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Lawrence – Merchants Pub and Plate

Merchants Pub and Plate is located in the old Merchants National Bank Building at 746 Massachusetts St. in the heart of downtown Lawrence, Kan. Many people may remember this place as Teller’s.  As the names imply, this gastropub is located in a big, beautiful and historic bank building. If you are into architecture, it is worth a trip to this restaurant just to admire its beauty.

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The food at Merchants Pub and Plate is a lesson in eclectic artistry and the drink menu features the best from many local area breweries. For the carnivore with pork in mind, some of the options include pork belly brochettes, salads topped with bacon and pork belly, fried pork tenderloin made from locally raised pork.

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My friends and I dined on the pork belly brochettes (beautiful pieces of fatty pork meat) and a snack plate featuring a deliciously seasoned pork sausage. We also sampled picked eggs and a pickle martini.

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Merchants Pub and Plate and 715 are two Lawrence restaurants I would put on the list for nice places to take a date out to dinner and drinks.  Make a point to check either restaurant on date night, or to celebrate a special occasion, and I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Until next time.

Lawrence – Hank Charcuterie

According to their website, the name “Hank Charcuterie” literally translates as

HANK: (noun) Definition 1. A coil or loop. In sausage-making terms, a hank is essentially a coil or bundle of sausage casings

CHARCUTERIE (shär-ˌkü-tə-ˈrē) (noun) Definition 1. a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes; also : the products sold in such a shop.

Basically, Hank Charcuterie, located at 1900 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kan., is one part butcher shop and one part restaurant. It’s located in a fairly nondescript stucco building on the south side of downtown Lawrence. The outside of the building gives little indication about all the awesomeness located inside. You step into a clean modern facility with an open kitchen area. This means they have nothing to hide when it comes to cleanliness and food safety.

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As you would expect, Hank Charcuterie has tons of pork. Just a handful of the options include ham hock rillettes, hickory smoked bacon, pork chops, brined chops, porterhouse and pork ribs. If you are so inclined, you can even participate in free butchering classes in order to learn how the whole pig gets turned into all these items. During a recent visit, I ordered breaded and fried sandwiches that had delicious brined and smoked pork. It was, without question, one of the tastiest sandwiches I have eaten in quite a while.

LawrenceBlogs 005My order came with a container of blue cheese dipping sauce that was also very good. In fact, I’d buy that stuff up in bottles if they sold it that way!

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I would summarize Hank Charcuterie with the words of my non-pork eating friend Sydney, “If a vegetarian is recommending a butcher, it’s probably good. Go here.”

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You can also check them out on Facebook.

Until next time,


Fort Scott – Bella Roma

Bella Roma is a new Italian restaurant located at 101 State St in Fort Scott Kansas. It is located in an older facility attached to the Fort Scott Inn. I have heard many different reviews of this place and decided it was time to try it for myself. My appetizer was a side dish of sliced Italian sausage with a red sauce. The sausage has a strong fennel notes that paired beautifully with the sauce. In fact the sauce was amazing. I liked it even better than the sausage.

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My main course was a Stromboli with Canadian bacon, sausage, hamburger, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Did I mention cheese? This baby was loaded with cheese. It even had Parmesan cheese on top.  If you like meat and cheese order this bad boy.

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The restaurant itself is open seven days per week and is owned by an Italian family that has sister restaurants in Iola and Chanute. After talking with a staff member, I learned that they are planning on expanding into another southeast Kansas location as well. Business seems to be brisk, with Friday and Saturday night and Sundays after church being the busiest. I ate there on a Thursday night and was impressed with the crowd. It will be interesting to see how these restaurants fare after the newness subsides. If you like Italian food and want to check out the new kid on the block, check out Bella Roma.

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Until next time,


Salina – Gutierrez Mexican Restaurant

Gutierrez Mexican Restaurant is located at 640 Westport Blvd. in Salina, Kansas, and can be easily accessed from the Interstate 135 and Crawford St. exit. There is a similarly named restaurant in Hays, Kansas, but this one is my clear favorite of the two.

As the story goes, Lela Gutierrez opened a Mexican restaurant in Russell, Kansas, in 1970. This restaurant is owned by Lela’s son Jerry, one of her 8 children.

