Thursday, July 28, 2016

Restaurant Review: San Antonio


  When we first discovered San Antonio we were searching for fresh tortillas. There are many places in WyCo to get them, but they all seem to have their own distinct flavor, and we were trying to find the one we liked best. After trying theirs we were hooked. Our love affair with their tortillas has continued for years, but only recently has it spread to include their prepared food offerings.


  Sitting in the heart of Armourdale, at 830 Kansas Avenue, Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio seems to be busy at all times. To us this is a good sign, as I am sure it is to the owners. It serves as a meat market, grocery store, and restaurant all wrapped up in one location, so at any given time you have a wide range of customers. 


  I was introduced to their tacos at a local event, that San Antonio was catering. Guests were offered a choice of pork or beef filling, and I chose to sample each one. Topped with fresh diced onion, cilantro, and a little hot sauce, these tacos were amazing. I have discovered that many of the people in my office will periodically visit San Antonio for a quick take-out lunch. Their reviews of the tamales, pork sandwich, and beef burrito are just as promising. It looks like we will need to do a lot more research on this place. Maybe we'll will bump into you there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Restaurant Review: Pizza West


  I will go out on a limb and say that most people like pizza. This is a fairly wide cast generalization, as many people are just as particular about this special type of pie as they are about their barbecue. We have our favorites, as you surely do as well, but we are usually game to try new places for the hopes of finding some new treasure.


  So last evening we were heading to an appointment in western Shawnee, which would take us away from home during the time we would usually prepare dinner. This meant that I needed to find a suitable substitution for a quick take out. Low and behold I happened along Pizza West at 5436 Roberts Street in Shawnee, Kansas. It had solid reviews, and the online menu showed promise, so it was decided to give them a shot.  


   The exterior is what you would expect in any strip mall, and the interior continues the somewhat cookie cutter design. Booths line the exterior with tables dotting the middle, but we were here for the pizza, so design concept was not important. To tell the truth, we find that design has a low priority for us, as long as the place is clean. The order entry was quick and painless with assistance of one of the owners. He was even nice enough to explain that our order qualified for one of their daily specials. I ordered two medium sized pies, and the total came up to around $25.00, which I feel is very fair.


  With the need to feed four adults it gave us the chance to test a little variation in their Craft Pizza menu. Our first pie was the "Fredo", which has chicken, onion, mushroom, bacon, and tomatoes with an Alfredo sauce. They offer two crust styles, and we decided to have the regular version on this pie. The owner explained that the outer edge of the crust ends up being almost like a big bread-stick encircling the pizza. He was absolutely correct on his description. 


  Our second choice was their "K-7 Combo", which is pretty much a combination pizza like you would find at most places. For this one we chose the thin crust variation. I was told it would not be cracker-like, but it would be fairly crisp. While I enjoyed the Alfredo version, my favorite ended up being the combo. The ingredients are certainly fresh, and the crust had just enough texture to stay together when you took a bite. Overall both pies were well received, so it looks like we will have to make plans to test some of their other variations. For more information and to peruse the menu visit http://www.gopizzawest.com/.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Drive into Fun


  Summertime held so many special treats for us as kids. It is the time of year to spend evenings out of doors communing with nature. We would chase fireflies or play hide-and-seek at dusk. Every once in a while we would get the chance to go to the drive-in movies, and it was usually at State Drive-in or Boulevard Drive-in. While the State Avenue location has long since vanished, Boulevard is still thriving today.


  I believe a huge part of their ability to survive is based on the introduction of the weekend swap meets. Early on Saturday and Sunday mornings sellers from all around work in the predawn hours to set up their merchandise for sale to the public. Soon, hordes of shoppers descend upon the location to wander the rows seeking just the right treasures. This place is a beehive of activity on most weekend mornings. As the heat increases the crowds thin, and soon the vendors pack their leftovers and head for home. 


  It is now time for staff to prepare the site for the evenings entertainment. The crowd starts to arrive before dusk, in hopes of securing just the right location. Vehicles line the rows, pop the trunks, and families unpack for an evening of fun. Oldies music wafts from the pole speakers, as the kids dash off to play before dark. Adults work feverishly to set up camp for the evening's entertainment. Folding lawn chairs dot the parking lot, coolers filled with goodies are unloaded and some folks are tailgating along the perimeter. those that chose not to bring snacks line the queue inside the concession stand. Popcorn and candy fly off the shelves, as families rush back to their campsites for the start of the digital attraction.


  Soon the movies begin, and the crowd is engrossed in the evening's eye candy. Periodically the sounds of passing trains break through, but then it is back to the movie. As the night deepens the stars break out overhead, and the kids motors begin to wind down. The second feature is the bonus movie one gets for attending a drive-in, and the children struggle to stay awake to the end. As the evening draws to a close, the families pack their campsites back into their vehicles, and head for their homes. Another successful day for the owners of the drive-in, but tomorrow they will have to do it all over again. For more information and movie times visit http://boulevarddrivein.com/wordpress/.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Restaurant Review: Sunny China


  While the places I review are usually ones that we dine in, there are times we will bring home some goodies, which can be savored by our family. This usually occurs on an evening when we find ourselves busy with an event or appointment. This was the case last evening, so we stopped at our family's favorite Chinese food location. Sunny China is located at 4633 Shawnee Drive in KCK, and is open from 11:00 am until 10:00 pm every day of the week.


