Lawrence, KS: Mighty Tasty Tex-Mex … And Reasonable Too!


Mighty Tamales
1801 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone number: (785) 218-6948
Prices: $$$$
We stopped by on a whim after learning of the existence of this new Mexican eatery on the LFK for DUMMIES Facebook page. 

Located in the VFW Post building across from the Dillons supermarket on Mass Street, the owners, Justin and Kristy, opened this location after outgrowing their popular tamale delivery business.


The menu is limited for the time being, including pork and chicken tamale dishes as well as roasted, stuffed Poblano peppers that are TO DIE FOR. They offer rice and beans as well as daily specials (street tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and so on), but word has it that their menu will soon be expanding to include guacamole and more traditional Tex-Mex entrees. The adjacent VFW bar has a full assortment of drinks, beer, and wine to accompany your meal.

Their prices are extremely reasonable and I felt a bit guilty for paying so little for such an abundance of delicious, quality, well seasoned food. They could probably raise their prices a couple bucks per dish and still offer an exceptional value.

I will return soon to try their new menu and update my readers in more detail as this new restaurant grows and flourishes.

CombatCritic Gives Mighty Tamales An Initial And Very Solid 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Read Chris S.‘s review of Mighty Tamales on Yelp
https://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.js
Mighty Tamales Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mighty TamalesMighty Tamales

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Mighty Tasty Tex-Mex … And Reasonable Too!

Key Words: Lawrence, Mighty Tamales, Tex-Mex, Mexican, University of Kansas, KU, Kansas, University, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”


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Lawrence, KS: Tres Mexicanos Is Muy Bueno Amigos


Tres Mexicanos

1800 East 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone number: (785) 830-8415
Prices: $$$$

We tried Tres Mexicanos shortly after moving to Lawrence and were not overly impressed. Because they are so close to our house, in a stirp mall on East 23rd Street, we decided to give them another try recently and I am glad we did.

Even though the service was spotty, the food was pretty darn good and the prices fair. They have Amercanized tacos with pre-fab shells, fried tacos (more traditional), and traditional, authentic soft tacos on corn tortillas with just meat, cilantro and onion as they should have. The tacos, except the pre-fab variety, are very good and their cheese and onion enchiladas tasty. Their guacamole is one of the best in town and one of the best values as well.

The atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired, but the food is good, the margaritas well done and strong, the service OK, and the prices very fair, so we will be returning again soon.

CombatCritic Gives Tres Mexicanos 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Six Bombs Equates To:
“Good To Go”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Tres Mexicanos Is Muy Bueno Amigos

Key Words: Tres Mexicanos, tres, Mexicanos, Mexico, Mexican, taco, enchilada, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Read Chris S.‘s review of Tres Mhttps://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.jsexicanos on Yelp

Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME"


Pizza Shuttle
1601 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 842-1212
I will not waste my time reviewing a business that totally lacks integrity, so I will ignore the food, delivery, etc. at Pizza Shuttle and focus only on the matter at hand … fraudulent business practices.

I ordered two 14″ one-topping pizzas online from Pizza Shuttle (through Eat Street – where I was automatically directed) at a price of $15.18 (including $1.38 for extra cheese on my pizza). 

My wife is allergic to tomatoes, so I asked for olive oil on her pizza instead of tomato sauce, a request that every pizza place we have ever ordered from has gladly and “free”ly complied with. With tax at $1.45 and delivery at $1.50, the total came to $18.13 as you can see on my receipt and order confirmations (online and email) below.

As you can clearly see, the online and email confirmations listed a total of $18.13 including tax and delivery, but when the Pizza Shuttle driver arrived he stated the total was $22.25, an additional $4.07 “due to my wife being allergic to tomatoes and substituting olive oil for tomato sauce”. Nobody bothered calling to inform us of the ridiculous $4+ upcharge and when the driver called the manager to confirm the discrepancy, the manager merely stated “that’s the way it is, it’s Eat Street’s problem, not ours”. 
I paid the driver the extra $4.07 (because it was not his fault and he does not get paid enough to argue with irate customers) and tipped him an additional $1.75, stating “your tip would have been much larger if your manager wasn’t such an a**hole. Tell him to read my review on combatcritic.com and on Yelp … it won’t be pretty!”

Never again, Pizza Shuttle or Eat Street, once and I am done. 

CombatCritic Gives Pizza Shuttle And Eat Street 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME FOR ZERO INTEGRITY … Nuff Said!

One Bomb Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

Pizza Shuttle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato








Title: Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME”

Key Words: Pizza Shuttle, pizza, shuttle, delivery, fraud, EatStreet, eatstreet.com, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Lawrence, KS: Great Idea, So-So Execution


Pie Five
2500 Iowa St
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 551-7170
Prices $$$$
Had to try Pie Five because I had never heard of it and it looked interesting. Great idea, so-so execution. Skimpy with the “all you want” ingredients and small (10″) pizzas for $7.50, about the size of my outstretched hand.

For an extra $3, I got a salad which was decent, but also skimpy on the carrots, onions and tomatoes, and a drink. You can get dessert or cheesy breadsticks ($1 extra) instead of salad if you like.

It’s a cheap meal, but don’t expect to be too impressed by the quality or quantity. As my Italian grandma would say, it was “mezzo-mezzo” (so-so).

CombatCritic Gives Pie Five 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


“Continue Mission”


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Pie Five Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Great Idea, So-So Execution

Key Words: Pie Five, pie, five, 5 pizza, pizzeria, fast, food, Lawrence, Kansas, Iowa, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)


Garozzo’s Ristorante 
(Downtown)

526 Harrison Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 221-2455
Website: garozzos.com
Prices: $$$$


First, let me apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. Garozzo’s is so dark there was not enough light to take a photo without a flash or the external light source I normally use and I did not want to disturb our fellow diners so that I could take a decent photo … sorry!

We have been to Garozzo’s several times, but this was the first in about four years and since I started this blog. The food was always good, a bit pricey, but solid Italian food in a nice, but too dark and pretentious atmosphere. I say pretentious because the food screams “mom and pop” Italian restaurant, not upscale, fancy shmancy with servers (mostly waiters) dressed to the nines and with attitudes to match. 
This visit was no different. Good food, a room too dark to read the menu, a table too small to hold our food and drinks, and a waiter that was courteous, but all business, and a bit too eager to get rid of us and earn some extra tips. When you drop a C-note for dinner for two, you should not be rushed through your meal. We were.

I will not use the server’s name, but we were quickly welcomed, being the first diners at 5:30pm on a Tuesday after attending the closing for the sale of our home and celebrating with a nice dinner out. My wife and I were talking, but the server seemed eager to take our order, interrupting our conversation to ask what we wanted to drink. I asked for water and a bottle of their house cabernet sauvignon ($24).

After bringing our drinks, again interrupting our conversation, I ordered a stuffed artichoke as an appetizer (antipasto) and for entrees my wife requested the Tortelloni Gina and I the Veal Parmigiana. I asked the server if the dinners came with salad and pasta (in my case) as I seemed to remember salad coming with the entrees the last time we were there. I was either wrong or they had changed their policies because the server told me that a salad was “an additional $4”. The veal did come with a “small serving of pasta with Maggie’s Sugo” I was told.

My wife and I returned to our conversation, but about five minutes later I realized that we had not ordered our salads, my mistake, so I asked my wife to get our server’s attention, which she quickly did. I said, “I’m sorry, but we forgot to order salads”, to which he replied, “well, I already put you dinner orders in, but I can take care of that with the kitchen”. My wife ordered the Insalata Caesar ($4) and I the Insalata Santa Teresa ($4).

The cabernet was actually quite good, from a California winery they prominently feature on their wine list. The artichoke ($10), stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs, steamed, and topped with garlic butter, quickly arrived and we dug right in. My grandmother used to make similar stuffed artichokes, except she used olive oil instead of butter and added small chunks of salami, but these were very good with tasty stuffing and large tender leaves. We were not even halfway through eating our artichoke when our server arrived with our salads. As a former waiter myself, there is nothing that pisses me off more than a server who brings the next course when we have not even finished the last, but I bit my tongue because it really did not matter that much because the salads were not going to get cold while sitting on the table, which they did for another 10-15 minutes while we finished our antipasto. The table, by the way, was so small (like all of the tables for two) that the server had difficulty finding space for our premature salads.


My wife then started eating her Caesar salad, waiting for her favorite part, the heart, while I polished off the last few leaves of the artichoke. She finished her salad, which she said was “nothing special”, in the interim and I, after the server cleared a few plates, then started eating mine. About halfway through my salad, which was good, with Romaine lettuce, red onion, chunks of goat cheese, Dijon vinaigrette, and topped with sliced roasted red peppers, but unremarkable, the server arrived with my wife’s Tortelloni Gina. That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, so I asked our server: “Are we in a hurry?”, to which he replied, “oh, I’m sorry, let me take that away”. I proceeded to finish my salad.
Hovering, waiting for me to finish, when the server saw my salad plate was empty, he quickly swept the plate away and returned a few minutes later with our entrees. My wife’s Tortelloni Gina ($19) was filled with chicken and prosciutto, and served in a very traditional creamy Alfredo sauce with mushrooms and peas. It was hot, very large, extremely rich, and my wife, who was born in Italy, enjoyed it very much. Bravo! The server had tried to sway me away from the Veal Parmigiano (veal parmesan to you Olive Garden lovers), recommending the Vitello Spiedini Sophia Marie ($27) instead. Because I have had every other veal dish at Garozzo’s, including the veal Sophia Maria and Saltimbocca ($27), which are both excellent by the way, I wanted to try the Vitello Parmigiana ($24), my failsafe in Italian restaurants and a good indicator of the quality of an Italian-American kitchen (you will not find veal parmigiano in Italy unless the restaurant caters to Americans).
The veal was lukewarm at best, with three very small medallions topped with the house red sauce and fontina cheese, a bit odd as “parmigiana” is usually topped with mozzarella, baked or broiled, and sprinkled with parmigiana (parmesan cheese), hence the name. The sauce was very good in comparison to most stateside Italian restaurants, but the dish would have been much better had it been served hot, warm even, and with a bit more veal. The accompanying pasta was negligible and obviously came out of a bag or box. At $24 for just an entree, $30 including salad, it would have been a poor value, even if it had been served at the appropriate temperature.

I understand that it was my mistake, asking for salads five minutes after our order was taken, but our server said he would “take care of it”, as he should have. There is no excuse for bringing multiple or mixed courses, particularly in an “upscale” restaurant such as Garozzo’s. There is also no excuse for serving a $24 veal dish cold, no matter what the circumstances.

I like the place in general, but Garozzo’s would be much better if they dropped the pretenses, brought up the lights, bought some bigger tables, and lowered the prices a tad. I also believe that customers should NEVER be rushed, especially when they are paying $50 a head and up for a meal.

