Saturday, August 18, 2012


Hickok's Bar & Grill is one of my favorite spots downtown, period! It's an awesome Southwest grill in the River Market area; it took over the old Dos Hombres building a little over a year ago. We go to there for any reason, but we are particularly fond of going there after Royals games. Hickok's is not just a great lunch spot, not just a great dinner place, not just a great happy hour place, but completely awesome in every way!

To start out with, "The best chips and salsa on the planet", as the menu states. Hickok's is one of the few places that charges for its chips and salsa, but it is WAY worth it! Its $2 for a bottomless order of "The best chips and salsa on the planet" for the table, they named them that, but I wholeheartedly cosign the name. There is some sort of smokiness to the salsa that I can neither figure out the source of nor stop eating. I probably eat my weight in chips and salsa when I am at Hickok's and I am not a huge chips and salsa guy by any means.

Every single entree that I have tried at Hickok's has been incredible! Whether it be the Boulevard Beer battered chicken fingers, that despite their small size (showing you why they are called "fingers"), are huge on flavour! The garlic-agave dipping sauce for the fingers is incredible too. The hot wings, which are done Peanut style, are huge, but not quite the pterodactyl size (like The Peanut). The Hickok's classic burger is indeed that, classic. The most recent item that I have had at Hickok's was the burrito bowl. Imagine a Pepperjax burrito bowl with more flavour. The chicken is better than Pepperjax, and I believe that it is the jalapeno ranch dressing on top that sets it off!

Disclaimer: I have had the crunchy tacos at Hickok's, and they (as everything else is) are quite good. I always harp on "Mexican" restaurants that have crunchy tacos, but this is not a Mexican restaurant, it is a Southwest grill, and Southwest grills have the Eating Awesomeness seal of approval to serve crunchy tacos (as long as you do not label them as "Mexican"). Its really just the principle or it more than anything.

Almost everything that I listed above can be had at a discounted rate during happy hour. The most wonderful thing about Hickok's happy hour is that it includes food and drink, and it is even in effect on Saturdays. Their happy hour menu is (and entire menu for that matter) ever-changing, so make sure to check their website (or with your wait-person) for the latest specials. Whether you want a Boulevard/Shlafly/Bud Light/Stella/Dos XX draw, a tall boy of PBR, a house margarita on the rocks, a frozen strawberry margarita, or food, you can probably find it on special at some time of the day/week at Hickok's.

Hickok's is incredible, and I have no shame saying it! I love nearly everything about this place, and in sticking with the theme of the Dos XX Man: "I don't always eat at Hickok's, but when I do, I eat a lot. Stay hungry my friends".

Hickok's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 13, 2012

El Patron

I typically do not frequent Mexican restaurants that are primarily either marketed by or frequented by gringos. It is not that those Mexican restaurants are not or cannot be good, it is just not the type of Mexican restaurants that I am looking for. When El Patron was first mentioned to me, it was by white people from Leawood, which immediately raised a red flag with me. Thus I continued to inaccurately judge El Patron, until a couple family members came in town from California and wanted to go out to dinner. We thought it would be the perfect mix of authenticity (as it IS located on SW BLVD after-all) and upper-scale atmosphere (as heard from the Leawood reco).

When we walked into El Patron, it was indeed filled with gringos, but one look at the menu dispelled any thoughts that I may have had of unauthenticity at El Patron. Skimming through the menu that is occupied by a plethora of entrees that contain Nopales (cactus) immediately made me a fan El Patron. I was first introduced to Nopales as a child, by immigrant farm workers who ate grilled Nopales (by itself) on homemade corn tortillas, lets just say I had to try El Patron's crack at this classic Mexican food!

First, we ordered drinks, all of which were great. The Margarita was an obvious choice, and it was good. However the game changer was a house cocktail, the coconut mojito. The coconut mojito had the mintiness of your standard mojito with the creaminess of the coconut, it was really fantastic, we will be ordering this again during our next trip to El Patron.

The chips and salsa (which are in no way shape or form a reason to go, or not to go to a Mexican restaurant) were very good. The chips taste homemade, but are not. The chips come with two different salsas: mild and spicy. Both salsas are very good.

The entrees: My wife indulged in her all time favorite Mexican dish, the Tacos Marineros (fish tacos). She was gracious enough to let me have a couple bites and it was divine. The "lightly breaded" tilapia was truly lightly breaded, making these tacos a great lighter meal option. The avocado, squeezed lime, and mango salsa combine with the tilapia for a truly great fish taco.

I went with the Arrachera con Nopales (skirt steak with cactus). The grilled skirt steak was just like the carne asada that my friend's mother used to make. The nopales were tender and delicioso! The beans and rice (that I normally hate as most restaurants) were not just edible, but actually good. The meal was tied together by a chile toreado, just like those served with my favorite gas station tacos in Dallas.

For the birthday of one of our group members, we got a sopapilla. The sopapilla was awesome! It came topped with chocolate, whipped cream, and fried ice cream. Pretty much everything sweet and delicious (and equally terrible for you) all on one plate.

