Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha)

The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
2006/06/20 12:59:20
UPDATE: The trip report now starts about halfway down this page. There will be more photos, especially of the non-food discoveries on my blog (

Greetings from the road....

I am in scenic Council Bluffs, IA, on the banks of the Missouri River, overlooking the Ameristar Casino. God Bless America.

This is the tale end of a journey that begn in St. Louis, continued into Kansas City and finds us now in this "suburb" of Omaha. The purpose of this trip has been the College World Series, the new ballpark in STL, and some GREAT eating along the way.

Some of the places that I will write about more in depth will include:

St. Louis
O'Connell's Pub -- maybe the BEST roast beef sandwich I have ever eaten
Blueberry Hill -- their world famous Cheddar Burger
Tony's Restaurant -- home of Missouri's Largest Omelet (that's what it said on the sign)
Ted Drewe's -- frozen custard (two visits!)

Kansas City
Arthur Bryant's - Some might argue the best BBQ in America?
Another stop somewhere on the way to the airport tomorrow????

Lo Sole Mio -- I know this is going to sound weird, but this is one of the best Italian places I know -- it just happens to be in Omaha!
Johnny's Cafe -- on the way there for lunch this afternoon!
...and, perhaps, a review of the ballpark food at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium

I will try to do full reviews here, as well as keep up my (seemingly abandoned) blog ([url]http//[/url])!
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 14:34:41
Originally posted by stevekoe

Kansas City
Arthur Bryant's - Some might argue the best BBQ in America?
Another stop somewhere on the way to the airport tomorrow????

Steve, it sounds like you'll be driving from Council Bluffs back to KC tomorrow. If you have a little spare time, there's an interesting little town not far off I-29 a little north of the airport.

Weston, MO used to be a major shipping port on the Missouri, but turned into an inland city after a major flood rerouted the river! It's an interesting little town.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 15:16:10
I didn't pick up the same subtle implication that Bushie did regarding the trip back to KC. Upon second reading, it is fairly clear.

Allow me to suggest Galvan's, just south of St. Joseph, for your return trip meal. With Stroud's original location gone, Galvan's might just be the next best option for fried chicken in the greater KC metro area.

Of course if you don't mind going a little out of your way, Stroud's north location, "Stroud's Manor House", is a little ways south of KCI airport. Check their website for details.

Another excellent option, if you like classic old time cafeterias, is Jere-Anne's (pronounced Jerry-Ann's), 2640 Mitchell Avenue, in St. Jo, (816) 232-6585. Jere-Anne's is a favorite meeting spot for the family when we gather together from the four corners of the globe at Christmas. This is a tiny place loaded with authentic charm and very good, very inexpensive cafeteria food.

Glad you enjoyed your trip. Can't wait to read your review of Arthur Bryant's (I'll share my first experience after you post your review), and Ted Drewe's, two of my favorite places in the Show Me state.

Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 15:42:10
On the way to the KC airport there is a Winstead's also...nice burgers and shakes...
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 15:46:22
Stroud's Oak Ridge Manor is as good as the south location, cleaner, but every bit as good. But they don't open until 5pm. Mon - Thurs I believe.
The Jere-Anne is highly recommended. My parents used to drive from KC to St. Joseph every month to eat there. My father has been gone for 3 years so I'd forgotten about it. Thanks, Buddy for the reminder! It is certainly a convenient place to stop before reaching the airport from Omaha.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 16:07:34
You're welcome zataar. Also, check out the Roadhouse Tour thread for our Twin Cities stops this week. Maybe your daughter's schedule will allow her to stop by one of the Lund's stores we're visiting.

mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 21:37:01
I am afraid I will be rooting for Oregon State to beat Miami in tonight's game. Hope you have fun.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/20 21:57:40
Ted Drewes??? Twice??!!!

Oh, man I hate you!

My last Ted Drewe's was back in 2003, I need another fix!
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/21 02:49:03
OK....let me do a quick update in as short a time as I have.

The "early" (started at 4 pm local time -- hard to call that early when the previous days games began at 1 pm) game went REALLY long. Apparently, Cal State Fullerton's team was upset that their game against North Carolina the other night was only the SECOND longest game in CWS history -- so, they tried to set the record again tonight. They and Clemson played for just over four hours, making it the longest nine-inning game in CWS history. Hey, a record is a record, right? So, with the game ending at almost 8:15 pm, and the next game not scheduled to start until after 9 pm, and us with no rooting interest in either team -- well, we decided to catch another good meal and watch the game from the confines of our air conditioned hotel room (it was 94 degrees today -- and, no matter how it looks on TV, it is freakin' hot there!).

So, I was lucky enough to get a meal at the Bohemian Cafe. I will add that to my list of places to review. Needless to say, it was fabulous.

Also, the flight out on Wednesday is about three hours earlier than we had thought. Apparently, our connecting flight is a little after 2 pm. So, we will likely just have time for breakfast in the hotel (a thawed frozen bagel and a 'nana?) and a haul down I-29, with no time for even a carryout lunch to eat in first class on the way from MCI-ORD. Otherwise, the suggestions offered above are great, and I would have loved to check out Weston, MO (you know me a little too well!). Since this trip happens often -- we both realized how much we missed the whole Omaha experience last year when we didn't go -- that I am sure we will be able to attach Weston and some of the other suggestions on an upcoming trip.