What I like the best about Gutierrez is that they have a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet, which is not unheard of in Mexican restaurants, but it’s certainly not common either.


And of course, I wouldn’t even mention this restaurant if it wasn’t for the delicious pork. Tender, juicy pork is an option on the all-you-can-eat buffet and it can be used to make your own tacos or tostadas.


There are other menu items that include pork also, including Pork Chili Verde and a pork tenderloin sandwich on the “American” portion of the menu.

Mexican Restaurants are almost always sure bets if you are hungry for pork, and Gutierrez Mexican Restaurant in Salina is no exception!

Until next time,


Lawrence – 715

According to the February 2015 edition of Feast Magazine, “Where We’re Dining KS” is at 715 located at 715 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, Kansas. Coincidentally, former Douglas County Horticulture Extension Agent Jennifer Smith suggested that 715 might have some great pork on the menu, and with that in mind, I should check out the possibility of dining there someday.


I just happened to walk by 715 one unseasonably warm winter afternoon while hanging out with my friends Phillip and Sydney Pursel.  Phillip and Sydney are father and daughter, respectively, and both are extremely talented Native American artists. We were walking down Mass Street and were looking for a place hang out and kill some time prior to attending a Powwow at Haskell Indian Nations University. As we passed by 715, it was suggested that we should stop, and I’m sure glad we did.


We ordered off of the happy hour (3:00 pm- 6:00 pm) menu and dined on pork meatballs and the popular menu item prosciutto di parma (one of three prosciutto options). The happy hour menu features some fantastic food and drink specials.



We were fortunate enough to run into Pam, a local herb farmer, who offered great suggestions and comments about 715. She told us that the meatballs were phenomenal and that she never tires of them.  I could certainly eat plenty of them myself without tiring. They were extremely delicious.

According to the Feast Magazine article, 715 is a “European-style bistro.” Having never been to Europe, I really can’t say. Having been all over Kansas, I can say that the atmosphere is strongly similar to another favorite Kansas restaurant; Bourbon and Baker located in Manhattan, Kansas.  Both restaurants are great places to eat pork, drink, see and be seen.

Until next time,


Kansas City – El Patrón Cocina & Bar

As Southwest Boulevard leaves Kansas and enters the western edge of Kansas City, MO, it will lead you to an amazing collection of Mexican restaurants all mashed in about a 2 mile stretch of road. Some might even say if you’re standing in the right place, you couldn’t swing a dead cat and not hit a Mexican place. While that might be a bit of a reach, there are certainly plenty to choose from.KPABlogsJan15 006

The one I want to focus on for now though is El Patrón Cocina & Bar. Located on SW Blvd., just under a mile north of the intersection of 7th St/Rainbow Blvd/Hwy 169 and SW Blvd, El Patrón, like most authentic Mexican places, has a nice variety of delicious ways to eat pork.

While I had the pork tamale on my visit, you also have many other pork choices. Besides tamales, you have the easy options to go with pork in your burrito or chimichanga. There are several pork options when it comes to tacos as well, such as “El Pastor” style tacos, and salsa verde tacos. If you’re in the mood for breakfast at noon, maybe try the eggs and Chorizo sausage. My best advice however is to just check out the menu, and see for yourself!

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Of course, no visit to a Mexican restaurant would be complete without trying a Margarita. I had heard rumors that El Patrón made the best Margarita in Kansas City, and the rumors proved to be fact based. I can’t say it’s the best, but I can’t think you’ll find one any better anywhere else.

Until next time.


Iola – Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli

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Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli, located at 201 S. State Iola, Kansas is a one-stop meat shop. The same family also owns the Moran Locker in Moran, Kansas, so they are well versed in the meat business.

The meat market has everything you would expect a meat market to have. What they don’t have, they are willing to order for you. I ordered several pounds of meat from them for a barbecue last summer and got a great deal. Keep this mind if you are an area competition barbecue enthusiast. They will also ship meat nationwide, for those outside of the Iola, Kansas, area.

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Alongside the meat market is a fantastic deli. The menu includes sandwiches that come in #8, #12, #24, #36 and #72.  This is not a reference to the length of the sandwich, but to the slices of meat. The #72 features a full two pounds of meat!