CombatCritic Gives Garozzo’s Ristorante 5 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Unprofessional Service, Cold Food, Darkness, Small Tables, And Questionable Value … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Garozzo's Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)

Key Words: Garozzo’s, Garozzo, Italian, Kansas City, Kansas, city, Missouri, CombatCritic, Italy, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, ristorante, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass


Baan Thai

741 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-8424
Website: baanthaikansas.com/lawrence


With a love for Thai food, I had high expectations after reading the rave reviews, particularly by my friend Scott T. on Yelp who (normally) has very similar opinions as mine when it comes to food.

In the middle of downtown Mass Street (as residents of LFK call it), I had stopped by Baan Thai for a look once before and the menu seemed appetizing and reasonable, but the decor put me off as it did on this our first visit. With cement floors, orange plastic-backed chairs (which, by the way, possibly acrylic and not cheap), and little decor, the inside is not warm and inviting, at least to my taste.

Josh, our server, was very nice, efficient and professional, but the dishes came out one at a time. Josh said it was because they are “made to order”, but are most decent restaurants making food to order, bringing appetizers out together and entrees all at the same time?

First, the Pot Stickers (6 for $4.95) came out. The pork, cabbage, and onion dumplings were deep-fried and served with a soy-based dipping sauce. They were good, but were more dumpling than filling. We waited for 10-15 minutes for our Chicken Satay (4 for $6.95) to arrive, so when Josh asked me a question about my entree, I inquired about our second appetizer. He scurried to the kitchen with little explanation and after another ten minutes, our satay finally arrived. The marinated skewers of charbroiled chicken were accompanied by the traditional peanut sauce and cucumber salad, and were also pretty good, but both were overpriced by about a buck and would have been much better together as I like to dip my pot stickers in the soy AND peanut sauce.

My wife’s Pad See-Ew ($9.95) was next to arrive. The rice noodles were stir fried with egg and broccoli with enough spices to make the dish tasty without being too hot as my spouse cannot tolerate food that is too spicy, a pitfall of most Italians. She loved it and it was plentiful, but eggs, noodles, and broccoli are not a good combination in my book.
My Gang Massaman Curry ($11.75) arrived 5-7 minutes later. Massaman curry is one of my favorites and I have had it at many Thai restaurants. This was far from the best I have had although the curry was flavorful. The coconut milk based curry, traditionally simmered with beef, was not nearly as thick (a bit on the watery side) as any other I have had and the potatoes were not cooked quite enough. When Josh had come out to ask me about my entree earlier, he had asked if I minded having “sliced” beef rather than “boiled” beef, assuming that he meant that the beef had not been simmering for 60-90 minutes in the curry sauce as should be the case. Even though I agreed, the sliced beef was plentiful enough, but was a tad on the chewy side, not tough or grisly, but not as tender as it should have been. The yellow onions were tender, but the boiled peanuts were a also bit too raw.

My wife and I were both excessively thirsty later that evening and I had stomach cramps, a potential sign of MSG being used. I later checked their website and menu and there was not a claim of “No MSG” that I could find, so it you have a sensitivity to it, I would definitely ask in advance of ordering. I am not saying that they use MSG, but our symptoms were consistent with ingestion of the additive/flavor enhancer, so if they do not use it, they should say so on the menu.

Our meal was good, not great, the prices fair, the servings generous, and the service efficient, but compared to other Thai/Asian Fusion restaurants, including Zen Zero just up the street, this one was very “middle of the road”.

CombatCritic Gives Baan Thai A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Baan Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass

Key Words: Baan Thai, baan, Thai, Thailand, curry, Lawrence, Kansas, Mass, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!


Burger Bash @ BurgerFi
Yelp Elite Event
BurgerFi
918 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
First off, thanks to Josh, owner of BurgerFi-Lawrence, for hosting such a great event and to Adam for FINALLY bringing an event to Lawrence … HOOAH! It was so close to home that my wife and I were able to walk to the event.

Good wine, spirits, and beer, provided by BurgerFi (4 oz samples of each draft), a local winery (Chardonnay), and a Parkville distillery (vodka and gin) got the evening off to a roaring start. Then the food began to arrive and arrive and arrive and arrive. Two kinds of French fries (regular and Urban Style) and scrummy onion rings to share, then half of a BurgerFi Burger, half of a Breakfast All Day Burger, half of a VegeFi Burger (no bun), and 1/3 of a Chicago Style Hot Dog. Then it was time for dessert … a small Key Lime or Coffee Mocha shake and a Red Velvet Concrete.

The food was plentiful and good and the drinks kept flowing for two hours. We were stuffed by the time it was over. The company, excellent as always, it was great to see some of my old Elite friends (Adam, Scott and Billie) and meet a few new ones (Bill and Sara).
I gave BurgerFi an average (3 Star/6 Bomb) review on my first visit, offering some suggestions for improvement, and was impressed by the owner’s and corporate’s willingness to reach out and ask for more feedback. I am even more impressed that they apparently took some of it to heart as they are increasing the size of their burgers and buns in the near future … WOO-HOO! I look forward to trying the NEW AND IMPROVED BurgerFi Burgers when available.

CombatCritic Gives The “Burger Bash At BurgerFi” 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘fuck it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!

Key Words:  KC, Kansas City, Elite, Event, Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas, Burger, Bash, BurgerFi, hamburger, Massachusetts, Mass, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp

Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re "The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys"!


The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys
Parkville, MO
Phone: (816) 741-7101
Website: TheLawnAndSprinklerGuys.com

Look at their name, “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”, and it will tell you a lot about their professionalism.

I asked them to provide an estimate for major damage to our sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike and to install a backflow prevention device required by the city. All they did was come to the house, look around, and tell us “here’s our hourly rate ($70/hour) and we’ll figure it out when we start”. No formal bid for our insurance company, no phone call, just an email form their admin person.  I asked to have the owner call me to discuss details of the job, but he never bothered to contact me. 

Like most of the dozens of lawn, landscape, and sprinkler companies I have dealt with since moving to KC in 2008, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys are irresponsible, unprofessional, poor communicators and I would not hire them if they were the last company in Kansas or Missouri. They must have more business and money than they need if they can treat customers like that, so I recommend you not waste your time contacting them.

CombatCritic Gives The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A spot On My Quickly Growing WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”!

Key Words: Parkville, MO, estimate, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys, lawn, sprinkler, guys, repair, installation, service, Kansas City, Kansas, city, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”


Lawrence, Kansas: Burger Princess … Home of the "Whimper"


Burger King
1107 W. 6th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 371-3184
Website: bk.com
What is the world coming to? This review will be short and not so sweet.


Question: What’s small, flat, cold and cost $16?

Answer: #1 and #2 Burger King Value Meals
I remember when Whoppers were “whoppers”, reasonably priced and cooked to order. Now they “nuke” the meat and a Whopper is more like a “Whimper”, half the size of what you used to get. The value meal fries should be the baby’s menu and a slice of American cheese is an extra 80 cents.
Maybe they should change the name to Burger Princess to reflect their portion sizes … never again!

CombatCritic Gives Burger King 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Two Bombs Equates To

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Burger Princess … Home of the Whimper!

Key Words: Burger King, burger, king, whopper, home of the whopper, bk.com, fries, Coke, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits Up” 

Lawrence, Kansas: Turkey Bend? Windy Bend? Eagle Bend! Nice Course, But Little Wiggle Room


Eagle Bend Golf Course
1250 East 902nd Rd
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 748-0600

If you find yourself traveling to or through Kansas City, Topeka, or Lawrence, Eagle Bend is not the cheapest public course by far, but it is a well maintained and challenging layout. The first six holes are links-style with undulating fairways surrounded by native grasses (sorry, no gorse) with the final 12 meandering through marshy woodlands surrounding the Wakarusa River.

Prices range from $22 (walking/18 holes/M-F) to $49 (riding/18 holes/weekend) with seniors (60+) and juniors (under 18) getting a slight price break during the week. There are no military or veteran discounts and, oddly enough, no “twilight” or winter rates and “NO DISCOUNTS (PERIOD) ON WEEKENDS”. You pay full price no matter what time of year or time of day it is, no wiggle room (more on that later).


The clubhouse is small with a snack bar that seems to do little business, a very limited pro shop, restrooms, a few tables and a couple TVs. I am not sure what capability to snack bar has, but I have never seen anybody sitting in the clubhouse eating a hamburger or sandwich. The pro shop has a small selection of balls and tees, a couple golf bags, and a few gloves, hats and shirts. It does not appear that Eagle Bend’s clubhouse is intended to generate much income as far as I can tell and it obviously does not.
The course is very walkable with the exception of the 300-yard treks between the clubhouse and 1st/10th tees and the 1st/10th greens and the 2nd/11th tees. Relatively flat, the only exertion you will encounter are the large gullies in front of the 17th and 18th greens.


The fairways are Zoysia grass and very well maintained. I have been told that their greenskeeper used to work for a cross-town course, Alvamar, and from what I have observed, they are lucky to have him because their fairways are in much better shape than semi-private Alvamar’s Zoysia fairways. If you hit a ball in the fairway, you should have a good lie, a ball that sits-up, and that is normally the case at Eagle Bend. The only exception, strangely enough, is the 18th fairway where the Zoysia stops at the 150 yard marker, leaving a routinely poor lie off of what looks like Perennial Rye grass for your approach shot to the final hole. 

The greens are decent and fairly fast, but few people seem to repair their pitch marks, so even the best putt can go astray from time to time. Maybe they could sell, or even give away, inexpensive pitch mark repair tools in the pro shop and post a few signs reminding people to clean up after themselves. Zoysia on the landing area of the 18th would also be a big plus.

There are not a lot of sand traps, but the few they have are strategically placed. The sand is heavy, likely river sand from the nearby Kansas River, leading to difficult shots and inconsistent results for those of us who do not carry a PGA Tour card.


With four sets of tees (gold, blue, white and red), the course is challenging for both sexes and all skill levels. Being close to sixty, I have lost some distance in recent years and find the blue tees a tad too long for my pleasure, so I normally play the whites when I want to enjoy myself. With prevailing winds from the south/southwest, all but four holes are reachable in regulation for the average golfer from the whites:

Hole #7 – From where the white tees are normally placed, hole #7 (par 4) plays close to 400 yards, normally into the wind, making it very difficult to reach the green even with two good shots. 

Hole #8 – A par 3, hole #7 normally plays between 150 and 170 yards directly into the wind with a lake running down the right and a large bunker left of the green, requiring anything from a six iron to a five wood off the tee. 

Hole #15 – Very similar to #7, this nearly 400 yard par 4 routinely plays into the wind with native grasses on the left and woods to the right as well as protecting the green on all sides.

Hole #18 – Another 400 yarder from the new, slightly elevated tees, this hole play into the teeth of the wind and has native grasses and woods lining the entire hole. There is a large gully in front of the green with a creek running under and on both sides of the fairway, narrowing to less than 20 yards for any short or errant shot.

