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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

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Olathe – Oscar’s Authentic Mexican Grill

It’s time to add yet another name to the growing list of authentic Mexican places in Olathe. The freshest face on the scene is “Oscar’s Authentic Mexican Grill”. Located near the Mur-Len and Santa Fe St (135th St.) intersection, it’s quite easy to get to from I-35 if you’re traveling through the area. Oscar’s is well worth your time too, if you’re looking for something almost as quick as “fast food” but still want to eat real food.

The setup at Oscars is similar to places like Chipotle or Qdoba, in that you see all the food choices there behind glass as your order them and can pick and choose what you want and how you want it. Like the other “burrito places” you can get burritos or a burrito bowl with various toppings, and of course you can get tacos and quesadillas!

The meats are the real stars of the show, however. You know if you’re at an authentic Mexican place you’ll have some good choices of pork on the menu, and Oscars doesn’t disappoint in that department. Your two pork options there are Carnitas and Chili Verde pork. You can get the burrito, tacos, taco salad, burrito bowl, and quesadillas with either of these meats in them, and of course they have chicken and beef too.

I went with a carnitas taco and a burrito bowl with the chili verde pork, on my stop there, in order to get a good cross section sampling of the pork. The carnitas were tender and flavorful, just as you think they ought to be, while also being very lean. The chili verde pork has some of the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and the meat chunks were perfectly cooked and fall-apart tender.

Oscars excels at customer service too. Oscar and his brother Delfino are a joy to talk to when you come in and they’ll help you figure out what you want, tell you all about the ingredients, and give you samples to help make your decision. The choices of sides and toppings are abundant too. The chips and queso are delicious, and both kind of beans they have (Charro and refried) are excellent as well. If you’re looking for “slow food” served at a fast pace, then check this out place sometime if you have the chance.

Until next time,
Mike

 

Kansas City – Doughnut Lounge

**This restaurant is no longer open.***

 

Inside Kansas City’s trendy Westport neighborhood is a hidden gem. This hidden gem shines morning and night. I’m talking about the Doughnut Lounge. Donut shop by day, Lounge by night.

They have all the regular morning classics like glazed and chocolate donuts, but that’s not what attracted me. I wanted the bacon! On their signature menu, I found a maple bacon long john, complete with a full slice of premium thick cut bacon.  This is what I’m taking about!

As you would expect from any good donut, it was soft and delicious….like a party for the taste buds. The salt of the bacon is a perfect complement to the sweet of the donut.

The Doughnut Lounge also features the Irish Breakfast, a Bismarck style donut filled with a whiskey orange marmalade and a bacon square.

Speaking of whiskey….the donut lounge features a full drink menu, featuring alcoholic drinks, teas and coffees. If you would prefer something besides a donut, the kitchen serves a light menu of breakfast options. A big breakfast includes two eggs, fried potatoes, toast, and not two, but three slices of delicious bacon!

Doughnut Lounge has a food truck located at 1250 Burlington in North KC, and is expected to open a Kansas location in early 2018. Look for them in downtown Overland Park, across from the farmers market.

Check out the Donut Lounge anytime day or night, to get your donut (and bacon) fix!

Until next time,

Chris

Kansas City – Ninfa’s

It seems like when I’m looking for good ways to eat pork I can never go wrong with authentic Mexican food, so back I went to Kansas City, Kan., which is pretty much the best place around to find good Mexican food. This time we went to Ninfa’s, which is a place I’ve heard about since moving to the KC metro in 2009 and have always wanted to try. Ninfa’s doesn’t look like much from the street, but inside is some downhome Mexican comfort food and probably the best flour tortillas I’ve ever eaten.

When you’re looking to eat pork at an authentic Mexican place it’s hard to top just going with Tamales, so I ordered the “Tamale Spread Plate” and it didn’t disappoint. Pork tamales smothered with cheese and more chunks of tender pork are pretty hard to beat! The neat thing about Ninfa’s is you can pretty much have pork in any of the dishes if you want. You can also buy their handmade tortillas right there in the restaurant and take home. The tortillas alone are about enough reason to go there, but to really experience the tortillas I think I’ll go back and have a few fried flour tacos with some more of that pork in them.

