Friday, December 23, 2016

Danny's Bar & Grill North

  Being original Dottes (Wyandotte County residents), we spend a lot of time in and around the Village West area. The large number of shops, restaurants, and entertainment opportunities keep us returning. This area seems to always be teeming with activity, but there are times we just want to grab a bite to eat without being surrounded by tourists. It's always nice to know that there are spots you can go, where the majority of the patrons will be local residents. One of these places is Danny's Bar & Grill.

  The set-up is similar to many other places like this, and there are plenty of TV's to catch up on the latest sporting events. The bar is long and well stocked for those looking for liquid libations.

  The dining area is large enough to handle plenty of customers, and the seating is comfortable, although fairly utilitarian. Servers scurry around attending to their tables, and while we have seen reviews that complained about the service, we did not experience any issues during our visit.

  We dropped by on a Monday evening, which since we were before the football game the place was only partially filled. Of course as the evening passed the crowd began to assemble. Crystal chose the Fish & Chips dinner, which included cole slaw, fries, and a dinner roll. The fish had a good breading, and was light and flaky. The cole slaw is more on the tangy side than the sweet, and the flavor keeps you coming back for more. Her overall rating for the meal was a thumbs up. She also commented that the tarter sauce was unique in the higher level of relish in the mix, and she found it rather tasty.

  I went old-school and ordered the Country Fried Steak dinner, which includes gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetable, and a dinner roll. The over-sized cube steak comes with a good breading, but it was a little on the oily side. The amount of food is immense, and left me plenty to take home leftovers for lunch the next day. The mashed potatoes had a creamy texture, and the gravy was a flavorful accompaniment. The green beans were a good choice, and are cooked with onion and a little bacon to kick up the flavor. 

 Our visit was relaxing, and rather enjoyable on a cold winter evening. It was good to step away from the hustle and bustle, and just unwind over a dinner of comfort foods. Of course the Christmas shopping was not complete, so too soon we had to wander back out into the chilly evening. Perhaps soon we will get the chance to once again slow the pace with a quiet evening at Danny's bar & Grill. To learn more about them or to see their daily specials check them out at

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ponak's Mexican Kitchen

  On a cold winter's night we headed out the door to a holiday wine party. Since we were headed to the Crossroads area, we decided to stop for dinner on the way. It only seemed appropriate that we find a spot on the Boulevard, and we chose Ponak's Mexican Kitchen. This KC original has been in business for over 40 years, yet we were making our first visit, so expectations were running high.

  Being a Friday evening, there was obviously a wait, but it was not long. Besides we were dressed for the party (picture is a little farther into this post), so we became somewhat of a conversation starter. People around us were more than happy to discuss their favorite menu items, as well as talking about a wide range of other topics. This place has a very friendly vibe, so the wait passed quickly.

  Upon being seated we were served the standard chips and salsa, and the salsa was found to have a good kick. We decided to add some White Con Queso dip to the mix, as well as one of their signature margaritas. The queso was quite good, being creamy and flavorful, with a little spinach included. Their margaritas are strong, so be prepared for that. I'm not sure just how well someone would function, if they partook in a pitcher during their Happy Hour specials from 3 to 6 pm on Monday through Thursday.

  Our server was swamped with tables, but was prompt and attentive to our needs. Our orders were taken, and we worked on the chips and dips while we waited. It wasn't long before our plates arrived. Crystal ordered the Chicken Flautas meal(#18), which comes with the standard rice and bean sides. One of the reasons that I will refrain from ordering that particular item is that I usually find the flautas to be a little dry, as was the case with these as well. Her solution was to add a little queso to them, and she seemed quite pleased with her results. She is a rice lover, and found the side to be very run-of-the-mill, but still good.

