Weekend in Kansas/KC

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Author
ayersian
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 09:36:14 (permalink)
Cliff, words cannot express your unbelievable commitment to RF. This report is incredible, and I am in utter awe by your stamina and unflagging will (and stomach space) to hit all these places. Does Michael Stern still work here, I wonder? I know the Sterns legitimized RF, but YOU, my friend, take it to the next level every single time. I wanna be you when I grow up. Chris
#31
mr chips
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 11:07:50 (permalink)
My wife Trudy says I suffer from a bad case of Buffetbuster envy. Great photos of that high school. I love Art Deco and try to take architectural tours of large cities I visit. Witchita is one of only two major U.S. cities i have not visited and it looks like i should try and visit there soon.
#32
zeebaneighba
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 13:26:08 (permalink)
You are welcome, Keith! I had to chuckle at the Freedom Fries reference. There was a shortlived, short order place a block from ESU a while back. I remember them advertising "Freedom Fries"...don't think they did the infamous French/Freedom Toast, though!

Buffetbuster, Braum's is a pretty well-known ice cream chain in the Midwest and I think in the South. I particularly like their banana fudge sundae with chocolate chip ice cream requested. It's also a pretty good spot for items such as milk, cheese, and eggs.

We've been lucky in past years with our local restaurants, and I think there is a commitment from people in and around Emporia really to support anything local. Obviously, we do have Applebee's, Montana Mike's, Village Inn, etc. Hey, we even have a Starbucks.

Local coffeehouses:
Java Cat 5 (Merchant St.). This place has become a nice hangout both for college students and other townspeople. The obvious choices of lattes, chai tea, etc., and a good selection of baked goods and sandwiches. I like the atmosphere -- couches, comfy armchairs, and so forth.

Granada Coffee Company and Sweet Granada (both on Commercial St., part of the Granada Theatre restoration in progress). You have to stop in the Sweet Granada for hand-dipped chocolates, homemade fudge, and my fave -- "Granada Goo"! That is a Rice Krispies-like treat with the addition of peanut butter, topped with their excellent milk chocolate. (Hmmm. Do I have time for a break from work this afternoon? Of course!)

Really looking forward to even more reports, Buffetbuster! Cyn
#33
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 18:41:09 (permalink)
Saturday February 9 cont.

When I pulled up to the Cozy Inn

in Salina at 8:15PM, I was expecting the place to be very busy. I was here one time before, in 2001 and the place was mobbed! Imagine my surprise when I walked in and it was empty.

One of the first things you notice when you enter is the overpowering aroma of frying hamburgers and onions. Personally, I kind of like the smell, even if I knew I would most likely smell like that the rest of the night.

I sat at one of the six stools that make up the entire seating area

and checked out the menu board.


Obviously, that shouldn't take too long, since all they make here are hamburgers. These tiny burgers sell for .79 cents and are known as sliders. I ordered six and watched the grill man go to work. The grill is certainly not big,

but the burgers are so small there is room to cook plenty of them at one time.

I asked where everyone is and they said business was off, with there being so many other new eateries in the area. Needless to say, I was unhappy to hear this.

Soon my six burgers were placed in front of me in neat rows


and I quickly polished off all six. Unless you say otherwise, they automatically come with onion and pickle, which for me is a great combination. These were so good, they didn't need anything else. Just don't ask for cheese!

After making my burgers, the grillmen started cleaning up for the night and did a very thorough job on the grill. As soon as they got done, at least five more parties came in with orders like "24 to go". The guys working were not happy, but they still filled the orders.

One of the new customers, a cocky young guy, wanted cheese on his burgers, but they told him they don't have cheese. Not satisfied, he kept badgering the grillmen about why they don't have cheese. Very annoying! I'm glad I was almost done.

On my way out, I took another photo of the bright red neon sign.


Long live the Cozy Inn!!!!!

http://www.cozyburger.com/index.shtml

I stopped at Brahm's on the way back to my room and got a fine hot fudge sundae,

which was the perfect way to end a great eating day!

http://www.braums.com/

Much more to come.....
#34
Sfreader
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 19:23:04 (permalink)
That is the same young man at the grill as my last visit. I bet he was talkative!

buffetbuster, would you like any photos of the building that houses the air museum?

Thanks for the great continuing report!

