|Fill up a plate, Italian-style|
The Mixerini Bar is what Milano's calling its express lunch bar, where
different Italian dishes -- squares of panini sandwiches, slices of
freshly baked pizza, small calzones, a fine prepared Caesar salad
or a make-it-yourself salad and custom-created pastas -- can be mixed and
matched, buffet-style. The $10.95 price includes a loaf of bread for
the table and soda or iced tea. And yes, you can go back to
the bar until you're stuffed.
Milano offers the Mixerini Bar seven days a week: from 11 a.m. to 3
p.m. Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday (the restaurant is open
Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.)
Ai says that so far, the record for maki mayhem goes to a table of burly guys who come in to watch the football game on TV, down a couple of beers and gorge on maki rolls. "They've eaten eight rolls each," Ai said. "That's a lot!" And since the rolls average about five bucks each, they got their money's worth.
(Image via Flickr: Sifu Renka)
|Free...the magic word|
Boston Market restaurants are currently offering a "Two Kids Eat Free" promotion through January 31, 2010 -- no coupon required, but you do have to bring along the tykes -- even if you're taking the food to go. On Saturdays and Sundays, parents ordering a minimum $6 adult purchase can receive two free kids' meals (the children must be under 14) and four free kids meals with the purchase of a Family Meal. More details here.
The Waid's Restaurant in Prairie Village (6920 Mission Road; 816-362-2882) lets children ages ten and under eat free from the children's menu on Monday and Tuesday nights beginning at 4 p.m. One child per paying adult. (The Missouri location at 103rd Street does not have a kids eat free night.)
The lavish Italian buffet at Cinzetti's Italian Market Restaurant lets kids eat free on Monday and Tuesday nights. The children must be between the ages 4 and 12 (toddlers ages three and under always eat free) and there's a limit of two children per adult.
And on Monday nights from 5 to 9 p.m., children ten and under eat free at the Red Robin Gourmet Burger joint in Independence (188810 E. Highway 40; 816-795-5678), though there's a two-kid limit per paying adult. Same Monday-night deal at the Overland Park location (7111 E. 95th Street; 913-642-9800).
(Image via Flickr: Asile13)
|"How about 'Good Food?' Too vague? Well, how about 'Pretty Good Food?' No?"|
Kansas City has had a long history of restaurants with names that sort of say it all. In the first half of the 20th century, most of the restaurants in town -- according to the City Directories of the period -- didn't even have names: most were listed simply by the names of the owners. This tradition continued well into the late 1930s, when Mrs. Fairie Myers -- whatever happened to her? -- ran her namesake restaurant at 924 Winchester. In the 1930s, a lot more little eateries and diners had names that said a lot about the cuisine in three words or less: Sanitary Lunch, One-Minute Lunch, Nifty and Dandy, Jolly Made Shop and my own favorite, the Roasty Toasty Sandwich Shop, which once served roasty toasty sandwiches at 2456 Troost. I wish it was still there, but it's long gone -- like most of this neighborhood, actually.
The sign, above, for Nice Food, a Chinese take-out restaurant at 7557 State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas is short and to the point. The joint, which is tiny, serves nice food. Cheap too. The menu features 22 different combination plates, all including an egg roll and pork fried rice, for $6.50. For big appetites, the place sells most of its dishes by the quart: a quart of Kung Pao Shrimp sells for $9. There are also Chief's Specialties. That's right, Chief's, not Chef's. Those are the costly specials here, like Seafood and Beef for $10.95.
One of the nice things about Nice Food is that it still serves classic Chinese-American dishes that have been dropped from a lot of modern Chinese restaurants: Chow Mai Fun, Egg Foo Young, and Chow Mein -- and a Pu-Pu Platter that includes one egg roll, one spring roll, two crab rangoon, two pieces of teriyaki chicken, two fried chicken strips and two pieces of shrimp toast for $7. The appetizer selection also includes buttermilk biscuits and French fries. That sounds nifty and dandy to me.
I'm so sorry that I didn't discover the delectable tacos at Taqueria Camecuaro -- located at 309 N. 7th Street in Kansas City, Kansas -- until after Jonathan Bender and I had completed our list of the Top Ten Cheap Tacos last month. I'm not saying that this combination taqueria and market would have pushed our numero uno choice off the list (El Camino Real, which is at 903 N. 7th Street in Kansas City, Kansas), but for terrific, really cheap tacos, this little joint has it going on.
