring River

Josie's Restorante - Scammon, Kansas Italian cream cake

Saturday - August 21, 2021: Added a new page devoted to the Baxter Springs Sunflower Field.


Monday - August 23, 2021: I drove to Kansas City, Kansas to check out Hamburguesas Los Compas, whose hamburgers have been highly recommended. There was a sign on the door saying that Wyandotte County required that face masks be worn, but although most customers wore them when they came in, none of the staff were wearing them.

I ordered the Juarez Hamburguesas, papas fritas and a carnitas taco. Delicious slightly warm corn chips and salsa were brought to the table. The red salsa was thin and had little flavor, but the green salsa was much spicier and I enjoyed it more. It was hot enough that I was careful not to load too much salsa on the chip.

The pork in the taco was tender and very flavorful. Definitely a taco I would be happy to have again. The burger was a flat, smashed burger on a tasty, toasted bun. The patty very thin and didn't look like the thick patty shown in the photo on their web site. The Juarez burger is topped with avocado, sausage, bacon, cheese, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, ketchup & mustard, but I ordered it without the lettuce and tomato. The sausage & bacon added a lot to the burger, but I'm not sure I would repeat the avocado. I enjoyed the burger, but think I would have liked the one shown on their web site better. In addition to a thicker patty, it had more of the sausage and bacon.

The fries were crispy, fairly good for previously frozen.



Hamburguesas Los Compas Juarez burger

Tuesday - August 24, 2021: I added a new review of Luther's BBQ in Fort Scott, Kansas.


Wednesday - August 25, 2021: I drove to Big Q BBQ in Kansas City, Kansas to try more of the meats on their menu and ordered a sliced pork sandwich and burnt ends sandwich.

I had the choice of bread or a hamburger bun for the pork sandwich and went with the bun. The sandwich had much less sauce than the other meats I have had at Big Q. The flavor was delicate and would have been swamped by more sauce, so that was a good choice. The meat was very tender and the thin slices were piled almost two inches thick in the center..

The burnt end sandwich was a larger sandwich with more of a hoagie style bun and more meat. The meat was like cubes of roast beef, rather than burnt ends in terms of flavor and texture. It was more heavily sauced than the pork sandwich, but still had less sauce then the other meats I have had.


burnt end sandwich - Big Q BBQ burnt end sandwich
Friday - August 27, 2021: We are trying to visit all of the restaurants in our Overland Park Restaurant Guide which have not been visited in 2020 or 2021. Today I had lunch at Twisted, a counter service sandwich, wrap and taco restaurant near Johnson County Community College. 

I had my favorite dish from past meals, the Mahi Mahi tacos (Cajun grilled mahi-mahi with spicy Thai slaw, pepper Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and Sriracha honey aioli). It was every bit as good as I remember. The sweet, spicy sauce makes the dish! The three large tacos for $9.50 were more than I wanted to eat at one sitting and the one I took home was still good the next day.


Mahi Mahi tacos - Twistef in Overland Park, Kansas Mahi Mahi tacos
Monday - August 30, 2021: I revisited Grinter's Sunflower Farm in Leavenworth County. The sunflower plants had more than doubled in height since August 18 and although they are still shorter than in previous years, the very first blooms have opened. The flowers should be quite nice by this weekend and the farmer's estimate of their blooming for Labor Day was right on.
Tuesday - August 31, 2021: I had lunch at Cozy's Cafe in Overland Park. It had been 6 years since my last meal at Cozy's. Staff shortage now limits the hours to 7AM - 2PM. though breakfast is still offered all of the hours they are open. 

I had Lamb Burger - Melted Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, on a toasted brioche salt & pepper bun, with homemade tzatziki sauce served with French fries. I enjoyed it, but think I would have enjoyed it more with mustard instead of the tzatziki sauce. Unfortunately the lettuce covering the bottom bun kept the juice from the lamb from soaking into the bun and it dripped during every bite.



Lamb Burger - Cozy's Cafe Lamb Burger

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