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Frankfort – Highway 9 Pizza & Grill

One day earlier this summer I found myself on a midday collision course with Frankfort, Kan., while out on the road for work. I decided to quickly look online while I still had phone signal and see exactly what food places I could stop at. I soon found myself directed to the Facebook page for “Highway 9 Pizza & Grill”. Less than 30 seconds later I realize that it’s located in beautiful downtown Frankfort (124 W 2nd St., which is also Hwy 9) and I knew I had found my lunch spot for the day.

Once I sat down and took a look at the menu I realized that the place had some serious pork eats, so I decided I’d better share it with you all. While they have “pizza” in the name of the place, and pizza is a terrific way to sample some pork, I went with the tried and true pork tenderloin sandwich (and fries) as my lunch. The long story short is that it was a very, very good pork tenderloin. Not only was the meat tender and flavorful, but so was the breading. It had just the right amount of crunch and substance to it, but didn’t get in the way of the meat at all either. It was seasoned just about right too. The fries were A+ as well.

The Frankfort community should feel very lucky to have such a great eatery in a small town. Nice new buildings with such a wide variety of foods and a full bar aren’t found in every small town in rural areas, that’s for sure. The music was awesome too, as the overhead speakers just happened to be playing some of my favorite “red dirt/Texas Country” music! If you find yourself in the area of Frankfort, be sure to stop in and eat or have a drink!

Until next time,

Mike

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Wathena – The Dairy Barn

The Dairy Barn has been a fixture on Highway 36 in Wathena, Kan., for years. It’s the local hot spot for a cold ice cream cone. For years, the Dairy Barn has been for sale, but it appears that owners have been found. Not only is the Dairy Barn a great place for ice cream, but it’s also a good place for pork!

Two nice options are a huge pork tenderloin and a sandwich called the triple pig.  As the name implies, the triple pig sandwich includes one half of tenderloin, one third a pound of pulled pork, and Applewood smoked bacon.

This sandwich is so big, that it took me little while to figure out how to tackle it!  If you eat the whole thing, you won’t leave the Dairy Barn hungry. In fact, you might not even have room for some delicious ice cream. I suggest you take a friend or two to split the triple pig with. Enjoy the triple pig and top off your meal with some cold dairy treats.

I look forward to trying the giant tenderloin (and an ice cream cone) during my next visit through Northeast Kansas!

Until next time,

Chris

Pittsburg – Gusano’s Pizza

Pizza chains abound in southeast Kansas. On the plus side, chains offer consistency and value. Unfortunately, they tend not to include much excitement in the variety department. Fortunately for those in and around Crawford County, Pittsburg has a Gusano’s Pizzeria, located near Pittsburg State University, and Meadowbrook Mall, at 200 W. Centennial Drive.

Gusano’s is a small Chicago style chain that got its start in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2004. According to their website (https://gusanos.pizza), the owner, a Chicago native, found his way to Arkansas for an education. After graduating, he began a restaurant true to his Chicago roots. The success of his first location eventually led to seven more.

Gusano’s Pizzerias have a smoke free, sports bar vibe. The Pittsburg location has a large bar area and nearly a dozen televisions. Besides pizza, Gusano’s has all the typical sports bar foods. But for me, I went for the pork!

If you like pizza (and who doesn’t?!), you owe it to yourself to try a Chicago style pie! Chicago style pizzas have a deliciously thick crust that serves as a vessel to hold fresh mozzarella cheese and your favorite toppings. Unlike other pizzas, however, Chicago style pizzas have a tomato flavored sauce on the top of the pizza, with the cheese and other toppings underneath.

My fantastically flavored pizza include bacon, pepperoni, and perfectly seasoned Italian sausage chunks.

If you are a pizza lover like me, you owe it to yourself to try a Chicago style pizza. If you find yourself in southeast Kansas, give Gusano’s Pizzeria a try!

Until next time,

Chris

Emporia – Radius Brewing Company

Recently I had a ticket to a concert in Emporia fall into my lap at the last minute. The trip to Emporia involved dinner too we decided, and Radius Brewing Company was chosen as our pre-concert destination. Located in downtown Emporia (Merchant St. and Hwy 50), Radius is right across the street from Bobby D’s BBQ, which is one of my old blog subjects for IPOP. It was nice to see Bobby D’s was still doing well a few years later with a line out the door on a Saturday night!

