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Food Trucks at the Fountain

25 Jul

If you have always wanted to sample some of Wichita’s most popular food trucks, keep in mind the last Sunday of each month. On this day several trucks gather at the Water Walk Fountain in downtown to serve up lunch from 11:30 to 2:30.

The owners of the Flying Stove are responsible for “Food Trucks at the Fountain”, so their truck is a constant each month. There are several other trucks that round out the offerings and provide plenty of options. On our visit B. S. Sandwich Press, Park-n-Pork BBQ, The Waffle Wagon, Brick House BBQ, and Let’m Eat Brats were serving as well.

When we pulled into the parking lot nearest the food trailers it seemed that there was some sort of problem. Apparently in a frenzied rush to order caramelized waffles from the Waffle Wagon, people had simply forgotten how to use a parking lot properly. I present to you Exhibit A:

Massive Parking Lot Fail

Massive Parking Lot Fail

Once out of our car we walked up and down the row of trailers, scouting out the menus. Steph went with a Cobb salad sandwich and the famous crack-laced truffle fries from The Flying Stove. After much deliberation I went with a Carolina style pulled pork sandwich and green beans from Park-n-Pork. There was a good crowd even at 1:30, so each truck had decent queues for both ordering and picking up food.

Cobb Salad Sandwich from Flying Stove

Cobb Salad Sandwich from Flying Stove

The Cobb salad sandwich was filled with a generous serving of lemony grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocados, blue cheese, egg, lettuce, and dressing. The chicken, while somewhat overcooked, had very good flavor. The rest of the ingredients worked as well together as in a traditional Cobb salad. I was most impressed with the bun. Laden with this many ingredients it is not uncommon for buns to suffer CBF(Catastrophic Bun Failure) and render themselves a wet mass of mess, but this one held strong. The truffle fries were as delicious as usual. There is certainly no need for ketchup with these perfectly seasoned fried potatoes.

Carolina-Style Pork Sandwich

Carolina-Style Pork Sandwich

My pork sandwich featured a decent amount of pulled pork, a vinegar based BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. I was happy to see that despite sitting in a warming tray for the last several hours the pork was still fairly moist, which is no small feat. The pork had a nice smoke flavor and good rub as well. Overall I liked the sandwich, but I thought there was too much coleslaw overpowering the pork and sauce. The spicy green beans were a disappointment because they were canned and it was such a meager serving. The peppers and garlic provided a good kick, but were unable to save the bits of bean. I think if fresh or even frozen beans had been used this would have been a tasty side dish. For dessert we were hoping to get a caramelized waffle from the Waffle Wagon, but unfortunately that had sold out by then.

I was glad to see that the event was so popular, but the large crowds meant longer waits and food that started running out towards the end. Food Trucks at the Fountain is a good way to scope out the various food trucks that continue to pop up over town.

The Monarch

17 May

For many years the term “bar food” has been used as a derogatory term conjuring up images of soggy fries and burnt hamburgers, but with the rise of the Gastropub that has started to change. It seems that people are embracing the melding of good alcohol selections and quality, upscale comfort foods and I for one couldn’t be more pleased. Wichita is slowly catching on to this trend with the likes of Public and The Anchor stepping up their game. The newest addition to

Smoke Sausage and Cheese: Not Your Typical Appetizer

Smoke Sausage and Cheese: Not Your Typical Appetizer

this restaurant genre is The Monarch, located on the traffic circle in Delano.

The interior is spacious with plenty of seating both inside and out on the patio that faces Douglas. There is plenty of local artwork adorning the walls and the light fixtures made out of old bicycle rims are quite impressive. TVs, a pool table, and an internet juke box ensure that patrons will be able to keep themselves entertained during a night of partying.