When you are a high handicapper or senior and have difficulty hitting a drive over 220 yards with no wind, a par 4 that is 400 yards or a long, well-protected par 3 into the wind makes birdie impossible and par unlikely. From the white tees, 375-385 yards should be the longest par 4 on the course if you want to be fair to the average golfer and speed play.
Otherwise, Eagle Bend is fair and a good challenge as the wind is almost always blowing, swirling and changing directions because of the influence of the Clinton Lake Dam which towers over the west side of the course. Two of the four par 5s, #9 and #12, normally play downwind where par, even birdie, are very possible. Hole #12 is a double dogleg par 5 with trees to the right off the tee and a large lake guarding the left side of the fairway on your second and third shots. Hole #17, a short par 3 over a gully where par is achievable and wild turkeys can often be seen on the terraced slope in front of the green, is esthetically the nicest hole on the course.
Eagle Bend does not participate in GolfNow or other web-based discount green fee schemes, something a lot of courses utilize to fill empty tee times and generate additional income for the course. After all, it does not cost anything to have more people playing golf because overhead is the same while additional revenue is generated through green fees, cart rentals, pro shop and snack bar sales, and range ball fees. 

While on the topic of range ball fees, Eagle Bend’s are some of the highest in the area at $5 for 25 balls and $400 for an annual pass (unlimited balls). I get 75 balls for $8 at a crosstown range and paid a little over $100/year for unlimited balls while a member at Alvamar, so Eagle Bend’s prices are “out of range”, pun intended. High range ball prices are another phenomena I do not understand. The investments (balls, facility, personnel, equipment) have already been made, so why not get as many people hitting range balls as possible by lowering fees to a more reasonable level? I refuse to pay $5-$15 for a bucket of balls as do many others I know, so instead of generating some income, they generate little. Penny wise and dollar foolish in my opinion.


I play Eagle Bend several days a week and would think that with all of the empty slots I see, that the city would be clamoring for income, but the City of Lawrence and their employees do not seem to be very interested in profit. Maybe if the course had more play and a more enticing clubhouse, they could lower green fees, offer military/veteran discounts, extend junior/senior discounts to the weekend, and have twilight rates, adding even more revenue from those who would have played elsewhere. As an example, I play most of the winter at Alvamar because they reduce green fees to $15 (18 holes/walking/7 days a week) in the winter, several dollars lower than Eagle Bend’s “unbending” fees. 

The City of Lawrence government seems eager to maintain the status quo in this city of around 90,000. They stifle competition in favor of their friends (not a decent chain restaurant or selection of retailers in town) and are stuck in the 20th Century when it comes to managing their only golf course. Eagle Bend could be the premier golf destination in eastern Kansas, but backward thinking and poor management make it an average, underutilized entity likely on the brink of obsolescence and ultimate closure to become another park or free Frisbee/soccer golf complex.


If you play a lot like I do, they do not have an annual membership, but they do offer punch cards for 10, 20, 50 or 100 rounds (good for more than a year) with savings ranging from 25% to 60%, bringing green fees down to as low as $11 per round (walking) for a 100-round card … if you are willng to pay $1,100 in advance.

Eagle Bend is a fun, challenging course in desperate need of innovation, creative marketing, and management that embraces thinking “outside box” rather than maintaining the status quo. Golf courses are losing business and thousands are going bankrupt across the nation, a path I hope Eagle Bend is not headed down because the only other options in town are private and very expensive.

CombatCritic Gives Eagle Bend 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Turkey Bend? Windy Bend? Eagle Bend! Nice Course, But Little “Wiggle Room”

Key Words: Eagle Bend Golf Course, eagle, bend, golf, course, links, City of Lawrence, Lawrence, Kansas, university, KU, Jayhawks, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”


Too Late To Help Us Save K.U. Jayhawk’s Life – K.U. Died On February 23rd, 2016


RIP Little Buddy – K.U. Jayhawk: 2006 – February 23rd, 2016

His shelter name was Ryker, but we renamed him K.U. (pronounced k-you) Jayhawk when we fostered him on Thursday, February 11th, 2015 after he had been found wandering Lawrence just down the street from the University of Kansas (KU).


Poor K.U. was obviously sick when we brought him home even though the Lawrence Humane Society (LHS) said that their vet, Dr. Stone, had given him a “clean bill of health”. They told us that he had not been eating and had lost a lot of weight in the past week because he was “depressed”, adding that he was on an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection.
When we got him home, he was lethargic, would not eat, and vomited much of the water he was constantly drinking, peeing every two hours with zero defecation. When the situation continued into Friday evening, we became very concerned about his health and whether he was dehydrated (he was shaking uncontrollably) or not and that he possibly had an impacted bowel. His abdomen was also sensitive to the touch, wincing when I tried to pick him up by the belly and making me believe that there was a bowel problem. We decided not to call the 24-hour emergency number LHS told us was available, but waited to bring him in the next morning if he had not improved.

On Saturday morning, two days after bringing him home, he had not improved (still not eating, no bowel movements, and vomiting most water) and appeared to be in obvious distress, so we took him back to the shelter. We were led to believe that he would be seen by Dr. Stone that day, that he was “severely dehydrated” and on an IV, and had been given medications to help him have a bowel movement and stop vomiting. He was obviously a very sick little dog, requiring immediate medical attention and suffering needlessly. We received no further updates on his status on Saturday other than he was “the same” and that the Dr. Stone would probably now see him on Sunday. We were also not allowed to visit him.
We went to the shelter first thing on Sunday morning and their medical staff told us that he would not be seen by the vet until Monday, that his condition had not improved (he was obviously still suffering), and that we could still not see him. I was very upset by that point and told the medical staff member: “I hope he is still alive on Monday”, adding that we were also not happy because we were being prohibited from even seeing him.

My wife phoned me early Monday afternoon and told me that he had been hospitalized, that they were running more tests, and that it may “cost too much” to treat him now and that he could be “put down”. I called and spoke with a staff member around 1:30pm, asking to speak with someone about his status because my wife had not understood all that was told to her, but was I told the vet was on still “on lunch” and would not be available until around 2:45pm.
I told LHS in a Monday afternoon email that my primary concerns were as follows:
  1. Why were we sent home with an animal that was obviously very ill before he was given to us?
  2. Why was KU not seen by a vet over the weekend and allowed to suffer for two days without possible lifesaving interventions/treatment?
  3. Why were we, his foster parents, not allowed to even see him while he suffered alone in the shelter over the weekend?
  4. Had he been seen by a vet on Saturday, it may have allowed for interventions that could have precluded further deterioration and suffering, possibly leading to a more positive outcome than seems likely now.

K.U. is a such a sweet little dog and does not deserve the treatment, or lack thereof, that led to his unnecessary suffering and possible death, either natural or by euthanasia. We became quite attached to him in the two days he was with us, cooking for him to try to get him to eat, comforting him as much as possible, and giving him the love he had not been receiving. 
It does not seem very “humane” to me to allow a very sick animal to suffer needlessly for more than two additional days when we were told when we fostered him that “a vet is available in the event of an emergency, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week”. I also do not think it is very fair to us, the people that took him into our home and fed, sheltered and loved him, to not allow us to even see him. Is that any way to treat the people that volunteer to foster animals, expending a great deal of time, resources, and emotion in the process?

I finally received a call from Dr. Stone at 3:45pm in response to my email, telling me that his blood tests were abnormal and had a heart murmur, possibly caused by the underlying condition which at that point was still not clear. Dr. Stone referred to him as a “geriatric” dog on two occasions, qualifying the fact that he could be expendable, at least that is how I took it, so I told her, “he’s only ten years old, he not geriatric”. She then told me that they were doing an x-ray to see if there was an obstruction in his bowel, something they said they were going to do two days ago, and that she would get back to me.

Dr. Stone called back as promised an hour-and-a-half later telling me that the x-ray showed that his kidneys and liver were not where they were supposed to be, indicating that there could be a mass in his abdomen but they would not know for sure or what the prognosis was until the radiologist could finish his analysis.

It seems that from what we have been told that he may now be beyond help or that it would be “too expensive to save him” based on LHS fiscal constraints, but it could very well be benign mass which could be removed, allowing him to lead a healthy, happy life with us until we can find him a permanent home.
So I ask you to help save K.U. by contacting the Lawrence Humane Society @LawrenceHumane on Twitter, on their Facebook Page, by phone at         785-843-6835, or by email at info@lawrencehumane.org using the following verbiage:

We beg you … please do not euthanize KU Jayhawk (aka Ryker) unless he is beyond help and it is the “humane” thing to do


Do it now because today could be his last day on Earth and we will never see him again. Spread the word to all of your friends on social media … PLEASE … and ask them to HELP SAVE K.U NOW!

Thank you.

UPDATE: February 18, 2016K.U. is at the Blue Pearl intensive care animal hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, 30 miles from Lawrence, but he is feeling a little better. Turns out he has diabetes, but the doctor at the Lawrence Humane Society didn’t realize it, so he went without insulin for several days. Now K.U. has an enlarged liver and pancreatitis, so he needs insulin and rest while his blood sugar stabilizes and his organs start to heal.

Thank you all for your warm thoughts and support. We hope to have K.U. back home with us very soon.

UPDATE: February 23, 2016 – K.U. passed away this evening after being transferred from Blue Pearl to Gentle Care Vet Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas. We were told he had been improving and was being tube fed, but he somehow died during the night. He is and will be greatly missed.

CombatCritic
aka K.U.’s Foster Dad

Title: Help Us Save K.U. Jayhawk’s Life – ACT NOW – Tomorrow May Be Too Late

Key Words: KU Jayhawk, KU, K.U., Jayhawk, Jayhawks, University of Kansas, university, Kansas, Lawrence Humane Society, Lawrence, humane, society, dog, sick, shelter, ill, kill, plea, help

Lawrence, KS: Not "America’s Best Philly", But A Contender For "Lawrence’s Best Sandwich"


PepperJax Grill
919 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-4529
Prices: $$$$
Trying to find a decent sandwich in Lawrence is like trying to find the veal cordon bleu in an MRE box, ain’t gonna happen, not until I tried PepperJax Grill.

While far from the best sandwich, in general, or cheesesteak, in particular, I have ever had, PepperJax’ cheesesteak was the best sandwich I have eaten in Lawrence. Their menu is very limited with cheesesteaks, rice bowls, burritos, nachos and salads, all in the $7.29 to $7.99 range, as well as several sides including fries, chips and salsa/queso, and mandarin oranges. The combination of cheesesteaks and Mexican fare is a bit odd, but the cheesesteaks are decent.

Having eaten “real” cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, PepperJax claims theirs’ is “America’s Best Philly”, but I do not concur. There is ample diced beef sauteed with peppers and onions and the 10-12 inch roll was soft and fresh. The cheese was a nondescript American variety, not the traditional Cheese Whiz found on Philadelphia cheesesteaks and mushrooms, not green bell peppers, would be a more Philly-like addition. The sandwich was tasty and filling.

I also ordered two sides of fries ($2.50 each) , but the guy behind the counter talked me out of one, telling me “they’re really big, so you may want just one”, so I followed his advice. Turns out they were not as big as he had said and were just barely enough for two of us, but they were fresh, hot and crispy, a nice accompaniment to the cheesesteaks.

There is also a condiment bar with four sauces (au jus, chili sauce, and two others as well as the usual catsup, mustard, napkins, and plasticware. 

Overall, I have to say that PepperJax was worth the visit and a decent value. If in the mood for a Kansas cheesesteak, we will definitely return.

