Tag Archives: Wichita KS

Bella Vita- Wichita KS(The Trojan Horse of Fine Dining)

4 Sep

This weekend we decided to give Bella Vita a second chance visit. On our first attempt we drove all the way over to the west side only to find they had locked the doors 3o minutes before their supposed closing time. Well after a few months of trying to push that out of our minds we were up for round two.

Bella Vita is located in an inauspicious strip mall on West  St. just north of Douglas. You could call it the Trojan Horse of fine dining in Wichita. From the outside it looks like you might be walking into some retro supper club where the Saturday night special is meatloaf with brown gravy. Once you get inside though you start to get the vibe that there is something big going down. We showed up with no reservations on a Friday night(the staff told us this was a no no) and luckily were able to get a table after a short wait. Beware: They like to keep the small waiting area rather cold, so make a note to bring a snuggie to prevent frostbite while waiting. The dining room at Bella Vita is small with only about 12-15 tables set up in two rooms.  The decor of the restaurant, while nice, felt a bit dated. Fortunately the food made you forget all about your surroundings, well almost.

After being seated, our waiter rattled off the specials of the day. Although we were considering the calamari as an appetizer, the stuffed eggplant special won us over. It consisted of thinly sliced eggplant that had been stuffed with rice and peas and then fried. It was served with a delightful marinara sauce that complimented the fried eggplant nicely. Most menu items are A La Carte, so we both ordered side house salads before our entrees. The house salad comes with a lovely sweet balsamic dressing and is plated very nicely with strings of carrot and beet adorning the top. There were many tempting entrees, but in the end I decided to try the Osso Buco Veal special, while Steph went with the Cannelloni Crepes. My veal came served with a nice tomato based sauce and pappardelle noodles. The veal was wonderfully tender with the rich flavor that is expected from this meat. Strangely when I offered Steph a bite of baby cow she was a bit put off, but I eventually coaxed her into trying it. Steph loved her savory crepes. They came with a tasty Black Angus meatsauce and were topped with a wonderfully creamy bechamel sauce. We both thought the crepes were as good as those we had in France.

Bella Vita is the real deal when it comes to fine dining in Wichita. The food is top notch and perfectly executed. Although the environment is a bit lacking, they are planning to remodel in the coming months. Our biggest knock on Bella Vita was the noise level. When you combine a small dining area with a boisterous  Friday night crowd, it can get a bit loud. At one point a woman who may have polished off a bottle of wine by herself was dropping F-bombs. Rather entertaining.

Bella Vita – http://www.bvbistro.com/index.htm

Bella Vita Bistro on Urbanspoon

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.


Jet Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Usuluteco (Pupusa King of Wichita)-Wichita KS

25 Jul

Steph and I finally got around to heading to the south side the other day to blog about one of our favorite places in Wichita. Usuluteco is a Salvadoran restaurant located at Hydraulic and Northern, just south of Pawnee. In my opinion, this is one of the best gems of the Wichita dining scene.

Usuluteco is a family run restaurant where the husband works the front, while his wife dominates the kitchen. There is always ample seating at one of the many tables, or if you want to test out your conversational Spanish, there is a counter which the owner is happy to share with customers. As well as having delicious food, Usuluteco also has a nice collection of futbol posters. Every wall is adorned with teams from around the globe. Now I have no idea if there is an English translation of “Usuluteco”, but if I had to guess it would be something along the lines of “we make awesome pupusas”. If you’re wondering what the hell a  pupusa is then I feel sorry because you are missing out on something wonderful . A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran tortilla made from corn flour that is typically filled with cheese, refried beans, and ground pork. The pupusa is flattened into a disk and then cooked on a griddle. It is similar to a mexican quesadilla, but much better. And if you are thinking to yourself, ‘I bet they aren’t as good as the pupusas at Sabor’, well then you are terribly wrong. Besides serving inferior pupusas at Sabor, they also cost about triple the price.

Usuluteco offers a wide range of Salvadoran dishes including fried plantains, tamales, fried pork chunks, and some of the best refried beans in town. Steph and I both ordered two pupusas and some fried plantains. As I have already mentioned the pupusas were great, especially when dipped in the salsa and curtido (Salvadoran cole slaw basically)  that are provided. Our fried plantains were wonderful as well. They had a sweet fried glaze on the outside while inside they were soft and warm. Served with crema and refried beans it is a great dish. While we did not have the fried yuca and pork meal this time around I certainly recommend it as well. The yuca is fried so perfectly that it actually tastes like you are eating a french fry.