Keith
#35
ann peeples
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 19:40:14 (permalink)
The Cozy burgers look awesome-you may enjoy George Webbs sliders when in Milwaukee-always a deal on a bunch, and made right in front of you.The sundae looks great too-I am on a major diabetic diet right now( 20 lbs lost, thus far) and miss these things.Thanks, BuffetBuster for sharing!
#36
buffetbuster
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 20:09:10 (permalink)
annpeeples-
Congratulations on losing the 20 lbs! I hope it helps you with the diabetes. So George Webbs is a slider place in Milwaukee? I'm not surprised.....Milwaukee is such a great eating city, you guys seem to have everything there.

Sfreader-
He is young and a real big guy right? What was funny was when I first walked in, I said hello and he just looked at me without replying. I remember thinking, "Okay, so its going to be like that, huh?". After that, he talked the entire time!

I did take a few photos of the outside the air museum, but they weren't particularly good. I would appreciate you sending one/some. Thanks!

And yes, Chicken House does call their french fries freedom fries.

mr chips-
As usual, you come through! I was hoping someone else out there would enjoy the art deco photos.

Besides Wichita, where else haven't you been? I bet I know why you haven't been to Wichita before.....you were waiting for them to catch BTK! I believe the only major US cities I haven't visited are the Dallas/Ft.Worth metroplex, El Paso, Honolulu and San Jose/Oakland.
#37
zeebaneighba
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 20:32:38 (permalink)
Buffetbuster, I'm so glad you got to the Cozy Inn. That's such a neat place and very much the embodiment of Roadfood.

Oh, please no more mentions of BTK... Talk about just dumb luck in evading the police and sort of flying under the radar for over 30 years! If anyone out there in Roadfood land wants to read about it, one of the better books about BTK is called "Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door". It was written by several Wichita Eagle reporters who were either familiar with the BTK case, or who worked on reporting the case for years. A good, dispassionate analysis of the crimes and all the work that went into trying to figure out BTK.

Enough gruesomeness, and back to more road trip reporting! Cyn
#38
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 20:39:46 (permalink)
zeebaneighba-
Sorry about the BTK reference, but as I drove past the Park City exits of I-135, it was kind of hard not to think about it. I know it must be painful memories for Kansans. Thanks for the tip about the book.
#39
zeebaneighba
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 20:45:08 (permalink)
I had to tease a bit about BTK... Oh, gosh, who wouldn't think about it driving past Park City? I think the part that astonishes us is that it did take over 30 years to track Dennis Rader down. Definitely dumb luck on his part; as many know, he wound up being caught by a computer disk he sent to the police. He asked if he could be traced via the disk and was told "no." Well, he was soon caught because of the information in the properties on the disk. Amazingly, Rader was upset with the police because they lied to him...!

I digress enough, and am really looking forward to your next report, Buffetbuster!
#40
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 21:08:06 (permalink)
Sunday February 10

I had strongly considered driving to Council Grove and having breakfast at Hays House, the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi (1857). But I decided relaxing in the hotel was more necessary. So, I finished the pastries I bought at European Bakeshop. These included a yummy cinnamon roll

a sour cream scone, with raisins

and my favorite, some shortbread hazelnut coffee cookies.


After checking out of the hotel, I headed back to the Cozy Inn to take some daytime photos. I hadn't noticed the night before that they apparently have a walkup window.

Is that new? I had never noticed that before.

While driving around Salina, I also noticed this real nice old art deco theater.


I left Salina, heading to the place that ended up being my favorite on the trip.

Much more to come.....
#41
buffetbuster
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 22:10:02 (permalink)
Sunday February 10

I arrived at The Hickory Tree at Smolan School Restaurant

right as they were opening at 11:00AM.

Obviously located in what used to be the local school

of this tiny town of Smolan, it is a mostly bbq buffet place.

The person who greeted me when I walked in the door was owner Kathy Holzwarth. I paid the $12.00, which covers everything. I asked if I could take pictures and she said sure and asked where I was from. When she found out I was from so far away, she led me inside to meet her husband Lee, who was still setting up the buffet.

I chatted with Lee who gave me some of the background on the place. He turned out to be an excellent host and interesting guy. For a while, I was the only one there. He explained that bbq is traditionally considered a Friday and Saturday night meal in Kansas and Sunday was more for chicken dinners.

Here are some buffet shots




Here is my first plate,

with a sparerib, baked beans, chopped pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, potato salad and pasta salad.

Although the food wasn't fantastic, everything tasted good and freshly prepared, much more so than the typical buffet. Here is a close up of the good chopped pork.