The Monarch’s menu is small and focused, which is a nice departure from some bar and grills that offer a mind numbing array of food selections. I was also quite excited to see that the menu is built around in-house smoked meats. This allows The Monarch to offer some unique dishes,  although they do offer the obligatory Wichita restaurant appetizer, hummus.  At least it’s jazzed up with peppers and served with naan bread. The other apps include decadent items such as stuffed burnt end mushrooms, loaded sweet potato tots, and a smoked sausage and cheese tray. Sandwiches are the  focus of the main course menu, but a couple of soups and salads are available as well including a hardcore chef salad that comes with ham, brisket, turkey and duck bacon. Yes, you read that correctly, duck bacon. Calling this thing a salad probably violates some USDA guidelines, but I’m not going to turn them in for creating such a thing of beauty.

Not An Ordinary Brisket Sandwich

Not An Ordinary Brisket Sandwich

To start off our meal we ordered the sausage and cheese tray. I really wanted to order the stuffed ‘shrooms, but I was outvoted at our table. The tray included two types of sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and naan bread. The sausages were high quality with a good smoked flavor. I would have liked to see more exotic cheese selections, but overall it was a good appetizer. For our main dishes we were faced with several tantalizing sandwich choices, but eventually we decided on the The Monarch and Chicken Caprese. I went with a side of homemade potato chips and Steph ordered the sweet potato tots. The Monarch featured smoked brisket, sautéed onions and peppers, and provolone cheese served on a tasty baguette. The brisket was nicely done with good smoke flavor and fairly tender. Overall I really liked the sandwich, it was nice change from your typical brisket sandwich that consists of two slabs of white bread and BBQ sauce. Steph’s Caprese sandwich was an impressive combination of smoked chicken, pesto, tomatoes, and provolone. Oftentimes it is hard to keep a smoked meat like chicken moist for very long, but The Monarch did  a nice job of pulling it off. The homemade potato chips were spot on and the sweet potato tots were solid as well.

The Monarch is a nice addition to the Wichita dining scene, especially since they are one of the few places you can get good food late at night. Its unique, yet unpretentious food menu makes it an attractive place for causal American dining options. The only real issue was the fact they did not have any high chairs. I know its supposed to be a trendy bar and grill place, but you could at least have a high chair for those terrible parents such as myself who have no qualms taking their children to bars, albeit at reasonable hours of the day. Perhaps they could commission a local artists to make some out of old PBR cans?

The Monarch on Urbanspoon

My Dad’s BBQ and Catering

10 Dec

Previously Published in the Wichita Eagle:

Barbecue is one of America’s truly original cuisines and in this part of the country it may also be one of the most polarizing. Everyone, save for vegetarians, has their favorite place where they go to indulge in slow cooked, smoky meat goodness.

Located just down the street from one of the more well known barbeque restaurants in town, My Dad’s BBQ is a relative

The Three Meat Dinner with Tasty Mac n Cheese

The Three Meat Dinner with Tasty Mac n Cheese

new comer the Wichita Que scene.  The menu at My Dad’s has all that you would expect from a BBQ joint, plus a few surprises. In addition to the standard meats they offer smoked bologna and baby back ribs. As far sides go, you can have your coleslaw and beans or enjoy the more unique collard greens or smoked mac ‘n’ cheese.  When trying a new barbeque establishment I always opt for the combo platter so I can get a feel for several types of meat plus a few sides. I was willing to take a gamble on the smoked bologna, but unfortunately they were out. Instead I went with brisket, pulled pork, and baby back ribs. As for the sides, I ordered the beans and smoked mac ‘n’ cheese. My dining guest ordered the brisket meal with beans and coleslaw.

The brisket was sliced to a medium thickness and despite having good flavor was a bit dry. The pulled pork was some of the best I have sampled in town. The hickory smoke and subtle rub were in perfect balance with the moist pork. The baby back ribs had a nice, slightly sweet rub applied to them and were properly cooked to offer some resistance when biting into them. The homemade barbeque sauce that was served on the side was a good combination of Kansas City style sweetness meets North Carolina style tanginess.  The beans were bathed in this sauce as well and offered some spiciness also. As for the mac ‘n’ cheese, you really can’t go wrong with creamy pasta and smoky chunks of bacon. While it could have used a bit more salt, it was a top notch BBQ side dish.

