2011 Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice Awards Recap

It’s that magical time of year again when the Eagle releases its annual Readers Choice Award Winners. A LEGITIMATE best of the best restaurants, shops, services, and other random stuff voted on by the knowledgeable citizens of this fair city. So here are some selected winners from the restaurant category with some pithy, highly opinionated  remarks from me.

Breakfast- Jimmy’s Egg. For the second straight year again people chose quantity over quality here. I don’t think there is anything special about Jimmy’s Egg. They serve typical breakfast food at reasonable prices, there just happens to be 34 or so of them around town. At least The Beacon and The Good Egg were runners-up. Either of them should have won, but then again what do I know.

Chinese– P.F Chang’s. Hey big surprise here! With Kwan Court gone P.F. is clear to dominate the Chinese market in town. Wichita has a great Asian restaurant scene and I guarantee most of them have better food than this place. But Chang’s does have giant stone horses and a nice lakefront location. So beat that. Buffet City is listed as a runner-up, I have no idea where this place is and probably never will unless some deranged person forces me to go there at gunpoint. Great Wall and Yen Cheng were also in the running, but the most confusing honorable mention was Ya Ya’s. Ummm they call themselves a “Euro Bistro” and a quick check of their menu confirms my suspicion that you cannot order General Tso’s chicken there. So what the hell? Is there no quality control in this silly ass competition?

Fast Food– Freddy’s! As you will see later, it apparently is one of the best restaurants in Wichita judging by it domination in 4 four categories. And who did Freddy’s beat out? Why Spangles of course. This may cause some bad blood between these two bitter rivals, I feel a media blitz coming from Spangles. Prepare yourselves for Rene Stevens by TV, Radio, Tweetage, and Facebook. They will reclaim the top spot next year I guarantee.

Italian– Olive Garden. Yes! I know Wichita has been weak in the Italian restaurant scene, but c’mon. With two new good Italian places recently opening I think Olive Garden and their all you can eat breadsticks and salads will be going down next year. DeFazios and Sweet Basil, longtime bastions of Italy fare, were runners-up.

Japanese– SUMO. Surprisingly PF Changs was shut out of this category. This was one of the few categories that was dominated by chainfree places. As far as SUMO winning , I personally think that Kanai is a better place, but I won’t complain too much. Hana Cafe, Wasabi, and Kanai were all runners up.

Locally Owned–  Spangles. Yeah take that Freddy’s you just got served. Tanya’s, El Mexico Cafe, and Bella Luna were runners-up in this rather ambiguous and open category. My choice for locally owned: Usuluteco.

Lunch– Twin Peaks. I have nothing. The category was “Best Lunch” not “Best Scantily Clad Waitresses”. Just reading Denise Neil’s review makes me never want to go to this place. Shockingly enough Freddy’s was once again a runner-up as were Bella Luna and Doc Greens.

Mediterranean-Bella Luna. This is a tough category that includes about 50% of all restaurants in Wichita. I don’t have a problem with Bella Luna, but it is not the most authentic Mediterranean place in town. I would give N & J’s and Byblos the edge over Bella Luna, but at least this was another category that was all chainfree. Although I don’t know of a chain Mediterranean place, maybe that is something I should look into. I’m thinking never ending bowls of hummus and some costumed character that will entertain the kids by weaving grape leaves into animals.

Mexican– Felipes. Yeah a legit place finally wins! Is there better Mexican food in Wichita? Yes, but Felipes has some solid stuff, just not their salsa. Three runners-up in this category were chains, which is unacceptable. Wichita has wonderful local Mexican places that most people don’t know about because they aren’t located on Rock Rd. or at the Waterfront. Shame on you if you claim you like Mexican food, yet have never eaten on Arkansas St. El Mexico Cafe and Playa Azul  were the other runners-up in this category.

Mongolian– This is a worthless category. If you voted for or frequent these “Mongolian” places then you need serious restaurant counseling.

