Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Restaurant Review: SLAPS BBQ

No nonsense approach to BBQ.

  Every once in a while when a new restaurant opens they will quickly develop an almost fanatical following. To achieve this feat requires them to offer a superior product or service to their customers. It is almost magical to watch this process, since it only happens on rare occasions. This is exactly what happened with SLAP's BBQ. Brothers Mike and Joe Pearce began the restaurant after years on the barbecue competition circuit. Their team name is Squeal Like A Pig, from which S.L.A.P.'s derived. These two have won numerous competitions, and still compete in 25 or more events annually. They do this to help keep their skills honed.

The Sampler Plate is plenty for at least two adults.

  The old saying "The proof is in the pudding" could be altered to say in the smoke. These guys have got their barbecue skills down to an art form, and serve it up Monday through Saturday starting at 11:00 in the morning. Their hours are listed as being open until 7:00, but they usually sell out long before that. Fortunately, they have added the feature to pre-order, so you can be sure to get some of this deliciousness.

3 Ribs and Burnt Ends make for a filling lunch.
  Besides the normal offerings,  SLAP's serves up turkey, brisket, pork, sausage, and burnt ends by the pound. They offer a handful of side dishes, which include baked beans made with their sauce, as well as a delicious version of cheesy corn. Located at 553 Central Avenue, in the heart of KCK, SLAP's BBQ strives to make the best product they can provide every day. Be sure to make plans to try them out, but you may want to pre-order for piece of mind. Find out how at

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Restaurant Review: City Fish and More

  Often you will hear the experts touting the health benefits of eating fish. I'm not certain that deep fried versions are just as healthy, but they are certainly delicious. If you want a good variety of fish options, then wander into City Fish and More in Kansas City, Kansas. This hometown restaurant is owned by Pete Badalucco, who is a third generation of Dotte offering fish.

  The menu at City Fish has seven varieties of boneless fish nuggets or fillets. These can be ordered as half pound, three-quarter pound, or one full pound meals. The two larger sizes also come with the choice of two sides. They also offer two kinds of bone-in fish fillets in the same format.

  Of course their menu doesn't stop there. They also serve up fried or boiled shrimp dinners, as well as a few sandwich items. For those wanting to feed a larger group City Fish has family boxes available of most of their fish varieties. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 am until 9:00 pm, and on Sunday from 12:00 to 7:00. They offer daily specials for those looking for a bargain, so be sure to check out their website at

Monday, August 29, 2016

Evening with Friends

The tigers kept a watchful eye on the crowd.

  This past Friday evening The Kansas City Zoo hosted one of it's annual Friends of the Zoo events. This event offers a unique look on the zoo, since it takes place after normal hours. We were excited to see so many of the animals on exhibit.

Very regal looking.

 Of course the warm weather meant that most of the animals were lounging around, but that is no different than most summer days. The transportation options were all running, and were free this evening as a thank you.

High above the African plains.

  This was my first ever aerial tram ride, so it made for a new perspective at viewing the animals. It was fun riding above the plains, and being able to see lots of the zoo grounds in a wide scope. This ride is in the Africa section, so many of the animals were still fairly active. I would imagine that they are fairly used to the warm, humid evenings.

Someone got their toes in the shot.
 Our intention on attending this event was to have a different date night than our usual ones. This one certainly was a step away from the norm. The forecast for the evening was pop-up storms, and eventually we had flood conditions in part of the city, but for our time at the zoo we remained unscathed.
One of the two koalas on loan.

  One of the new exhibits is the koalas. There are two of them on loan from another zoo, so we knew the opportunity to see them was limited. As luck would have it they were sleeping, but a fact sheet about them pointed out that they sleep about 20 hours per day. I guess the odds of seeing them awake is fairly slim.

Is he shy or just plotting?

  We spent a little time in Africa, before heading back to the main entrance. The lions were out, but not real active. We did catch one who kept peeking over a rock at the guests. He seemed mildly entertained by the hoots and calls of the crowd.

Be sure to visit the zoo before the season slips away.
  As the ending hour approached we noticed many of the animals making their way toward their resting areas. This was a signal to us as well. We headed toward the exit, pausing to see if the polar bear was active, and then on to our car. This was certainly a fun time, but a reminder that the season is drawing toward the end.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Restaurant Review: Gates Bar-B-Q

  Hi, May I help you? That is the greeting that welcomes your arrival at Gates Bar-B-Q. Started in 1946, at 19th & Vine in KCMO, this family owned business now touts six locations around the metro. The strutting, tuxedo-ed man is their trademark symbol, and the red roofs clearly mark their stores. Gates Bar-B-Q sauce was the reason for their initial success, and it's popularity allowed for the building of a franchise.