In six days, though, I took in some serious eating, and am not even disappointed that I won't get a second bite in KCMO. At least we will have something in F from ORD-MCO!

Chips -- I was pulling for Oregon State, too. I am an official member of "Beaver Nation" and have the t-shirt to prove it. They would be a fine opponent against my beloved UNC Tar Heels this weekend. Unfortunately, they will need to beat Rice twice -- tough to do.

WJ -- Yeah, twice. I had an apple pie concrete and chocolate chip cookie dough, which had some of the biggest chunks of chocolate I had ever seen. The apple pie wasn't even on their menu. I had it there previously and just asked for it -- and they gladly made it.

Thanks to all others for the suggestions. Just because it didn't work out this time doesn't mean that it isn't in the mental rolodex for next time!
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 15:03:31
OK...the long-awaited trip log....

Day 1, Orlando to St. Louis

Vacation meal #1 was burned on airline food. I had a lovely, overly salted, turkey sandwich on a croissant. Accompanying the sandwich was a salad with not-quite-wilted lettuce, and a bag of walnut cookies. I am glad that I don't ever see those cookies in the supermarket, because I like them a lot. Most of the products from Old Colony ( are pretty good (on the return flight, I had one variety that I had never seen -- Chocolate Mint), and if they were readily available locally, I am afraid I would buy a bag every trip to the grocery store.

After a quick change at the hotel, we drove off to check out the world famous St. Louis Zoo. This zoo was one of the first to eliminate the old-style cage system, and provide more of a free-roaming environment for it's animals. Best of all, for all you penny pinchers out there, the place is absolutely free.

Dinner on the first night was burgers at Blueberry Hill. Traveling with someone who has lived in STL previously, I got quite a bit of historical background on this area...unfortunately, not many pictures! While the burger was fabulous, what I was most pleased with was the Shiner Bock on draft. Whenever I travel to Texas, Shiner is THE beer of choice, and I can even get in bottles from the local Publix. My understanding, though, was that Shiner beer is only available on draft in Texas. A pleasant surprise, to say the least.

The specialty burger here is the Cheddar Burger. It is 7 oz. of beef slathered with spreadable cheddar cheese. I am not usually a big fan of any kind of cheese spread, but this gooey cheese added a unique flavor to the burger. At our table, one burger was ordered medium and one medium rare -- and there was a discernable difference in the two. The fries were tasty, but I was subsequently told to order the onion rings instead.

The last stop of the day was the ultimate St. Louis institution -- Ted Drewes for frozen custard. I read in one of those cheesy tourist books how St. Louis is famous for two things -- one made of steel (The Arch) and the other made of concrete (the name for Ted Drewe's blended custard concoction). This was my second visit to Ted Drewe's, and I recalled that during my last visit I had an apple pie concrete. For the uninitiated, this is vanilla custard blended with a hunk of fresh apple pie -- similar to a DQ Blizzard, but with quality ingredients! The server turns the dish upside down to show just how thick (kind of like....concrete!) this treat is. For some reason, they serve your custard with a spoon AND a straw -- but, I have never seen anyone eat their concrete with a straw.

However, after perusing the menu thoroughly, I did not see apple pie on the menu. I understand that the menu rotates somewhat periodically, but I was bummed. One of the folks I was with suggested that I ask for it, as they sometimes have stuff that is not on the menu. Good call...and moments later, I was chowing down on my apple pie concrete!

More to follow....
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 18:53:34
Day 2; St. Louis

Up at the butt crack of Dawn to try to secure some last minute tickets to the new Busch Stadium. By the time the box office opened and we had secured a pair for the evening, hunger has set in. What better place than one that advertises...

I think I have mentioned before that I am a sucker for this type of marketing. I always want to see "the biggest," "the best," "the tallest," etc.

Tony's Restaurant (12246 Natural Bridge Rd, Bridgeton, MO) did not disappoint. The restaurant is not large, and well off any kind of beaten path that anyone but the locals would find. It is, however, near the airport, so it is an easy stop on your way in or out of town. Specials were listed on a board near the kitchen, and a sizeable menu exists, but when a place advertises that they are "Home of Missouri's Largest Omelet," why would you order anything else?

The three of us -- all healthy adult males -- split two dishes. One bacon and cheese omelet and a stack of apple pancakes.

I can only tell you that this picture doesn't do this omelet justice. Realize that the omelet is the same size as those pancakes, and about as thick as a stack of five! Maybe this close-up does it better...

Not only was the omelet ENORMOUS, but it was also delicious. It fed THREE of us, and we couldn't finish the whole thing. I can only imagine how many eggs it took to make this -- my guess is 6 or more. There may have also been about 1/3 of a pound of bacon in there. To top it all off, the omelet runs about five bucks. As a matter of fact, the whole check for the three of us was about $15, including tip. If you are looking for a place to grab a good, filling, hearty, inexpensive breakfast, Tony's shouldn't be missed. Bring a defribulator, though, it may come in handy.