This filling meal while delicious was also affordable, costing us only $15. Usuluteco is a great dining adventure and definitely worth the drive to the south part of town. Don’t let the outside of the building or the area scare you off, inside you will find great food and friendly service.

<a href="http://Usuluteco Restaurant on Urbanspoon“>

Kanai-Wichita KS(A Near O.D. on Sushi)

9 Jul

We were looking for a special restaurant for our anniversary recently and had narrowed it down to two West side places. Unfortunately, our first choice must not have any working clocks in their establishment, because they were closed when we arrived 30 minutes before their listed closing time. Luckily we had Kanai as our back-up, a place we have been wanting to check out for a while. Kanai is a newer Japanese and Sushi restaurant located way out there at 119th and Maple. In its short time in Wichita, Kanai has quickly become one of the best places to get sushi and it is easy to see why.

As we walked into the nearly empty restaurant we were promptly greeted by the hostess as well as the Sushi chefs. The restaurant is nicely decorated on the interior with a small bar as well as a sushi bar on one side. The other side has a mix of tables and booths for your sitting pleasure. The only TV in the place was playing a soothing tropical fish DVD. That really set the mood. Our waitress brought out a sample of their Japanese version of chicken salad with fried tofu and sesame oil flavor. It was a nice start to our meal. Their menu covers a lot of bases as far as Japanese and sushi dishes are concerned. The sushi menu is rather expansive and has many unique maki rolls, including one that features a whole lobster tail. We had a difficult time deciding which maki rolls to go with, but soon narrowed it down to 4. We decided to try the crunchy California roll, a snowcrab and avocado roll(Dragon roll), a tempura shrimp and asparagus roll, and the snowball roll which featured asparagus and a crab mixture on top. We also ordered some tempura calamari because we were both pretty hungry.

While we sipped on $8 dollar cocktails our food was prepared by several sushi chefs. The calamari was brought out first in a large bowl. This was not your typical little rings of squid, there were nice thick strips that had been fried in a delicious tempura batter. A scallion sauce was drizzled over the tempura for added flavor. We both enjoyed the dish, but wished the sauce would have been served on the side because some the calamari got a bit soggy. Our sushi came out soon after we had finished the calamari. Two large platters were placed before us with 4 large rolls of unparalleled beauty begging us to devour them. I started off with the snowball roll and was impressed. The crunchiness of the asparagus complemented the creamy crab mixture which was elegantly placed on top of the roll. The tempura shrimp roll was very good as well with fresh asparagus balancing the fried shrimp nicely. Next was the Dragon roll which was excellent and good-sized. It was topped with a delicious sweet sauce with bits of what our server told us was Unagi. Unagi is freshwater eel, but don’t let that turn you off from this roll. With the sauce there is no real discernible flavor from the eel. Just think of it as a mushroom. The final roll was a colossal California roll that had been dipped in tempura batter to make it warm and crunchy. It came out as six huge pieces that required some fine skill to eat with chopsticks. It was wonderful of course. The most impressive part of our dinner was the sushi rice. Sometimes when attempting to dip the piece of sushi into soy sauce and shove in your mouth the piece has a tendency to fall apart. None of these rolls did that, because the rice was perfect. I have read that the real hardcore sushi chefs of Japan study for years to learn the art of making sticky sushi rice and I think the chef at Kanai has done that. His rice was perfection.

While consuming all this delightful food I became increasingly aware that my stomach was reaching capacity. I tried to wiggle into the corner of the booth in an effort to ease the pressure, but there was no denying the power of sushi. It has a way of sneaking up on you “like a thief in the night” so to speak. Thus, stuffed and satisfied Steph and I managed enough power to roll ourselves out of, in my opinion, the best place for sushi in Wichita.

