Everybody has a place that they have driven by for years and never bothered to try out. Harry’s Uptown Bar and Grill is one of those places for me and I finally got around to checking it out the other day. This place has been around for as long as I can remember, which isn’t saying a whole lot given my age, but in this day and age of fly-by-night restaurants 20 plus years is a good run.
For those of you who have never driven down east Douglas, Harry’s is located just west of Hillside right next to another Wichita institution, Margarita’s Cantina. From the outside this place looks like it could be a sketchy bar that serves 3.2 beer out of mason jars with a plat de jour that consists of a new batch of pickled eggs. But looks are deceiving my friends. One step inside Harry’s and you are met with a decor that can only be described as everything that TGI McSuckeys tries to be. There are old time bicycles juxtaposed on exposed rafter beams and quaint Tiffanyesque light fixtures adorning each green linoleum table. It is clean and respectable, a place where one could take the family after Sunday services, if you didn’t mind stepping over a few regulars who couldn’t quite come to grips with reality on a late Saturday eve. I was expecting some dimly lit abyss and instead was met with flashbacks of Bennigans (Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, we all loved that place).
Anyway once my strange and terrible deja vu moment passed, it was on to the important thing, food. Through my intelligence gathering I had learned that people liked their burgers, so that is what my mom and I went with. Scanning the burger section my eyes focused on a meat disc that offered a slice of Canadian bacon as accompaniment. Why yes, I think that pairing will suit my fancy. My mom went with the classic mushroom and swiss. All their burgers are advertised as being made from a 1/2 pound of Angus beef, which is fine, but I would be surprised if anyone could tell the difference between ground Angus beef and any other cattle breed.
Overall I would say my burger was decent, but nothing to get really excited about. The Canadian bacon was a nice touch and as advertised it was a thick piece of meat. I did have a sneaking suspicion that it was a preformed patty though, it was too perfectly round. Preformed patties make me sad. How hard is it to order basic ground hamburger from your supplier and form it into meat discs yourself? It tastes so much better if you yourself take a 1/2 pound of certified Angus beef and mold it into something ever so delicious. My “famous steak fries” were also a bit lacking. They could have used seasoning of some sort. My mom seemed to enjoy her mushroom and swiss burger, although she would have liked it cooked a bit more medium. In this day and age it’s asking a lot for someone to serve you a medium hamburger though. Although contrary to what servers will tell you the Kansas Health Code does allow patrons to be served undercooked meats as long as they assume the risks involved.
Harry’s Uptown offers slightly above average bar hamburgers that are reasonably priced. For $6.50 my meal was more than enough to fill me up. I would imagine that their sandwiches are also decent, but nothing to get overly excited about. Still Harry’s has withstood the test of time, in large part due to a strong crew of regulars I assume. So go check out this bastion of Americana, the noble neighborhood bar, and get the feel of an authentic bar and grill.