It’s been a few years since I’ve posted my reactions to the annual Wichita Eagle Readers’ Choice Awards, so I thought it would be fun to delve into this topic once again.
Just the other week the much anticipated 2016 Readers’ Choice awards were released. This unscientific internet poll asks readers to vote for their favorite Wichita restaurants and other businesses in many different categories. The first few years of the awards were tough for me to stomach and generally made me doubt the abilities of my fellow Wichitans to properly identify good food. Taco Bell and Olive Garden were both winners back in 201o. Those were dark days indeed, but thanks in part to the recent emphasis on local eating, things are looking brighter in 2016. Most of the awards this year went to locally owned places. So without further adieu here are some of my thoughts:
Apparently the The Hill Bar and Grill is one of the best restaurants in town as it won Best Sports Bar, Lunch, Beer Selection, and Bar. I have to admit on my one visit here a few years ago, I was not impressed, but perhaps I need to revisit.
Do0-Dah won Best Breakfast and I completely agree. Their crack-laced breakfast items are my favorite in town. It appears that Jimmy’s Egg and IHOP have lost their grasp as they have slipped to third and fourth respectively.
The Wine Dive also was a popular favorite as they won several categories including Wine Selection, Locally Owned, and Brunch.
Sadly Applebee’s did make an appearance on the list, taking third place in Casual Dining. The ever deserving Public won this category, but just the fact that Applebee’s is on the same list takes something away from the it. It’s sort of like winning an art show when other entry is just a crumpled piece of paper.
Best Coffee shop went to Reverie, where thanks to some amazing coffee geeks you will have the best tasting coffee in town. Espresso to Go Go did not make this list, but go try the iced Vietnamericano and thank me later.
Sweet Basil won Best Italian, while Olive Garden failed to even place. These must be tough times in the land of never ending salad and bread sticks.
In Locally Owned Brewery, Wichita Brewing Company took home the prize. While I agree WBC has some solid beers, Central Standard is the best in town. They came in third, as for some reason Bricktown Brewery nudged them out. Bricktown is a chain started in OKC, so I’m not sure how they even qualify for this award.
In the competitive category of Best Mediterranean, Meddy’s beat out some heavyweights including Bella Luna, Le Monde, and N&Js. In my opinion you are better off skipping Meddy’s and trying one of the other three.
In another category full of contenders, Felipes won best Mexican. Connies and Los Cocos as well as Abuelo’s were runners-up. This category has always given me much consternation. It’s like people who claim to like beer, but only drink Bud Light. While these places are fine, there are so many other great places out there to try. How do places like Molinos, Paleteria La Reyna, and numerous hole in the wall restaurants get passed up?
For some reason Mongolian Food is still a category. Does anyone still eat at these places? I also wonder how people of Mongolian decent feel about these stir fry bastardizations of their food culture.
Hog Wild still has a firm grasp on the BBQ category for some reason. I know they have a catchy jingle and several locations in town, but do yourself a favor and try Pig In Pig Out and When Pigs Fly.
Best Burger went to Dempsey’s. While some complain that their burgers are too expensive, I would rather pay an extra couple of dollars to get a delicious, cooked-to-order burger.
Ice cream is another category that irks me. Paleteria La Reyna makes the best ice cream in town. Does Braums have tequila ice cream, because Paleteria sure does. Churn and Burn did make the list, which has some great coffee and ice cream combinations.
It’s clear that there is still some nostalgia for Pizza Hut in this town as they took second in the category. Knolla’s took first and Picassos third. For me Picassos is tops, although Il Vicino is a favorite as well.
It’s a sad day when Texas Roadhouse beats out Chester’s and Scotch and Sirloin for best steak, but that’s what happened.
The Sub/Sandwiches category was dominated by chains. Subway and their now-with-no-yoga-mat-material bread was the winner. This one is a bit baffling to me. There are so many other places to get good sandwiches in town and they all use real bread.
Again I will refrain from too much anger here, but Taco Shop won best taco. If you need me to elaborate more then you have learned nothing from this post.
So there are some of the highlights and low lights of this year’s awards. For full details here is a list of all the winners in each category:
In closing I want to throw out a few categories that could perhaps be added next year:
Best Vietnamese/Best Pho – There are so many Pho and noodle places that need some love
Best French – Georges Bistro needs a category to win
Best Locally Brewed Beer – Let’s see what Wichitans vote as their favorite local brew. Will it be Seal Team 6, Wizard of Hops, Sepia Amber, or Flemish Red?
Best Mexican Restaurant that does not offer an option to bathe everything in liquid cheese – This one might get people to think about some other options