Not exactly a typical Kansas restaurant. Not a typical restaurant at all! Menu inspiration comes from Europe, America, Italy, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Asia, Caracas, Baja, Peru, Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Mediterranean, and Greece. The food is made before your eyes, and nothing is ordinary.
What locals call Mediterranean cuisine encompasses Italian, Greek, Lebanese, and French influences, by way of Ellis Island and an influx of Lebanese Christian Arab immigrants. It's nowhere better than at NJ's Cafe & Bakery, where you feast on gyros, dolmades with tangy grape leaves, tabouli, hummus, kafta, and kebbe.
In a rural community with an abnormal amount of chicken restaurants, Barto's Idle Hour serves the finest fried chicken, German potato salad, cole slaw, onion rings, and famous bread baked by Frontenac Bakery. This may be one of Roadfood's best kept secrets!
We loved the Smokie Joe sandwich, which is a combination of beef and pork cosseted in excellent sauce that is slightly sweet with a pepper tingle that made my taste buds want to dance to the blues music that is always playing on the sound system. The pork itself is fantastic – the gal behind the counter insisted I try some NOT bound in sauce. It is sweet, tender, juicy, and radiant with smoke flavor.
The chicken arrives glistening with grease. There's lots of chewy, fat-rich skin and the meat below is fall-from-the-bone tender, even if its flavor is somewhat distant. You can get whatever you like in whatever quantity: dark meat, white meat, wings, and backs, even an appetizer of livers, gizzards, and hearts.
The most smoke flavor can be savored in the Woodyard's burnt ends, available in a sandwich or, the day we visited, as the topping for chili. What a great idea! The chili is a multi-bean brew, fairly mild; and the big pile of meat atop it is a kaleidoscope of pieces that range from velvet-soft to crisp or chew.