CombatCritic Gives PepperJax Grill 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Six Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Pepperjax Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, KS: Not “America’s Best Philly”, But A Contender For “Lawrence’s Best Sandwich”

Key Words: PepperJax Grill, PepperJax, grill, sandwich, Philadelphia, Philly, cheesesteak, Cheese Whiz, cheese, steak, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths


Zen Zero
811 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 832-0001
Website: zen-zero.com
Prices: $$$$

Unfortunately, Zen Zero is owned by the same group that poorly manages Genovese (and La Parilla), a very sad excuse for an Italian restaurant a couple blocks down the street on Massachusetts. I hesitate to spend our money at Zen Zero only because of the unpleasant experiences we have had at Genovese, but there are not many options when it comes to decent, reasonably priced restaurants in Lawrence, so we bit my tongues and returned after a long layoff.

Zen Zero’s decor is modern, yet cozy with hints of Asian influence in select pieces of art on the walls, warm Earth-tone colors and an open kitchen emitting exotic sounds, smells, and flames as chefs prepare meals in view of customers. As you can see from the photo below, the lighting is much brighter than I remember, ruining the ambience we used to enjoy beside hurting my light sensitive eyes.

Our server arrived with a customary basket of Asian rice chips, light and crunchy, which are tasty but an accompanying sauce to dip in would have been nice, but seemed as though she did not seem overly eager to be there or serve us.

Sunday night used to be Zen Zero night in our house where draught beer is on special for $3.00 a (American) pint. They do not have a huge selection of drafts, a pale ale, a wheat, and a seasonal (e.g. Oktoberfest, Irish Red). I ordered the Irish Red (normally $4.50), two total over the entire meal. My wife had water.

The Fried Pork Momos (now $4.99) come with four dumplings and two sauces, a mildly spicy red tomato chutney and an almost white sauce that reminded me of very well-blended hummus. The Fried Chicken Spring Rolls (now $4.29) come with a sweet and spicy sauce infused with chili peppers. They were savory and crunchy, containing ground, seasoned chicken and, beside the small portion, they were also good. But having lived in McLeod Ganj, India for two months last year, a Tibetan colony and home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, I ate Tibetan food three times a day, every day. An order of momos there consists of eight, double the number at Zen Zero, they are much better, and only cost $2.50, one-quarter the price at Zen Zero.

Meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – McLeod Ganj, India (December 8, 2014)

My wife ordered a vegetarian dish, Phad Phak Ruam Mitr ($7.99), a mixed vegetable stir-fry with broccoli, onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, Napa cabbage, scallions, baby corn and tofu and served with Jasmine rice. It was light and not too spicy for an Italian not used to eating hot and spicy foods (penne arrabiata is as hot as it gets in Italian cuisine). The vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the sauce light yet complex enough to satiate the palate, but it left a strange aftertaste unlike when she has had it in the past. She could barely eat it and the server did not bother asking how our meal was or if there was a problem with the dish, bringing a to-go container and making us box it up ourselves.

I love curry and Zen Zero’s Massaman curry (now $8.29, $10.28 with beef), a coconut curry from Southern Thailand with potatoes peanuts (no pork option), was as good a I remember. Having ordered my curry with the customary beef (an extra $2.99), the curry was rich and well seasoned. A thick red curry, Massaman comes with tofu or meat (other than pork – $1.99 to $3.99 extra charge for meat or seafood) with potatoes and peanuts in a huge bowl served with Jasmine rice. Not overly abundant in the beef department, I was not too disappointed because the thick curry sauce was nearly as good as the best I have ever eaten (the best was a similar curry at a small Vietnamese restaurant in Palos Verdes, California back in the late 1970s).

Our appetizers took quite a while to arrive and our entrees took even longer. I watched my wife’s Phad Phak Ruam Mitr sit on the counter for at least ten minutes until my curry was finally ready, all the while our server was too busy talking on her cell phone to bring us our food and we had to wait even longer after my curry was finally ready.

When we had finished, I gave our server a coupon we had received (2nd dinner half-off with purchase of an entree and two drinks), she told me she did not think we could use it. I asked, “Why?”, and she told me “You have to order two drinks to get the deal”. To which I replied, “We did, I had two beers” (and a couple appetizers to boot) to which she responded, “I’ll have to check with my manager to see if it’s OK”. Really? I should not have been surprised because Zen Zero is owned by the same group that owns Genovese where we had a similar incident a while back (they also refused to honor a coupon). I find myself wondering why the owners bother printing coupons if they are just going to have their servers hassle customers who try to use them.

Zen Zero had become a staple in our house and we may likely be returning in the future even though they have raised their prices rather significantly in the past year and the service was not nearly as good as it used to be. Good restaurants are not abundant in Lawrence, particularly downtown, but Zen Zero is a welcome option, albeit a bit pricier than in the past.

I gave Zen Zero 9 Bombs Out Of 10 in a past review, but with deductions for their price increases, the delays in receiving our appetizers and entrees, the weird aftertaste in the Phad Phak Ruam Mitr, and being hassled by the server for using a coupon …

CombatCritic Now Gives Zen Zero 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!




Six Bombs Equates To:
“Good To Go”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Zen Zero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zen ZeroZen Zero

Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths

Key Words: travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, zen zero, zen, zero, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, Thai, Nepalese, Japanese, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue


Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Lawrence, Kansas: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming, A Bakery That Sells Burnt Bread?


1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe
1900 Barker Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 424-7609
Website: 1900barker.com
Prices: $$$$

Only bread, pastries, maybe some quiche, and coffees/teas available here, no real food, so think “European” style cafe, not the American variety where you can find a sandwich, soup, or more on the menu.
I thought the other popular bakeries in town were expensive – if you live in Lawrence, you know which two I am thinking about – until I stopped by 1900 Barker this morning.
I had heard they were a bit pricey, but that is an understatement! I paid $9 ($8.50+tax) for a loaf of (burnt) apple and raisin wheat bread, the most I have spent in my life in any of the 41 countries I have visited, including Switzerland, for a loaf of bread. Seems rather excessive to me.

It also seems as if everyone is giving 1900 Barker 5/5 Stars, jumping on the bandwagon for a new business off the beaten path. I think 5 Stars (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, TABELog) are given out willy-nilly by far too many reviewers, but my ratings are based on “value”, hence the name of this blog: “TravelValue”, what you get in terms of quality, service and price. So based on their absurd prices alone, I cannot give them more than 4 Bombs (2 Stars), especially when I take into account that the bread was burnt, even more so on the bottom than the top.

I hope they succeed, I really do. I hate for any business to fail (with a couple of exceptions in Lawrence, but that’s another review or two), particularly when they have large sums invested in a venture (the place used to be a run down laundromat). However, after the novelty wears off, people will require more value for their dollar. So, unless they bring their prices back down to Earth and stop burning the bread, I unfortunately do not see this venture being a long-term success.


CombatCritic Gives 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Four Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming: This Bakery Sells Burnt Bread

Key Words: 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe, 1900, Barker, bakery, cafe, bread, coffee, pastries, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!”

Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet


Morningstar’s New York Pizza
4931 6th Street, Suite 106
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 856-6973
Prices: $$$$
Calzone – $8.00

I was here last Autumn with a friend for a calzone, which was actually pretty well done, so I decided to try it again with my Sicilian-born wife. For a city of nearly 100,000, it is appalling that Lawrence does not have a single decent. authentic Italian restaurant. A Carrabba’s would even be a breath of fresh air, but the tight-knit city “powers that be” seem to be pretty good at discouraging innovation and “chains” in favor of “mom and pop” establishments. Unfortunately, none of the moms and pops seem to have a clue how to run a decent restaurant, Italian or otherwise. Anyway, all that being said, Morningstar’s is not bad.

Garlic Knots – $3
We tried the garlic knots ($3) which came with a side of red sauce. Baked balls of pizza dough infused with garlic apparently, I could barely taste the garlic and the “knots” were not baked long enough, a little too chewy … too bad!
 
Jumbo Combo – $9.75

The prices are decent except for the pizzas which are a bit pricey, so my wife ordered The New Yorker calzone ($7.25) with mozzarella, ricotta & parmigiana cheese, no sauce (she is allergic to tomatoes – some Italian!), with mushrooms added ($.50 extra). She was quite happy with the calzone. The dough was baked to perfection and there were just enough ingredients, so my wife (who has lived in Naples, Italy – the home of the best pizza in the World – most of her life) was actually impressed. Bravo!

 
Meatball

I wanted to try a few different things, so I got the Jumbo Combo ($9.75) which came with chicken parmigiana, eggplant rollatine, stuffed pasta shells, a side of spaghetti, and a meatball. I asked for the baked manicotti instead of the stuffed shells and they were happy to comply. Unfortunately, when my dish arrived I was a bit dismayed to see everything crammed into a casserole dish. The chicken parmigiana was actually cubes of breaded chicken piled on one end of the dish and the manicotti and eggplant rollatine were on the other end, layered one on top of the other. The whole dish was covered with sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked in the oven. The side of spaghetti was not well drained, so it was a bit too watery. Too bad because the sauce was decent. With no meatball in sight, I asked the server where it was, but she said the dish did not come with one. After informing her that the menu indicated that a meatball did come with the dish, she scurried off and brought me one post haste. In all, the dish was a bit of a mess, but it was actually not that bad. It could have been better presented and would have been much more palatable had the chicken, manicotti, and eggplant been separated on a large plate, but with a name like Morningstar you cannot expect authentic Italian dishes.

Side of Spaghetti
Alas, still no authentic Italian food in Lawrence, but Morningstar’s does a fair job of trying. Their prices are fair and the service is decent, but it looks more like a sports bar than an Italian restaurant. The old world ambience just is not there. As Morningstar’s would say: “fuggedaboudit”, but not just yet. We will likely be back because my wife liked the calzone (as did I on my first visit), so maybe I will try one of their sandwiches next time. I would also offer suggestions for improvement if invited because I will do ANYTHING to help a local business as well as my chances of having a decent Italian restaurant meal without having to drive 4o miles. HOOAH!
 
CombatCritic Gives Morningstar’s New York Pizza 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (2 1/2 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet

Key Words: Morningstar’s New York Pizza, Morningstar, KU, basketball, Lawrence, Kansas, New York, pizza, pasta, calzone, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

 

Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch


Biscuits and Gravy – $7?

The Roost

920 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone (785) 843-1110
Web 920mass.com
Prices $$$$$

After 36 hours without food and cameras shoved every which way (I’ll spare you the gruesome details), I thought it was time for some carbs and protein … the biscuits and gravy tasted great, although quite pricey at $7 for a full order, the biscuits being rather small with barely enough gravy to cover them completely. UNSAT! 