Like Bobby D’s, Radius is in an old store front that’s been there for a pretty long time. It’s a relatively narrow place that goes all the way through to the back alley. On your way to the seating area in the rear part of the place you can see through glass all the food being prepared right before your eyes. Watching the workers toss the crusts, assemble the pizzas, and operate the huge rotating brick pizza oven was kind of fun to see.

Before I left home I had studied the Radius menu long enough to know I was going to get one of their highly spoken of pizzas once I was there. I just picked a few of the “can’t miss” pork products like bacon, sausage, and pepperoni and then added some olives and mushrooms to balance things out a bit. It was an excellent pizza with a chewy crust that was crisp on the outside. The toppings all tasted great. The sausage was high quality stuff and the Fanestil bacon (from right there in Emporia as well) tasted great without being too fatty.

I washed it all down with a couple different beers from their brewery that were very good too. At this point I’m just looking for another reason to head back down to Radius so I can get another pizza, this time with some of their chorizo on it, and possibly another beer or three while I’m at it!

Until next time,

Mike

Olathe – El Panzote

If you had a dictionary with phrases instead of single words and it had pictures to match, and you looked up “hole in the wall Mexican place” in the book, it would likely have a picture of El Panzote next to it. El Panzote sits out in western Olathe on old 56 Hwy west of KS Hwy 7, pretty much right next to one of my favorite places to eat in all of Olathe; Johnny’s BBQ. Literally for years now I’ve driven by El Panzote and every time thought to myself “I should go eat there one of these days”.

Finally “one of these days” actually occurred, and I went to try El Panzote. Overall it was a pleasant surprise, as besides the basic Mexican foods you’d expect, they also have a bakery and serve ice cream too! It’s a nice little place that was very clean and well-kept inside.

The tamales are like nothing I’ve had around this area. They are wrapped in banana leaves before they’re steamed rather than corn husks. It makes for a slightly different (but good) flavor on the masa dough. It also makes for a much larger tamale, which neither me nor my stomach expected! The pork soft tacos and their salsas and sauces were really good too.

If you want to study up on El Panzote, they don’t have a website but they do have a fairly active Facebook page that you can learn quite a bit about their foods from. Now that I know what this little place is really like inside I plan on going back in the morning someday and maybe trying their breakfast, or at the very least getting a variety of the baked goods to bring home and sample!

Until next time,

Mike

Mound City – Garrett’s BBQ Burgers & Tenderloins

Garrett’s BBQ Burgers and Tenderloins, located at 827 West Walnut Street Mound City, KS, is a cool little small town gem. Located right off scenic highway 7 in eastern Kansas, Garrett’s is just a leisurely drive south of Kansas City.

As the name implies, Garret’s BBQ Burgers and Tenderloins has all your typical small town café fare. What the name doesn’t imply is that they have a huge variety of ice cream desserts, including, floats, shakes, and cones in a myriad of flavors.

I visited on a hot June day, and my only complaint was that the air conditioning had a hard time keeping pace with the thermometer….but I guess this made the cold ice cream so much better!

I’m a barbecue lover, so besides ice cream, I was there for some pulled pork! I ordered The Mix Half Pounder, a sandwich with both a quarter pound of brisket and a quarter pound of pulled pork. The meat was juicy and delicious and full of the smoke flavor that I enjoy.  The service was good, and the atmosphere was like you would expect from a small town eatery.

I hope to get there again, (on a cooler day), and enjoy some barbecued ribs. You should make it a point to get there too!

Until next time,

Chris

Paola – Beethovens #9

 

Beethoven’s #9 is a musical masterpiece. It’s also a pretty darn good place to eat!  This fantastic mother/daughter-owned, German restaurant is Located at 2 W. Piankishaw St., Paola, Kan., and is open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and supper.  I like this place so much that I’d consider it one of my top picks for pork dishes in Kansas!

The menu features no less than seven pork schnitzels (thinly breaded and fried pork loin), and several sausages. They also serve a multitude of homemade desserts and a full menu of Bavarian beers! A visit to Beethoven’s #9 is like a trip to Europe at your table!

I stopped for dinner during a motorcycle trip through Eastern Kansas, and I’m sure glad I did. My meal consisted of the Cordon Blue schnitzel (because what goes good with pork…ham, of course!), two sides and a delicious over-sized roll.  I couldn’t finish it all, and nobody has ever accused me of being little….so that says something about the colossal size of the meal. Next time I’ll be sure to eat dessert first, so I have room to enjoy it, and then will try a sausage sampler.