Thai– Thai Tradition. Surprisingly neither Freddy’s or Ya Ya’s got any vote in this category. What a shame. Anyway, Thai Tradition is a great place that you must go to and try the spring rolls. They will make you forget all about those stupid horses at PF Changs. There were a few places in this category that I need to try out, namely Bangkok, Promise Thai, and Sit @ Thai Bistro.

Bakery– Panera. Sure they bake things here I guess, but when I walk into a bakery I want to smell warm bread cooling in racks, I want to see a baker covered in flour, and I want a delicious sample for free. That is why I go to the runner-up, Great Harvest Bread, for my bread needs. There are also Delano and Bagatelle bakeries in Wichita that you might want to check out.

BBQ– Hog Wild. I like to think I know quite a bit about BBQ, but apparently I am at odds with the general public because I think Hog Wild is one of the worst Cue places in town. I guess if you like dry, chewy ribs they are your place, but I will stick with Pig In Pig Out and B & C. When Pigs Fly and Bubba’s were also runners-up. I have yet to try these places, but I have heard good things. Much to my satisfaction Famous Dave’s was missing from this list. I guess people finally got tired of asking for some meat with their sauce. One more oddity with this category was the fact Buffalo Wild Wings was a runner-up. If you think BWW is a BBQ joint, please get in touch with me because there is much for you to learn.

Burger– Freddy’s! The domination continues. Everyone loves those thin, crispy wafers of meat. Everyone except for me. I like a nice thick patty where the meat still contains some moisture and pinkness. At least TJ’s Burger House and  Bionic Burger made the list. They were right up there with proven winners Five Guys and Spangles. On one end you have an average burger that will set you back $9 and on the other, a patty that tastes like it costs, cheap.

Hot Dog– In tough competition Sonic beat out Quik Trip for best wiener. Why not throw in the concession stand in section 24 of the IBA? And the Wiener Is and Dog N Shake were runners-up.

Pizza– Knolla’s. Here we go, a local place fends off the big boys of pie making to take home the prize. I was sad to see that Wichita Pizza Co. did not make the list. In my opinion it is one of the best pizza places in town.

Steak– Texas Roadhouse? Smack in the middle of cattle country we let Texas Roadhouse win best steak. That is like having McDonalds win best baguette in France. Judging by their prices I would guess they are serving USDA Choice which is inferior to the meat you will find at runners-up Chesters, Red Rock, and the Scotch. Although the steaks at these places are much more expensive, their taste cannot be beaten.

Subs and Sandwiches– Subway. Hooray for frozen tubes of bread! Once again Subway is voted the best in Wichita. I just don’t understand. Does anyone go to Cinnamons Deli, The Artichoke, Tanya’s, or the Metro Grill? There is no comparison with these places and Subway. At this point I just don’t the energy to complain anymore.

Taco– Drumroll please…Taco Shop. Okay I guess this is an improvement from Taco Bell, but really? Back in high school, I enjoyed the Taco Shop for all you can eat Mondays. There wasn’t much to the taco so you could really pack them down(My PR was 14 by the way). I just keep telling myself, “Could be worse,  could have been another year of Taco Bell perched atop the pinnacle of Wichita tacos.” At least El Mexico and Felipes were runners-up in this category. Four of the six restaurants in this category had the word “taco” in their name and just to clarify things for next year, there is no rule requiring the establishment to have the word “taco” in order for them to win.

So there you have it, a rundown of selected winners and losers of restaurants and food as voted on by the folks. There was some decent representation from chainfree places, but not as much I would like to see. For those of you who didn’t vote or who perhaps did not choose wisely, fear not you will have a chance to redeem yourself next year and all will be forgiven. The biggest question for next year is: Will Freddy’s pull it out and win every single category? I hear they are working on a steakburger maki roll that will blow our minds.