As you could see, the plates are partitioned plastic plates and all the tablecothes have sunflowers on them, which is fitting since Kansas is the Sunflower State.

Lee came over to ask how my food was and asked if had tried the broccoli salad. When I said I hadn't, he said that is one of the things he thinks they make best. So I made sure to try it on my next trip and he was right.

Excellent sweet tasting broccoli salad!

For dessert, they have a table set up with different homey choices including cheesecake, pumpkin cake, devil's food cupcakes and some unusual brownie dessert.


I went for the cupcake

and I'll let you decide if I made the right decision.

Lots of beverage choices, which is also self-serve.


Enough about the food, this place has to be seen to be believed. They did an amazing job of decorating the place. The main dining area is the cafeteria/gymnasium.


The hallways are lined with old school photos

school desks, band uniforms, etc.


They also have rooms upstairs you can dine in, which used to be the classrooms. They are all decorated in themes, with the music room being my favorite.


Even though the food here wasn't the best I had on my trip, the atmosphere made it something I wll never forget. I highly recommend this place to anyone in the area for a unique experience.

This sign tells a little about the school history.


Big thanks to Sfreader for tipping me off to this terrific place!

http://www.kansastravel.org/hickorytreerestaurant.htm

More to come.....
#42
CajunKing
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 23:50:29 (permalink)
Looking Good BB, I really wish you could have made it this weekend.

I guess it will just have to wait.
#43
cecif
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/13 23:56:31 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by mr chips

I love Art Deco and try to take architectural tours of large cities I visit.

mr. chips,
Since I'm an architectural historian by training and am a guide of historic & architectural tours in Boston, I wanna know when are you comin' to take one of my tours?!?!

BB,
What a gorgeous high school!!! Wow! Funny but I remember I stopped in Salina KS on a cross-country trip in 1994. I had my old old Roadfood book with me but I don't remember any entries for Salina... or did I forget to look that day?!?! (The book's in storage right now, so I can't check, I think it was a 1984?87? edition of Roadfood/Goodfood.) Too bad I missed those sliders!!!!
GREAT STUFF, as ever.
ccf
#44
mr chips
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 01:40:26 (permalink)
Buffetbuster- I have never actually made it to the Tidewater area of Norfolk, Chesepeake, Virginia Beach and Hampton. That is on my list of must see places(I have been to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown).
Cecif- When the Chips family finally goes to Boston, I hope we will meet and and I would love to go on an architectural tour. i was an American history major in college and I saw Boston 3 months after graduation. I was like a kid in a candy store. A visit now would include much roadfood.
#45
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 05:44:31 (permalink)
Sfreader-
I should mention before I forget..... The third party through the door at Smolan school were three Kansas state troopers, who sat down at the table next to me. They overheard Lee and I talking that I was from Pennsylvania and they asked about my trip. When I told them I trying to hit a bunch of interesting, good restaurants, they started making suggestions.

Most of them I knew from Roadfood or your website. But one of the troopers raved about a place called Trappers in Simpson, Kansas and said people come from far, far away to go eat there. I thought I should mention it in case you are unfamiliar with the place.
#46
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 09:10:39 (permalink)
Trappers in Simpson, KS? I had to look up where Simpson is. Thanks so much, I had never heard of it. I have a lot of new leads to follow up on the next warm weekend. When the 8 Wonders of Kansas were anounced last mount, there were many new visitors to the website and a number of them emailed leads.

Lets see if I can figure out how to post a photo here. (I thought I had done a page on the museum, but if I did, something happened to it) A friend of mine is one of the volunters at the Aviation Museum.



#47
ScreamingChicken
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 09:21:58 (permalink)
No report on the food at Leavenworth?

Brad
#48
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 09:35:39 (permalink)
There are still many worth visiting, but it seems like a lot of the good places in Leavenworth & Lansing have been closing, Brad.

Keith
#49
buffetbuster
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 11:16:29 (permalink)
Brad Olsen-
I seem to have a couple of relatives in jail at any one time. I will have to ask them about the food at Leavenworth! Personally, I hope I never find out.

Sfreader-
Thanks for the photos! They are much better than the ones I have of the building. Even though there are some art deco touches on the outside, you really can't tell from the interior.