  I chose to take the advice of a 25 year Ponak's veteran's advice, and try out the Pork Burrito meal (#2). It comes with a taco, tostado, and the standard rice and bean sides. The taco and tostado were standard, but had a good crunch to the shells. This is a big thing to me, since I hate it when they fall apart on the first bite. The homerun came when I tasted the pork burrito. Smothered in cheese, and wrapped in a flour tortilla, I did not expect a lot from the filling, but I was pleasantly surprised. The pork is cooked with a delicious marinade that brings out the full flavor of the meat. The beans are my go-to side, and they were creamy, as they should be, and had a good amount of melted cheese.

  Our first visit to Ponak's Mexican Kitchen will certainly not be our last, as there were a ton of other dishes I saw on the menu (as well as other tables) that piqued my interest. Of course, there is still a long list of place we haven't tried, and it is always exciting when we see and hear the excitement from the regulars at a location. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Ponak's or have a gander at their menu, check them out at If you want to see a little more of our costumes, well you will just have to wait for our next post.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ted's Cafe Escondido

  While we enjoy going out as much as the next couple, we also savor the idea of a good deal. What is even better is when we happen upon it without being aware in advance. This is exactly what happened the other day, while we were out partaking in some retail therapy. After a long morning of shopping, we had built up quite an appetite. We were in Overland Park, near 135th & Metcalf, so we did a quick search. I found a handful of options, and Crystal decided on Mexican, which led us to Ted's Cafe Escondido. 

    We entered, and were seated immediately. Lauren, our server, came by and took or drink order, while delivering our first round of freebies. Besides the standard chips and salsa, this place includes cheese dip and warm tortillas. Lauren warned us that the tortillas were awesome, and she was correct. We had a visit from Jordan, the manager, who told us some background on the restaurant. He is originally from Oklahoma, where the chain began, and moved here when they opened up in the Kansas City area. They now have three locations in the metro, with two on the Missouri side.

  The menu is full of great sounding dishes, and we both settled on the Two for $8.99 deal. Crystal chose a Beef Taco, Chicken Enchilada with Crema sauce on the side, and rice. She really enjoyed her selection, and was especially impressed with the Crema sauce, which she used on almost everything. She commented that the rice was standard fare, but good.   

  I ordered the same taco, but added the Ground Beef Enchilada with Chili con Carne sauce, and a side of refried beans. We both noted the over-sized tacos, which had a good crunch to the shell. The Chili con Carne sauce had a slight sweetness to it, but was still flavorful. The beans are my go to staple, and did not disappoint. 

  The staff was extremely attentive, and we had a second visit from the manager. He checked on how we enjoyed our meal, and told us that we were in for another treat when the complimentary sopapillas were served. Not long after our dinner plates were cleared, another server delivered our sweet treats. The airy pillows were coated with cinnamon sugar, and we chose to drizzle ours with honey. They really topped off a great meal, and all of this for a very affordable price. This place was immediately added to our "return visit" status, so we could sample more of the menu options. To learn more about Ted's Cafe Escondido visit them at

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Chappell's Resturant & Sports Museum

  Last weekend we were headed to North Kansas City to listen to the Ronni Ward Band ( play at Christine's Firehouse. (I will have to remember to write a post about that place.) We were coming from another event, so we hoped to pop in and have some dinner while enjoying the tunes. When we got there we found standing room only, so it was time for an alternate plan. After a short search we found a spot just a couple of blocks away, and made a quick dash over. Located at 323 Armour Road, Chappell's Restaurant & Sports Museum sounded like an interesting place to visit.

  One of our favorite things about seeking out new settings is finding an iconic location you never knew existed. Now this doesn't happen everyday, so when it does happen it is special occasion. The outside reminded us more of an old hotel entrance, but once we entered we realized this place had history. Now when I hear museum associated with a restaurant, I expect that there will be a few showcases scattered about, which highlight the specific interest of the owner. That was probably the case about 20 years ago at Chappell's.

  Jim Chappell, the owner, has amassed an overwhelming collection of sports memorabilia, and put it on display for all to see. There are over 10,000 pieces of sports history adorning every nook and cranny of the restaurant and bar areas, and the collection spills over to the washrooms. The ceiling in the dining room is covered with football helmets from just about every professional and college team in America.

