Kansas Part 2 — Comfort food and much more

I first met two of my traveling companions for this trip at the Kansas City Airport. We had arrived at approximately the same time from our starting points in Arkansas, Boston and Michigan. We did the only thing possible: we found a comfortable table in an airport eatery and proceeded to get to know one another until our host could pick us up.

After ordering coffees and ice water, we browsed a menu of mostly uninspired airport dining options. We did not know when we would rendezvous with our other four traveling companions, nor did we know exactly what our schedule had in store for later in the afternoon. However, we did know that we were destined for dinner at a barbecue restaurant in Fort Scott that evening. After some discussion, we decided to try the airport version of local barbecue. And we were pleasantly surprised! The three of us shared an order of barbecue pork sliders — one for each of us — ample small bites that were quite tasty.

If there’s a single universal impression of Kansas food, it’s probably of “comfort food,” and what’s more comforting to a Midwesterner than barbecue and fried chicken? More about that later.

Following an Uber ride and another round of introductions, our group was complete. We settled into our rental van for the drive from Kansas City to Fort Scott.

It was at dinner that first evening in Fort Scott that we were introduced to a great variety of barbecue options. The tagline on the menu at Luther’s BBQ, which opened in 2019 just prior to the pandemic, was “good food and plenty of it!” We were to find that could well be a statewide slogan.

The restaurant, housed in an historic brick building in the heart of Fort Scott, offered an extensive menu with much to sample — all simple food as it turned out. We enjoyed tasty deviled eggs and a variety of meats and cheeses — the best kind of finger foods, and delightful drink options, including a Bloody Mary that exceeded all expectations and was “write-home-about-good!”

Sadly, I must end my report about the meal we had at Luther’s, because a message on my computer lists the restaurant as “closed permanently.” I believe that Fort Scott residents were hoping it would be another success story in the city’s planned rejuvenation. Maybe it still will be. But, for now, the website is down, and the phone goes unanswered.

The only thing I regret? I didn’t get a “doggie bag” to take with me.

We spent the night at the historic Courtland Hotel in Fort Scott. My plate was full again the next morning with oversized breakfast burritos and specialty coffees from Common Ground Coffee Co., served picnic-style at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. It was another treat in the lineup of Kansas attractions that awaited our group.

The second full day in Kansas was jam-packed with new sights and experiences.

It began at the Milken Center and continued with a drive along the stretch of historic Route 66 that still runs through the state. Kansas, at least this portion of it, hasn’t changed visibly over the past several decades. In many ways, that’s comforting. You know what they say — “The more things change . . . ” Well, yes, much does remain the same.

But change is in the air and there’s a lot more to come!

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