Tag Archives: best burgers in wichita

Dempsey’s Burger Pub

28 Dec

Dempsey’s Burger Pub is Wichita’s newest addition to the upscale hamburger restaurant category. For those familiar with Lawrence, Dempsey’s is an offshoot of the popular restaurant of the same name there. The Wichita location is part of the compact Clifton Square shopping center, which means parking can be tricky during peak hours.

Like most of the buildings in Clifton Square, Dempsey’s is small, but does offer two levels of dining. The open kitchen is located on the top level with a few tables, while the bar is downstairs with additional seating.

Mushroom Swiss Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

Mushroom Swiss Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

The menu features all things burgers and not just ones made out of beef. Besides offering mushroom swiss, fried egg, or pepper hamburgers, there is salmon, portabella mushroom, and even a quinoa patty that sounded like it wouldn’t be too bad. No upscale burger joint would be complete without the mandatory Kobe beef burger of which Dempsey’s has two. In my opinion “Kobe beef” is just a reason to add another dollar or two to the price. It’s not real Kobe beef from Japan and probably just comes from US raised Wagyu cattle, so there is really not going to be a huge taste difference especially in ground form. French fries are sold separately from the burgers and come with your choice of several different house made dipping sauces. Since nothing goes better with a hamburger than a cold beer, Dempsey’s offers a very good selection of craft beers both on tap and in bottles.

We visited during a fairly busy lunch time crowd, but were promptly seated. Unfortunately we were forgotten for  about ten minutes before a waitress came over to take our order. There seemed to be quite a bit of chaos amongst the servers and staff. I noticed several orders that were sent back to the kitchen. We had plenty of time to decide on what we wanted to eat and drink. I went with the mushroom swiss, while my mom had the bleu burger. We also got a side order of sweet potato fries. As for beer, I went with Warbeard Red, a local offering from Walnut River that is not available at many places in town.

So Many Sauces

So Many Sauces

Both of our burgers were ordered medium rare, which I typically am not afraid to do at a nicer place because of the hopefully better quality of meat and the fact that usually burgers are overcooked anyway. I was very pleased to see our large meat disks were cooked to perfection, with a nice pink center. The mushroom swiss burger came with generous amounts of cheese, bacon, and mushrooms piled onto a thick, half pound patty. The only complaint is that the beef was just a touch under-seasoned, but that did not keep this from being a very good burger.

Evidence of a Properly Cooked Burger

Evidence of a Properly Cooked Burger

The bleu burger was solid as well. It came with plenty of melted bleu cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions. At $8.50 and $9 dollars these burgers are on the high end, especially not coming with any side, but they are large and will easily satisfy most appetites. The sweet potatoes fries were a good effort, but nothing exceptional. As for the various dipping sauces, my favorites were the chili powder based ketchup, and the truffle cream. Our waitress was very apologetic about our wait and ended up comping our beers, thus redeeming the customer service experience somewhat.

We tried Dempsey’s just two weeks after they had opened, so I understand the rough service to some extent. Hopefully they will get their issues figured out, because if there is one thing Wichitans will not tolerate it’s poor service. Dempsey’s serves up very good burgers and should be given a try by all those discerning burgerphiles out there.

Dempsey's Burger Pub on Urbanspoon

YOLO Grill

8 Aug

There are many restaurants in town to get a burger and fries, so in order to be successful,  an establishment has to set itself apart from the others. Keeping the menu simple and not cutting many corners are two easy ways to accomplish this in my opinion. YOLO (You Only Live Once) Grill is just a simple restaurant making simple food, but they know how to do it right.

YOLO is located on West St. just north of Central in an old Sonic building. It’s conveniently painted a lovely shade of fluorescent green just in case you are having trouble finding it. There isn’t much seating inside the small eatery, so be prepared to wait for a seat during the peak lunchtime hour. The menu is pretty straightforward, but does offer some variety. The backbone of the food offerings are their hamburgers and they have several to choose from.