Afternoon activities included a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden (, specifically to see the Glass in the Garden exhibit by Dale Chihuly. I had previously seen a similar exhibit in Chicago a few years ago, and subsequently became a Chihuly fan. For one thing, the guy wears an eye patch, which is kind of pirate-ish. Extra points, for sure.

I won't bore you with a ton of Chihuly photos here, but I posted some on my blog ( for anyone who wants to catch a peek.

We decided to grab a late afternoon meal (only in Florida would a meal this time of day be considered dinner) before heading out to the ballpark to limit the intake of lips and snouts. Our first choice was Connelly's Goody Goody Diner (, but they were closed by the time we arrived. Before we spent our entire time trying to figure out what would be the best substitute, we quickly decided on using some serious "foodie nose" to get the job done. Sometimes, you just have a feel -- with no guide book or anything.

Located right in front of the Bel-Nor City Hall, we found The Breakaway Cafe (8418 Natural Bridge Road). Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this place, but you can trust me, the food was tasty. Breakaway Cafe serves a number of pasta dishes and other varieties of comfort food. This was my first experience trying toasted ravioli, and they did not disappoint. I don't know how much better they could have been at the more well-known Italian institutions on "The Hill," but these served this novice pretty well -- a crusty exterior, and a well-seasoned filling, all dipped in homemade marinara. Appetizers were generally under $6 and entrees could be had in the neighborhood of $10.

From there, it was on to the new Busch stadium for the night.

I am particularly partial to the view of downtown and the Arch from the stadium.

One serious plus for the stadium is the enthusiasm of the St. Louis fans. They did have this in the old ballpark, too,, it only goes so far. There is a nice Cardinals history done on the outside promenade in brick. If so many of the Cardinals highlights hadn't come against the Mets, I might have enjoyed that a little more.

Day 3 coming....
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 21:27:18
Steve, so far so good.
I went to blueberry hill about 15 years ago, not to eat, but to listen to some great live blues.

By the way, that omelette looks like its ready to sprout some legs and walk off the plate, or perhaps give birth to some baby omelettes. That thing is HUGE!" />
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 21:30:19
Personally, I don't think that the picture does it justice!

Me, you, and three of your best friends couldn't eat that thing!
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 21:49:08 hash browns with the omelet??
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 23:09:40
Lou, I thought the same thing when we ordered. Believe it or not, the omelet came with toast or PANCAKES! I think for an extra 50 cents you can get hash browns or home fries. I am just not that bold.
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 23:35:44
The omlette looks like it might be a decent snack. Great photo of new Busch.
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/25 23:49:36
Originally posted by mr chips

Great photo of new Busch.

Ditto. I haven't been to a game at the stadium in about 25 years, and it's been at least 5 years since I was downtown.

Great memories of sitting at games with an angle like the 1st picture. Next time we break bread, Steve, I'll relate some stories surrounding college trips to Busch Stadium.

Plus, I'm glad to hear that the St. Louis Zoo is still kickin'. Being po' folks from Springfield (MO), I remember trips to St. Louis as being "big adventure" when I was a pup. The STL zoo was like Disneyland to me.
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/26 00:13:38
Chips -- that omelet would feed you and the whole clan!

Bushie -- I loved the Zoo! On the other hand, I may have liked the old ballpark better!

Time for one last picture before bed. I am not sure if I mentioned before that I collect pictures of myself with sports mascots. Yes, I know how stupid this is, but it is also challenging to get professional sports teams mascots, as they spend less time in the stands and more time on the field. What time they do spend in the stands, is usually spent placating small children (and rightfully so), so opportunities to score a major league mascot are few and far between.

I scored a major coup, though, last week, when I got my picture taken with Fredbird!

Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/27 17:53:48
Nice trip report. I live in St. Louis and I haven't been to the new stadium. However, I'm only a couple of blocks from Ted Drewes' and that's a different story.
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/27 18:23:05
Originally posted by Extreme Glow

Nice trip report. I live in St. Louis and I haven't been to the new stadium. However, I'm only a couple of blocks from Ted Drewes' and that's a different story.

Couple of blocks from Drewes? Talk about your prime real estate!

RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/27 18:59:03
Did I miss the KCMO review?
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 00:05:21
Day 3; St. Louis

Unfortunately, no food pictures today. I don't really remember what happened, but I don't have anything in my files. Oh well...text it is!

First stop was O'Connell's Pub (Kingshighway in The Hill section). O'Connell's has made a few lists for best burgers. I have been there once before, and on that trip, I was encouraged to order the roast beef sandwich. The argument was made that a good burger could be had in any number of places, but it was much harder to cross paths with a good roast beef sandwich. The roast beef was excellent, but I also saw a burger head out from the kitchen to a table and it looked really good. I was certain that if I were to ever come back to O'Connell's, I would have to order one of those burgers. As we drove down, I mentioned my plan to my fellow travelers, who immediately scoffed at my suggestion. The same argument was thrown at me -- why get a burger here (especially after eating at Blueberry Hill a few days prior), when the roast beef was unique to this particular place? I was hearing nothing of it. I wanted a burger -- and, by god, I was going to order one.