  This small, family run business has a constant flow of business due to their consistent quality, and quick service. The portions are good sized, so the value for the dollar is well spent. The staff is to-the-point direct, so you won't find a lot of chit-chat here. What you will find is the menu items are made when you order, so everything is freshly cooked. The galley style kitchen is laid out behind the counter, so the minutes spent waiting for your meal can be entertaining. The cooks work in a rhythmic fashion, almost like an orchestra of action, as they swish, swirl, and stir-fry the orders to completion.

  Our selections for the evening included General Tsao's Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken on a stick, Stir-Fried Rice, Fried Dumplings, and Crab Rangoon. The total came to about $33.00, but we left with two bags full of food, which would supply us with dinner that evening, as well as lunch the next day. Often when we return with take-out food, it may take a while before the others join us to eat. This is not the case with Sunny China. It seems that just the aroma of the freshly cooked food is enough to draw them out of their fortresses to join us for a delicious meal. Sunny China is certainly a great choice for a family looking for value, as well as good food.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Restaurant Review: Country Club Cafe


  Some of you may realize that I enjoy golfing whenever I get the opportunity. Don't confuse that statement to mean I am a good golfer, just take it for what I said. Periodically, my wife will endure the very early morning trip, usually leaving the house at 5:30 am. On these occasions it is only fitting that afterwards we go to breakfast. Our most recent occurrence also coincided with an appointment we had later that morning in Shawnee.


  Now the ideal situation would be for us to find a nice little restaurant in between these two stops, so that we can refuel before the rest of our day. I am a Yelp app user, as it has helped us locate some unique spots. On this particular morning we were struggling to find a good fit, but as we headed south on 7 highway towards Shawnee Mission Parkway we discovered one. Sitting unobtrusively on a quiet, shaded corner is Country Club Cafe. The name is obviously associated with the bank of the same name, to which the restaurant is attached.


 Upon entering we found the place to be more of a Starbucks style location, instead of the standard breakfast fare we were looking for. Being open to impromptu dining, we decided to see what we could find. We explained to the server that we were first timers, and they patiently walked us through their menu offerings. They offer made to order omelets, but they quickly pointed out that the Rollover was by far the crowd favorite.

   
  Made with ham, egg salad, and co-jack cheese it sounded like an interesting combination. These ingredients are topped with a chipotle mayo, and all of this is placed on an Asiago cheese bagel. It sounded like a ton of different flavors, but they assured us that they blended well. We both agreed to try it, and then headed off to sample their coffee. The service was prompt, and the sandwich was delicious. They were spot on about the mix of flavors, as each one complimented the other in just the right way. While this would not be our standard breakfast spot, it does give us a quiet spot for a fast bite when we are in the area. If you want to know more about Country Club Cafe follow this link http://www.cccshawnee.com/.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Share Kindness


  For the most part I have kept this blog on a simple direction. One that is meant to be a celebration of the wonderful places and things we have available to us. I have steered away from the lure to use it as a platform to promote my own agenda, if I had one. Nor have I tried to use it to preach my beliefs to others. I will try to continue with this tradition, but I do ask the liberty to stray from it for just a moment. In light of all of the things that are taking place in our cities around our nation, I just want to share a moment of reflection on what I see missing from our lives. RESPECT.


 Somewhere along our way we have lost respect. Not just for one another, but for ourselves. I know that sounds too simple to be the answer, but I believe it is the foundation that has eroded, and let all of our other issues surface. I know that we humans can be a loving, and tolerant species, because I have seen it far too many times. It shows when someone rushes to hold the door for another who looks to be struggling. When a person digs into their pocket to provide money to a person in need, the light of kindness shines through them. Caring is clearly visible when a lost child is temporarily adopted by a group of concerned people, who are willing to forego their own wants to assist the reunion of the family.

  Down deep people do know how to care, and how to respect others. These are tools that I believe we are born with, but we need to learn how to use them properly. As with any other tool, without practice we lose proficiency. We have buried these tools under so many layers of instant gratification that we have gotten out of practice. There is no time like the present to dust these tools off and start using them again. Start today. Share a smile or a kind word. Putting a smile on another person's face will put a smile in our own heart. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than that of helping another.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Restaurant Review: El Salvadoreno


  This past week was the monthly Third Friday, which is held in Downtown Overland Park. This is a nice little event, which includes live music, shops open late, and some interesting special options. Some of the stores run specials, hold wine tastings or hire bands, in an effort to draw in potential customers. This creates an excellent atmosphere for people watching, which happens to be one of our favorite activities. When you combine that with a little sidewalk restaurant we are just about as happy as can be.


  In this part of Overland Park, there are a few dining options, and we decided to look for a Mexican food variety spot. We happened upon El Salvadoreno, and thought it might fit the bill. Seating is first come first serve, and we were able to secure a table by the windows. The menu was confusing for us, as the food descriptions are a little vague. We decided to ask the server, and they politely walked us through the menu. They also explained to us how their food differed from the Tex-Mex variety that we had been seeking, but being adventurous, we decided to stick with our restaurant choice.


  As I stated, the menu was confusing, so we both settled for the sampler, which the server told us would give us a taste of El Salvadorian cuisine. On the right is a cheese and bean stuffed tortilla, the most popular menu item according to the server. At the bottom is a shredded pork tamale, which was heavy on the corn wrapping. The left side held an interesting version of a tostada, which was topped with a variety of items including; beans, lettuce, a boiled egg slice, and a piece of pickled beet. It sounds kind of unusual, but the flavors blended very well together. There were two other items on the plate, but memory fails me on their exact makeup. We left full, and satisfied, knowing that we had added another cuisine to our growing list. It is certainly an interesting dining option, and we will keep it in mind on future visits. For more information check them out at http://www.elsalvadoreno-op.com/.