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Manhattan – Gordo’s

Anytime a good new restaurant opens up, the foodie community takes notice. After seeing several good reviews for Gordo’s Restaurante Mexicano in Manhattan, Kansas, I knew I had to check the place out! Gordo’s is located at 1116 Moro Street, in the popular Aggieville shopping district, near the Kansas State University campus.

The front of Gordo’s has a quaint seating area and large bar, with the kitchen and restrooms separating the front of the building from a larger seating area in the back. Gordo’s also features an upstairs patio, which I’m sure I will go back and enjoy on a warmer day.

As for the food, the obligatory chips and salsa were good. I liked the thick chips that didn’t break when I loaded them up with the fresh salsa! For my meal, I ordered one of my favorites, the carnitas (tender bites of tasty pork). Upon first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by a citrus flavor. At first, I was caught off guard by this flavor profile, but the more I ate, the more I enjoyed it. By the end of the meal, I wished I had more. Citrus flavors pair well with Mexican foods. For another great example of this paring, check out the blog of El Camino real in Kansas City Kansas!

Additional pork menu items include molcajete gordo, burrito roqueta, and quesadilla Hawaiian (which include chorizo, bacon, and pineapple).

To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised with my visit to Gordo’s Restarante Mexicano and I look forward to trying their other pork dishes on the patio, during warmer weather!

Until next time,

Chris

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Shawnee – Big Bam’s Burgers

In the older parts of Johnson County, you are prone to running across some old-school feeling burger joints and diners that still have some character. Big Bam’s pretty well fits that description. It’s a small, non-descript burger joint on the west side of Nieman Road (just south of Johnson Drive) in Shawnee, KS. As a burger shop they are obviously known for their beef burgers, but if you check out the menu you’ll see some nice pork options too.

I went in with the goal of trying the pork tenderloin. I figured if the tenderloin was as good as how people describe the burgers I would not be disappointed. It turns out I was right! The tenderloin was excellent. The breading was some of the crunchiest breading I’ve had on a tenderloin, which was different, but also very good. I went with the ‘Que Pork (you’ll see several “styles” of tenderloin on the menu) which is the tenderloin with BBQ sauce, pickle and onion. While the BBQ sauce flavor was not my favorite, it went pretty well with the juicy and crunchy tenderloin and pickles! The onion rings I had as a side were excellent too.

I’ve heard this place has some of the best tater tots around, and I also took note of the pork burger on the menu. I think it’s just a matter of time until I get back up there and try that combo, because if that pork burger is as good as the tenderloin, I know I’ll be in for another treat.

Until next time,

Mike

Kansas City – Los Alamos Market y Cocina

If you’ve ever had the urge to experience pretty much the closest thing to actually being in a small Mexican market and cocina somewhere down in old Mexico, without actually going to Mexico, then I believe “Los Alamos Market y Cocina” is the place for you. You can have that whole experience without leaving Kansas City! Simply walking through the door of Los Alamos leaves you with a feeling you’ve managed to travel decades back in time into Mexico.

Located at 1667 Summit St, Kansas City, MO 64108 (NE corner of 17th and Summit), Los Alamos is just a short jaunt across the line into Missouri. It is more or less right between downtown Kansas City, MO, and the West Bottoms (old stockyard area). It may not be the easiest place to find, but is worth the short deviation from the beaten paths of I-35 and I-670.

When fellow blogger Chris Petty and I stopped in there awhile back, I tried the taco platter which consisted of 3 tacos, rice, and beans. In an effort to sample the plethora of pork they offered for the tacos, I chose the pork in red sauce and some of the pork in green sauce. Both tasted outstanding, as it was some of the best red sauce I’ve ever had and the hunks of pork were perfectly tender. Moreover, the freshly fried corn taco shells alone almost stole the show because they were so good!

Also, the shelves of the store contain about everything you need to make a traditional Mexican meal, and the coolers are stocked with a variety of both bottled Mexican soft drinks and Mexican beers to wash down what you’re eating in the restaurant. If authenticity means anything to you, and you don’t mind small adventures when looking for something to eat, then absolutely go check this place out if you’re in the area.

Until next time,

Mike

Lenexa – Red Kitchen Tamales

The newest thing to hit Lenexa and the Kansas City area food scene is the Public Market and the Lenexa City Center. Lenexa has basically built a new downtown area out on 87th St just west of I-435 that contains the City Hall, a rec facility, a huge public library (under construction), and the Public Market. The Public Market is basically a huge mall food court with a variety of large tables (and many card and board games around to play) and several permanent food fixtures such as Mad Man’s KC BBQ (see fellow blogger Chris’  post on Mad Man’s), The Roasterie Café, Topp’d Pizza, and Chewology.

