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Wichita Restaurant Week: A Special Preview

17 Jun

This Friday kicks off the first ever Wichita Restaurant Week. From June 21-30th diners will have the chance to experience special prix fixe meals at several local restaurants and help out a good cause while doing so.

The concept of a restaurant week began in NYC in the early 90s as way for restaurants to attract customers by offering them discounted  multi-course meals. Since then it has caught on in cities throughout the country and now it’s Wichita’s turn.

So here’s how it works:  There are 21 local restaurants participating in the event and each has a special menu they are offering for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfasts are $7, lunches are $15, and dinners are $30. All you have to do is walk into a participating restaurant and ask for the restaurant week special. You can find all the delicious menus right here:

Here are some that have caught my eye:

The dinner at AVI looks excellent because you can’t really go wrong with two bone-in pork chops.

Avio Pizzeria is offering a $30 three course dinner for two.

Cocao Dolce has a Dessert Before Dinner” special of chocolate and wine.

Doo-Dah Diner is serving their staple, banana bread french toast.

Harvest Kitchen has a sweet potato casserole ice cream, which sounds strange, but I see where they are going with it.

Public is bringing it with a steak roulade stuffed with salami.
Besides enjoying all this great food at some of Wichita’s best restaurants, you will also be helping out the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas because they will receive 10% of each meal purchase.

Ceviche: The Perfect Appetizer for a Hot Day

Ceviche: The Perfect Appetizer for a Hot Day

Last week I had the pleasure of getting a special preview lunch courtesy of Go Wichita and Mike’s Wine Dive. Mike’s is offering their shrimp and scallops ceviche for an appetizer and carne asada tacos for the entree . The ceviche was a tasty summertime appetizer with fresh bits of shrimp and scallops marinated in lime juice. Sliced avocado and plenty of tortillas chips made this a filling first course. The carne asada tacos entree was served in the traditional style with corn

A Generous Carne Asada Plate

A Generous Carne Asada Plate

tortillas, cilantro, and some veggie garnishes. The meat was well seasoned, lean, and tender. A small cup of black beans and some Mexican style rice came with the meal as well. The rice contained some peppers, which added a good kick to the dish. As you can see from the pictures this was a sizable amount of food for lunch and I certainly felt satisfied upon completion.

I hope that this article has enticed you get out there next week and enjoy some excellent food for a good cause. With your support this could be the first of many exciting restaurant weeks.

Chainfree Review Contest

5 Jun


After some deliberation we were won over at the promise of trying some Greek food. Thank you Karen for your recommendation! Look for a upcoming blog about our experience.

Thanks to everyone who entered our little contest and thanks to Westlake Ace for the gift card


It’s time for our first reader’s choice review contest. Not that we have run out of places to blog about, but I thought it would be fun to get some input from our loyal readers. We will be accepting suggestions for our next restaurant to review from now till Saturday. The winner will be picked subjectively based on how persuasive the argument is for their restaurant choice. The winner gets a $25 gift card courtesy of Westlake Ace Hardware.

Please post your entries in the comment section of this post.

I also wanted to let everyone know that the first ever Wichita Restaurant week is June 21st-30th. This is a very exciting event with some of the proceeds going the Boys and Girls Club.

For more information check out their site:

2011 Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice Awards Recap

27 Sep

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.

Happy Belated Birthday to Chainfree

6 Aug

Last week marked this blog’s one year anniversary. Over the past year we have reviewed about 70 locally owned restaurants, seen our readership and blog hits jump significantly, gotten some love from Denise Neal and Tanya Tandoc, and probably made some people wonder what kind of recreational drugs I take.

I think we have done a good job evangelizing the great local food options that Wichita has to offer and I hope that our popularity will continue to grow. There are still plenty of local places for us review so we will continue to press on in our second year.

Many thanks to all of our followers for their readership and comments!