The YOLO burger with Fried Egg

The YOLO burger with Fried Egg

You can have your simple bacon and cheese or up the ante with a fried egg, pulled pork, hot links, or avocado. There are also fish and chips, a BLT, chicken strips, a lighter grilled chicken wrap, and a reuben sandwich. Sides include delicious fried treats such as fries, O-rings, okra, and pickles. For those preparing for an eating contest or just looking for a challenge, they offer “The Tombstone”, a six patty monster burger.

Luckily we visited YOLO on a Saturday, when the reuben is offered, so I went with it. My sister opted for a cheeseburger with a fried egg, and my son got a grilled hot dog although he was eyeing the basket of suckers on the counter intently.

As an aficionado of Reuben sandwiches, I was eager to sample YOLO’s offering as they make their own corned beef. I am rather familiar with corning beef and was impressed that a restaurant is willing to take the extra time to do this.

Reuben Perfection

Reuben Perfection

Piled high with thick cut corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and dressing it tasted like everything you could hope for in a reuben. The tender, flavorful corned beef and indulgent amounts of melted swiss made this one of the best reubens I have ever had.  My only complaint was that the bread wasn’t the traditional rye, but I am willing to overlook this. The basic thick cut fries that came with my meal were perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

The single patty hamburger was a solid effort, that was highlighted by the gently charred crust of the meat disk. YOLO uses an open flame grill for cooking so they can impart that flavor onto the meat as well as keep the grease in check. The burger was a touch overdone, but nothing to really complain about. The fried egg added a little flair to the basic burger.

My son seemed to enjoy his ketchup laden hot dog and fries. When ordering a hot dog you have the option of having it grilled or fried, while we went with the grilled version, I can imagine you can’t go wrong with a deep fried hot dog.

I was happy to see the pride that goes into the food at YOLO. While the menu offerings are nothing new to Wichita, if you like American comfort food done right this is a great place to check out.


Yolo Grill on Urbanspoon

Bill’s Charcoal Grill

26 Mar

In theory the hamburger is simple, a disk of meat, a few condiments, some toppings, and a bread based cover are all that is necessary. Yet I am always surprised how restaurants find ways to screw up this pure Americana dish. The most egregious error is when restaurants opt for frozen pre-made patties and then proceed to cook the hell out of them. A burger patty should be handled with care and not require a pick axe to remove it from a frozen stack. If the aforementioned burger atrocity strikes a chord with you as well, then you will find a safe haven at Bill’s Charcoal Grill.

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

Located on the corner of 29th and Arkansas, this simple eatery knows how to make a reasonable hamburger. The new owners of Bill’s spruced up the interior and made a few minor changes, but the original concept has remained the same. Besides the typical burger options, a few pasta, seafood, and steak dishes are offered now. Side dishes include fries, sweet potato fries, O-rings, and baked beans. A condiment/topping bar is located next to the counter, so you can add all the veggies you desire. The food is reasonably priced with the basic burger and side costing around $5.

On our visit Steph tried the basic cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and I went with the exotic California burger and a side of O-rings. I was pleased and somewhat apprehensive when we were asked how we wanted the burgers cooked. Too many times I have been deceived by restaurants promising to cook burgers to order, only to discover that everything comes out well done. I know in this age of ecoli, you must be very careful when dealing with ground meat, but with proper handling and quality meat, cooking a hamburger to medium doneness is safe and acceptable.

The California in All Its Glory

The California in All Its Glory

I was quite impressed with the California burger. With the first bite I noticed that several of the qualifications for an acceptable hamburger were met; a toasted bun, plenty of melted cheese, and a juicy meat disk. Besides cheese the California comes with bacon, avocado, and a split hot link for good measure. While the hotlink was good, it provided almost too much decadence as well as grease. Next time I will order the Cali sans link. Steph’s cheeseburger  was just about all you can hope for in a basic burger. I was impressed that both of our burgers were cooked just as requested. Both the fries and onion rings were just average. The fries could have used some seasoning and the onion rings seemed like they were of the frozen variety.