   The collection is not limited to football, where we were seated a pair of boxing gloves, signed by Mohammed Ali, hung enshrined in a display case. In another area the 1974 Oakland A's World Series trophy holds a place of honor. This place has so much history within its walls that Northwest Missouri University holds a memorabilia class at the bar. It is easy to get so caught up in the atmosphere that you forget the original purpose for the visit. But soon our hunger brought reality crashing back down, so we ordered our meals.

  Crystal chose the Chicken Strips dinner, which comes with Honey Mustard dipping sauce, and curly fries. The chicken was crispy, and the honey mustard was creamy and tasted homemade. The curly fries were standard fare, but good. The overall presentation was lackluster, but the portion was generous.

  The menu lists a few of Jim's Picks, so I opted to try the London Broil, which comes with a vegetable and choice of potato side. The steak was cooked perfectly and included some of the au jus sauce for added flavor. Flank steak can be a challenge to serve tender and flavorful, but this place does it right. An added surprise was the sweet potato fries. Fried up crispy, they are served with a sweet and spicy chili dipping sauce that keeps you coming back for more. Needless to say we left without doggie bags, and headed off back to the live music event. By the way, we were able to finally snag a couple of seats when we returned, and the band was awesome. for more info, and to review the menu visit

Monday, November 14, 2016

Westport Saloon serves up fun country-style.

The stage at the Westport Saloon.
  As the weather cools we have the tendency to move our date night venues indoors. We have a few standards that we will fall back on, but we are always looking for something new. We try to keep date nights simple, usually dinner and one activity, and prefer to keep them centrally located to limit travel time between activities.

The crowd appears to be enjoying Happy Hour.
  One of my tasks is to do the reconnaissance work to locate potential locations, then we can decide if it sounds interesting enough to visit. We have a penchant for country music, and when I discovered a place that has live bands seven nights a week, I hoped I had hit the mother load. To top it off they have an extended Happy Hour, which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 daily.

Long Islands hit the spot.
  We decided to give it a shot, and headed out for the evening. The Westport Saloon is located in a old brick building along Pennsylvania Avenue. The front entrance leads into a standard bar area with a few high tops, as well as the row of stools lining the bar. Since we planned to stay for the music, we chose to sit in the backroom where the stage is found.

The Happy Hour menu includes drink specials.
  A quick review of the menus ensued, as I went a placed our drink order. Not being familiar with their house specialty drinks, we chose to stick with our favorite, the Long Island Ice Tea. Since it has more liquor in it than a regular drink, the price was $6.00 instead of the $3.00 Happy Hour figure. That was okay, since I totally expected this.

Hummus and Pita Chips.
  We hadn't decided on our main dishes yet, so we ordered some Hummus & Chips off of the HH menu for starters. It had a creamy texture with a nice flavor. The chips were crisp, as they should be. There was even a dash of hot sauce on top to bring a little heat to the bites. A winner, and at $5.00 a good value. The evening had waned on a little, and more staff members began arriving in anticipation of the upcoming crowd. A waitress had started covering the back area, so I no longer had to run to the bar, which was only a few steps away.

Little Class Records Burger.
  We ordered another round of drinks, and chose our dinner entrees.  Crystal went with the burger off of the HH menu, and added a side order of fries. The angus beef patty is topped with American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and condiments. Juicy and delicious are two good words to describe it, and only $5.00 during Happy Hour.

Fries with a ketchup based dipping sauce.
  The fries have to be ordered separately during HH, so by the time you do the math the combination saves you $1.00 over the regular menu. Still a dollar saved matters. A larger than standard cut give the fries plenty of body, but can be difficult to get correctly cooked. This place did it right, and they were crispy without being overcooked. The ketchup based dipping sauce was a good accompaniment.

Shrimp Po' Boy.
  I decided to skip the HH menu, and dive straight into the regular offerings. I noticed a Cubano sandwich on the menu, which is my weakness, but I gathered my strength and went a different direction. Since the whole menu had a southern style vibe, I decided to hit up New Orleans, and ordered a Catfish Po' Boy. Hmm! The picture shows a Shrimp version, but that's not  what I ordered. A quick discussion with the server, and they whisked off to the kitchen to set things right.