Kansan – $8

I had the Kansan ($8) with eggs, bacon, home fries and English muffin on my first two visits. It was good, not spectacular, and a fair sized serving, but the bacon was a tad too crispy even for my taste. Being primarily a breakfast joint, they have very few popular or traditional options to choose from (can you say skillets?), so on my most recent (and likely last) visit, I ordered an omelette ($6) with bacon ($1), onion, peppers, and mushrooms (50 cents each for a total of $8.50). When the server asked me what kind of toast I wanted, I asked if they had English muffins and she said that they did. What she failed to tell me was that there was a 50 cent up-charge, a fact I spotted only after the check arrived (see bill below). The 50 cent English muffin dominated the plate, dwarfing the small, yet tasty, omelette and a smattering of bland, unseasoned fried potatoes (see photo – objects are smaller than they actually appear).

The ALL YOU CAN DRINK self-service coffee bar ($2) is the The Roost’s highlight, a superb selection of four premium coffees with your normal choices of additions (half-and-half, skim and soy milk, cinnamon, sugar) available as needed.

Omelette – $8.50 + 50 Cents for an English Muffin

The service is adequate, not bad, not great, with little interaction and a bit of a “high brow” feel. A breakfast place should have a warmer, more inviting, friendlier ambience, especially in a small college town. For example, when I asked to barista to replenish the half-and-half at the coffee bar on our most recent visit, all I received was a scowl as she was poured a complimentary glass of alcohol by a cohort at 11:30 in the morning.

Their prices are quite high on most things, so I have to deduct a couple bombs when it comes to “value”.  For example, $5 should be the maximum price for biscuits and gravy no matter how big the order is or how good they are and if you are going to up-charge customers, they should be told in advance in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not they choose to pay the difference.


Oddly enough, for a place that is only open for breakfast and lunch (7am-3pm), The Roost has a bar and will serve you rather expensive cocktails ($7-$8) or wine ($5), so if you are looking for a mid-day buzz along with your biscuits and gravy, this is the place for you. But based on the high prices, small portions, uninspiring cuisine, and mediocre service, I think I will keep trying to find a decent breakfast place in Lawrence. I have my doubts.


CombatCritic Gives The Roost 4 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!








Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title:  Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch

Key Words: The Roost, roost, breakfast, lunch, bar, coffee, egg, biscuit, gravy, bacon, omelette, food, menu, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

The 20 Coolest Towns in the US – Matador Network


Matador Network’s Top 10 Coolest Towns

  1. Asheville, NC
  2. Frisco, CO … Been there
  3. Laguna Beach, CA … Grew up there
  4. North Charleston, SC … Done that
  5. Sun Valley, ID
  6. Missoula, MT
  7. Freeport, NY
  8. Marfa, TX … Got the t-shirt
  9. Lawrence, KS … Live here
  10. Mount Desert Island, METhe 20 coolest towns in the US - Matador Network

Lawrence, Kansas

You have to visit the Matador Network and read the article to see #11 – #20 …

The 20 coolest towns in the US – Matador Network.

Or You Can Vote for Your Favorite Here …

Photos Courtesy of the Matador Network

Title:The 20 Coolest Towns in the US – Matador Network

Key Words: 2015 asheville capacityX combatX CombatCritic TravelValue travel value food restaurant Kansas Lawrence computer critic DayTripQuip Florence Frisco inlaid Kansas Laguna Beach Lawrence Marfa Sun Valley travel TravelValue TX

Ad Astra Acupuncture … Excellent Value, Professional Services


Ad Astra Acupuncture

106 W North Park St

Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: (785) 760-1961

Website: adastraacupuncture.com

Focusing on value, it does not get much better than Ad Astra Acupuncture, just off  Mass on 12th Street across from South Park.

Treatments are $15-$35 (suggested donation) … You decide! There is no pressure to pay the max as employees pay no attention to the amount, tossing the bills into a drawer without counting. Honor System … WHAT A CONCEPT! 

Needles are sterile and not reused. There are a number of recliners in each of two “group” rooms and there is no disrobing for the introverts out there. All you do is show up, pay, and grab a recliner. When the therapist enters, they ask how you are doing, then place needles in your arms, legs, hands, feet, and head. After 30-60 minutes (or more if you like), Nick or Ann, who are both wonderful, remove the needles and send you in your way.

I have been going for about 6 weeks, I am feeling much better, and my back pain has almost entirely disappeared! There is little if any pain involved and only when needles are inserted. The slight sting disappears quickly and you can then focus on relaxing, a wonderful byproduct of the treatment.

CombatCritic Gives AD ASTRA ACUPUNCTURE a nearly perfect 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Read this review and many others on Yelp!

Title: Ad Astra Acupuncture … Excellent Value, Professional Services

Key Words: 66044, acupuncture, ad, Ad Astra, Astra, combat, CombatCritic, critic, Kansas, Lawrence, travel, TravelValue, value, 

One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants in Lawrence? Not Much To Brag About!


Mi Ranchito
707 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66046
Phone: (785) 727-2005
www.miranchitokc.com

Hours:
Sunday-Thurs 11am-10pm
Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

Prices: $$$$$
The Infamous “Bar” … My Home Away From Home

To be the BEST MEXICAN FOOD IN LAWRENCE the bar must not be set very high as I have yet to have a Mexican meal as good as the worst I have eaten in Texas, where I was a resident for 20 years, and not a single one comes close to resembling Tex-Mex. On that note, let me add my two cents …

 
The place was nearly full on a Sunday night, a rarity in Lawrence, particularly among Mexican restaurants, and normally a good sign. We were steered into the bar for some reason, asked if we wanted to sit at a “high-top” even though there were booths available in the bar and tables available in the restaurant. Maybe I look like a lush, but I think it was primarily because there was nobody in the bar and the bartender needed something to do. The lush that I am, I ordered the margarita special ($7.99), described as containing “El Jimador” tequila and not bad although the “20 ounces” were more like 13, coming in the standard “cheater” glass that looks big on the outside … well, you know what I mean. The house “grande” margarita ($6.25) was a better value, coming in the “20 ounce” glass but like its El Jimador cousin, a bit weak in terms of alcohol content.
 
The chips and salsa arrived rather quickly, the chips being far too thin and very likely out of a bag along with a red salsa and an odd looking yellowish-green sauce. The salsa was not bad with obvious hints of fresh cilantro. The other, described by one reviewer as a “lemon avocado” sauce, was strange, unlike anything I have ever had in a Mexican restaurant, but again not bad. The chips are so thin that they cannot be dipped in the salsa, which is not very thick to begin with, without breaking apart, leaving the basket more than half full of pieces of chips too small to eat.
 
Guacamole and Espinaca “Dips”

We decided on the Espinaca Cheese Dip ($5.99), a blend of hot cheese, white onions, tomatoes and spinach, and the guacamole ($6.99). The guacamole was described as “fresh and buttery avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, onions, lime juice and special spices” on the menu, but I found no evidence of either cilantro or jalapeño (or butter for that matter). I thought the price was a quite steep compared to other places in town, but the serving was large and the guacamole pretty good, not nearly as good as mine however. You can get a half and side order ($1.99) of guacamole which are not on the menu and I was told that the half order was $3.99, reasonable considering the price of the full order, but when the bill came I was charged $5.25, the equivalent of $10.50 for a full order. When I complained about the higher price, management quickly apologized and charged me the quoted $3.99 price, but insisted that $5.25 was the correct price. He told me hat he would “take it up with the company” (remember, this is a chain) to see about implementing a reasonable price.

The “espinaca” (spinach) cheese dip had too little spinach, much less name the dish after it, to mention and seemed to be more like your average chili con queso minus the chili, but it was big and decent. Again, my primary complaint being that the chips were too thin to withstand either “dip”, falling apart when submerged in either and resulting in a basket full of crumbles with very few whole chips.

 
$7.99 … Really?

Like most Italians my wife dislikes spicy food, especially Mexican (one of my favorites), ordering her standard “cheese quesadilla” … boring! At $7.99, I have to say that this was one of the most pitiful quesadillas I have ever seen and a terrible value. Charging $8 for a (small) flour tortilla, a couple ounces of cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and even less guacamole, and a thimbleful of pico de gallo (which was noticeably missing from the plate even though it is on the menu) should be a crime, highway robbery, but it’s not, so there you go.

 

As always, on my first visit to a Mexican restaurant, I ordered tacos and enchiladas to see if they could get even the simplest of recipes right, in this case el numero nueve, the #9 combo, with a burrito, taco, and enchilada, “machaca” (shredded beef) all. I have to say that the taco was the best I have had in recent years, having lived in the Midwest since 2008, being large, stuffed with plenty of machaca, deep fried, then topped with lettuce, cheese, and even some diced tomatoes. It would have been nearly perfect if the taco had a couple of thin slices of avocado on it, but we had plenty of guacamole leftover so it was not an issue, although a very good idea. The enchilada and burrito were both equally stuffed with shredded beef, but uninspiring with little to no cheese and smothered seemingly in the same red (enchilada?) sauce. The rice and beans were minimal, sprinkled with kernels of corn oddly enough and two deep-fried masa de maiz (corn meal dough) balls, another novelty … could it be Tex-Mex … not! The masa balls are excessively sweet and do not compliment the meals, so I would reduce the sugar or 86 them altogether. Beside the masa balls, everything was “OK”, but the taco was the star of the show and likely a staple if we return.

 
Cheese and Onion Enchilada ala carte ($3.19)

You can order ala carte although you would not know it from looking at the menu. I asked if I could order a cheese and onion enchilada ala carte and was told it would cost $3.19 plus tax, not unreasonable, so I decided to try one. The sauce was decent, but missing the distinct chili zing of a traditional enchilada sauce and the chili con carne you would find in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. The cheese inside was plentiful, but a bit too runny, making it a little difficult to eat and there was not an onion in sight (or bite for that matter). Overall, it was not the best enchilada I have eaten and not the worst, but it was definitely NOT a cheese and ONION enchilada.

Service is very good and management is very responsive to customer concerns, all bending over backward to make things right and a breath of fresh air in an industry suffering from apathetic servers and managers. The prices were comparably a bit steep, except for the combinations oddly enough, the service good, and the food decent, maybe even one of the BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS IN LAWRENCE, but that is nothing to brag about!

 
CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito (Lawrence) 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … VERY AVERAGE … More Bombs Are Better!






Read More Reviews By CombatCritic, Including Mi Ranchito, On Yelp And TripAdvisor Along With Many Other Reviews And Much, Much More!

Title: One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants in Lawrence … Not Much To Brag About!
 
Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, Mexican, restaurant, food, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Cibo Sano: Great Potential And Good Value With A Little Room To Grow


Cibo Sano
4821 W 6th Street, Suite K
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 856-2414

Website: cibosanoitaliangrille.com
Prices: $$$$$

My friend Doug P checked-in at Cibo Sano on Facebook while I was in India and raved about the place, so I had to give it a try when I recently returned to the States after four months abroad.

