May 1 2014

Taqueria Monarca

Taqueria Monarca is a food truck found on the 2400 block of Holmes street in Kansas City, Missouri weekdays at lunchtime. They serve tacos, burritos, tostadas and other Mexican food with your choice of meats including steak, beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, tripe, and tongue.

I have tied their tacos, which are very good, but I normally get their tostada, which is only $3 and is usually enough food for me. I highly recommend the asada tostada.

Link to their Facebook page.

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Nov 10 2012

Review: China Dragon

While on vacation we tried out a Chinese restaurant my brother recommended, China Dragon in Concordia, Missouri. It’s a little place on the main drag—restaurant only, no buffet.

The Food
The food was very good, and the portions are large. I don’t know about you, but I’m picky about my favorite dish, pork lo-mein. Some places have those thin, round, ramen-style noodles, and other places have those nasty, wide, flat noodles. This place has neither–they have what they call ‘soft noodles’ which are very nice (aren’t all noodles soft once you cook them?). Anyway, they are round and fat, like Americans. The General Tso’s chicken was very good–lots of chicken, not a lot of coating (there are some restaurants that have lots of coating and not a lot of chicken). The crab rangoon is literally packed as full as it can be, the egg rolls are great, and the egg drop soup is wonderful. I just really can’t say enough good things about China Dragon’s food. In my opinion the lo-mein could be greasier, but that’s a personal preference*.

The Service
The entire restaurant is served by the owner / waitress, Tina (her husband is the cook). Tina is friendly, bubbly, and just so darn nice she makes it very difficult not to eat there every night.

The Prices
It’s pretty inexpensive to eat there, and we have always had food to bring home.

Just go, man. Don’t believe me? Try these other reviews; my favorite is the one that says ‘GET OFF THE INTERSTATE NOW.’ Tell Tina her brother and sister from Higginsville sent ya.

[mappress mapid=”2″]

* I have a wonderful memory of leaving an entertainment venue late at night one November long ago and then eating leftover greasy lo-mein sans utensils. Mmmmm.


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Feb 14 2012

Review: Cajun Cabin food truck

As you probably know, I like to try new food, even when its served from a truck. As I was on my way out to get a gyro, I saw the Cajun Cabin truck. They serve what you would expect from a cajun food joint: gumbo, beans and rice, and jambalaya. I had seen them before, but I’m not usually anxious to buy something I know I can make well.

As I passed the truck, I noticed that they offered free samples. The guy gave me a little 1oz cup with a tiny spoon. One bite and I was hooked. I had the sausage and  chicken jambalaya, and it was amazing.While it didn’t need it at all, it was extra awesome with some Frank’s RedHot.

If you happen to be on Hospital Hill (24th & Holmes) between 11am and 2pm most weekdays (check their schedule), I highly recommend them. You can catch them online at

Update: check their Facebook page for the most accurate schedule.

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Jan 4 2011

Review: Bates City Café

Heather and I stopped in at the Bates City Café last week.

Having lived in Bates City for one miserable year, I try to avoid the town. However, since the gas station became a Valero franchise it’s really the quickest way to stop and get gas between Kansas City and Concordia. When Heather and I stopped in for gas last week, we noticed that the café, which wasn’t much to look at, was absolutely packed. On the way home from Christmas shopping, we really wanted some pie and coffee, but we had already left the city. We knew there was no place to get what we wanted back home after about 7pm, so we decided to give Bates City a try.

First, the service: fast. The place was packed again, and our waitress didn’t stop moving for a second. She took our order quickly and got our pie and coffee quickly as well.

Atmosphere: the Bates City Café is a former service station that has been converted to a ’50s-style diner. The bay doors have been walled up, the concrete floor painted in large black and white checkerboard. The place is close, but not cramped. Elvis, Marilyn, and James Dean cover the walls.

Food: I ordered the peach pie and Heather ordered what she orders everywhere she can–bread pudding. Both desserts were homemade. The peach pie was good, though I think it could have used more peaches and less filling. The crust was soft and flaky. Heather didn’t love the bread pudding, the texture being quite a bit softer than she liked. Our coffee was freshly brewed, but a little on the weak side.

Price: the prices at BCC aren’t bad, but they are a little steep on some menu items.

Overall I was actually impressed. The service was excellent, the staff was friendly, the food was homemade and decent, and the place offered free wifi. A lot of people say they want to support mom-and-pop shops, but when you are traveling, it can be risky trying new places. Heather and I are glad we gave the them a try.

You can find them on Facebook.

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Dec 13 2010

Lookin’ for Chinese in the all the wrong places

A couple Fridays ago at work we ordered Chinese from China Dragon; it had been a long week and we had taken a real beating and we deserved some takeout. Rob called to order our food at 11 a.m., and we waited. And waited. By noon they still hadn’t arrived. I was starved, but I didn’t want to eat just in case they showed up. I left my desk to go complete some work.

While I was gone Rob had called and asked where our food was. Somehow, they couldn’t find our eight-story, six-building campus. At 1:30pm the owner drove back out with our food.

