Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kansas Road Trip 2011: Lawrence and Mass Street

We love visiting Lawrence as part of our annual Kansas road trip.  This year we stayed at Legends which is on the far west side of Kansas City, so we were only about 25 minutes from Lawrence.  Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas and it was homecoming weekend when we visited this time.

The day we visited Lawrence we were planning to eat at Cinzetti's in Overland Park for dinner, so we opted for a quick serve lunch at Freddy's Steakburgers.  We had wanted to try Freddy's for a while - the big ice cream cone on top of the building had been calling to us for years.  Neither of us put the secret Freddy Sauce on our burgers, but our sandwiches came out fast and were tasty.  The thin fries were good and reminded us of another national steakburger joint.

The center of Lawrence is Massachusetts Street and is our favorite place to visit, filled with lots of unique independent speciality stores like Sunflower, a great outdoor and bicycle shop.  Joe likes the used bookstore with cats walking around inside, but Waxman candle shop is probably our favorite place of all on Mass Street.  We've been buying candles at Waxman for more than ten years, and even if we don't buy anything, we always go in when we are in Lawrence.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kansas Road Trip 2011: Where to eat in Kansas City

Crown Candy Kitchen located in the Old North area of downtown St. Louis, and has become one of our favorite regular stops on our annual Kansas City road trip.  Crown Candy is an old fashioned ice cream parlor and candy store.  In addition to the incredible 1904 World's Fair ice cream sundaes, malts and shakes, Crown Candy makes some fo the best sandwiches.  Crown Candy is famous for their BLT - no question one of the thickest BLT's you will every try.  For our 2011 visit, Joe had a big cheese, which is a mega grilled cheese, with a vinilla shake.  Josh had the turkey bacon melt, which was every bit as impressive as the classic BLT.  Crown Candy has a five malt challenge - if you can drink five malts in less than 30 minutes you get them for free.  You might have seen the five malt challenge in some of those travel shows like Man vs Food.  If you did, you need to know that Crown Candy is actually really tiny.  It's a seriously small place with only about a dozen classic soda fountain style booths.  Metered parking is only on the block with the store, so if you don't have a pocket full of change, park a few blocks away for free.  If you get there during lunch be prepared to wait 30 minutes or more for a table for your BLT and malt.

Arthur Bryant's BBQ is a Kansas City tradition.  Everyone loves Arthur Bryant's, but they warn you to have your order ready when you get in line at the location on Brooklyn Avenue.  When you arrive at Arthur Bryant's you will be greeted by big menu boards and a cafeteria style line.  We went to the location at Legends and got pulled pork and ribs with fries and baked beans for just over $30.  The pulled pork is very good and the ribs are tasty, but we thought the prices were just a little high even though they serve a huge portion of pulled pork on white bread.  Arthur Bryant's is classic Kansas City BBQ that is a welcome change from usual national brands.

Cinzetti's Italian Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, is absolutely one of our top choices for eating in Kansas City.  Cinzetti's is an all you can eat Italian feast with a market style buffet.  Their prices are very reasonable and it is a casual atmosphere that is family friendly.  While the kids may turn their noses to the wide variety of Italian specialties, they will be overwhelmed by the ice cream and dessert bar.  From the salad and breadsticks to the seafood, chicken and pasta, Cinzetti's is a great place.  We love everything from the sweet carrots to the bread pudding.  Cinzetti's only has one location in Kansas, so look for them on Metcalf at 91st Street in Overland Park.  Overland Park is a great area filled with great shopping and a mix of indoor and outdoor malls nearby.  If you go to Cinzetti's at dinner time on the weekends be prepared for a short wait.  They seat groups quickly, but on our last visit we even saw a few youth sports teams enjoying a good meal, so this is a popular spot.

Stroud's Famous Fried Chicken is a family restaurant that serves some of the best pan-fried chicken you will ever enjoy.  We visited Stroud's Restaurant in Oak Ridge Manor on our way to cheer on the Jags at UMKC.  Stroud's chicken in pan fried, not deep fried, so it's really good.  They serve the chicken and sides family style for easy sharing, but be careful because it is easy to order more than you can finish.  Your server will come to your rescue with a take home box, but if you are traveling like we were, that might not be an option.  Still, that didn't keep us from packing up our cinnamon rolls and reheating them at the hotel.  The homemade cinnamon rolls were almost as good as the chicken.  The chicken pieces are big and juicy, and you can order just the pieces you like most.  Our server highly recommended the cottage fries, but we loved the mashed potatoes, too.  Our lunch came out of the kitchen fast, but we know this place can get really busy.  Stroud's has been featured on Man vs Food and has a really great bar perfect for watching football.  Stroud's is the best choice for fried chicken.

Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue says they are Kansas City BBQ at its best, and we have to agree.  Jack Stack has some of the best sliced beef brisket we've ever tasted, and they have combo plates that let you put together several of your favorites.  One of their side dishes is a cheesy corn bake which is very good, plus they offer pit beans and other classic sides.  The brisket will melt in your mouth, and the flavor of the meat is so good alone you might not use any extra sauce.  We normally visit the Jack Stack in Overland Park which is located in one of our favorite areas, but recently we had a chance to eat at the Jack Stack at the Freight House.  The Freight House is an old rail shipping building so it sits across the rail yard from Union Station and has a lot of character with high ceilings and other great details.  Jack Stack also has a location in Country Club Plaza, which is 15 blocks of the most historic and amazing shopping district in the country.  If you are looking for the best of Kansas City barbecue, head over to Jack Stack.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kansas Road Trip 2011: Enjoy Eudorafest!

Enjoy Eudorafest!  We were lucky to stumble upon Eudorafest on our way to Lawrence.  We normally pass by Eudora but had never stopped but this year we spotted closed streets and what looked like a car show, so we grabbed the camera and found a place to park.

We first saw a couple big trucks and sports cars, but when we got closer, we saw a really cool classic yellow school bus.  We've been to a lot of car shows in lots of places but we've never seen a single bus at a show.

As much as we loved the bus, Eudora fest had a lot more to offer.  It was a beautiful day for a great small town festival.  The main street was lined with booths, and kids were lined up to get their faces painted.  We saw the cake walk going on and a really tall cowboy strolling the festival.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kansas Road Trip 2011: Moon Marble

"Thanks for coming out to the moon!" is what the people at Moon Marble Company always say to us as we ring up our purchases after spending over an hour agonizing over which handmade marble we will take home from this amazing store in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

We first went to Moon Marble a few years ago, and now we've made going to the moon a regular stop on our annual Kansas road trip.  Moon Marble has an incredible selection of toys - definitely some of the neatest stuff you will find anywhere, including classic toys like slinkies and even kaleidoscopes.

But the really special thing they have at Moon Marble is handmade marbles.  So for people who have lost their marbles, this place is probably the best shot you have at finding it.  Joe has made it a tradition to buy a new handmade marble each year, and he has really take to the designs of Bruce Breslow, artisan and owner of Moon Marble.  At the moon you can even watch a marble-making demonstration, often hosted by Bruce, where you sit on old school gym bleachers and see a new marble get created right before your eyes.

Handmade marbles at Moon Marble Company can be had for only about $40, so they really are one of the most special gifts you will find.  No two are ever the same, so they made an incredibly personal gift.