 

The signs in front of Cibo Sano indicating that parking is strictly for “10 minutes” and “carry out” customers only was a bit off-putting because we had to park 50 feet away and the temperature was in the teens … brrrrrrrrr!  I asked why 10-15 spots were reserved for carry out customers when the place was empty (when we arrived) and we were told that the signs were from businesses now closed and that they were not sure why they were still there. Paint ’em, tear ’em out, but do not leave them there because they makes no sense, not that many, three spots max.

 
pasta and proteins

The interior is modern and clean, but cold and uninviting. There is little decor and the place could use some ambiance (color, carpet, art, tablecloths). The menu is a bit overwhelming and confusing at first and the prices ($7.99 for pasta/wrap/salad) did not match those on the web ($5.99 on Yelp, $6.99 on their website), a significant difference and false advertising if you want to get technical. 

 
veggies

It would be very helpful to have a small menu sheet and a pencil available to check off which ingredients customers want on our pastas, wraps, or salads rather than having to memorize the numerous choices (pasta or orzo, 5 different sauces and proteins, 4 of 15 available toppings, 3 different cheeses … ouch, my head hurt!). Once we got to the counter it made a little more sense, but the labels on the window between me and the ingredients did not match up with what was in the containers … more confusion.

 

The employees were very friendly and helpful and our pastas were quickly assembled, coming to a little under $20 for two of us, including a “cheesy flat bread” ($2.99). I had the penne with arrabbiata (spicy tomato) sauce, spicy Italian sausage, grilled diced white onion, sautéed diced peppers, sautéed mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. My wife also had the penne, but with alfredo sauce, sautéed mushrooms, black olives, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella cheese.

 

The cheesy flat bread was good, coming with a ranch dressing and Parmesan sauce for dipping. The pastas were also tasty and a decent value even at $7.99 (extra for protein), coming in a large bowl and a good size portion. My only complaint was that both pasta dishes were lukewarm at best, not piping hot as they should be. My wife, a native Italian, said hers was good, but tasted like a pasta salad. The manager came over and asked how our meals were, so I told him they were good, but not hot enough, giving him a couple of improvement suggestions.

 
penne with alfredo sauce, mushrooms, olives, artichokes

The pasta and ingredients are pre-cooked and placed in a warming table, uncovered and not keeping them quite warm enough, a potential health hazard (e.g. sausage). I recommended that the pasta be pre-cooked al dente and dipped in boiling water for a minute prior to adding the ingredients or, better yet, adding the pasta and all of the ingredients to a frying pan, heating it for 30-60 seconds on the grill prior to serving. The manager, a very nice and open-minded young man, indicated that they had tried my second option, but that it took too long and customers ended up leaving. Microwaving should not be an option, not being optimal for texture or professionalism. Personally, I would prefer to wait a few additional minutes for hot pasta, but I am not as anal retentive as many these days … hurry, hurry, hurry … rush, rush, rush … calm down and relax for cryin’ out loud!

 
I may sound overly critical, but as I explained to the manager, I want new businesses such as Cibo Sano to succeed and my criticisms are constructive, not complaints. To summarize:
  • Get rid of the “carry out” signs in front
  • Warm the place up a bit with some fitting decor
  • Make it easier for people to order
  • Keep the website (prices, options) current
  • Serve hot pasta … figure it out


penne arrabbiata with sausage, grilled onion, peppers, and mushrooms

In all, we enjoyed our meals and will return to see if things change for the better, making Cibo Sano (“healthy food” in Italian) a contender for “best pasta value” in Lawrence, a town with a dearth of decent, reasonably priced Italian food. Another plus, you can now bring your own wine for a reasonable $2 corking fee, a nice option, so bring your favorite vino along and … buon appetito!

 
CombatCritic Gives Cibo Sano An Initial 6 Bombs Out Of 10 With Room To Grow … Bombs Are Good
 
 
 
 
 
Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Cibo Sano Italian Grille on Urbanspoon









Title: Cibo Sano: Great Potential And Good Value With A Little Room To Grow

Key Words: Cibo Sano, cibo, sano, healthy. food, Italian, restaurant, menu, pasta, salad, wrap, food, eat, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Fool Me Once, Shame On You … Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me


Genovese

941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300

In my initial review of Genovese, I gave them a lackluster 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD … but looking back, I may have been too generous.

Bruschetta

We had bought a Genovese Groupon for $58 which included two appetizers and four entrees because we had planned to go with some friends, but our dinner plans fell through and after our first paltry experience, we were in no hurry to return. With the Groupon promotion lapsed, the “face value” of the Groupon “will still be honored” (according to Groupon’s website and disclaimer) and not wanting to waste $58, we decided to use it when my sons came to town for a visit from Colorado.

Insalata Caprese

Because I was using the “cash value” of the Groupon, not the promotion, I decided to utilize the “buy one entrée and two drinks, get one entrée for half off” offer advertised recently in the Lawrence Journal World (LJW). However, when it came time to pay the bill, the server told us that the manager would not honor the LJW offer. I asked to speak with him, explaining that the “cash value” of the Groupon was no longer a promotion, but if he wanted to honor it (even though it had expired) and give us the two appetizers and four entrees in exchange, that would be great! Otherwise, we were using no other “promotion” and I asked him to please honor the LJW coupon. He refused, not quite able to grasp the complexity of the situation or the meaning of “customer service”.

       Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ravioli
Our meal, being bland, overpriced, with too much sauce on the pasta, was unremarkable and because it was overshadowed by the manager’s poor attitude, I will not waste too much time here explaining it. Leave it to say that the bruschetta ($6.50 – pronounced “brew-sket-ah”, not “brew-shet-a”) was three small pieces of white bread from the supermarket with a little cheese melted on top (bruschetta in never served with cheese), a little olive oil, and topped by three small grape tomatoes cut in halves. The Caprese salad (insalata), a favorite of mine, at $9.50 was equally as disappointing, being sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, another culinary faux pas, a few small slices of yellow tomato, thin pieces of mozzarella cheese, and a couple grape tomato halves in the middle. My wife’s wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli was supposed to come in a broth, but there was little broth visible, the pasta were dry, and their filling almost non-existent. 

Being a former baseball player, it normally takes three strikes to be “out”, but in the case of Genovese, two strikes shall suffice …
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Genovese will not be getting another chance in my book, mostly because of the manager’s unprofessional attitude, but also because of the poorly executed, overpriced food and …

CombatCritic Now Gives Genovese a Paltry 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Papa KENO’S Is A GAMBLE When It Comes To Timely Delivery And Customer Service


My son ordered over the phone because we could find no way to order online as advertised on their Yelp page but the employee told him “we’ll have it out when we have it out”. We live just 3 blocks away, but after 45 minutes there was still no sign of our pizza. It finally arrived nearly an hour after we placed our order, so I guess the guy on the phone was right after all.

Poor customer service aside, the pizza, although not cheap at $18 for a one-topping 18 inch cheese pizza, was not bad. We had the salami pizza and two order of breadsticks and the tab came to a little over $31 before tip. Not cheap. As far as I could tell, they do not offer specials online so what you se is what you get.

Decent pizza, not so decent value, and poor customer service means …

CombatCritic Gives Papa Keno’s (Lawrence) Only 4 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Papa Kenos Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Papa Keno’s, papa, keno’s, keno, pizza, parlor, food, Italian, menu, review, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, downtown, delivery, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Adventure Zip KC … Fun, Safe, Exciting Ziplining Near Kansas City


Watch My Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube

Adventure Zip KC

12829 Loring Road

Bonner Springs, KS 66012

Phone: 913-302-8881

Yelp Elite ’14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC’s “Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure” at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City’s Community Manager. Yelp “Elite” are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC’s staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to “the tower” (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The “HIKE & ZIP” PACKAGE lasts 1 – 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The “Tower Zip” lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Adventure Zip KC 8 Bombs Out of 10


Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor

Yelp KC: Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure (Zip KC)


Watch Our Yelp Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube
Yelp Elite ’14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC’s “Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure” at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City’s Community Manager. Yelp “Elite” are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC’s staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to “the tower” (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The “HIKE & ZIP” PACKAGE lasts 1 – 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The “Tower Zip” lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Yelp’s Newbie Elite Aerial Adventure 10 Bombs Out of 10


Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor
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The Pita Pit Is THE PITS When It Comes To Value


Pita Pit
1011 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044


Prices: $$$$$

The place was empty on a Wednesday night as I entered, a bad sign, and I almost turned around to go to Fuzzy’s for some tacos. Instead I decided to give it a go and walked to the counter.

The staff was friendly and helpful, the place clean, the veggies fresh, and being Wednesday I was told that “double meat’s only an extra buck” ($1 – normally $2.50), so I ordered a Philly Steak with grilled onion, peppers, and mushrooms for $6.59 ($7.59 + tax with double meat, bringing the total to $8 and change – normally $9.09 + tax).


With more meat than Subway, I thought the sandwich would be more filling than it was. They offer white and whole wheat pita, but being so thin the bread offers little satiation. I was still hungry. The extras (veggies, cheeses, sauces) are included and are liberally added, but the pita bread can only hold so much before bursting. In fact, the pita fell apart halfway through my sandwich as the juices attacked the bread less than 20  minutes after ordering.


For $8+ I was not pleased with the value of the sandwich. They offer chips on the side to accompany sandwiches, but french fries would be more appropriate and filling. Overall, I found my experience and the value of my meal disappointing.

CombatCritic Gives Pita Pit 4 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!





Pita Pit on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Pita Pit, pita, pit, sandwich, shop, restaurant, eat, food, delivery, menu, bread, gyro, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Burrito King … Monarch of Mediocre Mexican Meals



  • Burrito King
    900 Illinois St
    LawrenceKS 66044

  • Phone numb

  • (785) 832-2844


  • Prices: $$$$$

I love Mexican food and I like reasonably priced Mexican food even better. Enter Burrito King.
I have tried pretty much every Mexican restaurant in Lawrence and have been sadly disappointed by the mediocrity … and Burrito King did not let me down in that context. Just a few blocks from our home, I drive by the drive-in restaurant daily yet had not given them a try until yesterday.
You walk or drive up to a window to order and I was quickly greeted by a friendly young man eager to take my order, almost too eager in that I did not have a chance to read the menu posted outside before being prompted to order. I was surprised to find numerous other options beside burritos on the menu … tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas … all at fairly reasonable prices. I ordered the enchilada plate (3 enchiladas, rice, and beans for $6.95), a “steak” and bean burrito ($4.98), and chips and salsa ($2) in order to sample just a few options.
I prefer cheese and onion enchiladas and would think at the same price as meat (steak, chicken, pork) that there would be an abundance of fillings, but I was again disappointed. The red sauce covering the tubes of corn was bland and sparse, barely providing any flavor to the tortillas which were void of any significant fillings. I tasted no onions and the small amount of cheese inside did not quite make it it to the ends, leaving just tortilla and a little tasteless sauce for the first and last bite of each enchilada. The rice and beans were equally tasteless.
The burrito tasted “OK”, but there was very little “steak”, mostly beans, with a little cheese, and some some lettuce. At $5, I would expect a bit more beef and cheese, maybe some guacamole. The chips were crisp and tasty and the salsa well done, appearing homemade (not out of a can or jar) with hints of poblano pepper and cilantro.
Students probably love the quantities and prices offered at Burrito King, but for those of us who prefer quality over quantity, Burrito King falls short, at least on this visit.

CombatCritic Gives Burrito King 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!






