Monthly Archives: June 2011

Downtown Five Guys has walls!!

Taken just now at the corner of Douglas and Ida, just west of The Anchor.

Driving down Douglas last night, I had to slam on the brakes, which I don’t recommend, by the way.

But look what I saw!

Five Guys wasn’t lying. They’re really building downtown. I’m not sure why this astonishes me, but it does. What’s next? Starbucks?

Anyway, the walls are up and it appears I’ll have some serious danger just a block and a half from my desk in two short months.

It’s chat day

The return of the dining chat went so well two weeks ago, I’m doing it again today. Join me at 1:30 p.m. to talk about Wichita’s oldest living restaurants, shaved ice, Luca (where I lunched yesterday) and more. Just log on to or come back here at 1:30 p.m.

Tell your friends.

A look inside Luca

The lunch serving of gnocchi at Luca Italian Kitchen.

Today was the first day for lunch at Luca Italian Kitchen, the new Italian restaurant where Uptown Bistro used to be at 301 N. Mead.

I went to check out lunch and was overall pleased with my gnocchi, pillowy potato puffs mixed with bites of homemade mozzarella and covered in homemade red sauce and basil. It was $11.

The inside was bright and attractive, and the place was packed. And the natural light was begging me to take pictures. So I did.

Luca's dining room is bright and cheery at lunchtime.

Question of the week: Best classic restaurant

Magic Wok at 9504 W. Central

My dining story this week is about Magic Wok, a trapped-in-time restaurant near Central and Tyler that will celebrate 30 years in business next weekend. I loved hearing about the restaurant’s history and about how it was struggling during its first years of business until a 1982 fire at Rolling Hills Country Club earned it a group of regulars that still come today.

We’ve written about several restaurants celebrating milestone birthdays over the years, including Savute’s, Old Mill Tasty Shop, Felipe’s, Connie’s and more.

This weeks question: Which of the Wichita restaurants in the age 30-and-up category is your favorite? Which one has aged best?

Answer in the comments section below.

A new place to find restaurant inspections

I got this question last week from a reader named Janet:

“Does the state still post restaurant ratings?  How do we find out if there are any violations on local restaurants?”

For years, I had answered this question by directing people to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website, which since 2006 has posted all restaurant inspection records online for people to peruse.

But when I went to check the website yesterday, I found that it no longer worked.

Apparently, posting restaurant inspections now is the duty of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The new website for searching and reading restaurant inspection reports is Follow that link then click on “Food Safety and Lodging inspection results.” You have to hit “I agree,” then you can search restaurants from all over Kansas by name.

Before you go on a hunt, though, please consider the advice offered by KDHE officials when the site first went up. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that’s never been cited for a violation. And germophobes could quickly scare themselves out of ever dining out again.

But that’s not realistic, KDHE officials told me in 2006. It’s all about perspective. Diners can rest assured that a restaurant with violations serious enough to pose a public health risk would be shut down until the problems were addressed.

Personally, I choose never to look at those inspections. Every time I do, I’m sorry I did. I’ve been around restaurants long enough to know that every place has had a violation. I think I’d rather not know every little thing that ever went wrong in the kitchen.

I know I’m sort of unique in that attitude, and perhaps foolhardy. Hopefully, I’ll never be proven wrong.

In search of sno cones

Flamingo Sno, open for business in the parking lot at Kay Wiggin's, 600 S. Tyler.

A reader named Ashley wrote to me recently bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t find any sno cone booths on the west side. She wondered if I knew of any.

Yesterday, on my way to another restaurant I’m writing about, I swung by the parking lot near Kellogg and Tyler that I thought usually had a sno cone booth in the summer. Indeed, there was Flamingo Sno, open for business. (The teenage employee inside seemed perplexed that I was photographing her trailer, and now I’m equally perplexed that my photograph turned out so crooked. Oh well.)

At any rate, Flamingo Sno is there, open daily from 1 to 9 p.m. until school starts.

My friend Suzanne is a big fan of sno cone booths, especially ones that sell Tiger Blood flavor (“It tastes like real tiger blood.”) She and her kids were big fans of the Heavenly Sno booth that usually set up near the Dillon’s at Douglas and Hillside. That one hasn’t appeared this year. Suzanne has, however, spotted a Heavenly Sno booth in the Home Depot parking lot at K-96 and Woodlawn.

Has anyone else out there located a shaved ice/ sno cone booth? Tell me where it is and what it’s called, if you know, and I’ll try to publish a list.

A peek at the Luca menu

Luca Italian Kitchen, the new restaurant Melad Stephan opened Friday in the former Uptown Bistro space at 301 N. Mead in Old Town Square, has been getting buzz all weekend.

Four or five local foodies either e-mailed me or told me over the weekend that the food was very good, and all credit the talents of chef Gianluca Sciagata, for whom the restaurant is named. (He makes his own mozzarella, people.)

I’m looking forward to trying it, especially the bistecca Tagliata and the proscuitto e rucola pizza. (Take a look at the full lunch menu and the full dinner menu.)

Starting Wednesday, the restaurant’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Tonight and Tuesday, the restaurant is open only for dinner starting at 5 p.m.

Call 316-262-3232 for more information.

Mudbugs and Cajun food on Saturday

It’s one of the hoppin’-est nights of the summer each year when The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band plays its annual gig on Oeno’s patio in Old Town Square.

The group will be back there on Saturday, and the bar will be cooking up a Cajun buffet that’ll include a shrimp and crawfish boil, red beans and rice, fried catfish, chicken etoufee, creamed corn, dinner rolls and bread pudding.

The buffet is $15 a person and available from 8 to 11 p.m. The band will fire up the fiddle sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

I’ll be there. See you then.

Question of the week: How important is vacation dining?

I’m writing this post from Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., where I’ve come for a quick beach vacash. The picture you see here is me last night at High Tide, a fabulous oyster bar just up the street from our hotel. This is me having oysters on the halfshell for the first time. Loved ‘em.

The question of the week: When you go on vacation, how important is dining out and choosing restaurants in your plans? Do you, like me, consider dining out one of your main vacation activies? Or do you just try to squeeze eating in in between other things?

Answer in the questions below. I’m off for another round at the oyster bar.

Later, dining friends

I’m off for a little R&R, so you won’t read much on this blog for a few days. And by not much, I mean NOTHING AT ALL.

The Dining with Denise newsletter will still come out as scheduled on Wednesday, and I’ve set my review of Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie to hit the the middle of next week.

Please eat something delicious while I’m gone.