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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Letters from Native American trying to recover their children
Friday - April 5, 2024: We had lunch at Wolfepack BBQ. It is in Kansas City, Missouri, but restaurants on both sides of the state line are included in our Kansas City Barbeque Restaurant Guide. Wolfepack opened in the Columbus Park neighborhood a few blocks east of the City Market in August 2023. The building has two dinning areas (one of which can be opened to the weather with garage doors and an outdoor patio. A full service bar occupies a large part of one wall in the main room.

Learning that the beef burnt ends are only available on the weekend, we decided to share a $30 three meat platter of pork ribs, pork belly burnt ends and jalapeno cheddar sausage, which comes with the choice of 2 sides. We selected French fries ad red onion rings ($1) up charge.

I thought all three meets were great. Smoked and well seasoned with a sweet, but slightly spicy rub. I didn't want to add sauce at all. The ribs were my favorite, but I would be happy to have any of them again.

The sides were only slightly less successful. I thought the battered fries were better than most and enjoyed them slightly more as I ate more of them, but I'm not really a battered fries fan. The red onion rings looked and tasted slightly different than sweet onion rings, but were still fairly good.

The platter came with house made pickles and pickled red onion.

There were two squeeze bottles of sauce on the table, Original BBQ & Spicy BBQ. They were both tangy, dark and slightly sweet. Kind of like a slightly thicker version of the sauce at Chef J BBQ. I wouldn't select it for most meats, but think it might work well with beef brisket.

Service was friendly & good and we were given go cups of our soft drinks.

Wolfepack uses a combination of oak and hickory wood in their oven.

We planned to have supper at Jong's Thai Kitchen in Topeka, Kansas, but learned that they are carry out only on Friday and Saturday evenings. It is the second time I have failed to dine here. The previous time they were closed with no sign or notice on Facebook.

I didn't really have a back up restaurant and those places I would have wanted to go to tonight would have needed reservations.

We decided on the fly to have a meal at The Pennant in downtown Topeka. We dined here at the second floor bar about 5 years ago, but this time we ate on the first floor where there are four lanes of bowling.

We ordered a half apple walnut salad for $7 and a bourbonater (1/2 lb. Black Angus beef, smoky Gouda cheese, bourbon caramelized onions, and house made bourbon bacon jam on a butter toasted brioche bun) for $12 with no sides. The salad wasn't particularly attractive or tasty. The burger was a little better, but not something I would choose again.

I had planned to get a soft drink, but looking at the drink menu discovered that a could order a vanilla shake with peanut butter whiskey for only $7.50. It was a real treat!


Wolfepack BBQ - Kansas City, Missouri Wolfepack BBQ

Wolfepack BBQ bar Dining room

Three meat platter - Wolfepack BBQ Three meat platter

The Pennant - Topeka, Kansas The Pennant

Peanut Butter Whiskey Milkshake - The Pennant Peanut Butter Whiskey Milkshake

Saturday - April 6, 2024: We are having lunch in Topeka today and this time I happened to have a couple of possible places to try that were near each other.

Our first stop was New Orleans Style Daiquiri's & More. There was little information available about it online, but I had seen a photo of New Orleans style grilled chicken (skin on) and red beans and rice which looked wonderful. We arrived to find that is a small shack with no inside seating.

Walking in, the nice young lady told us that they only have food at some point in summer. That chef also cooks at a fraternity in Lawrence.

Before we left, she offered us free samples of their premade frozen drinks. We shared small samples of the pina colada and tornado (dark & light run and peach schnapps). They both tasted very good.

The other spot was a little over a block away, Terry's Bar & Grill. This downtown place closed a year ago after 47 years, but was reopened about 6 months later. It is is a large place occupying two large storefronts and I liked everything about it except the men's room.

The men's room is literally 4' wide by about 10 feet deep. The small space has two urinals, a sink and toilet stool squeezed in with nothing separating them. You literally cannot get past a person at any of those. Also the door has no lock, so if you sit on the toilet you are right there by everyone.

Many items on the menu were unavailable, including Chicken fried steak, pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes. We ended up with fried chicken with French fries and Pork ribs with onion rings. In general the food was good. I started to say better than it looks, but that sound like a put down.

The chicken had a heavy batter, but I enjoyed its taste. I do wish it had been cut up. The wing was the one part that was separate and it was hard splitting up the remaining half chicken. The fries were well prepared for previously frozen crinkle cut. 

The chef/owner came around to see how our meal had been and we learned that he is Mike Babb, who my spouse remembered from the 1977 State Champion Highland Park boys basket ball team and the 1976 Grand State Basketball championship team. 1976 was the one year that the state champion teams from each division played each other for a Grand Champion.


New Orleans Style Daiquiri's and More - Topeka, Kansas New Orleans Style Daiquiri's & More

Terry's Bar and Grill - Topeka, Kansas Terry's Bar & Grill

Fried chicken - Terry's Bar and Grill Fried chicken

Mike Babb -Terry's Bar and Grill Mike Babb

Sunday - April 7, 2024: I added new page devoted to (Hell) Razor Roadhouse in Harveyville, Kansas.