Kanai on Urbanspoon

Paleteria La Reyna – Wichita KS ( The Perfect One-Two Punch)

1 Jul

What happens when you combine great Mexican food with homemade Mexican ice cream and fruit pops all under one roof? You get Paleteria La Reyna of course. I feel rather embarrassed that I had never heard of this magical place till just a few weeks ago. Somehow it had slipped below my radar, but luckily that has been remedied. La Reyna is located at 29th and Arkansas, just south of the intersection. First off let me break down the translation of Paleteria La Reyna, so we are all on the same page. A paleta is “a Latin American ice pop, usually made from fruit.” So a paleteria is a place where these frozen treats are sold. La reyna translates as “the queen”. Put it all together and you have, Latin American ice pop shop of the queen. Sounds pretty damn fantastic doesn’t it? Now after doing some internet research La Reyna, not surprisingly, is known for their frozen treats. With this knowledge I was curious as to how their savory food would fare.

The Amazing Al Pastor Burrito with Chile Verde

On first glance La Reyna checked out. Traditional Mexican restaurant exterior, vibrant decorations and paintings inside, clean and decently sized dining area, Hispanic soap opera on TV, and festive music blaring from speakers. From what I could tell the soap opera was set during the mid 1800s in Old Mexico and revolved around the love life of General Santa Anna. As we walked up to the counter it was hard to focus on the lunch menu due to the large amount of ice pops and ice cream located in the freezers. I managed to pull myself away to order a pork burrito, while Steph ordered beef enchiladas, and my mother went with the chicken tacos. Their food menu is not expansive, but all the popular Mexican dishes are well represented. All the food is picked up at the counter so make sure you have a good line of sight between your table and the counter.

Our food came with an ample serving of chips and salsa, both homemade. The tortilla chips are a bit thicker than most places, which means you can shovel even more delicious salsa into your mouth. The salsa had just the right amount of kick to it with some cilantro to balance it out. Our food came out quickly and I immediately regretted all the chips I polished off because the portion sizes were huge. My burrito was good sized and came with a side of beans and rice. This pork burrito is one of the best I have had in Wichita. It ranks up there with El Paisa’s burrito. Inside this big boy were tender chunks of pork, avocado, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. A lovely chili verde sauce put the finishing touches on the burrito. The beans and rice were fine, but nothing to get excited about. Steph’s enchiladas were finished with chili verde as well and complimented the sweetness of the enchilada sauce nicely. My mom really enjoyed her chicken tacos which came with chunks of white meat chicken, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, and sour cream. Although it was served in a fried shell it would be a lighter selection for those who find Mexican food too heavy.

Although all three of us were stuffed, there was no way we were leaving without trying their frozen delights. La Reyna makes all of their ice cream and paletas in-house and offers a wide variety of flavors. Each of us decided to go with a scoop of ice cream. I sampled tequila, Steph had pecan, and mom went with vanilla. All I have to say is that I have a new favorite ice cream place. The creaminess and distinct flavors are unrivaled by the likes of Cold Stone, Marble Slab, Spangles, and even Baskin Robbins. Their ice cream is also very affordable as three generous scoops only cost around $5.

Even if La Reyna did not serve ice cream I would still rank it as one of my top Mexican restaurants in Wichita. The fact that they also serve awesome frozen treats makes it very hard to compete with. If you are looking for so

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

me relief from this unrelenting heat swing by and check out La Reyna’s frozen treats after feasting on a burrito or two (just don’t go on Wednesday, as they are closed).

UPDATE: We continue to frequent Paleteria and love all of their food and desserts. If you are looking for a break from ice cream, try the raspas, a milk and shaved ice concoction that is awesome, or Steph’s favorite the Strawberries and Cream.

<a href=”http://Paleteria LA Reyna on Urbanspoon“>

The Donut Whole-Wichita KS

30 Jun

If there is one thing Americans love it is donuts. In fact donuts even have their own day on the second of June each year. The great thing about donuts is the variety of flavors you can get them in. And no one knows variety like the Donut Whole on east Douglas. I had the chance to try out the Donut Whole last Friday after attending a riveting performance of “The Ugly Duckling” with my mom and three year old niece.

The Donut Whole is part donut store, part coffeehouse, but also includes a small art gallery and stage. The art changes each month with Final Friday and they have different bands perform on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. This is not your typical donut shop and in turn they do not serve your typical donuts.  According to their website, all of their donuts are made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. I guarantee that Krispy Kreme cannot claim this, in fact their batter is made in North Carolina. The Donut Whole also offers over twenty-five varieties of cake donuts each day. Phil and I have visited the Donut Whole once or twice before but we seem to hit it after a large crowd and several types of donuts are missing. This time though I hit the jackpot.