Fried Catfish Po' Boy.
  Now here's the Catfish Po' Boy that I was looking for. The sandwich is piled high with crispy, but a little salty, strips of fried catfish filets. It's topped with house made Cole slaw, as well as tomatoes and lettuce. It comes with hush puppies on the side, and includes some of the dipping sauce served with the fries. The sandwich was more than a person should eat, so I was only able to finish half. To be honest I had taken a bite of the Shrimp version earlier. Both types were good, but I still wonder about the Cuban. Oh well, perhaps on a subsequent visit.

Twang Daddies providing some ambiance.
  After dinner we danced a little, while the band set up on stage. While we only stayed for the first group, there were a total of three bands playing that evening. Now this place is a COUNTRY music bar, and that is exactly what they play. I mean old school country, like Cash, Willie, Waylon, Buck Owens, and many of the other greats. The Twang Daddies were the ones we heard, and they knocked it out of the park. It was good hearing tunes that I knew every word of, and the crowd really got engaged. Our first visit to the Westport Saloon will certainly not be our last. Find out more, including their musical guest schedule at

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Restaurant Review: Zaxby's Chicken

   A while back we visited a fast food restaurant in Blue Springs that focused on chicken strip dinners. We were both a little surprised at the concept, but evidently it is catching on. Recently we made our first stop at Zaxby's Chicken in the Village West are of KCK. Here we found another restaurant chain focusing on this narrow field of protein options. Since we were already there, we decided to try them out.

    The menu is fairly straightforward, but has a surprising number of combinations to choose from. We took a moment to finally decide on our meals, and then placed our order. Like most fast food places, the focus is on quick turn time. Since we were in a hurry, we weren't too worried about the gourmet experience we were missing. We were both taken back a bit by the sheer number of calories allotted to their meals. It was a hefty price to pay for speedy service.

  The dining area follows the lead of most any other fast food restaurant with a combination of table tops and booths. The service is set up so that a staff member will bring your meals to your table, which helps prevent congestion at the order counter.

  We each ordered the four strip meal, which includes cole slaw, fries, and a piece of garlic toast. The chicken was a little bland, but had a good crust. The dipping sauce did add a smoky, peppery kick to the entree, and was a welcome addition. The fries are standard fast food fare, and the toast was saturated with butter, but lacking much garlic flavor. To me the winning part of the meal was the cole slaw. Crisp vegetables with a slightly sweet base is the style I grew up with. Overall Zaxby's Chicken is exactly what you would expect for fast food, and the prices are fairly standard for the amount of food they dish out. If you would like more information you can find out a ton of stuff at

Monday, November 7, 2016

Restaurant Review: Leinenkugel's

The entrance to the restaurant is well marked.
   When you are looking for a party atmosphere in Kansas City you can usually rely on the Power & Light District to be a good venue. Recently they had their Halloween bash, which draws a ton of people in costume. Now we may not be the biggest party couple around, but we do savor the opportunity for some premium people watching. This certainly felt like the perfect chance to do some of that, while also enjoying a nice dinner out. The P&L is a great location to head when you are struggling with what you want to do. The district offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and entertainment options. On this evening we decided to try a new restaurant for us, so we picked Leinenkugel's Kansas City.

Lots of seating options available.
    Since this was our first visit, we hoped to find out a little about the background of this uniquely named restaurant. The host offered us a choice of low-top or high-top table, and proceeded to seat us right at the edge of the outdoor patio section. On a warm evening this was perfect, since we felt the air-conditioning, but had a view of the outdoors. Our server Alex arrived promptly and had a very upbeat attitude. When we asked about the unusual name, he explained that the company is an offshoot of the Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. This German family began the brewery in 1867, and is now being ran by the sixth generation of family members. Quite an inspiring story of family tradition. Our server went on to explain that many of the menu items are crafted with some of the beers that the brewery offers, especially where batters are involved. He gave us a few pointers on navigating the menu, and then left us to decide.