2011 Reader’s Choice Voting Begins! (For the Love of God Don’t Let Taco Bell Win Again)

29 Jul

Well that magical time of the year is once again upon us. Yes, it is time for the annual Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice voting to begin. The purpose of this voting is for Wichitans to award their favorite business, museums, shops, and most importantly of all restaurants. Last year after seeing the results of the awards I wrote a now infamous retort decrying some of the egregious winners of the dining categories. When Taco Bell wins the “best taco” category you know things are bad. My hope this year is for more local places to get the love that they deserve. So now comes my plea to the readers of this blog: Support your locally owned escapes from the doldrums of chain restaurants and VOTE LOCAL!

It’s very easy to vote for your favorite places, just click on the link below, sign up and make sure you fill out at least 30 categories. Remember you can vote once a day starting today and ending on August 8th.

Updated Look

2 Jul

We spent part of our Fourth of July weekend updating the look of our blog. We wanted to go with something more sleek and professional looking. So do not worry, this is the one and same blog you have been reading but with a makeover. Hope you enjoy the new look. We would love any feedback that anyone has for us.

We also spent this morning that the Old Town Farm and Art Market. Expect a blog sometime next week about it.

Happy Fourth of July!

Loaf Off (supporting Make a Wish Foundation)

25 Feb

This coming up Saturday, February 26th, the Anchor will be playing host to a Loaf Off. It is a meatloaf competition from 11-1 that supports the Make a Wish Foundation. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children (5-12). So there are two reasons I am putting this on the blog. Number one is that events involving food and supporting charity are absolutely awesome. We are huge supporters of them when we can be. Second, Phil has entered the competition and will be making his delectable meatloaf. He has named it “The Smoked Trinity.” So we hope to see everyone on Saturday. Both of us will be at the chainfree table serving meatloaf and having fun raising money for an amazing cause.

A Commentary on the Reader’s Choice Awards

7 Oct

Note: If you are here looking for a restaurant review I’m sorry, but I am taking the time to write a response to the Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice Awards.

Recently the Reader’s Choice winners were announced in the Wichita Eagle. The online and write-in voting  by Wichitans took place in July and covered categories from best buffet to best video store. Looking back I wish I would have taken the time to stuff the ballot box a bit. I will focus on some of the food “winners” in this post.

First off is the Best Beer Selection category:  The winner was Old Chicago, which does have a large beer selection. The Anchor did come in second, which made me happy. I think after the remodel at the Anchor they will have quite a few more beers on tap to better compete with Old Chicago, although the Anchor has quite a few bottled beers and a nice selection of regional brew choices already. Granite City came in third, which is interesting because they only have a few different beers to choose from. I guess people must be really impressed with their shiny brewery.

Best Breakfast: The winner was Jimmy’s Egg, maybe because there are about 26 of them in Wichita right now. In my opinion this place is nothing special. The Beacon, The Anchor or Good Egg is much better.  In second place was IHOP, which is just ridiculous. At least Copper Oven got some love in third place.

Best Chinese: The winner was Buffet City. WTF? I have never been to Buffet City, but I can only imagine with “over 200 selections daily” that quality must be sacrificed. Maybe someday when every other Chinese place in town closes I’ll go check it out. Great Wall came in second and PF Changs third.

Best Italian: The winner was Olive Garden. Now I know that Wichita is short on Italian places, but DeFazios and Sweet Basil are much better than this weak place. Now they may not offer never ending bowls of whatever, but at least they have good quality food.

Locally Owned: The winner was Freddy’s. I guess people really love those paper thin hamburgers and their noble attempts to make great custard. This is a dumb category in my opinion, because of how wide open and ambiguous it is.

Best Mexican: Felipes was the winner of this category. I was glad to see that a good restaurant beat out Abuelo’s and Carlos O’Kellys. There are quite a few others I would stack up against Felipes, but I’ll take this small victory for a local place.

