Category Archives: Coffee

The best cheese grits… EVER

Yesterday morning, I searched out Espresso to Go Go, as I do every time they’re in the vicinity of downtown, and owners Warren and Ann Tandoc gave me a valuable tip.

Go down to Cake Face, they said, pointing at the newish food truck parked next door to them. Get some cheese grits.

I got them, all right, and they were SO GOOD. Cheese grits are among my favorite things to eat, ever, and these were topped with a pile of crispy, crunchy bacon perfection. Cake Face also was serving biscuits and gravy, baked French Toast and bierocks filled with bacon and eggs. I highly suggest you stop by for breakfast next time you see them.

Looks like they’ll be at Spirit Aerosystems, 3917 East MacArthur, today and will be at the Red Barn Outdoor Market in Benton on Saturday.

Wichita’s newest “food truck” serves coffee

Warren and Ann Tandoc, owners of Espresso To Go Go

I’m pretty excited about the newest food truck in Wichita, even though it doesn’t serve food.

Warren and Ann Tandoc have just opened Espresso To Go Go, a coffee shop on wheels that will travel around Wichita just like The Flying Stove. 

This is the couple’s second week in business. The shop operates out of a giant 1973 Airstream Land Yacht that the Tandocs purchased and remodeled. They invited me aboard this morning, and it’s a pretty awesome inside, too.

Warren Tandoc opened Tanya’s Soup Kitchen with his sister, Tanya Tandoc, in March of 2011.

But the two parted ways shortly after the business opened. Warren and Ann say they’ve always wanted to work together, they said, and Warren has experience working in coffee shops in Lawrence and Overland Park.

They’re serving a menu that includes Vietnamese coffee, lattes, espresso and more. At the moment, I’m sipping on a delicious iced coffee I purchased this morning from the truck, which was parked in the lot at Ruben’s Mexican Grill, 520 W. Douglas.

The Tandocs are getting all their coffee from The Spice Merchant.

Like The Flying Stove, Espresso To Go Go will update its location on its Facebook page each day.

They’re only working through Wednesday of this week because they’re having some graphic elements added to the trailer later in the week.

On Tuesday, they’ll be at Wilson Estates at 8621 E. 21st St. from 8 to 1 p.m. On Wednesday, they’ll open in front of the old Tommy’s at 2121 N. Tyler Road from 8 to 1 p.m.

For more information, call 316-708-1990.

Doo-Dah Diner coming in September

Patrick Shibley will be the chef and owner at Doo-Dah Diner.

Doo-Dah Diner is a breakfast, lunch and coffee place scheduled to open next month in the spot at 206 E. Kellogg recently vacated by Jade Garden Cafe, which was open for about a month and a half before the owner had to close it because of a family health issue. Other recent tenants have included Cathy’s Diner, Lili Mae’s and R&S BBQ.

The owners are Patrick and Timirie Shibley. Patrick has had a hand in many restaurants around town — he was manager at Ya Ya’s for a while and was one of the people who helped open Gaslamp Grille.

In addition to breakfast and lunch, the restaurant will offer coffee drinks and milkshakes. Patrick will be the chef, and Timirie will run the restaurant.

“We’re going to do some really cool, whimsical stuff,” Patrick said. “It’ll be a fun little energy place.” Hours will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Patrick promises to share menu details soon

Wichita has two new coffee vendors

Wichita has gained two new coffee places during the past week.

Coffee Bug, a new drive-through only coffee shop, opened Thursday at 3123 N. Rock Road. It sits next to the new Popeye’s and offers a lengthy list of coffee drinks both hot and cold, sweet and not-sweet. It also offers a few food items, including a ham and cheese “cinnawich,” which is a hot cinnamon roll filled with ham and cheese. Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. The coffee shop’s number is 316-719-2284. See the full menu here.

And a week ago, Randy Ecker and Diana Mershon opened Common Grounds Coffee House at 2812 E. Douglas. The duo also own Seventh Direction Inc., an organization at 212 N. Hillside that offers treatment to recovering addicts.

They opened the shop inside the quaint house on Douglas as a place for their clients to congregate, but anyone is welcome. The inviting new business has plenty of seating downstairs, and rooms upstairs are used for client meetings. Common Grounds offers all the basic coffee drinks plus some pastries. It also offers free wi-fi. Owners might add sandwiches soon. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-295-4783.

Riverside Perk should reopen this summer

I just spoke with Mike Corley, who owns the building at 1144 N. Bitting that housed the Riverside Perk. (I told you earlier this morning that the coffee shop is closed as of today.)

He told me that he and Perk owner Maggie Ballard had agreed that a change in ownership was needed for the business. He signed a lease yesterday for new owners to take over at the beginning of July. He won’t say yet who they are but he says they own a restaurant out west, a couple of liquor stores and a place downtown.

The new owners plan to take over at the beginning of July, remodel the building and reopen it with the same coffee shop concept. Corley assumes they’ll change the name, but he’s not sure. The business should reopen by midsummer.

I’ll update this post when I find out who the new owners are.

The Riverside Perk is closed

After 17 years in business, the Riverside Perk — the neighborhood coffee shop at 1144 N. Bitting — has closed.

A sign posted on the door this morning says that, as of today, The Perk is temporarily closed.

Facebook postings on owner Maggie Ballard’s and an employee’s pages indicate that the business is for sale.

“It was just a business move that needed to be made,” Ballard wrote on her Facebook wall.