#50
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 12:43:41 (permalink)
bb, if you are a fan of the fusion effect of art deco architecture and Native American imagery, you really need to visit the Nebraska state capitol building in Lincoln. Mrs. Roadhouse and I stopped there years ago when our daughter abe froeman was just a wee baby. It is a beautiful building, very atypical of what we think of in a government edifice. They had several tours daily back then, I'm not sure if they still have it open to the public.

Buddy
#51
buffetbuster
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 12:53:19 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse-
Wow! I couldn't agree with you more. I took a tour of the Nebraska state capitol building last Spring and it absolutely blew me away. When I was walking around the high school in Wichita, I was definitely thinking about the Nebraska capitol.

I will look around and see if I have any pictures on here I can post.

Okay, here are a couple photos from the Nebraska capitol that show what Buddy had mentioned:

#52
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 20:05:24 (permalink)
Sunday February 10 cont.

As I was leaving Smolan, I saw this very odd looking building.


I considered driving to Brookville to see the original building for the Brookville Hotel, but decided I just had too much to do today to take many side trips. I did drive down to Lindsborg, which is known for being a Swedish town, but there didn't seem to be much going on with it being a Sunday morning, so I didn't stop anywhere.

My destination was Old Towne Restaurant

in Hillsboro.

The building was built in 1887 and the inside had a old feel to it.


As I was being seated, I noticed on the specials board that bierrocks were on the menu on Tuesdays.

I didn't expect to see those in Kansas.

In their review, Jane & Michael recommend the German food. Since I love German food, I was very excited by this. Unfortunately, on Sundays they only offer the buffet. And the buffet itself was rather uninspiring. Here is my plate.

It is fairly obvious what everything is and the best of plate goes to the meatloaf and even that was nothing special. At least I had pies to look forward to.

Their dessert specialty is bumbleberry pie,

which is a combination of several different fruits and this was quite good. Since the slices were more like half slices, I also grabbed a piece of chocolate cream and was happy with that, too.


Another interesting dessert offering was what they called cherry mousse

Weird color and it was more like cherry pudding, but I did go back for seconds, so obviously I liked it.

I will have come back another time whan I can order the German food off of the menu.

http://www.oldetownerestaurant.net/

After driving to Abilene, I went to the Dwight Eisenhower Museum & Library.

Having spent most of a day here in 2001, I was planning on just spending and hour or so here today. Still, I had a great time looking through the exhibits. For anyone who enjoys history, this is a great place and well worth the visit.

http://www.eisenhower.utexas.edu/

More to come.....
#53
buffetbuster
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 22:00:48 (permalink)
Sunday February 10 cont.

My next stop was Manhattan, aka The Little Apple and visit the Kansas State University bookstore. K-State has long been a favorite of mine, so I hit this store hard. Among my purchases was a Wildcats ice scraper, which came in handy later in my trip.

My reservation at Brookville Hotel

back in Abilene wasn't until 7:00PM, but I showed up early and they had no problem going ahead and seating me.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Brookville Hotel used to be in Brookville. But about eight years ago they built a new building modeled after the old one, right next to the interstate near Abilene. Famous for their ritual chicken dinners, I ate here in 2001 and loved the place.

The inside looks somewhat fancy,

but I was perfectly dressed in my jeans and sweatshirt. One thing I like about this place is that as busy as they can get, they don't have the tables so crammed together like so many other places do.

If you come here, you are getting the family-style chicken dinner, because that is all they offer. It comes in two rounds and the first round starts off with creamy cole slaw

cottage cheese and a nice little relish tray.


Interestingly, you get the homemade strawberry preserves for your biscuits in round one, but you don't get the biscuits until your main course arrives.

Speaking of the biscuits, they are listed as being baking powder biscuits and they are delicious.

(Sorry about the blurry photo)

Also coming with the main course is creamed corn

mashed potatoes and cream gravy.


The chicken itself is a thing of beauty, with a yummy crunchy crust.


This is excellent skillet fried chicken!

Dessert is simple as can be.....a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream.


From start to finish, this was a terrific meal. This is the rare place that lived up to my memory and I couldn't have been happier. My only disappointment was that I did leave some food left on my table.

http://www.brookvillehotel.com/

Arriving at my hotel, the Sleep Inn in Topeka, fate smiled on me again. Two doors down was this place.

If you can resist a place like that, then you are a better man or woman than I.

I hurriedly checked into my room and walked down the street and perused the menu. I settled on the PBC & B sundae, which stands for Peanut Butter Cup and Banana.