  Serving up beef, pork, turkey, chicken, and sausage helps their customers find just the right something on the menu. They keep their sides simple by offering fries, rings, baked beans, and three types of salads. The menu is not as robust as some BBQ joints, but they have decided to focus on providing quality over quantity of choices. At the State Avenue location they do offer a couple of menu choices not found at the other stores. There you can also get chicken wings and legs as singles or in a 3 pack meal.

  A customer favorite is the burnt ends sandwich. Served piping hot, and slathered in sauce, this sandwich really hits the spot. Pair it up with some steakhouse style fries, and you have a great lunch combo. Stop by and try them out for yourself and we think you'll find something on the menu that will be just the right fit. Their website allows for online ordering, as well as finding additional information about the restaurant. Check it out at

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Restaurant Review: Big Grill & More

  We can't begin to count the number of times we have driven by a place and wondered what it has to offer. Too often it is merely a fleeting thought, and then we move on to the next thing. Such was the case for me on multiple trips to City Hall. My route takes me to the 5th Street exit off of I-70 East, and then I cut down Sandusky Avenue to get to 6th Street. This dumps me out just down the hill from City Hall. It also means that I turn right in front of Big Grill & More restaurant. Rarely do I see many vehicles parked in front, but then again I usually pass by in the middle of the afternoon.

  After too many missed opportunities, I finally decided to stop for an early meal, since I knew I would be in meetings until late in the evening. I was surprised to see that they are an all-day restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were lots of egg dishes listed on the breakfast portion, and I'm supposing it would be homestyle meals. Lots of fried foods are included on the lunch list, including burgers and fish items.

  The restaurant has daily specials which I decided to try. Of course I picked a meal that was not the special of the day I visited, but it was the item that reached out to me. My dinner consisted of BBQ rib tips with fries. The price was decent, especially for the amount of food they served. The meat was tender enough, and the sauce is sweet & spicy, but not overpowering. The staff were friendly, and the whole place gave a good Mom & Pop vibe. It is certainly a spot to keep on your list when visiting downtown KCK.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buffalo Bill Days

  As Labor Day approaches we start to see more festivals occurring around the region. One that requires a short road trip is the Buffalo Bill Days festival in Leavenworth, Kansas. This weekend, August 26, 27 and 28, will mark the return of this fun-filled event. This festival is a little different than most, in that it allows the participating non-profit organizations to retain 100% of the money they make. This is a worthwhile endeavor, and helps everyone in the long run.

  Being a celebration of Buffalo Bill Cody, it obviously needs to have some period actors involved. There will be plenty of these on site. A light artillery unit, Napoleonic grenadiers, and a Civil War period story teller will be sharing their knowledge with visitors. The event is held in Ray Miller Park, which is on the east side of Kansas 7 Highway (called South 4th Street) in downtown Leavenworth. This location allows plenty of room for the re-enactors to pitch their camps.  

  There will be a variety of contests on all three days, with many allowing audience participation. One of the oddest, as well as our favorite, is the outhouse races. Teams vie for prizes and notoriety by pushing homemade outhouses (must have one participant inside) through a course filled with short challenges. This event is always fun to watch, and makes for some interesting Kodak moments.  

  As with any festival, there will be plenty of live music, various entertainment options, and plenty of vendors available selling food, drinks, and their wares. This annual event ranks high on the family friendly scale, and offers a great chance to get out of town within a reasonable space of time. Be sure to check out all of the festival information and schedules at If you make it there we hope you will post some of your favorite experiences in the comments section. We love hearing about all of the fun things people find.

Behind the Scene

 For about 35 years I have worked at a packaging company located in KCK. Our products are used to wrap or hold a variety of the foods that people purchase and use every day. We only have one or two customers in the KC Metro area, so we are fairly unknown. Such is the case with many businesses that people pass on a nearly daily basis. Original Juan Specialty Foods is another one of those businesses.

  Located right on the edge of our county's border, Original Juan is the fulfillment center for many of the sauces and spices that we find in our local restaurants and grocery stores. Once a recipe is developed, it must be reproduced over and over. If the line of products is successful, production must take place in ever larger batches. While an owner can do this for a while, there arises a point that they are unable to keep up with demand, at least that would be their hope. This is when they must develop a relationship with a co-packer who can help them keep their products flowing.

  Original Juan is one of those types of businesses. On a daily basis they produce gallons upon gallons of various products, using closely guarded recipes. They are responsible for quality control, as well as delivering a consistent product. Those customers who entrust their recipes with a co-packer, rely on them to handle this important part of their business. Original Juan not only ships tons of products on their customer's behalf, they also run a small store out of their production facility. Here customers can see many of the long list of products they produce, which is a very eye-opening experience. Stop by sometime to see their work, and maybe pick up a few products to try at home. After all, they are a local KCK business. To find out more about this local business visit