When we arrived, I kept telling myself to order the burger and not be swayed. In my head, I was replaying "order the burger...order the burger...order the burger..." The server came by and asked what we would like. Around the table, my travel companions, one after the other, repeated "roast beef...medium rare...fries." Same thing at the next stop. turn, and I am still thinking "order the burger...order the burger..." when I can only assume the film director in my head said "stop...cue the roast beef sandwich!" Because, right at that very moment, about five gorgeous roast beef sandwiches were carried right past my snout and on to their awaiting patrons. "I'll have the roast beef," I muttered, immediately taking on a heap of grief from the rest of my table. Heck, I even sprung for the extra 25 cents to get a ramiken of au jus.

I remembered the roast beef as being very good. I don't know how it happened, but in two years, it has somehow improved to be the best roast beef sandwich I have ever eaten. The au jus was a little bland, but it made for an excellent texture. I was just a little surprised, because this meat is well seasoned. I am really disappointed that I didn't get any pictures, because you can actually see the difference in the color of the meat from medium-rare to medium -- each of which was perfect for my tastes. The french fries were superb, but I was again told that onion rings should be the compliment to most sandwiches. Also, while toasted ravioli gets the press as the local appetizer native to St. Louis, it also seems that many places have excellent stuffed mushroom caps.

My friend who had lived in St. Louis previously said that he understood what I was going through with the hamburger choice. When he lived there, he would go to O'Connell's for lunch, have the roast beef, and then try to come back for dinner, thinking he would order the hamburger. He would sit down, see a roast beef go by, and order the roast beef.

On the way towards downtown, we stopped in for another visit to Ted Drewes.

I know that Ted Drewe's a St. Louis institution, but I had no idea that it was so ingrained into a native St. Louisan that it would be a necessary stop for a wedding party. While we were there, in early afternoon, TWO wedding parties drove up in full coach buses. I overheard a conversation between two of the counter girls. They didn't seem the least bit phased by the wedding parties, but were a little surprised at the SIZE of the wedding parties, and the necessity for coach buses. I have to admit, I am not too inclined to think about marriage again, but if I find the woman who insists on including Ted Drewe's as part of our wedding party, I may know that I have found a keeper!

For dinner, we sought out a sports bar to watch the College World Series (Miami vs. Oregon State), Game 6 of the NHL Finals (yeah, right), and just soak up some sports environment. Frankly, the food was secondary, but cold beer was a must. We ended up at a place called The Locker Room in Florissant. The locals at the table next to us raved about the wings, so we grabbed some of those. We also added an appetizer sampler - your basic bar food. The wings were heavily breaded (kind of like Hooter's wings, but with a little more taste), but the hot sauce had a little tang. Overall, the food was average, but reasonably priced. The beer was cold, and they had some good local and national selections. The service was exceptional -- the owner was around and visible, keeping control and tabs on all of the televisions set to the proper mix of sporting events.

More coming...
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 00:07:42
Originally posted by Tdybr27

Did I miss the KCMO review? is coming up on Day 4. I hope to have it done tonight. My apologies. I should learn to journal my travels as they occur instead of trying to relive everything when I get back into town.

It doesn't help that the work piles up while you are out on vacation, too.

Hopefully, even though it is taking a little longer than I had hoped, that the wait is worthwhile when the posts are finally done.
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 01:57:30
Day 4; St. Louis to Kansas City to Omaha, NE

When you see the title "St. Louis to Kansas City," a reasonable person would assume that we would be driving. Not exactly. We are flying -- first class! But, American doesn't fly from STL-MCI (yes, Kansas City is MCI...why? I don't know). We have to fly STL-DFW-MCI, because when American fliers die, they connect to heaven through DFW. Two shorthop flights (read: nothing to eat!) and a short connection.

On the other hand, upon landing in Kansas City, I was starved. We had planned on only one meal in KCMO, and it was set up to be a good one. We were going to one of the nation's barbecue treasures -- the legendary Arthur Bryant's BBQ. Some will say that Arthur Bryant's has slipped over the years, but I am not one of them. While there are some folks who think that Arthur Bryant's isn't even the best BBQ in Kansas City, others will argue that there is a very good chance that Arthur Bryant's BBQ is the BEST in the country.

This is my second visit to Arthur Bryant's, so I have a pretty good idea as to what I want to eat. AB's is known for a few things, including the KC specialty, burnt ends (the crispy, flavorful end pieces that some places actually discard), but I know that these are some of the finest ribs in the land. The beef brisket is also very good -- which leads me to wonder how similar KC BBQ is to that which you find in central Texas? The two of us decided to split a rack of ribs, a beef sandwich, and an order of homemade, hand-cut fries. I have eaten some pretty good barbecue this year (just checkout the sidebar to the right for some examples), but this may well have been tops.

Despite my best efforts, it looks like this picture tanked. I posted it anyway, just to give you the idea of the portion size, but you really miss out on something. Sorry.