You Know You Want Some Q

You Know You Want Some Q

My Dad’s is primarily set-up for carryout dining, but there are a few tables in the cozy dining area for those wishing to bask in the smoky aroma while enjoying their meal. The staff and owner/pitmaster were friendly and provided us with good service.

My Dad's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

When Pigs Fly(A New Favorite for Ribs)

8 Mar

I strongly approve of any restaurant that incorporates anything pig/pork related into its name. Such a noble and delicious creature is sure to attract attention to any dining establishment. That was one of the reasons I have had the newer BBQ place When Pigs Fly on my radar for quite some time now. This westside eatery is located on the southeast corner of Central and Ridge Road. A long haul from the safe confines of northeast Wichita, but one that I will definitely be making more regularly for their Cue.  After spending some time working at Pig In Pig Out, the manager/pitmaster decided to branch out on his own and opened WPF in late 2010.

After getting out of my car I was immediately met with the aroma of smoke wood, probably Oak or Hickory, wafting along in the strong south wind. Always a good sign when going to a BBQ place.  Inside, the space is appropriately adorned with swine related accent pieces and artwork, that coupled with the plaid tablecloths creates a comfortable and homey environment. On the menu you will find the typical BBQ fare as well as one of their specialties, loaded baked potatoes. The spuds are topped with meat, cheese, and other goodies.

A Quaint Dining Environment

On my first visit to a BBQ place I like to order the 2 or 3 meat combo dinners, so I can get a sample of the big three of Cue: Brisket, Pork Butt, and Ribs. WPF only offers a 1 or 2 meat dinner so I opted for brisket and ribs. Anyone can smoke good pulled pork, but good ribs and especially brisket are art forms that can be difficult to master. For my side dishes I went with baked beans and some steamed corn on the cob.  After ordering at the counter I found my way to one of the many tables that are available to dine-in customers. Each table is properly equipped with two very essential BBQ eating components, a large bottle of sauce and a napkin dispenser.

Two Meat Dinner of Deliciousness

The portions sizes of meat and sides were decent  for the $9.50 price tag, although the plate was kind of small for the amount of food placed upon it. The corn was about what I thought it would be, just regular steamed corn, which was fine. The beans on the other hand were very good.  I prefer sweet BBQ beans and these did not disappoint. There was also a hint of chili powder to give them some bite. The only thing that would have made them better would have been some pieces of brisket or pork. The brisket looked very similar to what is served at Pig In and Pig Out, nice thick-cut tender pieces of meat. It had a mild smokey flavor and was moist. It was not the most flavorful brisket I have had, but it was certainly solid. The only thing left to sample were the spare ribs. With the dinner combo I received 3 plump, delicious ribs. They were perfectly cooked, which means they weren’t fall off the bone.  Like the brisket they had a well balanced smokey flavor and the salty rub was great. After having these ribs I can safely say they are the best I have had in Wichita so far. The only sauce on the table was a typical sweet style sauce, although I think they might have a hotter sauce upon request.

In the world of Wichita BBQ I would have to say that Pig In and When Pigs Fly are tied at the top of my list right now. The ribs at WPF are top notch and I have tried my fair share of ribs(Top Ribs: Oklahoma Joe’s and The Salt Lick). WPF is definitely a good place to try if you are in the mood for some tasty Cue.

<img alt=”When Pigs Fly Barbecue on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1558995/biglink.gif” style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px” />

Jet Bar-B-Q-Wichita KS(Home of Drive Thru BBQ)

18 Aug

When it comes to BBQ joints in Wichita, Jet Bar-B-Q is almost always in the discussion. Probably because it has been around in several incarnations for around 30 years, making it one of the more established names in BBQ or Barbeque or Bar-B-Que or Barbecue in Wichita. Although you may not have known it, chances are you have probably eaten some of their Q at a catered event around town. That was the case for me until a few days ago. I finally made it down to 3rd and Wabash to check out the actual restaurant and feast on some good Que. What sets Jet apart from the other places is their unique location, an old firehouse. This building allows them to offer a drive thru where one pulls their car into the firehouse garage, follows the yellow line, gives their order and gets the Q and then proceeds to points beyond with car full of smoky delight.