If you’re travelling on I-70 through Kansas City, KS, you are just a few blocks from Ninfa’s. Located at 964 Kansas Ave, Kansas City, KS 66105, it is on Kansas Ave. right between 7th St. and 18th St. (both streets have interchanges on I-70), so it really is very easy to find. Once you’re in the area just take yourself on a little mini taco tour of KCK and hit up El Pollo Rey, California Taco Shop, and San Antonio Carniceria y Tortilleria!

Until next time,

Mike

Olathe – MOD Pizza

If you like the concept of places like Qdoba or Chipotle, but want pizza instead of tacos, go check out MOD Pizza when you get a chance. MOD Pizza is a Seattle-based chain that was started by husband and wife Scott and Aly Svenson. They call their product “individual artisan style pizzas” and the way it works is they build it right on front of you just like the burrito shops; the only difference is the pizza then goes in a wood-fire oven for a few minutes after it’s assembled.

Now branching far from Seattle, MOD recently moved into the shopping and dining area near I-35 and 151st St. in Olathe (20152 W 153rd St, Olathe, KS 66062) so it’s very accessible from some major roads. They also have locations in Missouri in Raymore, Liberty, and North KC.

I timed the process on my stop at MOD Pizza, and it was about 8 minutes after I paid before my pizza was ready. I had time on my hands, but it looked so good I couldn’t wait and got a good case of mouth roof peel from my piping hot pizza, but it was worth it. The pizza is very good. The crust is crisp, yet a bit chewy still and the toppings I had were very good quality and had great flavor. I had sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon along with some mushrooms and black olives on my pizza.

The subject of toppings leads me to another cool thing about MOD Pizza. No matter how many toppings you choose, the price stays the same ($7.87 plus tax at the time of my visit). With over 30 toppings to choose from and a set price, the flavor combinations are practically endless and also wallet-friendly! I think the idea of a flat rate is pretty neat, because you can only fit so much stuff on a pizza, so if you want 12 different things on it, you just don’t get a lot of each one, but all the flavors are there and you don’t get gouged for 50 cents per topping like some other places.

All in all, MOD Pizza appears to be a great mixture of the speed and fun of the burrito places with the satisfaction of a nice wood-fire pizza as your meal. When affordability is considered, I see MOD Pizza as a strong player going forward in the new “artisan” fast food scene.

Until next time,

Mike

Kansas City – Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio

In the old Armourdale district of Kansas City, Kan., sits one of the best Mexican grocery stores and taco shops I’ve ever set foot in. If you’re looking for cheap, good tacos on days of the week not named Tuesday, then look no further than Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio! These tacos are legit “street taco” style tacos and right in front of the counter are all the self-serve taco fixings a person could imagine.

The tacos were excellent the day fellow blogger Chris Petty and I ate there. Obviously we both went for the pork, so I had the carnitas and he had al pastor tacos. Everything about them was perfect. The meat was tender and had so much flavor I hardly needed to add anything else to them, and the fresh tortillas were incredible as well.

The store also has about every meat, side dish, fruit, and drink you could possibly need to prepare a traditional Mexican meal. They also have huge bin of hot Chicharróns (pork rinds) that are scooped out to order, if you’re into those! Overall I can’t recommend this place enough to anyone looking for authentic tacos and other Mexican foods. Located just south of I-70 and few blocks east of 10th street on Kansas Avenue, it is very easy to get to from I-70 or from I-35 (via 7th Street).

Until next time,
Mike

 

Topeka – Bobo’s Drive In

If you’re a fan of old school drive-in food then make sure to stop at “Bobo’s Drive In” next time you’re going through Topeka. It’s just south of I-70 on MacVicar Ave. at the 10th St. intersection, so it is quite easy to find if you’re going down I-70. There are no fancy screens or buttons to push and microphones to order through. You pull in and someone will come out and take your order. There is some limited seating inside too if you’re not looking to eat in your car.

On my stop there back in the summer I got the pork tenderloin and onion rings, which are solid choices to eat anytime you’re at a place like this. The tenderloin was not huge which doesn’t make an impressive picture, but it is a reasonable sized portion for someone on the go without the ability to take home leftovers. The tenderloin was really good though. It didn’t have too much breading and had a very nice amount of seasoning in the breading. The rings were good too, though maybe a bit messy to eat in the truck cab!

