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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,

Chris

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Fort Scott – Bella Roma

Unfortunately this restaurant is no longer open.

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,

Chris

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

Chris

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.

Mike

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.

Chris

Topeka- Pepe and Chela’s

Last month I had to run to Topeka for a work errand, so I decided to work a stop to “Pepe and Chela’s” Mexican restaurant in downtown Topeka into my trip since I knew I’d have the extra time. I had heard it was a good place, so I figured I owed it to myself to try it someday when it was convenient.

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Hutchinson- Kansas State Fair Food

If there is one place in Kansas to find all things pork in one place, it is the Kansas State Fair!

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Farewell from Jess

I'm not here with a great giveaway or a yummy review from the guys today, but the good news is that neither of those great things are ending. Sadly, I will be leaving my position at the Kansas Pork Association soon, and thus will no longer be in charge of getting all of Chris and Mike's great reviews up on this blog for you to read.

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