Burrito King on Urbanspoon




Key Words: Burrito King, burrito, king, Lawrence, Kansas, Illinois, burritos, Mexican, food, eat, taco, enchilada, guacamole, cheese, beans, rice, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue

A Smokin’ Hot Yelp Check-In Offer … 25% OFF … WOO HOO!


An unassuming location in a strip mall on the east side of Iowa Street, Smoker’s Depot is not large, but the walls and shelves are literally overflowing with products.

Steve was extremely knowledgable and helpful regarding the vast array of smoking products available. They offer a large selection of tobacco products, pipes, hookahs, and vaporizers, and prices are fairly reasonable.

When I produced a Yelp Check-In Offer good for a 25% discount, Steve was unsure how to apply it to my order, but he quickly figured it out, saving me $30 on my purchase … HOOAH!

CombatCritic Gives Smoker’s Depot 8 Bombs Out Of 10


Key Words: Smoker’s Depot, smoker’s, depot, smoke, smoking, cigarette, cigar, pipe, vape, vaporizer, hookah, tobacco, Iowa, street, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Rex’s Offers Value And An Old Time Barber Shop Feel In Downtown Lawrence


Rex’s Offers Value And An Old Time Barber Shop Feel In Downtown Lawrence
Rex’s Stadium Barbershop
1033 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Rex’s is a small, unassuming barber shop not far from our home and because I support small, local businesses, I decided to give them a try. The four chairs were empty late on a Saturday morning, so I had a seat.
The shop is decorated with hundreds of old KU (University of Kansas) photos and other sports memorabilia, clearly having been collected since 1928 when the barber shop was founded by its original owner.
Prices are fair, just $10 for a regular haircut ($8 for military although I was not offered a discount as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel), and the haircut precise and well proportioned. I gave minimal direction to Rex, only telling him to taper the sides and back and off he went. Before I knew it, my hair was perfectly short and neat, just the way it had been in 20+ years in the military. With miltary haircuts on base (post) hovering between $7 and $8, $10 in downtown Lawrence is a bargain!
Rex has some cool paintings in the back room, caricatures of the KU Jayhawk and other characters painted back in the early 1950s, possibly earlier. A friendly, welcoming shop with good prices and the feel of an old time barber shop, I will be returning to Rex’s for my haircuts for the foreseeable future!

CombatCritic Gives Rex’s Stadium Barbershop 9 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Key Words: Rex’s Stadium Barbershop, Rex’s, Rex, stadium, barber, shop, hair, haircut, mens, men’s, barbershop, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, travel, value

LOTS O’ TACOS … Border Bandido Offers Abundant, Fresh Ingredients At A Fair Price


First off, if a Mexican restaurant’s name is spelled incorrectly, that is not a good sign. There is no such word as “bandido”. “Bandito”, Mexican for “bandit”, yes … “bandido”, absolutely not. The reviews on Yelp were mixed, so I did not get around to trying Border Bandido until a rainy Saturday afternoon when I found that I had little to do, so why not eat tacos!

The facility is clean and functional with the taco bar prominently placed in the middle of the room in front of the kitchen. The sign on the wall stated “Buffet Hours: 11am – 2pm, 5pm-etc” and because it was a little after 4pm, I was a bit confused. I asked the woman behind the counter if they were open and she told me “yes, the buffet is open all day on Saturday and enchiladas are included in the price ($9), so let me know and I’ll make them to order”.

I took my plate and selected my tortilla shell, a choice of crispy corn or flour, soft flour, and a crispy bowl shaped tortilla for taco salads I presume, I chose crispy corn. I added taco meat (ground beef – shredded chicken also available), a guacamole-type concoction that looked like something out of a container, shredded cheddar cheese, pico di gallo, diced white onion, shredded lettuce, and salsa. There were also jalapeńos, black olives, tomatoes, potato salad, chocolate mousse, and cookies if so inclined. Chili con carne and chili con queso are also available. The tortilla shells were crisp and the other ingredients appeared fresh, the taco meat well seasoned. If your in the mood for lots of tacos, Border Bandido is an inexpensive option.

Enchiladas Included On Saturday Buffet
The enchiladas were an added benefit, so I ordered one beef and one cheese and onion. The beef enchilada’s tortilla was too thin and barely able to contain the ground beef. The cheese and onion enchilada actually was not bad with decent tasting red sauce and melted cheese on top, comparable to most of the other mediocre enchiladas available throughout Lawrence.

Border Bandido is very basic, offering a decent, abundant meal of fair American-Mexican food at a reasonable price. KU students must love the place! I thought it was not bad, not great, but if you are in the mood for LOTS O’ TACOS … Border Bandido is the place for you!

CombatCritic Gives Border Bandido 6 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!



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Border Bandido on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Border Bandido, border, bandito, bandit, Mexican, 23rd, street, food, restaurant, taco, bar, buffet, enchilada, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

LiMESTONE: Strange Name, Fair Neopolitan-ish Pizza … Pastrami Sandwiches?


  • LiMESTONE
  • 814 Massachusetts St
    Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Phone number(785) 856-2825
  • Business websitelimestonepkb.com

Prices: $$$$$

Having lived in Napoli (Naples, Italy), being married to an Italian, not the “American” variety, and descended from Italian immigrants, I appreciate a well made wood oven Neapolitan (Napolitana) pizza. Many have tried to duplicate pizze Napolitane, but few have succeeded and I said to myself “speriamo” (“let’s hope so”) as I entered Limestone for the first time.

I tell you up front that I am comparing, somewhat unfairly, Limestone to the pizzerias of Napoli because they claim to offer Neopolitan pizza, so I may seem harsh. However, my comments are meant to be constructive, offering Charlie (the very friendly owner who happened to be making pizzas next to me while we chatted about Italy) the opportunity to enhance his restaurant as they grow and flourish.

Arancini di Riso (Fried Rice Balls – $2)
I had heard rave reviews from fellow Yelp Elite Scott T and others during their short time in existence, so I had to give Limestone a go. The name gives zero indication of the cuisine and I would never have known that this was a pizza place had my friend Scott not told me about it. Busy for a Thursday night, as a single I was able to be seated right away at the bar where I could watch the pizzas being made and placed in the ornate wood-fired oven.

The space is modern, not my favorite as you probably know by now, with an abundance of stone, wood, glass, and steel, and bright, almost too bright for my sensitive eyes. The center attraction is the large stone-encased wood pizza oven blazing away while pizzas are being hand tossed and decorated for a quick dip inside. The staff all seemed sincerely friendly and helpful, although the tattoo clad bartender had a bit of an attitude, but not so much that it was off-putting, and service was fast and efficient.

Arancini di Riso
Offering an “arancini” (“little oranges”) appetizer (“bites”) special for just $2, the two Neopolitan style deep fried saffron infused rice balls complete with fresh mozzarella inside sat atop a small plate of tomato sauce. Aranicni di riso are a pizzeria antipasto staple in Naples along with crocchette di patate (potato croquettes) and other deep fried delights and the only way to start a night in a traditional pizzeria. Limestone’s arancini were very well done, crunchy outside and moist inside, perfectly seasoned with saffron and other seasonings and a small ball of fresh mozzarella inside. I asked Charlie if they made their own mozzarella and much to my surprise he said “yes, about 600 pounds of curd per week”.

Now for the pizza … dun-dun-dun. With only six offerings (seven if you include the special), there is not nearly the variety one would find in a pizzeria Napolitana. I ordered the sausage pizza, a simple and traditional choice and normally not something I would choose, only because it and the Margherita (fresh tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil leaves on top – named after Queen Margherita’s favorite pizza), were the only two traditional Neopolitan pizza options available. I normally order pizza capricciosa (fresh tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, artichoke, fresh mozzarella cheese – fior di latte – and basil) or my all-time favorite, the friarielli e salsiccia (broccoli rabe and sausage), so I was a bit bummed that there was so little variety. Bacon and eggs on pizza? … bacon and potatoes? … Hollandaise sauce? … Gruyere cheese … NEVER IN NAPLES!

The Spud – $9

My wife, shortly after her return from two months in Naples visiting family and enjoying the “best pizza in the world” ordered “The Spud”, with “thin sliced, crème fraiche, house­recipe bacon, and rosemary” ($9). Her first comment was that the pizza was “too dry”, needing more crème fraiche, which was lightly drizzled across the top in an attempt to look “gourmet” rather than contributing to the consistency and flavor of the pizza. It could have also been lightly brushed with olive oil to enhance the flavor and moistness. Again, the toppings were so sparse that there was more dough visible than ingredients. The flavor was decent with a nice ratio of potato to bacon, but the toppings could be more evenly distributed across the pizza in order to ensure there is at least some potato, bacon, crème fraiche, and rosemary in every bite.

The pizza was a bit small ($10 for a 12 incher), one to two inches in diameter less than pizza Napolitana (for comparison, a sausage pizza in Naples would cost around 6 Euros, a little over $8). The consistency of the dough was close, but it was a little thicker than the original, particularly around the edges. Neopolitan pizza is soft on top, a little crisp on the bottom, with a couple burnt spots and thin enough as to not overwhelm the semi-abundant toppings. The tomato sauce was a tad too spicy and excessively visible due to the lack of mozzarella and sausage atop my pizza. Italians do not overload a pizza with toppings as is customary here in the US, but there is normally enough fresh mozzarella cheese to nearly cover the baked pastry completely after it has melted. That was not the case here and twice as much cheese (and sausage) still would not have sufficed. Although not nearly as good as the worst pizza I have eaten in Naples, it was good and surely better than anything I have eaten in Lawrence thus far. If compared to an $8 Neopolitan pizza, my pizza (based on size and abundance of toppings) should have probably been priced at $6 max, so it was not a great value.

But what do I know? Limestone has quickly become a popular spot on Mass Street and from the looks of it, doing extremely well … BRAVO! In a town void of a decent Italian restaurant, – people voted 715 “BEST FINE DINING IN LAWRENCE” in this year’s Best of Lawrence competition – Limestone is a welcome addition. I will return to see if they improve and to try other dishes (including hamburgers and pastrami sandwiches for some odd reason). Charlie seems like a nice guy and I wish him well … good luck Limestone!


CombatCritic Gives Limestone A Respectable 6 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBE SONO BUONE








Limestone Pizza Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

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Key Words: Limestone, pizza, kitchen, bar, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts Street, downtown, menu, pasta, wine, arancini, rice, Naples, Napoli, Italy, Italian, restaurant, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Cielito Lindo ("lovely, sweet one") … Mediocre Mexican Is The Norm In Lawrence


Patio

We ate here for the first time in August 2013 while in the midst of moving, so I did not have time to write a review. I recently returned for some follow-up visits and now provide my candid opinions.


The restaurant is large and the service pretty good. It reminds me of a real Mexican cantina inside with colorful decor and an open feel with a balcony on the second floor overlooking the dining room. The patio in front is large and inviting on a mildl day or evening and Cielito Lindo has been named the 2014 BEST OF LAWRENCE “Best Outdoor Dining” spot, a great place to have a drink, appetizer, and/or meal with friends and family.

The margaritas are decent, both on-the-rocks and blended, but compared to most places in town they are overpriced unless you can catch a special as we did recently ($12.99 for a pitcher on a Sunday night). 