The highlight of the bar is the large on-tap selection.
   Now obviously beer is a huge draw at this location, but neither of us were in the mood for this particular beverage, so we passed. I did a cursory review of the drink menu, and found that they have over a dozen varieties on tap, and twice that many in bottles. They also offer a handful of beer cocktails and blends. Perhaps on a subsequent visit I may sample one of these, but for this evening we were drinking other concoctions. After a few minutes of deliberation, we decided on our selections. After placing our orders, we sat back to enjoy the evening. I wish I would have thought of taking a picture of the view from our table. We were seated at a low-top at the edge of the outdoor patio. This gave us a fantastic view of the outdoor seating area, which includes a fire feature. It certainly looks like a great location for a romantic dinner on a crisp evening.

The menu is easy to read and staff was quick to help with additional information.
   The menu at Leinenkugel's Kansas City leans more toward the side of handheld foods. There are a few salad options, and most are fairly complex in the mix of ingredients. If you are stopping by for their weekday Happy Hours, which run from 3:00 to 7:00 Monday through Friday,  you will find quite a few appetizer options. One of the more popular snack items is their Beer Battered Cheese Curds. We didn't try them, but they are supposed to be very good. If you have had the experience of tasting them, please leave a description of them in the "Comments" section below. As far as the full plate items go, there are a few varieties of street tacos, as well as a wide sampling of burgers and sandwiches to choose from. A handful of larger entree items round out the menu, and of course there are also a small group of desserts.

Chicken and Avocado Sandwich with Fries.
   After a reasonable amount of time our dinners arrived. My wife had ordered the Chicken & Avocado sandwich, which comes on Ciabatta bread. The chicken breast is marinated and then grilled. It comes topped with lettuce tomato, avocado slices, Swiss cheese, and ranch dressing. The flavor was great, but the sandwich gets a little messy with all of those toppings. Of course, that didn't prevent her from finishing it off, but she had to stop periodically to realign. She chose the fries, as she almost always does. They were good, but nothing special. I had a few as well, and by the end of the meal her plate was cleared.

Pulled Pork Cuban with Onion Rings.
  Now I had scoped out this restaurant in advance, and picked it because of one specific menu item. Whenever we try a restaurant I look for a Cuban sandwich. It is amazingly hard to find good ones being offered, and if you know of anyplace that has one, please tell me about it in the "Comments" section. I will be eternally grateful. I asked Alex if the one they served was good, and he said it is, but it is a little bit of a twist on the traditional recipe. The ingredients are roughly the same, but the mustard is not really spicy, so it does miss that kick. Still it was good, and the smoked pork was excellent. this sandwich is pressed, which did leave the edges of the bread a little tough. I almost always choose the onion rings for my side, so that we can share those and the fries. These were good and crispy, but the dipping sauce held little flavor. I would have preferred more kick here, as well.

The happy couple heading out for the evening.
   Our overall impression was positive, and plans will be made to visit again. The fish and chips sound appealing, and we are interested in trying the homemade beer batter. The prices were reasonable, and the portions are certainly filling. Service was prompt, although we were there before it got too busy, but there were plenty of extra servers just waiting for the crowd to arrive. Everyone seemed friendly and helpful, and we had interaction with others beside our server. The ambiance inside the restaurant was a mix between bar and restaurant, and certainly made to be comfortable. If you are interested in learning more about the location or menu visit

A werewolf on a mechanical bull is not a sight we see every day.
   As we stated at the beginning of this post, we made this visit for the annual Halloween Party. It was a great evening of people watching, and we saw many unique and inventive costumes. Of course there were the old standards, but we noticed a growing number of ideas based on social media. After dinner we wandered over to PBR Big Sky, a country music bar, and watched people attempt to ride the bull while in costume. This supplied us with lots of entertainment, and we had quite the night. We hope your Halloween was just as hauntingly wonderful.