Spaces food writer and video producer Darren Mark took me to the restaurant last night -- Wednesday is $1 taco night -- warning me that the place would look closed -- and it did. But the adjoining carniceria was bustling (the meat looked great, by the way) and after I nearly tripped to my death stumbling down the startlingly shallow stairs that lead to the restaurant, we found a table -- we were with Bob and Leslie -- in a very spartan, tile-floored dining room, where ice is stored in a former lard bucket near the tubs of horchata and vibrantly-colored Mexican soda pop.
Bob, always the grande eater, ordered tacos carnitas, a burrito and a thick, cheesy quesadilla (the total came to less than ten bucks) just for himself. I ate -- and loved -- the corn tortillas folded around carne asada, which I sprinkled with chopped onion, fresh cilantro and an avocado-based salsa that looked harmless enough, but Darren warned me to use it sparingly. "You'll see after the first bite," he said.
He was right: even a few drops were almost nuclear in intensity. But very, very good. The tacos al pastor even better!
The trick to saving money in Kansas City turns out to be asking for deals and doing a bit of advance planning. The KC Penny Pinchin' Mama, aka Tracie Fobes, laid out some of the simple ways you can keep more money in your pocket while shopping and eating in the City of Fountains.
The first place to look for deals is online as restaurants and destinations (like the Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas) have newsletters or deals sections.
"Many times, by being a member, you can get notification of great deals and can even get coupons e-mailed to you," says Fobes. Many of the coupons are specials limited to the Web site or newsletter.
Even if you haven't thought ahead, Fobes has a trick for when you're waiting in line for a table on Friday nights.
"Ask the manager. Sometimes they will just hand you a coupon for asking. You never know what you can get until you ask," says Fobes.
With everybody focused on saving more and spending less, it's easy to get caught up in clichéd axioms or shopping strategies. It can be difficult to know which suggestions to take, so Fat City turned to Tracie Fobes, who blogs about coupons and sales at The Kansas City Penny Pinchin' Mama, for her opinions on a recent CNN.com article on how to save on everyday purchases. Fobes tackled three of the main tips offered in the article.
CNN says: Purchase oranges, onions and potatoes in a bag.
"If you can not consume the items before they will go bad, it will end up costing you more money," says Fobes.
In other words, you can get sick of trying to live on oranges and onions in a hurry. Fobes also recommends doing a cost comparison between singles and bags, as the price differential might not be as great as you think.
Even better: on Sunday nights, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Cafe Eupora is serving three-course traditional midwestern family-style dinners, including buttermilk-marinated fried chicken. The chicken dinners are a pretty terrific deal at $16 ($18 if you prefer all white meat) since the price includes a salad, the entree -- with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans stewed with bacon and onion, and a nice fat, flaky biscuit served with real butter -- and the dessert du jour.
Last Sunday, I took advantage of the deal with my friends Pat and Julie. The small salads, splashed with a light Dijon vinaigrette, are excellent and the fried chicken, with a crunchy tempura-style coating, almost made me forget the exquisite bird at Stroud's -- still the ne plus ultra of pan-fried bird in Kansas City.
Since Julie ordered the fried chicken special (permitting me to take several bites, I'm grateful to say), I ordered the other poultry option: Amish-style roasted chicken ($16) which was very tasty, but compared to the fried chicken, nothing to crow about. Pat is a fan of Cafe Europa's pan-roasted salmon ($20), so he ordered that -- and although I find most salmon to be boring, this beautifully-prepared hunk of fish was first-rate. The other Sunday supper option is the $25 wood-fired Kobe steak.
The tiny dessert served as that night's finale was an extremely pretty little ramekin of banana pudding, made with vanilla wafers -- just like Grandma's (not my grandmother, but apparently everyone else's) -- and topped with a delicate swirly cap of meringue.
Cafe Europa, small and tasteful, can't compete with the more raucous ambiance of the new Stroud's in Fairway, but it's a delightful, comforting alternative. And the price is more than right.
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