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Kansas City – Ponak’s

Here at “In Pursuit of Pork” we’ve touched several times on how many places there are to eat along Southwest Blvd in KCMO, but eating there and writing about it never gets old so I went back for more. My most recent trip took me to “Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar” (2856 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri 64108).

Ponak's photo courtesy of Ponak's Facebook page

Ponak’s has been located in the food hotbed of SW Blvd for about 40 years, and once you eat there you can see why it has staying power. Looking at the menu you’ll find pork served in several great ways, including shredded pork tacos, pork tamales, pork burritos, and the “Huevos Con Chorizo” if you’re in the mood for breakfast food at lunchtime.

While those would have all been excellent choices, I chose to try the “Carne Con Chile”, which is a generous serving of slow-cooked pork hunks in spicy red sauce, served over refried beans, all in the confinement of a bowl. You get that and a pile of corn tortillas to eat it with! It is overly simple yet totally delicious and satisfying. Throw in some tasty margaritas served by the pitcher along with some chips and salsa and you have about all you need in life!


Until next time,


Kansas City – Pizzabella

Pizzabella, one of Kansas City’s very best locally owned pizzerias have two locations in the area serving up some serious pizza pork. The original location is in the hip Crossroads district just south of downtown Kansas City, and the newest location, opened in 2013, is located in the Mission Farms area of Overland Park, Kansas. The name is French for beautiful pizza.

The story, as it was relayed to me, is that the owner, a small-town Kansas guy, always wanted to be in the restaurant business. He was able to buy the Crossroads location from his former employer and has been fortunate enough to expand to a second location. Whatever the story, the wood fired pizza is excellent; but then again, I’m yet to find a wood fired pizza that isn’t!  I shared a delicious chorizo pizza with my cousin Sterling, a Kansas City pizza aficionado. We ate at the original location which features garage door design that allows nearly the entire front end restaurant to open up during favorable weather.

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Our pizza included fresh tomato, basil pesto, pork chorizo, roasted red peppers, ricotta cheese and parsley.  Some of the other pork menu options include a charcuterie plate, a sausage pizza and a Prosciutto pizza.

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The name of the restaurant was certainly reflected in our beautiful and delicious pizza. For more information on other great Kansas City area pizzerias’ check out our blog entries for Spin Neapolitan Pizza and Grinder’s Pizza.

Until next time,


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Lawrence – Ramen Bowls

Ramen Bowls, located on a downtown Lawrence side street at 125 E. 10th, was recommended by my friend Bekka as a place to find good pork in Jayhawk country.

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As the name suggests, Ramen Bowls features bowls of ramen noodles. However, these are not the starving college student cheapo pack varieties you are probably familiar with. These are humongous steaming bowls of oriental noodles that come in many varieties and flavors not found in bulk at the big box store. One of the possible additions to your noodles includes pork.  Ramen Bowls also has free pork wontons during happy hour (beginning at 2:00 p.m) and pork tacos.

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For the adventurous (and heat tolerant), they have a ghost ramen challenge. The official rules state “You have exactly 30 minutes to finish the challenge. If you puke you are disqualified and YOU clean it up! And you owe us ONE MILLION DOLLARS (kidding about the dough). If you share your bowl or secretly pour your broth into someone else’s bowl you will be disqualified and forced to wash dishes for two days. There is no milk. No trips to the bathroom or outside.” 

I’m not that brave, so I ordered pork belly tacos instead. The three tacos were so pretty to look at that it was almost a shame to eat them….but only almost.  My friend Phillip and I did devour them and they were as delicious as they were pretty. The pork was spot on and the sriracha aioli drizzled on top was the perfect complement to the tasty meat.

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Ramen Bowls in not where you would expect to find good pork, but it certainly a good option.

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Until next time,


Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations Sarah Blackwell, you are the winner of the October Pork Month Giveaway!

Email us here to claim your prize!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Oct winner

Pork Month Giveaway!

Hey pork peeps!

October is National Pork Month–time to celebrate all things pork! We want to hear from you and in return, you’ll have a chance to win this fabulous basket of goodies!

October Giveaway

To enter to win, please reply to this post with the answer to this question:

“What is your favorite pork cut and how do you like to prepare it?”

I’ll randomly draw a winner next Monday (October 26) at 8:00 a.m. (Central) and announce the winner. Be sure to check back!

See you then!

– Kim

Salina – Blue Skye Brewery

Prior to a round of meetings in Salina, Kan., I needed to find a place for lunch. Salina has most of the fast food restaurants you would expect it to have and also an above average barbecue joint (Hickory Hut). On this trip, I wanted to try something different. A quick check of the internet led me to Blue Skye Brewery and Eats.


Blue Skye Brewery and Eats is a small microbrewery located at 116 N. Santa Fe, in downtown Salina. They feature a small handful of craft beers and a wood fire pizza oven (both of which deserve your consideration).

For the pork lover, you can create your own pizza, complete with sausage, bacon, pepperoni etc. During happy hour, from three to five p.m., you can order up a plate of pulled pork sliders.

For me, I chose the pulled pork sandwich.  The pulled pork is what you would expect, but the sauce is the real story here.


Rather than a traditional sweet Kansas City style sauce, the homemade sauce has a heavy whiskey infused, pasta sauce flavor. It created a sweet, yet unusual combination with the pulled pork that I certainly did not expect. If you are a whiskey lover, try the pulled pork sandwich. If you’re not, it’s hard to go wrong with a wood fired pizza. Whatever your pork pleasure, you should check out Blue Skye Brewery and Eats.

Until next time.


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,



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