If you do find yourself wanting to try Bobo’s, be patient if you’re there around lunch hour, as there aren’t very many parking places, and the spots are fairly small. If you can work through these issues, you can experience a great local eatery that Topeka residents have been enjoying since the 1950’s!

Lenexa – Pizza Man

Hidden in a small strip mall in a part of Lenexa you almost have to accidentally get to is some of the best pizza you will find in the KC metro. While there is seemingly a new pizza place opening somewhere in the area every day, “Pizza Man” in Lenexa has stood the test of time by staying true to its Chicago-style thin crust pizza since 1988. After trying a pizza from there it’s hard to argue with their formula for success.

I had a small pizza (9”) with about all the pork he could put on it (bacon, sausage and Canadian bacon) along with a few veggies. I must say, the combination of crust style, sauce flavor, and quality of the toppings made it one of the better pizzas I’ve ever eaten. It was so simple, yet so satisfying!

The large menu behind the counter says right on it “A taste of Chicago.” The walls of the place are lined with Windy City-themed sports figures and you can also get Chicago-style hot dogs that the KC area Chi-town transplants say are the best Chicago Dogs in all of KC. Along with the dogs and pizza they have Italian Sausage sandwiches and Polish sausages too. Check out the picture of the menu to get a full grasp of what all they have since they do not have a website.

Pizza Man is located on Pflumm Rd., right near 103rd St. at 10212 Pflumm Rd, Lenexa, KS 66215. If you picture the gigantic I-435/I-35 interchange, it is right next to that interchange in the NE “quadrant” of the crossroads. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but well worth your time in my opinion. The day I was in there his lunch special was Deep Dish pizza by the slice. I do plan on looking into how often he does that and going back for a piece or two of that stuff one of these days.

Topeka – Porubsky’s

 

Nestled in the “Little Russia” area of northeast Topeka you will find CW Porubsky Grocery and Meats. Since 1947 Porubsky’s has been there serving meals to the small German community and to passing railroad workers at times as well. The Little Russia area of Topeka actually has German heritage, as the “Russians” were actually the Volga Germans (from Russia technically).

In the winter they are known for their chili, and year round they are known for their hot pickles (horseradish hot) and their pimento cheese spread (which also comes in a hot version too). If you want to feel like you stepped back in time about 30 years all while grabbing some spicy pickles and a deli sandwich with copious amounts of meats and cheeses, then this is your place.

They also carry basic groceries and necessities and have a small tavern built onto the east side of the building where you can grab a beer and look at the pictures (with autographs!) of all the big name Kansas politicians that have frequented the place over the decades. Their rule on having your picture on the wall as a politician is you have to come in and eat there and meet them first. You have to earn your spot on that wall!

While there earlier this year I grabbed a sandwich from the deli and headed through the doorway down into the tavern to eat it and wash it down with a cold drink. The sandwich was piled high with ham and salami and cheese. Fresh sliced Fanestil pork products (from Emporia, KS) really hot the spot that day!

If you want to learn more about Porubsky’s this article from the Topeka Capital-Journal is a great read! My next goal is to get in there during chili season and have a bowl of that and try some of those hot pickles too.

Sycamore – Buster’s

 

A work trip to a farm near Sycamore, Kansas, ended around lunchtime. I asked the farm family for suggestions, and they stated that I needed to check out Buster’s BBQ, Homecooking & Catering in nearby Neodesha.

Buster’s, located at1223 N 8th Street, is currently in the process of expanding their business building. The kitchen is still open for business, and there is picnic table seating available under the shade tree’s outside.

Buster’s BBQ, Homecooking & Catering has a limited, but reasonably priced menu that features “The Buster”. The Buster is a pork eater’s delight! It is piled high with enough pulled pork, pork belly and bacon to feed two hungry people. In fact, it is a one pound sandwich! The buster comes with “baconator sauce” a bacon infused special topping. While not a typical barbecue sauce, it is still enjoyable.

Buster’s BBQ, Homecooking & Catering is a place I look forward to trying again, once their remodel is complete, and I suggest that you do too!