Bill’s Charcoal Grill should definitely be in the discussion when the topic of best burgers in Wichita comes up. Their fresh, cooked to order patties help set them apart from many other contenders. If you happen to save room for dessert head next door to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Paleteria La Reyna for some delicious homemade ice cream.

Bill's Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

Jack’s Coffee Shop(Proudly Taking the Dive Restaurant Concept to Eleven)

5 Apr

Way down on south Hydraulic and 61st street sits a rather suspect looking structure that lacks any visible sign of being a dining establishment save for a  neon “Open” sign and a small banner on the west side of the house bearing the name Jack’s Coffee Shop. For those in know this happens to be a “restaurant”(I use this term quite loosely)  that serves gigantic burgers from 11am to 2 pm Monday through Saturday.

Don't Worry It's Safe To Go Inside

Don’t Worry It’s Safe To Go Inside

Everything about this place is a well calculated assault on your general expectations of what a restaurant should be. First of all, the name really has no bearing as to what goes on inside, as I saw no evidence of Jack nor anything resembling coffee on my visit. Most coffee shops have Wi-Fi and pastries, this one had an old bed frame and exposed electrical outlets. Jack’s has certainly taken the minimalist approach to interior design, which is evidenced by the concrete floor, mismatched furniture, unfinished plywood counter, non-existent light bulbs, and lack of paint. The exposed kitchen

Communal Bowl of Chips

Communal Bowl of Chips

concept leaves nothing to the imagination as everything from the generic hamburger buns to the small flat top grill is in plain sight. And in one corner sits an old bed frame and dresser. While waiting for our food, my party hypothesized as to the reasoning for having such furniture in an eating establishment. Possible explanations include: Covering up a hole in the wall, a prize for the 10,000th customer, or perhaps some type of tax loophole for a multi-purpose room. Anyway, this place is a dive and a damn good one at that. In fact it is probably the diviest dive I have had the pleasure to visit.

Our order was called in about 30 minutes prior to arrival, which is highly recommended as the large meat disks take some time to cook and the grill can only handle a few patties at a time. Don’t worry about forgetting the menu, your choices are hamburger or cheeseburger.  Upon taking a seat, a plastic bowl of communal potato chips were brought out to the table. A plastic tub of pickles and another with pickled jalapenos and carrots were also

Paper Plate Perfection

Paper Plate Perfection

made available to us. I have to say that the  jalapeno and carrot combination was unexpected, but they proved to be tasty. When our burgers came out, I quickly understood why this place remains open. Before me was one massive cheeseburger and a bun that was woefully undersized to handle such ground beef girth. Our burgers also came with a paper plateful of grilled onions that were shared between the three of us. The only other fixings were generic bottles of ketchup and mustard. Armed only with a plastic fork, my strategy for consuming this burger was to attack the exposed flanks of meat first to get things more manageable before moving onto the bun covered section. Overall the burger was okay. It was

Tubs of Condiments

Tubs of Condiments

slightly overcooked and I don’t believe any seasoning was used on the patty. The two cheese slices and excellent grilled onions helped  balance out the meat. For the price this meal is hard to beat. You get copious amounts of chips, a 3/4 pound burger, and a drink all for $6.50. The pop selection varies from day to day, so be prepared to be flexible in case they are out of Pepsi Max.

For those who like to live out on the edge of the dining scene Jack’s is a place to check out. A lunch here is one of the most unique experiences in town. At this point I probably don’t need to mention it,  but they only accept cash.

Jack's Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Bionic Burger (Home of Six Million Dollar and Calorie Burger)

15 Nov

Bionic Burger is right up there with Nu-Way when you talk about iconic burger places in Wichita. They have been in operation for over 30 years and currently have four locations in the area. Luckily for us, the newest location on East 21st near Woodlawn is rather convenient when we are in the mood for a fast and tasty meat disk.

The menus at all four Bionic locations are essentially the same and quite expansive for “just a burger place”. They offer several different burgers, plus a who’s who of classic comfort foods including: a pork sandwich, hot dogs, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, chili, o-rings, etc. Shakes and malts are also available in case you have any room for dessert.