The ribs were tender, but required just the right amount of "pull" to get the meat off of the bones. Anyone who tells you that their ribs are "fall off the bone tender" is selling you crappy ribs! They should require a little bit of a fight. These do. Compliment the smoky flavor from the meat with some of AB's tangy sauce. There is no need to overpower the flavor of the meat with the sauce, but just a touch makes for the perfect addition. Dipping your fries in a pool of sauce is another time honored Arthur Bryant's tradition. In short time, we had demolished an absolute orgy of food.

Debate the best BBQ for as long as you like, but I would gladly stand in the corner with some Arthur Bryant's as my nominee. I hope to get to KC sometime when I can spend more time in the area and sample some of the other renowned locales (and grab some Stroud's fried chicken, too), but so far my travels to KC have all been one shot deals.

Full and nearly comatose, we pointed the rental car north on I-29 for the nearly three hour trek to our final destination, Omaha, NE. This was one boring drive, and with as much food as I had in my belly, it was all I could do to stay awake the whole drive. Fortunately, my driving responsibilities ended when we dropped off the car in STL, but I didn't want to nap all the way to Omaha, either.

The goal was to make it to Omaha in time for the 6 pm game. My beloved Tar Heels were playing the winner's bracket game against Clemson. This was a BIG game, as whoever emerged victorious would have a serious edge to get to the championship series. In the past, when we have gone to the College World Series, we have never really had any intended rooting interest, so this was a little weird. Usually, we would go and pick which teams we liked or who had the best personalities and we would root for them. This time, I really wanted to see Carolina. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed slightly out of DFW and we were running just a touch late to make the 6 o'clock game. With the foot on the gas, we might make it, but it wasn't a lock.

We approached the exit for the stadium (which was also the exit for the hotel) at about 10 minutes to 6. Upon exiting the highway, it was immediately apparent, based on our past experiences, that we would have a difficult time finding a nearby parking space and a further difficult time navigating the general admission line. The line was already snaked around the stadium, and it appeared that we would not see the inside of the stadium until about the third inning. Since I wanted to actually SEE the game, and we were going to be around for the next few days, we agreed that it made more sense to check into the hotel and watch this game on TV.

Tomorrow...our first games at Rosenblatt!
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 02:30:28
Great report, Steve. My only visit to Arthur Bryant's was in 1978 when Mr. Bryant personally approved accepting my traveler's check(I was a long haired and very bushy bearded fellow and the clerk had doubts.) It was my first "roadfood " experience as I look back. I went there because Calvin Trillin had said some very nice things about the place in the New Yorker. Glad to hear someone still likes it.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 02:36:32
I agree with Arthur Bryant's. I never understood the criticism. For me, it's a toss up between AB and Dreamland for best ribs I've had. I definitely agree that fall off the bone is nonsense. I remember there being a good truck stop on the little bit of Iowa you pass through to Omaha. Also Jefferson City has some great antique stores. It's a strange ultra-religious town. I found a good mondale cap at a thrift store there. Omaha is a pretty fun town, not as downbeat as in About Schmidt. I love the Woodmen building. What, no Royals?
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 08:51:35
The Royals weren't playing at home on the day we arrived and the schedule makers in Omaha were not kind to us. Apparently, they didn't feel that it was important for us to be in KC to see the Royals.

We went on our last trip through there, so I can claim bragging rights for the 'Big K.' I have a pic at home that I can post that will sum up our entire visit!

I am glad that you and others feel the way I do about Arthur Bryant's. If this stuff is a step down from what it once was, I shudder to think of what it once was!
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 09:57:07

"MCI" stands for Mid-Continent International, but everyone calls the airport KCI.

Don't worry - you didn't miss much by not making the Royals game. If you are here again and need tickets to see the Royals, just buy one, put it on your dashboard and leave your window down - when you come back, you'll have 2 tickets there.

BTW, Arthur Bryan's has a branch location on the Kansas side, near the NASCAR track. I've eaten at both, and there's not a lot of difference in the bbq quality. I hear we're also getting a Hash House A Go GO out by the track.
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 11:58:26
Thanks for clearing up the MCI thing. I have always been fascinated as to airport coding origins. For instance, the Orlando International Airport (known locally as OIA - and not be confused with Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure - IOA) is coded as MCO. I know the origin there - the land on which the current airport now sits was once McCoy Airfield. but no one seemed to know why MCI.

When I get the chance to post the KC pix later, I will share a story about our trip to that ballpark that it makes it one of my more memorable ballpark experiences.

There was also an Arthur Bryant's at the airport. We were almost delayed enough on the outbound to give them a try. Honestly, though, it didn't look all that representative of AB's in downtown. If you say that the one out near the racetrack is just as good (or even close), then I would consider that if I were in the area. The one in the airport -- I would want to hear some positive reviews.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 12:55:34
Steve, you're making me hungry and "homesick" with the pix and descriptions of Bryant's.

I may have told the story of my first Arthur Bryant's experience here at Roadfood before, so bear with me those of you who have read it before.

Back in 1979, when my bride-to-be first decided to move up to Chicago to be closer to me, I flew down to KC to help her pack up the truck and haul everything north. We thought it would be a good idea to have a big farewell gathering that would also serve as an opportunity for me to meet her family.