I thought the PBC & B was A-OK!

More to come.....

#54
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/14 22:32:08 (permalink)
Monday February 11

When I got to the Kansas state capitol building

at 8:15, they informed me the first tour of the day would not be until 10:00AM. Not having that kind of time to wait, I grabbed a brochure and started a self-guided tour.

What a gorgeous building this is! Here are some various shots of the interior.






The most famous work of art is a mural by John Steuart Curry called Tragic Prelude depicting John Brown.

I believe this was used as an album cover by the rock group Kansas, too.

The Kansas state capitol is one of the nicest I have been to and is a "must visit"!

The restaurant I was eating at for lunch didn't start serving until 11:00, so I drove to Lawrence and visited the University of Kansas bookstore.


Go Jayhawks!

More to come.....
#55
John A
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/15 07:20:08 (permalink)
You're outdoing yourself with this one BB - outstanding.
#56
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/15 08:44:22 (permalink)
John A, if lunch was where I think it was, the best is yet to come!

BB, I really like that second interior shot in the Capitol Building!

Keith
#57
ann peeples
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/15 09:11:21 (permalink)
Great,great trip!!Keep it coming..
#58
Scorereader
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/15 09:41:22 (permalink)
gtreat trip report. That HS Restaurant looks very cool - a nice find.
#59
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RE: Weekend in Kansas/KC 2008/02/15 15:32:02 (permalink)
Monday February 11 cont.

After reading the article in the latest Gourmet magazine, I was expecting to get lost trying to find Porubsky Grocery in Topeka. But I saw a sign that said Porubsky Drive and an arrow and followed it, ignoring the advice of my GPS. I crossed a bridge, made a left, came around a corner and there it was, Porubsky Grocery.



From the article in Gourmet, I was expecting there to be a line, but there was no one else in sight. I walked around and took a few photos and at five minutes 'til 11:00, at least a half dozen cars pulled up. One guy went up to the door and the door was still locked. I said "Don't they open at 11:00? He replied, "They start serving lunch at 11:00, but the grocery store should be open already." That was my first indication that something was wrong. Just a moment later, a guy drove by and informed us that Lydia, mother of Charlie Jr. who runs the place now had a heart attack and the place was closed all last week. And by all indications, they weren't opening up this day either.

The two main reasons for me to make this trip were the Kansas state capitol and to eat at Porubsky Grocery. I can't believe I came this far and got Travellin Manned!

Even though I was very disappointed, obvious I understood them being closed in such a difficult time. I have since read in another thread that Lydia passed away that day. My condolences to the Porubsky family.

Since I had to fly out of Kansas City that afternoon, I headed that direction and went to plan B. I found Yarbrough's,

located in Shawnee. This place has an impressive history and appeared in many of the old Roadfood books, but this new building had zero Roadfood ambiance.

I wanted to order the pan fried chicken, but it isn't available until after 6:00PM or all day Sunday. Tempted by the chicken fried chicken, I went with the meatloaf instead.


About the only thing of interest on that plate is that the top item is called spanish sauce and comes with the meatloaf. A mild salsa, I did dip some pieces of the meatloaf into it.

I did like the cinnamon roll that came with dinner along with the dinner roll.


Although Yarbrough's are suppose to have really good desserts and did have lattice peach pie that day, I didn't get any. There was only one waitress for about 15 tables and even though she did her best, service was painfully slow.

My single favorite thing about Yarbrough's was the ordering system. They provide a tablet and a pencil and you get to write your own order.


http://www.yarbroughrestaurant.com/index.htm

By now, I was running short on time. But, I couldn't possibly come to KC without getting at least some bbq. So, I quickly found Oklahoma Joe's, which was very convienient to the highway.

Being part of a gas station/convenience store building, there is nothing about the outside that says good bbq.


I ordered the Smokey Joe sandwich, which is a combination of beef and pork plus an order of fries.



Maybe it has been too long since I have had barbecue in this area, but I thought this sandwich was fantastic! The sauce definitely had some bite to it, but wasn't uncomfortably hot. And the meat could not have been tastier.

Oh, by the way, that is the small sandwich. And the fries only come in one size and the amount they give you is ridiculous. I loved Oklahoma Joe's!

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=4478&RefID=4527

From there, it was straight to the airport. Thanks to poor weather in both Chicago and back home in Pittsburgh, I didn't get home until 2:30 in the morning.

Thanks again to everyone who read my trip report!
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