I prefer the #12. One of my favorites is the #12, with ham, capicola (a traditional Italian pork cold cut made from the dry-cured muscle running from the neck to the 4th or 5th rib of the pork shoulder or neck) – and bacon. This is a pork lover’s special!

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Bolling’s Meat Market and Deli and Around the Corner Coffee and Eatery are two of my favorite Iola restaurants. Look For Around the Corner in an upcoming blog and check out Bolling’s Meat market and Deli.

Until next time.


Kansas City – Char Bar

Char Bar is another choice in a string of newly-opened Kansas City Barbecue restaurants. And Like Slaps, Q39 and Plowboys, it is the creation of a former competition barbecue team. In this case the team was Meat Mitch and the award winning pitmaster associated with Char Bar is team captain Mitch Benjamin.KPABlogsJan15 023

The Restaurant is located at 4050 Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City. Country music aficionados may recognize this location as it is the home of the former country dance hall The Beaumont Club. A search through the photographs on their website will bring up pictures of their transformation from dance hall to restaurant. Their barbecue certainly puts them in the above average category and their house sauce is one of the best in Kansas City. They also have a sauce that reminds me of Arthur Bryant’s. The atmosphere of Char Bar reminds me quite a bit of Q39.KPABlogsJan15 019

According to the Char Bars website, their “menu will feature southern-inspired items, such as fried green tomatoes, lobster deviled eggs, smoked duck gumbo and buckets of tabasco-honey fried chicken. A sizeable American craft beer list will complement creative southern-inspired craft cocktails and regional aged bourbons.”

I didn’t venture into any of the southern inspired dishes, but I did have the pork, was impressed by the drink options and will go back to this place again!

Until next time.


Sedan – Buck’s BBQ

I first heard about Bucks BBQ about four years ago when I asked the good folks at the Kansas Sampler Foundation to put the word out as to where I could get barbecue in Kansas. A few people mentioned Bucks BBQ and Steaks, located just outside the ranching community of Sedan. Sedan is located in a small but unique geographic region of the state known as the Chautauqua Hills. This area is a must-see for geography and geology buffs alike.KPA Blog Pics 009

Bucks BBQ offers a respite for travelers, as you will find rental cabins and an r.v. park located adjacent to the restaurant.  The restaurant offers a cozy cabin style atmosphere complete with deer heads and a fine license plate collection.

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My meal consisted of the three meat combo and two sides.The sides were certainly above average.  I like to order combo platters when available because they give me the opportunity to try a larger variety of pork offerings. I was pleased to see bologna on the menu at Bucks BBQ. For more information about smoked bologna, see my blog entry about Phelp’s Hog Heaven in Coffeyville, Kansas.

I was told that Bucks BBQ offers some fantastic pie, but I was too stuffed to try any. Next time I may go ahead and try the pie and then roll myself out the door and into one of the cabins!

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Until next time.


Fort Scott – Common Ground

Common Ground, as the catchy name implies, is a coffee shop. It is the only coffee shop in Fort Scott, Kansas, and is located in the historic downtown area, just a couple of blocks due south of the Fort Scott National Historic Site.


Like any good coffee shop, the java is above average, the wireless internet connection is good and the music is eclectic. Unlike many other coffee shops, they have BACON! Specifically, they have maple bacon pecan muffins that are out of this world. These yummy bacon beauties are typically made in very small batches on Sundays and are sold out very early in the week.  I tell you this so you can be sure to come in on a Sunday or Monday morning and get one that fresh.


Common Ground also offers great Panini sandwiches with delicious thin sliced bacon.  They offer several food and drink specials including text message deals, happy hour specials and frequent drink purchase cards where every eleventh drink is free. Throughout the year Common Ground hosts many entertainment opportunities including a wide range of musical acts. One of my favorite acts was a wonderful Caribbean steel drum band that passed through the area last summer.  In addition to food, drinks and music, Common Ground holds an artist display featuring works from many local and area artist and host an active weekly knitting group.

IMG_0479_1IMG_0477_1These events and activities make Common Ground a community hub, which is a goal of the coffee shop as an outreach of the local Nazarene Church. Since the coffee shop is a part of the church, Common Ground is home to a non-traditional Sunday morning worship session that features a recorded message and a comprehensive discussion of the message.  Whether you need caffeine, bacon or the good Lord above, Common Ground is the coffee house for you.

Until next time,



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