Prior to meeting my wife, I had never been to Kansas City; barely knew it existed outside of the Beatle's cover version of the song. I knew about Bryant's by reading an article (possibly written by Calvin Trillin for the old LIFE magazine) posted in the front lobby of the original Winstead's restaurant down on Brush Creek near Country Club Plaza (although in the article it was referred to as "Charlie Bryant's). Even then, I was a barbecue expert, at least in my own mind. I knew we had to go there for this last bash before the move.

The clan, twenty or thirty of them, gathered at the appointed time in the weed filled empty lot that then served as Bryant's parking lot. We crossed the street and entered what was the greasiest, filthiest, most ramshackle excuse for a restaurant I had ever seen. The walls were dingy and smeared; you walked very carefully for fear of slipping on the grease caked floors. There were two soda pop machines along the long wall where you waited in line for your 'Que.

When we got up to the counter, I listened as my future in-laws all ordered strange things like "burnt ends" and "sliced brisket". Hell, my own wife-to-be ordered a HAM sandwich! HAM?!? Are you crazy woman, that ain't barbecue! I got up to the counter and I ordered myself a full slab of ribs, by God! And fries!

Let's take a step back here and give you folks a bit of background. Coming from Chicago, I had always fancied myself as a 'Que connoisseur, having dined on Leon's ribs and others. What I didn't realize was that, as good as Leon's ribs were, the rest of the drivel I was eating wouldn't even qualify as Barbecue among the true cognoscenti. Chicago 'Que meant ribs, chicken, and hot links, a very spicy sausage that seems to be indigenous to the area. Only in the last few years are we catching up to the rest of the great smoked meat cities.

Outside of Leon's and a handful of others on the South Side, there was no real Barbecue; I was just too stupid to know it. Almost everything else I had eaten in my life, that I thought was barbecue, was in fact baked or boiled (shudder), with some sauce slapped on at the end. In some rare cases the precooked meat might have been tossed on a grill for some additional browning and the veneer of authenticity.

When I tasted Bryant’s ribs, they were so far removed from my past experience; I found them to be barely edible! Worse was the mouth puckering sauce, hot and gritty from all the spices used in its making. Where was my sweet sticky barbecue sauce that I had grown up on? Of course I had slathered the ribs with the sauce before I had tasted either, because who knew it would be that nasty. My wife’s grandmother had insisted on paying for those ribs, so I choked down as many as I could before finally giving up, saying I was “full”.

The next day, as we prepared for the trip north, I tried some of the leftover ham sandwich in the fridge. It wasn’t half bad. I thought, maybe I shouldn’t have gone for the ribs. Maybe a sandwich would have been a better option.

It would be twenty years before I’d have the chance to find out.

By this time I was in the sauce end of the ‘Que biz. Dad and I were in KC doing demos. Dad had read about Bryant’s in numerous travel magazines and wanted to check them out. Reluctantly, I agreed.

This time, having gotten some practice over the interim years at plenty of other KC greasehouses, I was at least smart enough to get the burnt ends. It was a revelation! I couldn’t believe how much Arthur Bryant’s had learned about Barbecue in the last twenty years! Finally, they were getting it right. In fact, these were the best burnt ends I had ever tasted! Even the sauce had improved.

Realizing that it was my own lack of experience that created the bad first impression, I started to regret the twenty year gap since my last visit. Since that time we visit Bryant’s almost every Christmas when we visit.

So this story is in response to all those folks who complain that AB’s has been going downhill. From this man’s perspective it has actually gotten better.

RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 13:22:42
Buddy, my standard sandwich since I was a little kid has always been Beef & Ham combo. BBQ Ham is one of those little known KC things, I think.
A slab of ribs is one Big hunk of meat. I wish I had one right now.
With some fries.
Bill B.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 13:43:56
Oh, mama.

When I was a wee rugrat, the Kansas City A's played at the old Memorial Stadium, just a couple of blocks up Brooklyn from Bryant's. When you went to an A's game, you HAD to stop at Bryant's and get a sackful of 'Q to take with you.

There was another great barbecue joint right across from the stadium. I think it was on a southeast corner of Brooklyn and...maybe 25th Street? It disappeared in the 1970s.
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 15:25:33
I'm sorry, i meant St. Joseph not Jefferson City. Definitely worth a drive through. At AB, I ordered a fullrack which I believe was all piled on a steel tray. Huge amount. After going through it, I wanted more. My friend had brisket and I didn't even want to try it. Didn't want to divert my attention from my feast.
Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 18:29:30
Off topic, but an interesting read on airport codes.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 18:37:31
Ok, ok, you talked me into going back to AB's after a 3 year hiatus. I was one of those detractors who felt AB's had been slipping a bit too far. It just didn't seem to be as good as it was. Maybe it is a nostaglia thing. You must remember, I, like Bill B and Bill Voss who also have a history of Arthur Bryant's, grew up with those burnt ends, brisket and ribs, having them at least twice a month. My family would pile in the car and wait excitedly while my dad would run in and run out with our sizable order. We couldn't wait to get home to tear into some great food. For some reason we usually took it to go. I think it was so my mother could wipe our faces off while we were eating, which was quite annoying. When we did eat in the restaurant I couldn't wait for the fries. And I loved watching the guys with the paint brushes of sauce and the white bread. Your description impels me to go back, I think it's been too long. I've enjoyed your trip report.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 19:46:27

