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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.

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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.

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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,

Chris

Hallowell – Angelo’s Deli

On a recent trip through southeast Kansas, a particular restaurant I wanted to try was not yet open for the day. I called my friend Mike, originally from the area, and asked him for some other suggestions. He told me that I should try Angelo’s Deli in the rural community of Hallowell, Kansas.  Hallowell is located in an area once heavily stripped mined for coal. Angelo’s is the perfect place to get a bite to eat after a visit to Big Brutus, a gigantic electric coal shovel, visible for miles around and just a short drive northeast to West Mineral, Kansas.

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Mike described the place, quite accurately, as the “last outpost in Cherokee County”.  Angelo’s Deli does have all that you would expect a deli to have in the way of your basic meat and cheeses, but they also have a kitchen with hot foods (including a pork tenderloin), cold beer, snacks and fishing bait and tackle. I began to order the Angelo’s Special, a sandwich with ham and two types of salami. Before finalizing my order, I noticed that it also came in a “super” with 30 percent more meat. If you know me, you know I’m all about more pork, so I couldn’t resist the attempting the super! This sandwich comes with a “secret sauce” that is somewhat similar to what you would find on a big mac. I was unsure if I would like the sauce or not, but as it turns out, it pairs extremely well with the pork filled deli meat selection you get with the Angelo’s Special.

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The afternoon of my vist, the deli had a lively crowd of friendly locals, with much discussion of the day centering on recent wet conditions.  While researching the place, I came across a quote about the deli also being a good place to get information about fishing and even your love life.   Whether you need a bite to eat after a trip to Big Brutus, want to know where the fish are biting, or if you should bite the bullet and ask for date, Angelo’s Deli is the place for you!

Until next time,
Chris

Marysville – Wagon Wheel

The Pony Express may be what makes Marysville famous to Kansans, but the city has managed to survive just fine since the closure of the storied equine-based mail system in 1861. In my opinion, part of a small town surviving is its ability to keep a hometown restaurant in operation, and Marysville has succeeded in that. A block south of modern day US Hwy 36, you’ll find the “Wagon Wheel Restaurant”. It’s pretty much the epitome of a small town diner as far as I’m concerned.

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Like most small town diners, you will find a quality pork tenderloin sandwich on the menu, and if you’re lucky it might even be the lunch special! When it happens that you’re on a mission to eat pork, you order this sandwich and eat it! The pork tenderloin sandwich at Wagon Wheel is definitely worth ordering if you ever find yourself in Marysville, USA.

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If you are lucky enough to find yourself there, you should also consider the more adventurous “Kill Bill” sandwich. It is nothing more than pork tenderloin, sliced ham, bacon, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo all on a toasted pretzel bun. While I was not quite hungry enough to tie that one on the day I was there, I walk away from Wagon Wheel thinking that if you tried it, you would not be disappointed (or hungry).

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Until next time,
Mike

Kansas City – Grinders Pizza

Grinders Pizza located at 417 E. 18th St near downtown Kansas City is a local favorite. According to their website, they are “located in the heart of Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, serves up great food and drinks seven days a week. Check out our specialty New York-style pizzas, authentic Philly cheese steaks, homemade burgers, deli sandwiches, fresh salads, house-smoked specials and world famous Death Wings. Wash it all down with a selection from the most eclectic beer list in Kansas City.”

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They have another restaurant, Grinders West, located immediately next door.  Directly behind Grinders is the famous Crossroads, an outdoor music venue featuring some of the music industry’s most famous acts. This place is a one stop shop for cool.  What is even cooler?  They have a pizza on the menu called the Le Hog.

This pizza is described as;

“A serious flesh feast! Creamy white sauce, 100% real crispy bacon bits, canadian bacon, ham, and meatballs.”

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It would be pretty hard to pack more pork onto a pizza than you can get with the Le Hog.  They also have burgers, wings salads, and an extensive drink menu. Additionally, Grinders has been featured the Food Network television show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and the Destination America television show Barbecue Pitmasters, where they proudly represented Kansas City Style barbecue.

The Le Hog is delicious, the beer is cold and the concerts rock. This is a place in Kansas City you can’t miss.

Until next time,
Chris

Kansas City – SLAP’s BBQ

The Kansas City BBQ scene is littered with literally dozens of places that tried to stake a claim in an already busy arena, but could just never get a foothold, and slowly disappeared into thin air. On my latest quest to try all things BBQ in this city, I think I found a real keeper in SLAP’S BBQ (SLAP is the acronym for “Squeal Like A Pig”). Located in Kansas City, KS, SLAP’s is absolutely worth your time, and hopefully won’t be going away anytime soon. It might seem a bit hard to find, found at 533 Central Ave. in KCK, but it really is easy to get to. It’s just a few blocks west of I-70 on Central Ave., situated very close to the I70/Central Ave. interchange.