There are also spaces that are more like a farmer’s market booth in there, and that’s where this story leads to. One of those vendors is called “Red Kitchen Tamales.” I’d been hearing a lot on Facebook about Red Kitchen’s “Tamale Tuesday” so I decided to go check it out to see how good the pork was. In the process I met Alejandra de le Fuente, who owns and runs Red Kitchen and is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. She makes all the food on-site in a kitchen upstairs at the Public Market, and then brings it downstairs to the booth and sells it from warmer pans.

My first stop at Red Kitchen was on a Tuesday at lunchtime and I had the pork tamale combo, which is 3 tamales, rice and beans. The tamales are perfectly sized and are not too heavy on the dough, which really lets the quality of the meat filling shine through. It was seriously some of the best pork tamale filling I’ve ever eaten. The rice and beans were excellent too, and the 2 sauces she makes and serves are to die for!

The other thing I kept hearing about from there were the breakfast burritos with the handmade tortillas. You have to get them before 10:30 AM, so I went back a week or so later and tried a bacon breakfast burrito and a Chorizo burrito. I wasn’t able to try much of the bacon one because my 6 year old claimed it as her own. I’ll have to mostly take her word for it, but if a picky 6 year old liked it I think that says a lot. The Chorizo burrito was delicious, and I know that for a fact.

If you find yourself in the area for a few days, take some time and go check out all the stuff to do at the City Center, the Public Market, and of course Red Kitchen Tamales!

Until next time,

Mike

Manhattan – Baan Thai

On a recent work related trip to Manhattan, a coworker suggested that I should eat at Baan Thai, located on 1709 Fort Riley Boulevard. If you know me, you know that I love pork! I believe that pork deserves to be its own food group!  Besides pizza, barbecue and Mexican food, Asian cuisine is a great way to include pork in your diet!

I stopped into Baan Thai early on a Thursday afternoon, and had the entire place to myself. I was thoroughly impressed by the cleanliness and décor of this restaurant. In fact, it is probably one of the cleanest and most orderly restaurants I have ever eaten at.

According to their website, they have two other Baan Thai locations, including one in Lawrence and one in Leavenworth, and an Asian Noodle Shop in Manhattan. The Manhattan Baan Thai location hasn’t always been a Thai restaurant, in fact, it used to be a Taco Casa.  You wouldn’t be able to tell that this place has been anything but Baan Thai when you step inside. The Asian influenced atmosphere of this location is on point.

For my supper, I ordered the delicious pork pot stickers (one of my favorite menu items), as an appetizer, and had the yellow curry with pork as my main course. If you love curry, they also serve up red or green curries.

Until next time,

Chris

Topeka – HHB BBQ

After working a trade show in Topeka, I decided to grab some dinner before heading home to southeast Kansas. On a tip from fellow blogger Mike, I stopped at HHB (Hog, Herd, & a Bird) BBQ.

HHB BBQ is located at 906 S. Kansas Avenue, which is only a stone’s throw from the Capitol Building.  Although HHB BBQ is located in a downtown building, it has the typical barbecue joint vibe. As you walk in the front door, you will find a dining area to your left, a meeting area to your right, and a counter and bar area towards the back of the restaurant.

For the pork lover, HHB BBQ features pulled pork, pulled pork nachos and baby back ribs. Pulled pork can be purchased by the pound or on a sandwich, and ribs can be purchased on a dinner place or by the slab. I enjoyed the ribs and would order them again if I was in the neighborhood.  Additionally, many of HHB BBQ’s menu items, including meats and sides, are gluten free.

If you find yourself in the Capital City, check out HHB BBQ, and as it says on their lunch and dinner menu, let them “show you how were havin’ fun puttin’ it on a bun!”

Until next time,

Chris

Kansas City – Mudbug Cajun Po Boys

 

“Mudbug” is a slang term for a crayfish (commonly referred to as a crawdad, in Kansas).  A mudbug is actually not a fish, but a crustacean, similar to a lobster or a crab. These animals are commonly found in the southeastern portion of the U.S. and are the official state crustacean of the state of Louisiana.  As you might expect, the mudbug is a popular feature of Cajun culture.

Mudbug Cajun Po Boys, located in North Kansas City, is a hugely popular Cajun restaurant located in a small north Kansas City location at 4702 NE Vivian Rd.

Owned by Louisiana transplant and longtime Kansas City culinary extraordinaire Christopher Jones, this place brings true Cajun flavor to the area. They serve up a variety of great “Po Boy” sandwiches.