Steve- Tell us about your experience at the Bohemian Cafe in Omaha. (Please).
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/28 21:39:42
Yes, MCI used to stand for Mid-Continent International because when it was built, it was built out in the middle of no where, literally! Now that Kansas City has grown around it, it's officially changed it's name to Kansas City International but the MCI code has stayed. Also, if you are ever at the Ameristar Casino in KC, there is an Arthur Bryants there as well. Same BBQ, not the same "atmosphere"
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/29 00:17:18
Originally posted by stevekoe

Well, Steve, I hope you're happy! You've just forced me off my celery and lettuce diet, which I had planned on adhering to for, well, at least one more day. Thanks for nutin'!!

I've got a brisket marinating in rub, and I'll smoke that with hickory wood tomorrow. I can sometimes find Arthur Bryant's bbq sauce down here, but I'll have to use a backup sauce in the event of this emergency.

Thankfully, my friend I95 left me with an awesome sauce from Extra Billy's in Richmond.

I'll be serving this with some homemade fries.
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/29 01:04:48
I can hardly wait for your next report.Great picture with Fredbird.
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/29 06:21:52
Day 5; Omaha, NE

This day was to be prime ballpark day. We got an early start because the area surrounding the stadium is something to simply soak up. I wanted to get some serious soaking time in. Merchandise tents line 13th Street, stretching a solid mile in front of the stadium. Vendors hawking t-shirts, pizza slices, and aluminum bats all stake out their spots, while religious groups hand out bottled water, the local paper is given out free, and supporters for legalizing gambling in Nebraska all try to mark time with passers-by. It is an all-out street carnival, with a serious baseball theme.

We entered the ballpark around noon for the game scheduled to begin at 1 pm. By now, I had developed a stroke of hunger. In planning our day, we planned to grab "something light" at the ballpark, and gorge on a meal in between the two games. The food scene at Rosenblatt is something to behold. It is a veritable food orgy, and for stadium food, is surprisingly affordable. After doing a bit of a recon mission, I decided on a salt pretzel ($3). This was a huge mistake. I don't know if the problem was just the time of day, but it was awful. It was soft -- too soft, as though it had not even been baked. The salt, applied upon ordering, was excessive. I ate about half and tossed the rest. Blech. The food that I had previously had at Rosenblatt had always been very good. They have an excellent chicken fingers platter for about $7 which comes with four chicken fingers and more fries than most can finish. The nachos are always a hit with fans, as are the onion blossoms and funnel cakes (which seem to come from an outside vendor).

There is always a confluence of food smells in and around the stadium -- the burgers, sold inside, are grilled out in the open (don't see that anywhere anymore). Outside the stadium, Omaha Steaks sells their products, as does Famous Dave's BBQ. One of the more baffling treats to be considered a hit in Omaha is Dippin' Dots. Yes, it is hot, and anything cold is a welcome respite. But, I have never seen any place as crazy for Dippin' Dots as the midwest, and Omaha, in particular. They advertise themselves as "The Ice Cream of the Future," but it seems as though the future has been coming for a long time. I doesn't even look the least bit appetizing to me, but folks scarf this stuff up.

Gratuitous ballpark photo

Our late afternoon meal (again, I would only call this dinner at the AARP Early Bird specials in Florida) was at a place we discovered our first year in Omaha, Lo Sole Mio (3001 S. 32nd Ave, Omaha, NE). Back in 2004, we were sitting in the upper reaches of the grandstand, chatting with a local family. We told them of our ballpark adventures and mentioned that it was our first time in Omaha. They asked us where we were planning on eating in town, as we had mentioned that food was an equal part of our ballpark journeys. We, of course, asked for their suggestions. The woman in the group turned to me and asked if we liked Italian. I kind of shrugged my shoulders, as if to say "sure, but why would I come to Omaha to eat Italian?" She told me that she could refer me to the "best Italian meal I have ever had." I gave her the raised eyebrow, and politely told her that I grew up on Long Island, and have had a pretty good fair share of decent Italian meals. She conceded, but still offered that it would be the best Italian I would have in a solid 300 mile radius. Fair enough - and we had the afternoon free, so we checked it out. Well, the lady was is VERY GOOD Italian, and it has been part of our regular stops since then.

On this trip, I (the less adventurous eater of the two of us) ordered the chicken marsala and my buddy ate the Pasta Con Pomodori Secchi, a dish of sun dried tomatoes, grilled chicken and some veggies served over pasta. You can also see in the picture, some fantastic roasted garlic that is served on every table. I found it surprisingly mild, and added some to my pasta. The tomato and basil mixture was also a great compliment to the freshly baked bread placed on the table. Also, accompanying my marsala were some excellent baby carrots that had a sweet glaze -- definitely one of my preferred methods of preparation!

Both meals were enormous. Unfortunately, we didn't have a fridge in our hotel, so leftovers would be a waste. Successfully, gorged, it was time to head back to the ballpark.