The chips are abundant and appear homemade and the salsa one of the best I have fond in Lawrence. The guacamole ($3.99 for a “regular”) is reasonably sized and not bad, containing tomatoes as is the norm in many restaurants and a faux pas in my eyes. The regular queso blanco (white cheese dip – $3.99) comes in a similar size bowl, but was lukewarm and runny, not thick enough to cling to a chip and making quite a mess on the table and my clothes as I attempted to get it from bowl to mouth.

The tacos and enchiladas are adequate, yet boring. Tacos are tasty enough, coming in small, prefab shells and the small cheese and onion enchiladas are bland with little melted cheese. The chili relleno’s are well done, coming with plenty of cheese in a large chili surrounded by fluffy egg, but again the sauce was lacking flavor. Tostadas, which are hard to mess up, are OK, nothing special. Combinations are reasonably priced ($7.99) and ala carte items can be mixed and matched for a cost effective meal.

Carnitas
The carnitas appeared underwhelming at first look after arrival, but were crispy, well seasoned, and delicious pork tips that when pulled apart (as most restaurants serve them) filled the four corn tortillas that accompanied the meal ($10.49). I asked the waiter if the dish came with guacamole and pico di gallo before ordering, and he assured me it did, but when the plate arrived there was barely enough guac for one taco and zero pico di gallo. The rice and beans were flavorful and good. Some canned jalapeños topped the dish for some unknown reason with little value added. 

If you do not mind paying $10 for a plate full of grilled onion and a little meat, then the Cielito Lindo’s carne asada is the plate for you! Carne asada is routinely sliced and/or pounded very thin (in this case less than 1/8 of an inch), so it appears much larger than it actually is. In this case, my steak did not even appear that large. The abundance of perfectly grilled onion obscured the small, thin steak … weighing in at a maximum of four (4) ounces. At the equivalent of $40 per pound for a very inexpensive cut of meat, I would expect a top quality piece of beef, which was obviously not the case here.


Side Order of Quesadilla (2) – $14.98?

In conclusion, Cielito Lindo is comparable to the other mediocre Mexican restaurants in Lawrence, all of which fail in comparison to some of my favorite spots in Mexico, California, and Texas. Make sure to check your bill as we have had rather large errors, in their favor of course, on at least 50% of our checks. On our most recent visit, we were charged $7.49 (twice – totaling $14.98) for two small flour tortillas baked with a little cheese (aka quesadilla), accompanied by some lettuce, tomato (half a slice), and some sour cream. So before you leave, check your check and make sure you get what you paid for (or pay for what you got).

CombatCritic Gives Cielito Lindo 5 Bombs Out of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!











Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Cielito Lindo, cielito, lindo, Mexican, restaurant, Lawrence, Kansas, menu, food, eat, taco, patio, outdoor, dining, Best of Lawrence. Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Finally … A Full Service, Full Size Sporting Goods Store In Lawrence (KS)!


Finally … Lawrence needed a full service, full size sporting goods store! 

I went to three different “sporting goods” stores on Massachusetts Street (downtown) a couple months back to buy a simple yoga mat, but two did not have them and the other (a yoga studio) was closed in the middle of the day. I realize this is not the BIG CITY, but for a city of close to 100,000, you should be able to buy a yoga mat anytime you want. Now you can!

The store is new, clean, well laid-out (same as other Dick’s), and the staff friendly and helpful even though I found that being newly open, they did not have the knowledge of a well seasoned staff. They made up for what they did not know with vast enthusiasm and my questions were eventually answered to my satisfaction. Growing pains!

I would have thought that there would be more ON SALE being the GRAND OPENING and all, but prices were high (mostly suggested retail), hence the missing three bombs. I did find a nice Columbia waterproof jacket for $60 (regular $90) and it came in handy during the monsoon rains at yesterday’s Cottonwood Classic Gold Tournament at Alvamar Country Club. My shorts were soaked, but my core was dry as a bone after over four hours in a downpour … HOOAH!

The store was packed having been open just a few days, so I think Lawrencian’s feel pretty much the same way I do. The line was extremely long, probably 75 people in front of me, but I made it to the register in 15 minutes. Not bad. Do not forget to sign up for their loyalty card and get an EXTRA 10% DISCOUNT at the register, a particularly good idea if you are making a large purchase.

CombatCritic Gives Dick’s Sporting Goods (Lawrence, Kansas) 7 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!




Key Words: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dick’s, Sporting, goods, sporting goods, Lawrence, Kansas, golf, baseball, hunting, guns, bikes, bike, bicycle, tennis, running, shoes, CombatCritic, TravelValue

JC Penney Is Better Than Kohl’s, But Not By Much!


Kohl’s refused to work with me after THE ONLY LATE PAYMENT IN 25+ YEARS partially as a result of their failure to send a bill or late notice, so we started shopping at JC Penney after a many year absence. It seemed like they were offering great prices between 2012 and 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri, but recently the “value” seems to have disappeared, at least here in Lawrence, Kansas.

The store here in Lawrence is dead as a ghost, so it is only a matter of time before this one-time giant goes belly-up like so many other retailers these days. Too bad because I do not buy clothes or shoes online because sizes vary so much and inevitably they do not fit once they arrive. 

Make sure you read the fine print on their coupons. It says 25% off on shoes, but in the fine print it says “athletic shoes excluded” … I didn’t have my glasses with me and made the trip across town for some much needed tennis shoes. What a waste of my time and gas!!!

CombatCritic Gives JC Penney (Lawrence, KS) A Lackluster 4 Out OF 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!







Key Words: JC Penney, JC, Penney, JC Penneys, Pennys, Penny’s, department store, department, store, clothes, clothing, shoes, purses, shop, shopping, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Decade: Neighborhood (Coffee) Bar Comes To Old East Lawrence


My Yelp Elite comrade (and neighbor as I recently found out), Scott T, offered to treat me at Decade, a new café walking distance from our homes in Old East Lawrence.

The building is apparently an old warehouse that has been converted into a modern cafe with a real espresso machine, excellent coffee, and an artistic flair signified by the delicate tree design made in the coffee crema and latte (that’s milk for you Americans). 

They offer pastries, but Tuesday is apparently not a day that the pasty chef works as they were out of everything except a few scones and the Bumble Bees … Sesame goodness in a ball! I am not sure how much they are as I did not pay, but two lattes and four bumble bees came to around $14. I figure at $3 per latte, a bit pricey for a small ceramic cupful, the bumble bees must be close to $2 each, again a bit steep for something so small. Reminding me a bit of baklava, they are mostly sesame seeds and honey held together with what I assume is flour and very tasty although a bit sweet for my taste. One would have probably sufficed.

The coffee was rich, apparently roasted locally, and delicious. Enough said.

The service friendly and attentive, we were made to feel right at home. The interior is a little too modern for my taste, but the rich (maple?) wood floors, recently refurbished, provide a warm glow and make the space comfortable although sparse in decor and furnishings. If you are looking for free wi-fi, go the the Java Break or similar establishment as Decade has none. In this day and age, being in a college town in particular, I am not sure that was a sound business decision, but time will tell.

CombatCritic Gives Decade (an initial) 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 


Decade on Urbanspoon

Key Words:  Decade, Cafe, coffee, bar, pastry, pastries, Deleware, street, Lawrence, KS, kansas, menu, CombatCritic, travel, value, travel value

715 … Overrated, Underwhelming, Quasi Italian Fare


715
715 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Menu: LINK

Prices: $$$$$

I first heard about 715 from one of their former employees and chef, Jake Dodds Sloan, a friend of my son I met at a high-end resort deep in Denali National Park a couple years back. Since then, we moved to Lawrence and I have read numerous glowing reviews on Yelp and elsewhere about this Massachusetts Street institution, so we had to give it a try.

One of the reasons I avoided 715 this long was the decor, modern with sharp edges, steel, rock, and dark wood, uninviting in my eyes as I tend to gravitate toward a more traditional, classic look based on the cuisine being experienced.


The waiter never told us his name or at least I did not hear it over the noisy patrons, another American tradition I do not cherish. The service was attentive and our food arrived in a timely manner, allowing us to savor our antipasti before the primi arrived.

We ordered the “heritage pork” meatballs (5 for $8) and half a Wheatfield’s baguette as it was apparent that no bread would be accompanying our appetizers or meal, a definite fopaux in my eyes. The meatballs were tasty, medium in size and smothered in what they call “marinara”, seemingly canned tomatoes with alarmingly little seasoning and another disappointment I would experience again when my bucatini arrived shortly thereafter.

The Bucatini all’ Amatriciana ($17) was described as “rich pork guanciale [cured pork cheeks], caramelized red onion, spicy chiles, san marzano sauce, and parmigiano reggiano”. Traditionally, amatriciana is made with pancetta (Italian bacon) and sautéed white onion, lightly basting the pasta with definite evidence of both ingredients on the palate. My bucatini, thick tubes of pasta resembling oversized spaghetti, was more than al dente, it was undercooked, chewy, and lukewarm. The pasta was smothered, not lightly tossed, with what appeared to be the same tomatoes we had on the meatballs, again overly acidic with little seasoning (garlic, olive oil, salt), chunks of tomato pulp, and no sign of either the cured pork or onions that make the dish one of my favorites. I had to ask for more cheese, but by the time the paltry little dish with a smattering of shaved parmigiano arrived the pasta was cold and even harder than when it arrived, so I decided to finish my wife’s Asian spaghetti and take the bucatini home where I could season it properly.

Shiltake Spaghetti

My wife was going to order the spinach and ricotta ravioli, but at $15 for just five (5) and $23 for ten (10), it didn’t seem like a very good value. Instead she ordered the Shiltake Spaghetti, a blend of Shitake mushrooms, spinach, carrots, olive oil, and garlic with chunks of mozzarella tossed in. Untraditional in every sense of the word, the dish actually had much more flavor than my Bucatini all’ Amatriciana, a favorite when I lived in Italy and ate real pasta. Italians love their pasta and she enjoyed hers, noting just a bit too much olive oil.

Half Baguette – $5

My ratings are based on “value”, taking into account the entire experience including the quality of the food, ambiance, service, and price … the entire culinary experience. I have had far better meals for much less (in Italy) and more (see my review of Nonna in Puerto Rico), so price is but one factor. Based on my experience at 715, prices in the range of $10 to $13 would be more appropriate for the pasta dishes, $5 to $6 for the meatballs, and NO CHARGE for the bread would earn an extra bomb or two, but for an 8 to 10 bomb experience they would need to train their chefs in proper Italian culinary techniques, including how to cook pasta, season the sauces, and NOT drown the pasta in excess sauce. I was going to give them 5 bombs, but decided to add one additional for “effort” as they apparently make the pasta in-house, a rarity these days and something which should be rewarded.

CombatCritic Gives 715 6 Bombs Out of 10 … LE BOMBE SONO BUONE!



715 on Urbanspoon

Kitchen

Key Words: 715, restaurant, Lawrence, KS, 66044, Kansas, Massachusetts Street, Massachusetts, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Italian, food, pasta, menu