Best Mongolian: Genghis Grill won this dubious honor. I really hate this stupid fad of  “Mongolian Grills”. These places are always packed with people chowing down on cut-rate stir fry. Shockingly enough according to Wikipedia the actual Mongolian cuisine has nothing to do with all you can eat shrimp and chicken teriyaki stir fry. They eat alot of goat which I have never seen offered at one of these grills, but maybe a return to the roots of Monglian fare is coming at Genghis Grill. Anyway, don’t go to one these places and if you do don’t tell me about it. You are better off staying at home and make your own stir fry.

Best Thai: The winner is Thai Tradition! Finally a category untouched by chains! Amazing. It probably helps that I cannot think of any Thai food chain places. Thank God atleast one cuisine has been left alone for now. Thai Tradition is a great place located in Carriage Parkway near Central and Edgemoor. Thai House, which is also a great, came in second.

Best Bakery: The winner is Panera, which angers me to no end. When you walk into a bakery you want to see people covered in flour and smell the intoxicating aroma of warm bread. When you walk into Panera you experience none of this. Instead you get a gas fireplace and free WiFi. Panera is not a real bakery people. Now if you would like to go to a real bakery go to Great Harvest. They have two locations on each side of town and although it is a franchise it is locally owned by a good family. I cannot express how great all of their baked goods are. There is also the Delano Bakery and Juarez Bakery in Wichita.

Best BBQ: The winner is Hog Wild. Oooo yum. The last time I went to Hog Wild my poor spare ribs tasted like they had been left in the smoker for a few days. Their brisket and pulled pork are nothing to get excited about, but once again they have many locations and have a catchy jingle on the radio. So I see a connection here, if you have alo t of locations and advertising you automatically have good food. Funny how that works. Well if you want the best BBQ in Wichita go to Pig In! Pig Out!. Their brisket and ribs are awesome. They are also the only BBQ place that routinely competes in local competitions. Atleast Famous Dave’s was not on this list. They are not a BBQ place!

Best Burger: The winner is Feddy’s. I personally like a bit more meat to my burger, but I won’t complain too much because their burgers are alright. I will complain about the fact that Spangles came in second. REALLY? Their burgers taste like styrofoam dipped in beef broth. The Stevens family must have all voted 50 times or something.

French Fries: Once again Freddy’s won. Gee it must be the only place to get a burger and fries in this town. Freddy’s fries are good, but I don’t like the shoestring type. Too hard to dip into ketchup if you ask me. Here is a list of  places you can get better fries: Barn’rds, Scotch and Sirloin, and The Anchor.

Best Subs and Sandwiches: The winner is Subway. Of course! How can they not win? Their frozen bread dough is so good. This is just terrible. You can go to any other Subway in the world and get the same damn thing. Just go to Cinnamon’s Deli or Cafe Moderne to get a good, unique sandwich.

Best Pizza: The winner is Knolla’s. Hooray for another local favorite. Their deep dish pizza is mighty good and gives AJ’s a run for its money.

Best Steak: Texas Road House. I have never been to this place, but I doubt they dry age their beef, which is the key to perfectly tender steak. I don’t even know if they serve USDA Prime steak. Sadly there are not a lot of great steak choices in Wichita. Scotch and Sirloin (which came in second) has a good, yet pricey steak. The same can be said for The Hereford House out in Andover. Chester’s is really overpriced for what you get. So you are left with few options.

Best Taco: I have saved the best for last my friends. I would recommend you sit down before reading the following. Taco Bell is the winner for best taco in Wichita. I don’t really know where to start on this one. I guess Wichitans really like taco meat made from old sick cows that has been crumbled down to micro sized bits of crap. Or maybe it’s those delightful hard taco shells that have been aged to perfection in someone’s Y2K fallout shelter that people go for. I don’t know, but this the last place on earth I would want to go for tacos. Wichita has a great selection of local Mexican places that cannot even be compared to Taco Bell.