I was able to try the cherry cordial which is a chocolate donut with a chocolate and cherry icing. It was dang tasty. My niece ordered the Homer J. She is an avid fan of the Simpsons. Actually she probably went after it since it was pink with sprinkles. I was able to steal of a bite of hers (got yelled at for it) and kind of liked it better than mine. The icing had a strawberry taste to it. My mom ordered the Rainbow which had chocolate icing with sprinkles. She enjoyed it immensely. The crowning achievement of this visit however, was the chance we had to finally try one of their famous Maple Bacon donuts. These guys are topped with maple icing and bits of bacon. Phil was quite pleased to find one at home waiting for him. That donut is freaking fantastic people! A little bit of savory with a lot of sweet, and it completely works. The bacon is not overwhelming and the whole thing just feels like Easter morning breakfast as a kid.

I know it maybe difficult to give up the overly sweet and stomach churning Krispy Kreme (not to mention they have several more stores), but let’s not only support a local restaurant but one that only buys local ingredients. This is pretty rare even for chain free. And just a FYI: drive-thru is open 24 hours a day.


<a href="http://The Donut Whole on Urbanspoon“>

And The Wiener Is – Wichita KS (CLOSED)

24 Jun

In honor of Congressman Wiener’s recent troubles we hit up a place that he would have loved to tweet about. And the Wiener Is has had a tumultuous few years on the Wichita restaurant scene. They have changed their name and location several times and currently reside on the northwest corner of Douglas and Grove. The Wiener has a simple concept, serve lots of hot dogs. 47 varieties to be exact, although a few were not available on the day we visited, thus we were left with only 44 some odd dogs to choose from.

The restaurant is trendy and cozy with about 10 tables in the place and some nice wiener inspired art on the walls. All the hot dogs are listed on a wall next to the counter where you place your order. I would recommend taking your time to read through all the offerings to find the perfect dog for your mood that day. Whether you want Italian or Mexican food they can accommodate your cravings. One highlight of the menu is the PB and J dog. Perhaps after a night in Old Town that might be a delicious combination, but not at 3pm on a Wednesday, so I passed that bad boy up. I eventually decided on the Cob Dog which was modeled off of a Cobb salad with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and blue cheese dressing. Steph went with the Tater Dog which contained bits of potato, cheese, green onions, and sour cream. The Wiener offers several sides including chips, mac’n’cheese, fries, and cole slaw as well as throwback RC Cola. I went with the mac’n’cheese and Steph tried the slaw out.

After settling in at our comic book surfaced table our food was quickly delivered to us. The different flavor profiles of my dog  worked well together. It was basically a salad stacked on top of a hot dog and stuffed into a bun. Speaking of buns, The Wiener Is does not use your typically store bought buns. Their buns are light, flaky, and slightly toasted. As for their wieners, they use a nice plump version that has plenty of flavor. My mac’n’cheese was as it should be, cheesy and creamy. Steph’s wiener was masterpiece of flavors and visual appeal. On top of the dog were cubed fried potatoes, cheese, sour cream, and green onions. It was great on so many levels. One word of caution with these hot dogs is do not attempt to eat them with your hands. These guys are large, overstuffed, and messy. Do yourself a favor and grab a knife and fork. It will save you from unnecessary spills, burns, and general embarrassment.

And the Wiener Is does a good job at being a specialty hot dog establishment. Their side dishes are nothing to get excited about, so I would suggest ordering two varieties or doing the double dog. The Wiener is a good option for a late night meal, a quick lunch stop, or any time you are in the mood for an exotic hot dog.

<a href="http://And the Wiener Is... on Urbanspoon“>

Gaslamp Grille and Lounge- Wichita KS (CLOSED)

14 Jun

4/27/12 After months of rumors Gaslamp Grille has closed. A sad end to what was initially a great fine dining restuarant.

NOTE: Much to my dismay, Gaslamp has dramatically changed its menu around and no longer offers some of the more upscale options we mention in the following review.

Words to live by: A special celebration deserves a special restaurant. For Steph’s birthday we decided to splurge a bit and go to one of Wichita’s fine dining establishments. We picked the Gaslamp Grille because it is relatively new and we had not heard much about it. Gaslamp is located in the old Shadow Lounge at Rock and Central. The owners did a considerable amount of remodeling to transform the space into a classy, upscale place. As you walk into the lounge area you are met by a large wrap around bar with a giant fish tank in the middle. The main dining room is spacious and there appeared to be a second level as well as outdoor seating. All in all a big place.