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While finding SLAP’s is no big deal, finding a place to park might be. The parking lot is a bit limited on what it can hold, but there is enough street side parking that you can make it work. Trust me; you’ll want to go through the effort to park, as the food is worth it. These people put some serious thought and work into the meat (including pork OF COURSE).

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The ribs were hands down as good as anything I’ve had in the KC area. The pulled pork was excellent as well. You can tell with smoked pork shoulder when the meat is fresh or not, and believe me, this stuff is fresh and of the highest quality. The selection of sides is pretty unique too, as they have twice-baked potato casserole, and hush puppies, two things I have not seen at any other BBQ places around here.

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I’d recommend if you’re in from out of town perhaps trying the place at a time other than right at noon (and it’s not open in the evening), as finding a place to park and a place to sit will be a bit easier. Getting the meat to go is always an option too. Either way, if you’re into trying new and uniquely good Kansas City BBQ, you‘d be doing yourself a disservice by not trying SLAP’s.

Until next time,
Mike

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It’s time for a contest!

We are giving away three prize packs, yes I said three!

These prize packs include a 4-piece EatPork.org grill set and a “Baconologist” t-shirt. Both prizes are pictured below.

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Here’s how you can win:

Our bloggers are always looking for new places to go and try pork dishes.

Tell us, where would you recommend they eat at in Kansas? What pork dish should they order?

Leave a comment to let us know your answer on this post.  The contest will close on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 2:30 pm CST. Winners will be selected at random and notified via email, as well as announced in a comment on this blog post. The winner will need to respond to our email no later then Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm CST to be eligible to claim their prize. If the prize is not claimed we will select another winner.

Interested in healthy recipes to help spice up your New Year’s resolution?’ Head on over to our site, eatpork.org, for recipes, coupons and more!

Yates Center – Smokey Ben’s BBQ and More

Smokey Ben’s BBQ and More in Yates Center, Kansas, “the hay capital of the world” is a rare gem on the prairie.   It is very unusual to find a barbecue restaurant in such a rural community, much less a good one!  Smokey Ben’s is Located on 54 highway, and is roughly half way between Fort Scott and Wichita.

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If you like “fall off the bone” ribs, this place is for you.  In fact, their ribs are so tender that I’m curious how they get them on the plate in one piece.

My favorite thing about Smokey’ Bens BBQ and More is that the smoked flavor of their meat is spot on.  I took a peek out back and noticed that they accomplish this feat of barbecue mastery by using an old offset style wood burning smoker.  Most restaurants prefer to use highly automated commercial style smoker that much of the art and science (and smokey flavor) out of the process.  While the pit-master at Smokey Ben’s has more of a challenge on his hands, the results speak for themselves.

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While visiting with a worker, I learned that everything on the menu is made in the smoker minus the cobbler (which looked delicious, but I was too full to try).

Smokey Ben’s BBQ and more is currently for sale.  I hope the next owner takes lessons from the current pitmaster!  I would encourage you to get to Yates Center soon and check it out.

Until next time,
Chris

Erie – Horizons at Prairie Ridge

The Neosho County seat community of Erie, Kansas is a pleasant and clean little community.  This riverside town is well kept and the people are friendly. One of the little community’s only real drawbacks is very limited amount of eating establishments. Food choices consist mostly of a bar, a gas station, a pizza and sandwich shop and a bowling alley.   While none of the aforementioned places are bad, I can say with confidence that there is another restaurant in the community that stands out in the pork department.

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Horizon’s at Prairie Ridge, as the name implies, is a restaurant overlooking the local golf course. At the suggestion of a friend, I wondered in over the lunch hour one summer day for a burger. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite pork delicacies on the menu and quickly decided that I had to come back.  Fast forward to December, and my friend and I had the opportunity to return.

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Although the cold weather kept us from eating on the patio and enjoying the lovely golf course view, the upscale interior provided a pleasant place to dine.  We called ahead and ordered the pork wings (actually, a tender and delicious piece of meat from the shank).  Only a handful of Kansas restaurants serve these tasty treats. (See the review of Taco Lucha in Manhattan for another.)  Our pork wings were served up with sticky barbecue sauce and a side of amazing battered French fries.  If you love pork like I do, you owe it to yourself to try some pork wings. You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time,
Chris

Andover – Billy Sims Barbecue

I don’t make a habit of eating at franchise restaurants, That being said I can’t resist barbecue whether it’s a chain or not. When I heard there was a new barbecue restaurant in Andover, Kansas, I had to give it a try.

