About Regional Flavor
The three foremost culinary lures of Kansas are barbecue in the east around Kansas City, fried chicken dinners nearly everywhere but especially in the town of Pittsburg, and itty-bitty hamburgers, aka sliders, which were originally served in Salina at the still-thriving Cozy Inn.
Kansas Regional Specialties
The town of Pittsburg, Kansas, population 20,000, has six restaurants that specialize in chicken dinner. The bird itself is beautiful, fried to red-gold perfection, but these meals are unique among the nation's chicken dinners because of the German accent of their side dishes: vinegar-and-oil (not mayo) cole slaw and a similar tart-tangy potato salad. Delightfully unctuous onion rings are not to be missed.
Burnt ends, also known as brownies, are analogous to Creole debris – the shreds, nuggets, strips, and chunks of meat that fall off the barbecued brisket as it is carved. Most are outside pieces with crusty-crunchy areas and thick ribbons of melt-in-the-mouth fat. They are to pit-cooked meat what clotted cream is to milk: the distilled essence, flush with wood smoke and oozy protein satisfaction.
Dating back to 1922 and therefore source of America's original slider, the Cozy Inn of Salina claims high moral ground in terms of burger purity by refusing even to offer cheese. You could get one without pickles, but that would be a mistake, as the deuce of dills in the bun actually outweighs the meat and contributes significantly to the Cozy Inn magic. Grilled onions are mandatory; their smell is as much a component of the little sandwiches as meat itself. Just as the burger has not changed (except for price), so the Cozy Inn remains the 6-stool eat shack it was nearly a century ago.