So, Frontenac is one of those little towns that apparently doesn’t want to lose its identity. Thus, it maintains its city limits and is marked as Frontenac on the map, despite being surrounded entirely by Pittsburg, Kansas. Frontenac is a tiny little place; I drove all the way through the town from one side to the other in about eight or nine minutes and let me tell you it is a speed trap extraordinaire, so enough said about that.
Anyway, you’ll find Barto’s Idle Hour (no, I have no idea what that means) in a residential area. It’s on the back street of the residential area, so you’ll turn onto the last street and see behind that last row of houses (and one tiny restaurant) a huge expanse of fields. Anyway, Barto’s is nothing to strike the eye pleasingly; it’s a ramshackle little building with a dining room on one side and a bar on the other. From what I hear, you can catch polka dancing in the bar most weekends. I thusly entered the restaurant. And had the best darn fried chicken I’ve ever had.
I mean, no frigging lie. I can honestly say it. I’m from Oklahoma, right? I’ve eaten fried chicken from a lot of places, including a lot of homemade fried chicken. This? Beats them all. Head and shoulders. It comes out absolutely steaming hot and juicier than any fried chicken I’ve ever had. My first bite absolutely flooded my mouth with this explosion of hot, delicious juice. I remember, with my mouth still full, blurting out, “Oh my God!” And the breading? I can’t even begin to explain it (because I’m awful at this), but it’s just astonishingly good, crispy and chewy in all the right ways in just the right measures.
“So,” people say to me, “You went to Kansas just to eat fried chicken?” Sometimes it seems kind of silly to me too; but sitting there in this tiny little dining room in this ramshackle building in a little town almost no one has even heard of, having one of the most amazing eating experiences of my life . . . well, these moments like this are the things that keep me going on this project. Barto’s Idle Hour isn’t just great fried chicken; it’s the best fried chicken. This meal is on the short list of meals that I have to kind of recommend as essential; realistically most people aren’t going to be able to make it to Frontenac, but in a perfect world . . . everyone on the planet would eat this meal at least once before they die. It’s THAT good. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – tiny little restaurant in tiny little town boasts fried chicken that is genuinely breathtaking and absolute essential eating. 4 stars.