I had glanced at the menu several times online and was rather intrigued with what I saw.  Luckily the menu we were handed was not very far from the online version. Although it was small, it packed a culinary punch that is not seen too often in Wichita. We recently traveled to France and fell in love with the cuisine there. Gaslamp is the best place we have found locally that offers some French influenced dishes. For appetizers they offer escargot, fondue, and pork belly. Main dishes include salmon confit and braised duck breast. We were intrigued by the pork belly with port cherry sorbet and decided to go with it as our appetizer. When it was served there was some alarm on our part because our piece of pork belly was about 1 x1 inch. Rather small for two people. It was delicious though as was the sorbet that accompanied it, if we could have had a bit more pork belly it would have been perfect.  All menu items are served a la carte so we hoped that the portion sizes would better than what we had just had as an appetizer. We were both drawn to the braised duck breast, since both of us had wonderful duck in Paris and have been looking for some local place that serves it. Since Steph was the birthday girl I let her order it and I went with the apple bourbon pork chop(surprise surprise I ordered pork). I took a calculated risk ordering the pork chop because I knew that things could go terribly wrong, but I had faith that the Gaslamp would know how to cook pork.

When our food was served I was delighted to see that it was a pork rib chop, which is the Cadillac of pork chops because it contains a nice 2 inch thick center-cut pork loin as well as a back rib.  I anxiously cut into the chop to find out what we were dealing with and sure enough it was cooked just right. I would say the internal temp was about 145 degrees which is how you should serve a nice cut of pork. The mushroom pan sauce was great with the pork as were the potatoes au gratin. All in all this was one of the best pork chops I have ever had. Steph’s duck breast was delicious as well, although not on the same level as those severed in Paris. The fruit gnocchi and poached pear were a great accompaniment to the duck. We were both pleased to see that our entrees were of decent portion size. For dessert that night they were offering a goat cheese cheesecake, their signature Gran Marnier pot du creme, and mint chocolate dipped bacon. The fact that they offered chocolate bacon made me want to cry sweet, bacony tears of joy. Steph had her heart set on the cheesecake and unfortunately they had just sold out of it so we decided to pass on dessert at the Gaslamp. One last note about the Gaslamp is the fact that they dry age their rib-eye steaks in-house, which is very impressive. You can either order the 28 or 55 day aged steak. Next time I am going to hit that up.

It is safe to say that the Gaslamp has quickly become our favorite fine dining destination in Wichita. They have the perfect combination of unique, masterfully prepared food, ambiance, and top-notch service that one would expect to find at an upscale restaurant. Make no mistake you will pay a premium for your meal, but you will have the opportunity to enjoy food in a way that you have probably never experienced in Wichita.

On a side note, if anyone knows of a place in Wichita to get a good duck breast I would like to know.

<a href=”http://Gaslamp Grille & Lounge on Urbanspoon“>

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen – Wichita KS

4 Jun

In case you missed the biggest news in the Wichita dining scene since Spangles started selling “Wok n Roll Bowls” Tanya Tandoc re-opened her famous restaurant two months ago. Tanya has been a chef in Wichita for quite a while and her restaurant Tanya’s Soup Kitchen was a very popular place until it closed about 7 years ago. I never had a chance to visit the original place, but luckily she decided to give the Soup Kitchen another go and opened it up in April. The new location is at Douglas and Hydraulic right across the street from the Donut Whole(Another delightful place to check out).