El Patron is a fantastic little place on the boulevard and we will definitely be back!

El Patron on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extra Virgin and Glace

Extra Virgin (or Michael Smith lite, as I like to call it) is the brain child of local chef Michael Smith. You may know Michael Smith from his restaurant namesake, that is located adjacent to EV, or as the savior of The American Restaurant. Or you may not know him at all, but if you did not know him before dining at EV, you will surely not forget him after you leave. He nailed the upmarket tapas restaurant concept and gave the space an industrial semblance, the place has a big city tapas spot feel with a gritty Kansas City twist.

The menu items range from traditional Spanish tapas to items that are so daring that the inspiration could be nothing short of an ingredient basket from Chopped. From the traditional sliced meat plates, sliced cheese plates, almonds and variations of Spanish chorizo to the more adventurous duck tongue tacos, crispy pig ear salad, and fried duck gizzards, there is something for every appetite.

We started off with a couple of house cocktails from the bar, the red sangria and the Bicycling Bohemian. Let me just say that EV doesn't just employ a couple bar tenders that will pour you a glass of wine or the occasional gin and tonic, EV employs some of the most creative mixologists in KC. They make their own bitters, infuse liquors, and age their own house cocktails in charred oak barrels in the basement (see the Aged Manhattan). Mallory chose the sangria and it was amazing, not too sweet (as is the problem with some sangrias), but was still light enough to enjoy on such a hot summer day. I went with the Bicycling Bohemian, mainly because Bohemia is the name given to the neighborhood of my favorite Broadway musical Rent, but secondly because I saw Absinthe on the drink's ingredient list. The drink was very strong (but delicious) and came with an infused cherry (seed-in, don't chip your tooth thinking that it is a maraschino) in the bottom of the flute. Despite what Manet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Oscar Wilde would have you believe, I did not hallucinate at all after drinking the Absinthe containing cocktail, much to no one's surprise. Granted: do not know how much Absinthe was actually in the cocktail (probably not much), the recipe for Absinthe has changed over the years, and I am unaware if it was poured with the appropriate Absinthiana, but the fact remains still sane (or at least it appears to me that I am still sane, I could be typing gibberish and have no idea).

Round one of tapas: The tacos. For our first plate of tacos, we ordered the Tuna Ceviche Tacos. These tacos were served with cold contents and came in small fried taco shells. The flavours that came bursting through immediately were the tuna and the smashed avocado. They come in a rack of 4, so these are great for a group of 2 or 4 (or an odd group of 5 that has a member that does not enjoy tacos, or group of three that has one taco lover, but I digress...).

Our second plate of tacos, we ordered the duck tongue tacos. Right in my wheelhouse, I know, anything with some meat that isn't your standard chicken, steak, or pork in a taco has my name written all over it. These were delicious, the highlights were the: spicy duck tongue, spicy red onions, and queso fresco. These (like the tuna tacos) are served in fried taco shells. IMHO they would be better if they came in soft corn tortillas, but are still incredible as is.

Round two of tapas: The Protein. First we ordered the Smoked Paprika Shrimp and Peaches. Let it be known that I don't really care for shrimp. I always draw scoffs when I reveal this to people, but to me, shrimp just taste like nothing (really expensive nothing). This dish proves that shrimp can have flavour, people just choose not to put the flavour in the shrimp. The smokiness of the shrimp mixed with the big bold flavour of the grilled Missouri peaches, was nearly the perfect combination! This dish was Mallory's favorite.

Our second plate of protein, we ordered the fried duck gizzards with "crossroads hot sauce". The duck gizzards are again, right up my adventurous alley. The gizzards and sauce were both delicious. If you have never had gizzards before, it is the bit of meat that is roughly located on the bird where the neck meets the breastbone. Gizzards are popular street food fair in much of the world. When fried, a gizzard is slightly chewy on the outside and very meaty and tender on the inside (the meat is much like chicken meat).

While all of the dessert that we saw floating by to other tables looked incredible, and the churros were calling my name, I had already promised to take Mallory to Glace after dinner.

Extra Virgin on Urbanspoon

Glace is this awesome little artisan ice cream joint. This was our first time, so we tried a good number of samples, only to find out how unbelievably awesome all of the flavours are (which only made the decision that much more difficult). Far and away, the Roasterie Organic Coffee was both of our favorite flavour. After Mallory stole my combination of Roasterie Organic Coffee and Christopher Elbow Dark Chocolate (two KC legends), I was forced to rethink my selection (since we have this unwritten rule that we always have to order different options, so we can try more items). I ended up going with the ROC and Bananas Foster, per the recommendation of the girl behind the counter, boy was it incredible. Mallory even liked the Bananas Foster a lot, and she usually doesn't like banana flavours outside of real bananas. Would recommend this place to anyone that is looking for a great scoop (or two) of artisan ice cream. I honestly think that it is impossible to try a bad flavour here! Perhaps next time I will give Farmer Bob's Sweet Corn a shot.

Glace Artisan Ice Cream on Urbanspoon