No, not fresh food; our food that we ordered at 11am that had been transported somewhere in town and back to sit on the counter for another 90 minutes.

As Rob paid for our order the owner spoke up.

“You got microwave?”

“Yeah,” said Rob.

“Good! You gonna need it!”

Update: this China Dragon is distinctly different from the China Dragon in Concordia, Missouri.

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Sep 23 2010

Review: Mel’s Diner in Tipton, Missouri

I stopped at Mel’s Diner on 50 Highway on my way back from Rolla last week. Mel’s is a little steel building with a ketchup and mustard interior. Service was decent, despite the large party they had in the back.

I ordered the Kosher Corn Beef sandwich. The sandwich was fine , but when you pay $6 for a sandwich you kind of expect something pretty good sized–not something the size of two White Castle sliders.

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Sep 20 2010

Review: Big D’z Dawgz

Besides being uncomfortable to type, Big D’z Dawgz is a food vendor that can be found during the week on Holmes street between Children’s Mercy Hospital and UMKC Med School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Due to an imposed hot dog and french fry diet earlier in my life, I didn’t eat hot dogs with any regularity or preference until 2007 when Heather and I went to Chicago and stopped at Portillo’s, when I had my first Chicago-style dog (mustard, onions, peppers, tomato, and pickle). It was amazing.

Big D’z, as you might have guessed, is a hot dog vendor. No, you can’t get a Chicago-style dog, nor a Carolina-style dog (onions, coleslaw, and chili). But you can get a big quarter pound beef hot dog.

I ordered a dog, which was $4.25. The only condiments that were available were ketchup, mustard, and relish. But at least they have dill relish, which is worlds better than the standard sweet pickle relish you find everywhere.

When I sat down to eat, I found two surprises:

  1. The dog was cold. I don’t mean that the surface cooled on my transit from the vendor to my desk; I mean the inside was cold
  2. The dill relish I slathered on my dog was actually sweet relish that had been put into a dill relish bottle.

I know it’s wrong to pun, but I want to share my unhappiness.

I didn’t relish the experience.

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Mar 15 2010

Review: O’Dowd’s Little Dublin at Zona Rosa

Recently Heather and I took a short weekend off together to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.

As most of you know, I love Irish Stew. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a place that serves it that isn’t called ‘Dan’s House.’

For those of you who don’t know, Irish Stew is lamb, potatoes, carrots, and leeks. Its unique flavor comes largely from the lamb and thyme, but from the leeks to some extent.

O’Dowd’s Little Dublin at Zona Rosa serves an Irish stew minus the leeks and with no detectable thyme, but they have added beef. At first I thought this was a good idea, but the problem is that the beef flavor runs wild over the lamb and crowds out the unique flavor. Overall the stew was a really great beef stew, but just a mediocre Irish Stew. While my palate was disappointed, my ego was gratified that my stew is better. I’m not saying my stew is more authentic, because I wouldn’t know, but I do think it’s better.

Heather, however, had some pork chops with mushrooms and a side of asparagus, and it was pretty amazing.

She also absolutely loved her bread pudding, both fresh and warm as well as cold from the motel fridge.

Our waitress, Jennifer, was very nice and we didn’t have to wait for anything.

Overall, O’Dowd’s was nice enough, but the high-backed seats were a little shallow and the place felt plain old American, and not the least bit Irish.

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May 7 2009

Senior Coffee

The McDonald’s I get my coffee at frequently gives me a discounted senior coffee. I figured it was because they liked me, or they just like rewarding their frequent fliers, not because of all the gray in my beard.

But some time ago I was at a McDonald’s in downtown Kansas City and they gave me a senior discount as well. And then last month I went to another McDonald’s in yet another town and got the same discount.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it. But I really didn’t think I looked that old.

The only other explanation is that women working at McDonald’s restaurants all over Missouri are all hitting on me, and that’s not really rational.

My friend Kay wrote about a similar experience some time ago, but I don’t think she appreciated it so much.

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Apr 6 2009


My friend Kay has written an article regarding donuts; I take exception to her spelling ‘doughnuts,’ but she is the one with the journalism degree and I am the one who dropped out of art school.

Her site is, but here is a direct link to the article.

Personally, I love donuts. It’s not a question who I would kill to get a donut; a more accurate measure is who I wouldn’t kill to get a donut.

Back when I used to work at Ace, I would have three fresh glazed donuts and a quart of whole milk for breakfast every morning. It was because of this that my boss Tom Runge called me Donut Dan, an appellation I took as a compliment.

I don’t love all donuts, of course. As anyone in the KC area knows, you are in one of two camps: Lamar’s or Krispy Kreme. As I have already stated, I love donuts, therefore I am a Lamar’s man. Krispy Kreme doesn’t make donuts, they make liquid-sugar-encased-grease-rings.

I don’t mean to make the disingenuous statement that I in any way dislike grease or sugar; I love ’em.

But come on, man; show a little restraint.

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