As you walk into the Soup Kitchen you are met with a great open floor plan, large windows make up two sides of the restaurant, and a trendy design scheme. The whole space feels very warm and welcoming. The most unique design characteristic is the front counter whose facade is made up of vintage weathered doors and their knobs. The menu is very similar to the old place with a few salads, soup of course, several sandwiches, and a couple of desserts. The soup menu changes daily with 3 or 4 varieties offered. The restaurant was rather crowded when we visited a few days ago, which did not surprise me due to its popularity. The staff is very efficient and friendly though so we only had to wait a few minutes in line to order. I decided to try the “Junie” sandwich which is Tanya’s take on the Cuban sandwich. When you have roasted pork and ham on the same sandwich typically you can’t go wrong. For my side I went with the chicken curry soup with chutney. Steph tried the chicken salad sandwich with a side of tomato dill soup. We had heard through the grapevine that Tanya’s bread pudding was wonderful so we also ordered a piece of that.  Despite the crowd we only waited maybe 10 minutes for our lunch. As expected it was all delightful. The best part of my sandwich was the pepper and pickle infused mustard that was spread over the ham and roast pork. My soup was excellent. The curry gave it a good kick and the chutney provided the right amount of sweetness. Had it been about 50 degree cooler outside I could have probably eaten a giant bowl of this stuff. Steph’s chicken salad sandwich was equally impressive. The cherries and rye bread really set it apart from your typical chicken salad. The tomato dill soup was great as well. If you are a fan of tomato soup go try Tanya’s then sample Panera’s. Chances are you will never want to eat at Panera again. The crowning achievement of the Soup Kitchen was the bread pudding. After finishing  our sandwiches we were told the bread pudding would be just a few minutes because they were making a new batch of whipped cream. You can’t complain about having to wait for dessert when they are making homemade whipped cream! The pudding came out warm, with a nice cinnamon syrup and huge dallop of whipped cream on top. There is really nothing more to say than, “perfection”.

Tanya’s was everything we had hoped it would be and much more. Great food combined with a great atmosphere and waitstaff equals a memorable dining experience. Tanya has recently added some wine and beer options to the menu and has plans to offer live music on the patio this summer.  More reasons for you to check out this wonderful eatery gem right here in Wichita.

<a href="http://Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon“>

Harry’s Uptown Bar and Grill-Wichita KS

6 May

Everybody has a place that they have driven by for years and never bothered to try out. Harry’s Uptown Bar and Grill is one of those places for me and I finally got around to checking it out the other day. This place has been around for as long as I can remember, which isn’t saying a whole lot given my age, but in this day and age of fly-by-night restaurants 20 plus years is a good run.

For those of you who have never driven down east Douglas, Harry’s is located just west of Hillside right next to another Wichita institution, Margarita’s Cantina. From the outside this place looks like it could be a sketchy bar that serves 3.2 beer out of mason jars with a plat de jour that consists of a new batch of pickled eggs. But looks are deceiving my friends. One step inside Harry’s and you are met with a decor that can only be described as everything that TGI McSuckeys tries to be. There are old time bicycles juxtaposed on exposed rafter beams and quaint Tiffanyesque light fixtures adorning  each green linoleum table. It is clean and respectable,  a place where one could take the family after Sunday services, if you didn’t mind stepping over a few regulars who couldn’t quite come to grips with reality on a late Saturday eve. I was expecting some dimly lit abyss and instead was met with flashbacks of Bennigans (Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, we all loved that place).

Anyway once my strange and terrible deja vu moment passed, it was on to the important thing, food. Through my intelligence gathering I had learned that people liked their burgers, so that is what my mom and I went with. Scanning the burger section my eyes focused on a meat disc that offered a slice of Canadian bacon as accompaniment. Why yes, I think that pairing will suit my fancy. My mom went with the classic mushroom and swiss.  All their burgers are advertised as being made from a 1/2 pound of Angus beef, which is fine, but I would be surprised if anyone could tell the difference between ground Angus beef and any other cattle breed.

Overall I would say my burger was decent, but nothing to get really excited about. The Canadian bacon was a nice touch and as advertised it was a thick piece of meat.  I did have a sneaking suspicion that it was a preformed patty though, it was too perfectly round. Preformed patties make me sad. How hard is it to order basic ground hamburger from your supplier and form it into meat discs yourself? It tastes so much better if you yourself take a 1/2 pound of certified Angus beef and mold it into something ever so delicious. My “famous steak fries” were also a bit lacking. They could have used seasoning of some sort. My mom seemed to enjoy her mushroom and swiss burger, although she would have liked it cooked a bit more medium. In this day and age it’s asking a lot for someone to serve you a medium hamburger though. Although contrary to what servers will tell you the Kansas Health Code does allow patrons to be served undercooked meats as long as they assume the risks involved.

Harry’s Uptown offers slightly above average bar hamburgers that are reasonably priced. For $6.50 my meal was more than enough to fill me up. I would imagine that their sandwiches are also decent, but nothing to get overly excited about. Still Harry’s has withstood the test of time, in large part due to a strong crew of regulars I assume. So go check out this bastion of Americana, the noble neighborhood bar, and get the feel of an authentic bar and grill.

Harry's Uptown Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


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