I cannot wait to make a return trip. I hope to see you there!

Until next time,

Chris

Kansas City – Mason Jar

In the food world, Kansas City may be mostly known for Mexican food and BBQ, but there is now a slightly unique hidden gem in the western KCK area called Mason Jar”. Located around 78th and State Ave. (just south of Kansas City, Kan., Community College), it is quite easy to get to from I-70 if you’re passing through the area, or is very accessible if you’re looking to escape the crowds at Legends or the Speedway.

I found Mason Jar to be a real breath of fresh air, as it’s very clean and sharp inside, but still has a nice inviting and fun feel to it. In my opinion it’s an upscale sports bar/bar & grill. The “bar area” feels like a sports bar, but there is plenty of seating in the other side of the place that feels more like a family sit-down restaurant. They really pride themselves on their cocktail and beer menu, as well as their food. While I didn’t try any of the drinks, I did try one of their pizzas.

I went with the “Loaded Up” pizza, but subbed jalapeños for the red onion. The pizza had bacon, sausage, meatballs and pepperoni, so it served up a healthy dose of pork. I almost ordered the “Hog Bones” too, which are bone-in pork shanks in an sweet Asian chili sauce, but I figured a 12” pizza was enough food for me.

If you do find yourself in this area for a meeting or an event, or are just passing through, go check out Mason Jar. It really bucks some of the stigmas that might surround Kansas City and provides a perfect environment for food, drinks, and fun for adults, or the whole family!

Until next time,

Mike

Overland Park – Lemongrass Thai

My latest trip to go sample some pork took me back to one of my favorite places in the Kansas City area– old downtown Overland Park. When searching out great places to sample pork in various dishes, it’s easy to get stuck in the BBQ and pizza rut, so I busted out of the rut this time and went to “Lemongrass Thai Cuisine” in Overland Park.

I had the egg rolls as an appetizer and then went with the Yellow Curry Fried Rice with pork. The egg rolls were seriously the best I’ve ever had. They had ground pork and all the vegetables you’d expect inside, and the outside wrapper was fried to a perfect crispiness. The sweet & sour sauce put to shame the neon pink stuff you get at a Chinese buffet.

The Yellow Curry Fried Rice with pork was delicious as well. I decided to ask for “mild” on the heat scale just to be safe. At Lemongrass they let you choose from “no spice” on up to hot. I’m glad I chose mild, as it really let me experience all the flavors of the dish. The fried rice with yellow curry, pork, onion, and cilantro together were simply impeccable.

I will for sure be going back to try other dishes there, in time. Part of the reason I look forward to going back is I get to experience old Overland Park more. Once there, a person can check out Upper Crust pie bakery, Clock Tower Bakery & Café, or The Tasteful Olive, which has many infused olive oils, vinegars, and other unique ingredients for sale. I might even go check out the used record shop again too!

Until next time,

Mike

Overland Park – Costa Vida

 

As Overland Park rapidly sprawls south down Highway 69, the ensuing rush to put in eateries around all those new housing developments leads to some unexpectedly nice food options. One of those places, “Costa Vida,” is now up and running at the intersection of 159th St. and Antioch Rd. which is just east of Hwy 69 on 159th St.

Costa Vida is a fast Mexican place that reminds you a lot of Chipotle or Qdoba, but maybe has a few more options for the customers. It was started in Utah of all places by a husband and wife that had enjoyed their trips to Cabo San Lucas so much they thought the foods they loved there needed to be shared with the masses in the U.S. In 2003 they opened their first place, and the rest is history!

Then menu quickly shows they cover all the basics of Mexican food. You can get tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, a “baja bowl”, and of course a salad. On/in these things are your choice of a variety of meats that include their “sweet pork” and their green chili pork (which isn’t shown on the menu). I went with a nacho bowl and the “sweet pork” as my meat. Wh at can I say other than it was delicious. The meat quality and flavor are both through the roof. You can get all the fixings you could possibly want with it. I kept it pretty simple with just some beans and 2 types of cheese (shredded and of course some queso dip).

In general, the place gives you a ton of options, yet keeps things simple. The food quality is excellent as far as I can tell and they love to give out samples to help you make your decision. My 3 year old daughter said “I wanna eat all that” when I was showing her the pictures on the online menu, and I can’t say I disagree with her logic!