Snead’s Bar-B-Q, Kansas City, MO
As I write, Ben and I are sitting by the window in an adorable café, The BookEnd, in Boulder, Colorado, drinking coffee and watching the beginning of the snowstorm dump onto Pearl Street. Everything is going as planned: We arrived at my brother’s apartment yesterday before the precipitation made the roads too dangerous to travel, and for the next couple days, we will wait out the storm — expected to deliver 10 feet of snow — before getting back onto I-70 to continue our journey west.

Guided again by Jane and Michael Stern, we stopped at two places on our way to Boulder: Snead’s Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, Missouri, and Conway’s Red Top in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At Snead’s, Ben ordered a mixed platter of brisket and pork, barbecued beans and applesauce, and I ordered a pork sandwich with applesauce. The food arrived with three sauces: two bbq sauces — one spicy and smoky, the other more traditional — and ketchup, for the delectable hand-cut fries. As described, the brisket was lean and smoky, and Ben ate every last bite of it, preferring its flavor and texture to the pork, which tasted a little fatty and mushy to him. I suppose we can’t agree on everything — I loved the pork, particularly its moist texture and fatty flavor.

We loved everything about Snead’s: the smells that pervade the parking lot; the decor: deer heads line the walls and a wood-fire, stoked by our server, warms the dining area; and the food: smoky, flavorful meats and traditional bbq side dishes make for a wonderful lunch (or dinner) and an authentic experience.

Conway’s Red Top, Colorado Springs, CO
Unfortunately, we cannot give Conway’s Red Top the same praise as Snead’s. Ben likened his burger — his enormous burger (the picture doesn’t do justice to its size) — to a Burger King patty, and the soups, while although offering some healthy beans and vegetables to our thus far meat-heavy diet, had that odd, cornstarch-thickened texture. Alas, the Sterns cannot be spot on about everything.

Last night, however, guided by my brother, we enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner at Il Pastaio. Before our entreés arrtived, we sipped Chianti served in little water glasses and dipped our rolls into eggplant caponata. The Italian family that runs this trattoria makes their own pasta: noodles, ravioli and gnocchi. In a spicy, Arrabiata sauce topped with fresh basil, the gnocchi (my order) and the pappardelle (Ben’s order) made wonderful meals. Several other couples leaving the restaurant ordered pounds of the fresh pasta to take home with them — what a luxury! We split a yummy, though not-as-good-as-Isgro’s cannoli for dessert before making our way home.

I’ll have to snap a picture of Il Pastaio tonight on our way to dinner at Efrain’s, a Mexican restaurant suggested to us by a man working at the wine shop next door to Il Pastaio. Incidentally, this café, BookEnds, serves a mean bran muffin and great coffee to boot.