Dine-in customers enter a side door and are quickly met with a small menu and counter at which to order. On the menu are the typical BBQ fare with meat choices of brisket, sirloin, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey, and hot links. Sandwiches as well as combo platters are offered with traditional side dishes of baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. When visiting a Q place I like to go with the combo platter so I can sample two or three different meats. Unfortunately, they were out of ribs, so I went with the brisket, pulled pork, and beans. There are a few tables inside of the garage area for those brave enough to battle warm temperatures, breezy conditions, and car exhaust. For the price of $7.50 I got a good amount of pork and brisket as well as two pieces of bread, a cup of sauce, and a cup of beans.  I was impressed with how moist the pulled pork was after sitting in a warmer for the last couple of hours. Typically pulled pork will dry out quickly, but Jet adds some sauce to keep it moist during service. Although I typically do not like pre-sauced meat, this was good because it was not drenched in sauce and had a subtle hickory flavor. The brisket was tender and moist with a very strong hickory flavor. This was probably some of the smokiest meat I have ever tried and I liked it. The flavors were very simple and let the meat stand out.

Overall I was pleased with my experience at Jet, their less is more approach to BBQ was refreshing. Besides serving good Q, Jet’s unique location makes it a place for anyone who is interested in smoked meats and firehouses to check out. There is plenty of nostalgia throughout the building to entertain you while eating. A certain neon pig sign caught my eye and I immediately began to imagine how great one of those would look in my house.

http://www.jetbbq.com/

Jet Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Pig In! Pig Out! – Wichita, KS (Where the Ribs Aren’t Fall Off the Bone)

1 Mar

I realized the other day that Chainfree has not visited a barbeque ( BBQ or barbecue) joint and that made me very sad and slightly embarrassed. As a hardcore BBQ fan I don’t know how this could have happened. Perhaps it is because a lot of Wichita barbecue is not very exciting in my opinion. Now if you are thinking, “well what about Famous Daves”, just stop reading right now. If you think some chain place from Wisconsin is real BBQ I feel sorry for you.  Anyway, it is fitting that my favorite Wichita BBQ place is the first one we will opine about. That place is Pig In! Pig Out! located on 13th just west of I-135. I met my friend there the other day smack dab in the middle of the lunch rush. The nice thing about BBQ joints though, is that typically there is very little waiting because the meat and sides have already been prepared, it is just a matter of throwing that rack of ‘spares down on your plate.

As you walk into Pig In you are eyes are immediately drawn to the walls full of ribbons and awards that their team has won over the years. Unlike many of BBQ places you go into the awards weren’t won in the 80s before they opened a restaurant and decided to rest on their laurels. As far as I know Pig In is the only BBQ restaurant in town who has a team that routinely competes in KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) competitions. I would be surprised if they serve their competition recipes in the restaurant though, but at least they are out their keeping their skills sharp. On this particular visit I went with the brisket and rib dinner, which consisted of a generous serving of brisket, 3 or 4 spare ribs, two sides, and bread. Pig In serves BBQ the way it should be, with no sauce. Bottles of their sweet sauce are provided on the tables. Their thick cut brisket, the best in Wichita in my opinion, was great as usual. I had never tried their ribs before, but I found them to be very good. The rub had a perfect combination of spices and salt and the  meat was nice and tender, but still offered some resistance pulling off the bone. The term “fall of the bone” is a misnomer. You want the meat to have some resistance because if it is falling off the bone that typically means it is overdone and dry. My friend went with the hot links and smoked turkey. He enjoyed both of his choices and was impressed overall with the dining experience at Pig In.

There are several newer BBQ joints that I need to try in Wichita, but at this point I think Pig In Pig Out has the best in town. Although Wichita pales in comparison to KC BBQ joints, I believe there are some gems like Pig In lurking in Wichita and Chainfree is going to hunt them down one by one.

Pig In! Pig Out! on Urbanspoon

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