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Billy Sims Barbecue is aptly named after former University of Oklahoma football player Billy Sims. As you would expect, the Oklahoma based franchise has a football theme.  The Andover location is situated in a once vacant corner gas station that has been remodeled to give the appearance and atmosphere of a typical barbecue restaurant.

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There were a few good and bad points to this particular location and to the restaurant in general.  I’ll just throw it all out there. The Andover location is hard to get into. It sits on a corner where traffic only flows from one direction. After making a U-turn on 54 highway, I was able to turn around and get into the parking lot. I would also have liked to see more homemade sides.

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Now for the good. There is a large southern pride smoker located just behind the counter. The means to make good barbecue are present and the meat was pretty good. I would go so far to say that it was better than some (but not all) popular Kansas City restaurants. I could see that my ribs had an adequate amount of rub and they were served dry, as they should be, so I can sauce them myself. The sauce was similar to what many Kansas City restaurants offer. As you would expect from an Oklahoma based chain, bologna was on the menu. If you liked smoked bologna, it would be worth trying from a Billy Sims franchise.

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Coincidentally, Billy Sims Barbecue was one of the many topics of discussion with the local farmers at the recently visited, Angelo’s Deli, which you can read about here on In Pursuit of Pork soon. Overall I prefer to support hometown businesses when I can, but as far as the barbecue meat is concerned, Billy Sims Barbecue certainly competes well.

Until next time,
Chris

Frontenac – Pallucca’s Meat Market and Deli

After a recent move to Southeast Kansas, fellow blogger Mike, a southeast Kansas native, suggested a few places I should check out.  One of these places, Pallucca’s Meat Market and Deli is a real hidden gem.

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Palluca’s is located in the back half of the old Pallucca and Sons Supermarket is located in downtown Frontenac.  Frontenac, Kansas, near Pittsburg,  is a town rich in Italian history, due primarily to the coal mining industry, once a large part of the area.

As the name suggest, they have a meat market full of fresh cut pork and homemade sausages, as well as a deli. I picked up a delicious homemade Cuban (with prosciutto rather than ham or pork loin) which I then brushed with olive oil, pan fried and ate for supper.

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What the name does not suggest (but the smokers do) is that they also do catering. If that wasn’t enough, they also have a small grocery area full of imported Italian foods.  There are several varieties of olive oils, breads, pastas and anything else you would need to prepare a genuine Italian feast.  Many of these items available would be nearly impossible to find anyplace else in Kansas.

I can’t wait to check out some of the many varieties of flavorful sausages on my next visit. You should check them out too!

Until next time,
Chris

Manhattan – Bourbon and Baker

Bourbon and Baker is one of the newest and trendiest restaurants in Manhattan, Kansas. In a city full of new and trendy restaurants, it takes something unique to stand out from the crowd. As the name implies, this restaurant specializes in whiskey and bakery goods…..not your usual combination!

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According to their website, “The inspiration behind Bourbon & Baker is rooted in the Midwestern and Southern influences of our families, educations, cultures and culinary experiences that brought us to Manhattan. The foundation of our menu is the comfort and soul of many cuisines. It is designed to allow you to enjoy a variety of small portions at your own pace, whether you are flying solo or sharing with a group. So, sit back and relax. We’re here to make sure you enjoy.”

An important thing to consider is the “small portions”. This is not an all you can eat buffet.  Don’t go here if you’re starving to death and you want to fill up quickly. That’s not the idea here.  You are supposed to sample a variety of dishes. A perfect opportunity for sharing and hanging out….think date night or good time out with friends.

For a pork lover, Bourbon and Baker does not disappoint.  I sampled three pork dishes. The first was a pork quesadilla. This was pretty fantastic.  My second dish was a cornbread pork slider. While a bit messy, the cornbread, fresh from the bakery was outstanding.  My final dish was braised pork belly. The pork belly is a fatty piece of meat with hints of smoke. Bourbon and Baker also offers delicious St. Louis style ribs. Along with your pork, be sure to order the duck fat French fries. You won’t be disappointed.

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They are located at 312 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502 and are open every day except Sunday.  Be sure to check out the bakery on your way out for delicious dessert item.

Until Next Time,
Chris

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