More basbeall, some really good steak...and Bohemian Cafe in the next post!
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/06/29 06:31:04
Sorry about the diet, Bushie! But, I always thought that BBQ was healthy??? " />" />

Thanks for all the info on MCI! Loved the airport site. I am facinated by stuff like that.

And, I promise....the Bohemian is coming!
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/07/02 12:00:33
The final entry of this trip report (finally)...

Day 6; Omaha, NE

Our plan was for a late lunch at the famous Johnny's Cafe, and then a day and evening of baseball, with evening food consisting of ballpark fare.

We got to Johnny's (4702 S. 27th St.) a little before 2 pm (good thing, too -- their lunch service ends at 2!). Johnny's is an old cattleman's hangout, just outside the Omaha stockyards. Greeting you at the entrance is a larger than life photo of Jack Nicholson, grinning ear to ear (naturally) in that way that only he does. Nicholson filmed "About Schmidt" here, and, even as shy and demure as he is, apparently had his arm twisted into taking a photo for the wall. The dining room is decorated in what can only be called 1950's chic - a dimly lit room with big leather chairs and booths. The server, a robust midwestern woman, takes her time greeting the table, but she is always moving. You definitely feel like you have taken a step back in time. Lunch is served with a somewhat pared down menu, but they note that dinner steaks are available for lunch, as well.

We both had our hearts set on two things - the filet and the hash browns. Our server told us that the hash browns would be an upcharge for the lunch-sized 6 oz. filets, but come as an standard side to the 9 oz. dinner cut filets. Hmmm...more steak? OK. Split open, there was a significant difference between my buddy's medium rare and my medium. Actually, I would be amazed if these guys EVER had a steak sent back. The hash browns lacked the crispness that I prefer. I recall them being a little crispier the last time, but I am not sure if I ordered them that way, or if at dinner time you just get better hash browns? I am not much of a wine drinker, but their house Cabernet was delicious, and I thought a bargain at $4.75/glass. The bread plate is pretty pedestrian, but the spread that was served with the bread was cottage cheese-like, and pretty tasty. Suuficiently stuffed, and wallets emptied ($70 lunch for two), we made off to Rosenblatt.

Things didn't work out as planned at the stadium. The early game went REALLY long, so we decided to punt the evening game and intead do one more place for a great meal in Omaha.

The Bohemian Cafe (1406 South 13th Street) is another of the legendary Omaha restaurants that most people just assume you hit when you tell them that you went to Omaha. I had never been there - heck, I wasn't really sure that I liked Czech food, but what the hey...I'll give it a shot. The recommendation that we got was to order the duck and pilsner. I like duck and I like beer - should be a winner. Again, we walked in the door just about as the place was closing. I wouldn't think that a Tuesday night in Omaha would be all that hopping, but 9 pm seems to be when the whole town shuts down. We were seated, graciously, and next to us was a father/son duo who had clearly made the same bee-line for the place as we did from the stadium. They must have had better seats or a better parking spot, because they already had their food. I also let the sight of their meal talk me out of the duck.

I ordered the jaeger schnitzel, sort of czech veal cutlets in what tasted like a very thick marsala sauce. It came with a cup of their chicken and dumpling soup, which was fabulous and two of the thickest and tastiest dumplings I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. My buddy stuck with the roasted duck, and was not disappointed. The Pilsner Urquell is served on draft in a frosty ceramic mug. Homemade bread accompanies the meal, but there is enough carbs in those dumplings to get anyone with even the slightest sense of watching their carb intake to take heed. For the first time on this trip, I could not finish the meal. I couldn't come close to finishing this meal. I left a whole dumpling, some of the veggies, didn't touch the bread, and it was even tough to finish the beer.

All in all, a good vacation, with some FABULOUS food. I can honestly say that I ate the best roast beef sandwich and frozen custard anywhere. I enjoyed a heck of a good hamburger, and one of the top steaks in my life. Throw in a meal at Arthur Bryant's and an almost lost in the shuffle Italian meal in Omaha, and it is no wonder that I didn't add ten pounds. Fortunately, I also did enough walking to help that!

Can't wait for next year!
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/07/02 12:35:37
Great reports, Steve. The Bohemian Cafe looks marvelous. It sounds like you ate very well.
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
RE: Trip Report (STL, KCMO, Omaha) 2006/07/09 03:05:04
I think it was cornfed who asked why we didn't plan a game at Kansas City on this trip. The Royals were out of town when we flew in on Sunday. We only scheduled Monday and Tuesday to be at the College World Series this year. One of the plans we originally had was to go to the early game, which we thought was at 1 pm, on Tuesday and then drive to KC to see the Royals and Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, there wasn't an early game on Tuesday -- the earliest start time was 4 pm. Not going to be able to make a 3 hr drive after a 4 pm game and catch a 7 pm start!

We had attended a game at Kauffman Stadium the last time we went through town in 2003.

This is basically how it ended up:

Fortunately, we were able to exchange our rain out tickets for a crappy game for tickets to the Yankees one visit to KC that year. They were in decent demand, and decent seats, so they sold on eBay for a tidy profit! This was definitely one of our more profitable stadium excursions.