I navigated the branch-strewn streets of Riverside to see for myself if the rumor was true.

I found The Perk, known for its scenic front porch and flyer-plastered windows, quiet and empty during a time that it’s normally crawling with customers.

It was sort of eerie.

The Perk, as it’s often called, has for years been a neighborhood gathering place and a haven for artists, musicians and coffee fans.

I’ll let you know when I hear more from Ballard about what’s next for the shop.

Reader recommendations: I take them seriously

Readers often write in to tell me how awful a given restaurant they tried was. But it’s more rare when they write in to say how fabulous one was.

When they do, I take it seriously.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve received three such reader endorsements.

The first comes from a reader named Steve, who raved about Yellow River Restaurant, a small Chinese restaurant at 328 E Pawnee. It’s in the corner of a little strip center, and according to Steve, is run by an elderly couple originally from China. The moo goo gai pan is great, says Steve, who used to live in southern California and knows good Asian food.

Yellow River is open from 11 am. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 316-267-7030.

Jim Hull e-mailed me and encouraged me to “whiz your sweet little self right down to D’Cruz, at 2716 E. Central.”  He and his wife Judy recently sampled the food at the teeny tiny restaurant, which includes items such as carne asada tacos, burritos and more. The owner was nice, and even though service was’t speedy, it was worth the wait, he said. The restaurant is a year old and is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Also, I heard this morning from Ryan, who suggested I write a story about Clifton Square’s Fresh Roast Coffee Company, a little hut that serves up some seriously strong brew. “It’s a tiny little shop, but makes very good coffee, as well as flavored drinks and such,” Ryan said. “The owner learned roasting from Alfred Peet, of Peet’s Coffee fame in California (and elsewhere). He is also a unique and funny guy, and roasts his own coffee on-site with a very expensive roaster which takes up half the shop almost.”

Of the three suggestions, Fresh Roast Coffee is the only one I’ve visited, and that is some strong brew. It was a bit much for me, but I have plenty of coffee friends who would find it just right.

It’s at 3700 E. Douglas and is open from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call  316-778-0846.

The Kiln at C. Major: Old venue, new approach

The music venue at 110 S. Hillside best known as C. Major’s Rockin’ Daddy’s  has a new name, new owners and a new approach.

The venue has been run by local musicians Clif Major and Kathy Roush Major for years, providing a place for local musicians to jam, perform and hang out. But recently, Clif , who’s faced cancer-related health problems over the past several years, decided to give up the lease. The space now is being run by Mike and Beth Babb.

The Babbs have turned the venue into a weekend-only coffee shop, restaurant and music venue that will serve as a not-for-profit fundraising arm for their Freedom At Last Ministries. They officially re-opened last weekend, after re-carpeting and and re-painting, and are calling it The Kiln at C Major, opening at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and serving coffee, desserts and food such as sandwiches and chili and cornbread. Alcohol won’t be served.

The Kiln is featuring table service, but it’s not technically charging for food. Those who visit are asked to give donations in return for their meals. The venue will offer live music each night it’s open from the types of acts C Major patrons are used to seeing. This weekend, Rachelle Coba is on the bill. The Jukes, which feature the Majors, will perform there once a month.

Kathy and Clif are still very involved in the operation, helping the Babbs however they can, Kathy said.

“Clif is just thrilled,” she said. “It’s got our spirits up and takes a burden off our shoulders.”

Scoping out the Mega-QuikTrip

The new coffee bar at the new QuikTrip.

A friend used to call QuikTrips “the Disneyland of convenience stores.”  And that was YEARS AND YEARS before the actual Disneyland of convenience stores opened in January  at 625 S. Hillside.

I finally stopped into the new QT this morning to see what all the fuss was about, and WOW. The QuikTrip of the future is pretty amazing, and I didn’t really think QuikTrips could be improved upon.

The most impressive additions I saw included an entire wall dedicated to every flavor of iced tea an iced tea fan could dream up, from blueberry to mango. The number of colorful “freezoni” options, QT’s version of a slurpee, was staggering. That section of the store looked as though a frozen rainbow had exploded.

There’s also a new counter, staffed by an employee who can make specialty coffee drinks, fresh smoothies and ice-cream mixes. I didn’t see anyone taking advantage of that option this morning, but it’s tempting.

The store is huge, and you have to hunt a little to find what you’re looking for. The check out counter was set up in a straight line rather than an L-shape, which isn’t in improvement, in my opinion. I like the classic setup, where you can stand on either side of either cash register and feel like you’re closer to the front of the line.

The new store has all the fresh foods, both hot and cold, stocked in the other stores in town. Though alas, the Mega-QT STILL stocks only Miracle Whip, no mayo, in its grocery section. Why? There is no explanation I can accept.

If you’re out and bored and thirsty this weekend, I’d definitely recommend you make a stop at the new QT. It’s as close to Disneyland as we’re gonna get.

Question of the week: Best hot drink?

Suddenly, it’s c-c-c-c-cold outside. Not quite the school-canceling cold from earlier this year, but definitely an uncomfortable cold.

Doesn’t a hot drink sound good?

This week’s question: What’s your favorite hot drink served in Wichita? Where do you get it, and how would you describe it?

For me, it’s probably a hot chai latte, frothy with sweetness and exotic spice. I like the one at Starbucks, but I’m sure it’s brewed well at some local coffee shops, too.

What’s your favorite? Answer in the comments section below.