A Po boy is a traditional Louisiana style sandwich on a baguette, and generally featuring some type of seafood. As homage to Kansas City’s barbecue roots, Mudbug’s serves up a phenomenal K.C. Po Boy featuring smoked pulled pork. This sandwich is a feast for the both the eyes and stomach.  The pulled pork has a hint of spicy Cajun seasoning rather than a more traditional barbecue seasoning.  The tiny bit of heat from the pulled pork pairs deliciously with the lemon pepper slaw, and fried union straws. The mixture of flavors work perfectly to create a taste not traditionally found in Kansas City cuisine.

If you love pulled pork but are searching for something different, I suggest you try the K.C. Po Boy from Mudbugs Cajun Po Boys. You won’t regret it!

Until next time,

Chris

Lenexa – Mad Man’s KC BBQ

Mad Man’s KC BBQ is a multifaceted barbecue company that includes catering, food trucks and a permanent location at the Lenexa Public Market. According to their website, “Mad Man’s has a simple philosophy – take food that we like, and make it awesome”.

I had the opportunity to enjoy their barbecue at the Lenexa Public Market.

The Lenexa Public Market is worth the trip, all by itself! Fellow Blogger Mike describes the place as a “community within a community”. Opened just last year, and in the same facility as the Lenexa City Hall, the public market is part food court and part farmers market. In the immediate vicinity, you will find brand new apartments, office space, restaurants and a hotel. If you are looking for everything in one place, this is it!

Madman’s KC BBQ serves as a cornerstone of the Public Market. I can’t resist barbecue, so I had the check the place out while at the Public Market! I ordered the two meat sandwich with pulled pork. If I was guessing, I’d say the pork was smoked pork loin rather than pork shoulder. My sandwich was served in a cardboard container, which was required to hold in the giant pile of barbecued meat! The delicious toasty burn just couldn’t hold it all!

My favorite part of the meal was the perfect level of Smokey favor! Often times, barbecue completely lacks a good wood smoke flavor, or the smoke simply overpowers the meat.

I realize barbecue is highly subjective, but Madman’s KC Barbecue smokes theirs just right! Check it out for yourself to see if you agree!

Until next time,

Chris

Lenexa – Jerry’s Bait Shop

Jerry’s Bait Shop is not the kind of place you would go if you actually wanted fish bait. It is the kind of place you would go if you wanted a cold drink and some tasty pork……in the form of a pizza, that is!

Jerry’s Bait Shop has the feel of local small town tavern in the heart of metropolitan Lenexa, Kansas. Jerry’s is located on Santa Fe Drive in a building dating back to the 1870’s. You can almost sense the wagon trains that would pass by out front…..or you can enjoy the sight and sound of the actual trains which run just across the street. With a historical aspect in mind, Jerry’s Bait Shop is highly reminiscent of Sharkey’s Pub and Grub in Fort Scott, Kansas, with similar décor, atmosphere, drinks, and menu.

At Jerry’s Bait Shop, you can get a pizza any way you want it. I want mine with all the meats! I like to order The Lunker, a pizza that includes pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon and regular bacon. If you would prefer, they offer a pulled pork pizza, as well.

If you find yourself in the Kansas City longing for someplace out of the traditional big city hubbub, tell your friends you need some bait, and head out to Jerry’s Bait Shop in Lenexa. Be sure to check the place out on weekends, when they feature live music!

Until next time,

Chris

Fort Scott – La Hacienda

La Hacienda of Fort Scott could be considered a dining institution in Fort Scott, Kansas. This locally-owned mom and pop (Jose and Mirna) Mexican restaurant is located in a colorful, old, historic downtown building.

La hacienda is just a stone’s throw away from the Fort Scott National Historic Site. The Historic Site, owned by the National Park Service, features a complete pre-civil war military fort. Additionally, the downtown Fort Scott area features a multitude of locally owned antique stores and specialty shops.

The combination of history, shopping, and great Mexican food makes Fort Scott a perfect location for day trip from Kansas City or Wichita.

As Fort Scott residents, my wife and I are regular customers at La Hacienda. Their menu features several great pork dishes. Some of my favorites include “street style” tacos, make your own burritos, and carnitas with verde sauce.

During my most recent visit, I enjoyed a burro de la roqueta (a pork burrito with a queso and pico de gallo garnish). These can be ordered as a dinner, or as a smaller sized lunch special #15.

A lunch or dinner at La Hacienda of Fort Scott is the perfect way to complement a day of touring and shopping!

Until next time,

Chris