11 thoughts on “2011 Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice Awards Recap

  1. I thoroughly enjoy your way with words.
    And, the Wichita food scene will always intrigue me as I grew up there with a father who was an atrocious food snob who called the 316 and “abysmal epicurean wasteland.”
    And, yet again (like every year the Eagle does their Best Of piece) – Wichitans have walked the pedestrian line and voted for more franchises and less locally owned establishments. What, on earth, is UP with that anyways?
    Thanks for writing what you do, I always enjoy it.

  2. I don’t get the Freddy’s hate. They started off as exactly the thing you claim to love so much. They were insanely popular with lines out the door so they open a second location and then a third and a fourth. I like eating “chain free” but I can’t punish a place for being so popular they need to open more locations. That is just silly and illogical.

    As for your desire for more meat, there is a reason the default “Freddy’s Original” is a double. Personally I love the char so thin and stacked is my way to go so even when Freddy’s gets to 100 locations next year I’ll still vote for them #1.

    As for the lunch vote … yea, you got me there.

    1. I was not trying to hate on Freddy’s that much, I’m just not a fan of their burgers, although my wife loves them. You do have a point that Freddy’s is a local place that made it big. I would just like to see people get out there and try some of the other burger options that Wichita has to offer. Thanks for your constructive criticism.

  3. The majority of your comments show that you are as knowledgeable about food as the voters that you comment about. seriously, this blog is as much an embarrassment as Denise Neil being a supposed food writer.

  4. I for one love this blog. I always find the comments witty and inciteful. It is a joy to find someone who takes the time to let the rest of us know about some the places off the beaten path in our fair city. I regularly eat at both chains and non-chains. I prefer the non-chains, but the chains have their place. At least you know what you are going to get virtually every time. They are great, particularly at fast food, and convenient when time is of the essence. Unfortunately, too many of us look for the convenience rather than the quality. As a regular business traveler, I follow the rule of never eating at a restaurant I can eat at home. That obviously applies to chains, but have found Yelp.com to be a wonderful resource as I travel. On a recent trip to Florida, via Yelp’s assistance my traveling companion and I ate a different ethinicity food every night we were there and were not disappointed. Concerned about where we were eating? Maybe. But disappointed, No!!

    To Joe, who are you to say this blog is an embarassment. An embarassment to who? The bloggers who use their own time and money to tell us about the dining establishments we might otherwise miss? The bloggers who do this simply for fun? Why do you even read this blog if it is such an embarassment. I find it interesting that you apparently read the entire posting about the “Best in Wichita”, yet have nothing specific of which to criticize, other than a writer for the Eagle. Further, you obviously no little of which you complain, because I no for fact that one of the bloggers posting here, is an award winning cook/chef in our fair city in multiple competitions. Can you make that claim? In fact one of those competitions included some of the biggest name chefs in town. You don’t like the comments, do the rest of us a favor and quit reading them. The rest of us enjoy what is written here

  5. “Hey, Joe, what are you doin’ with that spoon at your face?
    Was it Spangles that allowed you to gain some space?
    Hey, Hey, Joe, what are you going to do to get good fries?
    Walk into a flat with jaded scheming eyes?
    Hey, Joe, when the waiter brings the plate…
    You can always exit, unless it’s much too late.” TW (paraphrasing)

  6. As the previous commenter said, I don’t get the Freddy’s hate either. I personally really enjoy their Steak-n-shake-esque burgers. However, I’m (like you) baffled that Subway won best sandwich place. I go to Cinnamons Deli on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve never had anything at Subway that even came close! For shame Wichita.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I am actually a big fan of Freddy’s especially their pumpkin pie concrete they are currently serving. We just would have liked to have seen more places win than just Freddy’s. And we are with you on Cinnamon’s! Love that place!

  7. I think the fact that Felipes won the best Mexican restaurant category is the biggest embarassment of all. I guess Wichitans either love bland, tasteless Mexican food, or they had their employees vote hundreds of times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s