Monday - April 8, 2024: We had lunch at Bradley's Corner Cafe in North Topeka. This was the third consecutive poor experience I have had here. The over all food has been average in the past but I used to love the pies. Sadly, the pie has not been very good when we have been there recently.

The last time I had been to Bradley's, the only pie available was pumpkin. When my slice was brought to the table, it looked rather sad, kind of shrunken. The filling was less than half the height I expected. The taste was just OK. The server obviously knew that it wasn't right. I was charged $2, rather than the usual $4.29.

Today we didn't care for the catfish or club sandwich we had as main dishes, but were still looking forward to the pie. They were out of m y favorite (sour cream & raisin), and we ended up with rhubarb and chocolate peanut butter. Both were disappointing. They tasted like they had been sitting around for days and the meringue on the chocolate peanut butter pie had shriveled up.

It hurts to do this, but I am removing Bradley's from our guide to Unique Kansas Restaurants.

One fun thing about our visit. It was during the total eclipse. We could overhear the employees trying to figure out how they could get glasses to watch the eclipse, but they were having no luck. After I paid for our meal, I got a couple of pairs of solar eclipse glasses from our car and brought them in. As we were pulling away, a couple of the younger employees were standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant looking at the sun.



Bradley's Corner Cafe - Topeka, Kansas Club sandwich

Friday - April 12, 2024: I added a new page devoted to the Cheyenne County Museum in St. Francis, Kansas.

I had lunch at Johnny's BBQ in Olathe, Kansas. The original Johnny's BBQ in Mission closed 4 years ago when Johnny & Linda White retired, but their son, Eric had kept the Olathe restaurant open. About a year ago he sold and the early reports on the restaurant since the change were not very possitive. This was my first visit under the new owners.

Arriving about 11:30, I was surprised to find no line for ordering. Friday has long been a popular day because of the pork rib special. It is currently 4 large ribs served with fries, bread, pickle, and regular drink for $12.69. The counter service was polite and the food looked and tasted much like it had when the White's operated the restaurant.

Much like before, the meat came heavily slathered in BBQ sauce. I would have enjoyed my meal more if I had requested that they serve it without sauce. It is a particularly ketchup like sauce and I like the hot version with fries. The fries are standard crinkle cut, not crispy. They need a topping.

By 11:45 the line waiting to order led nearly to the door.

Following lunch, I drove through downtown Olathe. I worked in Olathe for 30 years and lived there for 16 years, but spend little time there these days and it has been three years since I was downtown. The area looks quite a bit different with a new courthouse and library.

The principle reason for visiting Olathe today was to revisit the museum across from the Kansas School for the Deaf. I first visited the museum in 2007, but in 2017 the name was changed to Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture. The museum is devoted to advancing and preserving knowledge about deaf people, their languages, cultures, and experiences in the United States and around the world.

We had supper at Quentin's BBQ & Sides which opened just over 2 years ago in Bonner Springs, Kansas. It one of several places sharing an old building called Olde Mill Properties. You order at a counter outside and then can eat anywhere in the building. They give you an old license plate to set at your table and they use it to find you when the food is ready.

We ordered a 1/4 pound each of burnt ends, sliced brisket, jalapeno cheddar sausage, a half slab of pork ribs and an order of onion rings. After we sat down, I noticed that the ribs had been left off the order, and returned outside to order them again and pay for them. 

The meats were all reasonably good, with the beef burnt ends being the only ones I would make a point of getting again. The sausage had very little flavor. The other meats all had a decent flavor from the smoking. The ribs were somewhat tough. The onion rings were OK.

There were three sauces in squeeze bottles on the table: sweet, hot and original. All were thin, slightly tangy and similar to each other.

The far end of the building contains a private club - The Fuel House, which calls itself an Automotive Country Club. Membership includes vehicle storage, lounge, cigar lounge, gum, indoor car was and a members work area with a lift.


Johnny's BBQ - Olathe, Kansas Rib special

Museum of Deaf History - Olathe, Kansas Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture

Quentin's BBQ - Bonner Springs, Kansas Quentin's BBQ & Sides

The Fuel House - Bonner Springs, Kansas The Fuel House

Tuesday - April 16, 2024: I drove to the Lawrence Visitors Center on Mass in downtown Lawrence, Kansas to pick up printed guides to next month's Big Kansas Road Trip. 

Before leaving the neighborhood, I shopped at Weaver's Department Store, a rare locally owned department store which has been in business since 1857. I specifically went looking for Kansas Jayhawk apparel and found a fairly large selection that had different items than I am used to seeing at area stores. Unfortunately the nicer apparel ran $115 to $160, much like other stores. The nice thing was finding one rack of clearance items which were a little more reasonable.

