Tuesday, January 20. 2009
My niece Rachel Hull put out a RFC for input to a post she intends to
do for our favorite food blog,
Porkalicious, on choice
spots to eat in Wichita. She lists her own as: Artichoke [pub food],
Jack's [a burger stand across the street from North High], Saigon
[Vietnamese], Beacon [don't know], Connie's [Mexican], N&J's
[Lebanese], and "the Mexican popsicle guy." She lives in DC, so her
list is a bit dated -- Jack's burned down a year ago, but may come
back under new management -- and (shall we say?) nostalgic. She
welcomes info on bakeries and shops, and suggests avoiding non-local
chains (while professing love for Schlotzky's and Jason's Deli). My
response, more a quick brain dump than a considered analysis:
- Some places on your list I like but don't choose them very
often (Artichokes Sandwich Shop, N&J). Also don't much care
for Mexican and Vietnamese, the two big minority cuisines here.
- I don't know what the problem with Vietnamese is. I shop in
Vietnamese markets like Thai Binh, but the 4-5 restaurants I've
eaten in never impressed me. (Used to be a decent Vietnamese BBQ
on 21st near Thai Binh; currently there is a place on Pawneee I
can't remember the name of which is decent.)
- Ridiculous number of Mexican restaurants here. My favorite
by a huge margin is El Paisa [2227 N Arkansas]: good meat place,
with thin, tasty steaks and pork chops, and odds and ends like
tongue. Used to be a good chicken place on 25th. Probably a
lot more -- we don't really seek them out.
- There are a lot of good, mostly inexpensive Lebanese-run
quasi-French restaurants: Bella Luna [4618 E Central, plus two
more locations], more continental; Le Monde [602 N West], again
continental; La Galette [1017 W Douglas], lunch only, quiche,
sandwiches, good patisserie; Nouvelle Cafe [3101 N Rock],
crepes, has a Lebanese buffet once a week.
- Good as Lebanese food is, the Turks kick it up a notch. Cafe
Istanbul used to be our favorite restaurant here, but the restaurant
turned over recently, becoming Wichita Kebab House [120 N West]:
prices went up, and they started mixing tahini into the eggplant
appetizer, so we don't go nearly as often. Still pretty good.
- Passage to India [6140 E 21st] has developed into a very good
Indian restaurant -- tandori fish, chicken makhni, lamb shahi korma.
- Thai Tradition [650 N Carriage Pkwy] is far and away the best
Thai restaurant in town. Not on the menu, but I've managed to get
panang curry duck there a couple of times.
- Cafe Asia [6546 E Central] has Thai and Chinese, plus a few
Malaysian dishes -- we go for their marvelous twist on Kung Pao.
Manna Wok [4865 E Harry] mixes Chinese with Korean -- go for the
latter, and make sure you order the kim chi instead of the salad.
- Yen Ching [430 N Rock] is still the best Chinese restaurant in
town, although Kwan Court [1443 N Rock] could challenge it if we
didn't always order sushi there. Mama Sans [3811 W 13th] is a rare
Japanese restaurant that doesn't serve sushi, so it's the only one
where we eat other Japanese fare -- tempura, teriyaki, eel.
- Back in the USA we like Red Bean's Bayou Grill [7447 W 21st],
a good Cajun spot, which also has an odd page in the menu reprising
entrées from the owner's defunct Red Mesa Grill spinoff -- the
pesto butter cream enchiladas rival the oysters boudreaux, both
following nicely after the duck tenders.
- Best BBQ (ribs, anyway) is at Hog Wild [1200 S Rock was the
first of now four locations]; Pig In Pig Out [1003 E 13th] and
Julius Rib Cage [2958 S Seneca] are also candidates.
- Best hamburger joint is Charlie's Famous Burgers [3200 W 13th],
although I also like the skinny ones at Freddy's Frozen Custard
[8621 W 21st, fast becoming a chain with 3 more in Wichita, 1 in
El Dorado, and who knows where else] -- custard isn't bad either.
- Stroud's [3661 N Hillside] remains a good place for fried chicken
and chicken fried steak, although we generally agreed that Mom's was
better. Out of town you can go to Carriage Crossing in Yoder or make
the big trek to Brookville Hotel, now in Abilene. We've been known to
make both trips.
- Wichita Fish [1601 W Douglas] is where I go for fried catfish,
and also to shop for everything from trout to soft shell crabs.
- There are no good Italian restaurants. We go to Carrabba's for
lack of anything better (especially now that Macaroni Grill shut
down). Also no obvious pizza preferences, although we get by with
chains. Someone could do well with a Bertucci's franchise.
- Same thing for Jewish delis and bagel shops -- Finagle a Bagel
would blow everyone away; even Einstein Bros. would be a hit.
- Still, in the final analysis, the best place to eat in Wichita
is chez moi. Temporarily closed for remodelling, but due to reopen
in a few weeks (or, ugh, months): down home country cooking, with
occasional ventures to China, India, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, Egypt,
Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia, and Brazil, plus chopped
liver and homemade lox.