The Epic Burger Combo

The Six Million Calorie Double in All Its Glory

On this visit I was feeling bold and decided to go with the Six Million Dollar Burger along with some of their fresh cut fries. I was under the impression I would be getting a half pound cheese burger with some veggies, instead I unwrapped a monster. Apparently when my sister had placed the order at the drive thru, she had ordered a double, leaving me with the most intimidating 1lb burger I had ever laid eyes on.

The first order of business was to bisect this mass into edible pieces. Once that was accomplished I was able to enjoy this pretty solid burger. The patty, while a bit thin for my liking, was properly seasoned and surprisingly juicy. Plenty of gooey cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes were icing on this protein based cake. Sadly the bun was not quite up to the challenge of supporting all of this deliciousness. After a few bites, it quickly deflated and broke into pieces, no doubt the victim of too much grease and the basic principles of physics. I pride myself in being able to finish just about anything I order at a restaurant, but it was not happening on this day. I doubt whether the bionic man himself would have been able to finish off this bad boy.  Did I mention the burger came with a far too generous serving of delicious fries? These thick-cut, crispy fries were top notch.

For a quick burger you can’t go wrong with Bionic Burger. Their large portions and tasty food is tough competition for any fast food joint in town.


Bionic Burger - East on Urbanspoon

Oasis Lounge- Wichita KS

29 Sep

Sometimes you just get the craving for a greasy burger and fries. That craving led us to the somewhat divey Oasis Lounge recently. The Oasis has been around for quite a while, located on Maple just west of West St. Anyone in the know will tell you that Oasis is known for their burgers. In fact, according to several internet posts the Oasis was named one of the top 10 burger places in the US by USA Today in 1989. So for all of you USA Today back issue aficionados, get into your attic and start digging for the 1989 box. The big question is does the burger still hold up after 20+ years?

I enjoy doing my homework before trying out a new place. My reconnaissance usually consists of trolling various restaurant websites like yelp.com and tripadvisor. After gathering my intel I was prepared for a grimy, dimly lit dive bar with a clientele ready to pounce on unsuspecting outsiders.  To compensate for the presumed atmosphere we strode confidently into the Oasis , making sure not to make much eye contact with the barmaids, lest they discover our charade. Quickly enough I realized that we had nothing to fear. The front door was wide open allowing warm sunlight into this shrine of ground beefiness. And they even had flat screen TVs (Although I believe they were the first model of flat screen ever made by Vizio)! The bar itself is fairly large with several pool tables and the token Keno game in the corner. The crowd seemed rather tame, despite the regular pounding back rum and cokes at 1pm on a Saturday that kept giving me a rather unsober eye.

Their menu contained no surprises, just your typical bar food, except for the fried cauliflower. All three of us decided on what every freedom loving carnivore would, the cheeseburger and fries. Much to my surprise the Oasis even had seasonal beers on tap. Yes you couldn’t get PBR on tap, but Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest was available. I think something like that automatically gets your dive bar status revoked. After a few minutes of building anticipation our meat disks were served to us. I was immediately impressed with the girth of my burger remarking, “There is a good inch and a half [of meat] between the buns”. Although the bun was not the best, the thick patty and melted cheese made up for its short comings. While it is not the best burger I have had, it certainly is a good option for the price. For $6 dollars you got a 1/3 lb burger and fries, which is a solid value in this day and age. Speaking of fries, they were a disappointment. Although hand cut and thick, they were undercooked and lacked much crispness. I’m hoping it was just an off batch, because it really doesn’t take much to make a good fry.

So as it turns out the Oasis is not a sketchy place, in fact its a decent little hang out that happens to serve good burgers.  When I go back I will probably skip the fries and maybe substitute another of their fried creations, hoping they turn out better. The next time you get a craving for a good greasy burger why not take a break from Freddy’s and Five Guys  and try the Oasis.

Oasis Lounge on Urbanspoon


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