Lunch was at Big Mill, a few blocks away. I had "The Lafayette," a Detroit style Coney Island with fries. Although it was a proper coney (a hot dog with chili, onion and mustard), it had only a little sauce and the sauce has less taste than I remember from the first time, two years ago. The French fries were covered with something white. I'm not sure what it was, but didn't improve them.

Next stop was the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics on the University of Kansas west campus. It was an extremely windy day and a crew was working on the glass front door which broke earlier in the wind. Our page devoted to the institute is all pictures from 2006 and I want to freshen up the page. It actually look like most of the exhibits are unchanged, though today it was set up for a presentation by journalist Bill Kurtis this evening. Since his passing in 2021, there are no longer cards by the guest register to leave a message for the Senator.

Also on the west side of Lawrence, I took a few photos at the 1858 stone Grover barn. For a number of years the building housed Lawrence Fire Station No. 4, but now appears to be just used for municipal storage. The building is attractive and was used by formerly enslaved people on their passage with John Brown, but there is little to do here but take a couple of photos.

On the east side of Lawrence, I've long wanted to visit the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University. The center's operating grant expired five years ago and I just learned that it is open again. The museum tells the tragic and often infuriating story of the school's continuing journey from United States Indian Industrial Training School, to Haskell Institute. Haskell Indian Junior College and more recently the University. So much have that time was devoted to removing native children from their families and assimilating them in white America.

My final stop was at Haskell Indian Nations University cemetery where 103 students are buried. Since my last visit, the fence has been padlocked and also roped off to keep visitors even farther from the cemetery.



Big Mill - Lawrence, Kansas The Lafayette

Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics - Lawrence, Kansas Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Haskell Cultural Center and Museum - Lawrence, Kansas Letters from Native Americans trying to recover their children

Friday - April 19, 2024: I had a second meal at Wolfepack BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri. This time I had smoked wings (3 for $10) and Thai peanut sweet potato. The wings were nicely smoky and finishing in the fryer gave the skin a nice texture. After consulting with the server I went Buffalo sauce and I was with the dish. It is a special, rather than on the menu, but they have been available both times I have dined there.

I only had three bites of the sweet potato. It was served cold and the sweet potato was either uncooked or very slightly cooked. The potato was not at all tender and the flavor did not appeal to me. Still struggling to find a go to side dish here.


Wolfepack BBQ - Kansas City, Missouri Jumbo wings
Sunday - April 21, 2024: We have a new page devoted to Family Food Store in Sawyer, Kansas. It is a combination bakery, deli, specialty food store operated by the Wolf family, who are members of the Old German Baptist Brethren.


Thursday - April 25, 2024: I made a second visit to Johnny's BBQ in Olathe, Kansas since the new owners took over a year ago. This time I had my other favorite item from the previous item. A half chicken dinner with French fries, coleslaw & baked beans for $16.99. I though the chicken pieces were a little smaller than before and a little dryer. They still finish the smoked chicken in the deep fryer and I think those who enjoyed it when the White family had Johnny's will still enjoy it. I ordered it with the sauce on the side, which I receomend everyone do, since otherwise the meats come with a lot of sauce.

The BBQ beans have a fair amount of smoked meat mixed in with them.


Johnny's BBQ - Olathe, Kansas Half smoked chicken
Saturday - April 27, 2024: We went with family to Barnyard Babies Family Festival at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. I hadn't been there since 2007, but having a grandchild to take made today sound like a good day to go.

Admission for the event was $10 for adults & $5 over 2 years old. It included all the buildings (though it looked like there were very few people going to the Hall of Fame or museum. Farm Town USA was busy with baby chicks, live bee displays and products for sale. Many area businesses and farms brought exhibits, farm animals, and food trucks. Unless you have a significant interest in agriculture, the regular exhibits are a bit dry, but this was a fun event.

Admission included rides on hay wagons a and narrow gauge train. The wait to ride the train was a half hour or longer.


Barnyard Babies Family Festival - National Agricultural Center Barnyard Babies Family Festival

My granddaughter with lambs

Tuesday - April 30, 2024: I returned to Olathe to have lunch at Vader's Bar & Deli. When I worked in Olathe, this restaurant was in my regular mix, but I hadn't been back in about 4 years. This Kansas State University bar was Dub V's when I first dined there in 2018. The owner was an attorney who didn't want his name associated with a bar. After Willie Vader sold the business to his son, the was free to put his name on the building.

My favorite dish from before was the chili dog, but Vader's has removed all the specialty hot dogs from the menu. A little at a loss for what to get, I went with the Patty Melt, which is described as 6 ounce fresh ground chuck cooked medium and served with grilled onions, swiss & American and homemade 1000 Island on either grilled sourdough or rye. I was surprised at how good it was, one of the best burgers I have had in metropolitan Kansas City. Cooked just right, with a nice combination of toppings and I thought the mild rye bread worked perfectly. 

The burger came with the choice of a side for $13.99. I'm not usually a fan of seasoned fries, but these were great!


Vader's Bar and Deli Vader's Bar & Deli

Vader's Bar and Deli - Olathe, Kansas Vader's Patty Melt

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