So what does all of the preceding mean you ask? Well it means that whoever voted in this stupid poll knows as much about good food as France knows about winning wars, but hopefully we can change that( The food part that is, France is hopeless).  There is much work to do to turn the tide in favor of the local places, but next year I will launch a large,  rather unscrupulous, and determined campaign to set the record straight. Whilst pondering this list of “winners” I find comfort in the wisdom of my grandfather: “Remember, the masses are asses”.

Taste of Wichita

20 Aug

It is no secret that we love food. We would think that is obvious since we have a blog all about it. Every now and then we are given the chance to eat food to help support charity. One of my favorites is when Dairy Queen has their blizzard day to support the Children’s Miracle Network. When these opportunities arise, we tend to jump at the chance since we can now justify having some terribly high calorie, bad-for-you-yet-oh-so-tasty food. Today’s event: Taste of Wichita. Taste of Wichita was in support of the Lord’s Diner and the Kansas Food Bank’s Backpacks for Kids program. For those of you unaware of the backpacks-they are bags of food given to low income children on Fridays at school so the children can have food for the weekend. So away into the blistering heat we went.

We had an unlimited amount of food we could eat and 5 tickets for alcohol. The restaurants we sampled were: NuWay, Stroud’s, Hanger One Steakhouse, Carraba’s, Dolci and Joe’s, Monica’s Bundt Cake, the Linkhaus, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, and some other places. It was a fun event and we had plenty to eat but it was just so hot out. Someone also needs to tell Freddy’s about the invention of dry ice. They were having issues making ice cream cones with melted custard. We also spotted a couple of women who had obviously mistaken the event for a renaissance festival and came wearing their finest corset tops.

What was great about the event was that we discovered some new places to add to our list and were reminded of some oldies but goodies that we had forgotten about. We have decided to add Dolci and Joes and Linkhaus to our list. And NuWay made us remember why we love it and then laugh that we never go there even though we live half a mile down the road. They were serving some of their burgers and root beer! I could have just stayed at that booth.

We were a bit disappointed that several restaurants said they were going to be there and either weren’t or were only VIP. Sorry but $50 per person is a bit steep to get in the air conditioning. We understand it was for charity but we really wanted some Cocoa Dulce!

One thing we did learn is that we will not be in a  hurry to eat at Hanger One Steakhouse on west Kellogg. If the “steak” they were serving at the event was in any way representative of what they typically serve I question why in the world they are still in business. They claim that they dry age their beef, but this junk tasted like they were serving the manager’s special select grade flank steaks at Dillons. YUMMY. Ok now that is out of my system, let me take this time to talk to you about Linkhaus. I have heard mixed reviews of this place and we will get over there some day to pass judgement, but what I sampled today was great. They had a Chicago style dog that was very tasty, but the wiener winner was the Kimchi dog. Yeah, not gonna lie,  it was strangely delicious. Kimchi is a fermented mixture of veggies that is sweet and spicy and plain magical when you add a hot dog.

One other note is that we had some delicious beers from Tallgrass Brewing, located in the Little Apple(Manhattan,KS). If you have never tried this beer or any other regional brew, shame on you! You can’t go through life buying Bud Light every weekend, mercy.

We hope that the Taste of Wichita returns next year, but it will need an organizational overhaul and perhaps adding a few more vendors wouldn’t hurt either.

First Post

9 Jul

Hello Everyone!

This blog is being started to help all those interested in discovering the rich diversity and deliciousness of local Wichita restaurants. It is our humble opinion that there are too many chain restaurants that serve the same old food in our fine city. It seems that these places are always packed with people on the weekends, while great local places go unnoticed by the general public. Chain restaurants do have their place, but we hope that through our blog we can encourage others to take a leap of faith and go to that local joint they pass everyday on their way to work.  Chances are they will not be disappointed. 

Based on a Wichita Eagle article from several months ago we have a list of small local restaurants that we are determined to eat our way through. Our goal is to try to make it to a new restaurant every couple of weeks. Once this list is completed we will search out additional places to sample. Suggestions are always welcome!


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