Category Archives: Dining events

Wichita “Restaurant Week” planned

Now this is a cool idea.

The  Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas is teaming up with Go Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association to put on a “Restaurant Week” in Wichita. They’re planning it for June 21 to 30 and hope to get 25 local restaurants involved.

Restaurant Weeks are big deals in big cities, where many of the more expensive, trendy, hard-to-get-into restaurants agree to spend a week offering prix fixe meals to participants. A prix fixe (price fixed) meal is a set, multi-course meal that costs one price. About 30 big cities around the country, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, put on popular Restaurant Weeks. I attended a Restaurant Week dinner at a fancy place in Dallas years ago, and it was memorable. (Even though I can’t remember the name of the restaurant I visited. Ha.)

Restaurant Week won’t be quite the same animal in a smaller city like Wichita, but it could still be fun and offer Wichitans an excuse to try places they haven’t been to. Though organizers haven’t signed up any participants yet, they’ll ask restaurants on the list to donate 10 percent of each meal back to the Boys & Girls Club.

I already know who I’d put on a dream list. The new Siena Tuscan Steakhouse  that will open in the Ambassador Hotel in December has to join in. Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt should, too. I could see Luciano’s on this bill as well as some of Wichita’s ethnic restaurants such as Pho Hot Bistro and Taqueria El Paisa. Maybe this would be a good way for Lakeside Club and Candle Club to lure potential new members, too.

The organizers have promised to keep me updated as plans progress. I’ll keep you updated, too.

In the meantime, let me know which restaurants you think should participate in a Wichita restaurant week. Tell me in the comments section below.

Next week’s menu: Burgers, bottles and Bloody Marys

A cool shot I grabbed of my girls and me at Saturday's Midwest Winefest. Can you tell which one is me? We're like the Charlie's Angels of wine.

I’ve just now, at 3 p.m. on Monday, recovered from Saturday night’s Winefest enough to tell you a little bit about some more adult beverage-based events coming up next week.

I didn’t get too crazy at the Winefest, mind you. But the trip across the street to hang out at the bar of AVI probably was the opposite of what my group needed. (Amiright, Ben Arnold?) At least we were on foot!

The Winefest is one of my favorite food and beverage events of the year, and I never fail to have a great time. One of the highlights of this year’s events for me: The Dillon’s Marketplace booth, which was set up with a whole array of fabulous cheeses from the fancy Dillon’s cheese case. I sampled Merlot-flavored cheese, espresso-flavored cheese and raspberry-flavored cheese. The table also offered piles and piles of shaved Parmesan, which is only one of my favorite things on earth to nibble with wine.

And only two tables away, one of the vendors was serving up samples of Kim Crawford, one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs. At some point, the kind pourer at the table wondered if we had sampled it enough to have decided whether we liked it. Woops.

Two more fun food and beverage events are coming up soon.

One is called Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys and doubles as Botanica’s 25th Anniversary Kick-Off Party. The event will include a beer tasting by River City Brewery and a Bloody Mary competition among local bars and restaurants such as The Anchor, The Candle Club, Heroes, A.V.I., Newport Grill, Scotch & Sirloin and The Vagabond. The event also will feature food by The Flying Stove and music by Spirit of the Stairs. It’s at 6:30 p.m. on May 4, and tickets are $40 a person. Make your reservations here.

Chester’s Chophouse chef Bobby Lane is putting on a VinoBurger Cookbook tasting event at 6:30 p.m. on May 1. The event will be on Chester’s patio and is $40 a person. Lane will prepare two burgers of his own as well as two from the VinoBurger cookbook. The event includes five wine and four burger samples. RSVPs must be e-mailed to

Prepare your stomachs to Loaf Off

Meatloaf samples I ingested last year.

I’m pretty sure I should just not eat again until Saturday.

That’s the only way my stomach will be prepared for the job it’s been assigned at this year’s fourth annual Loaf Off, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas.

The event is a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas.

I’m one of three meatloaf judges, serving on a panel that also includes local foodie Joe Stumpe and his wife, Eagle biz columnist Carrie Rengers. As of the other day, there were 12 entries, and we have to sample them all to find the best.

Fashion maven Bonnie Bing will be there, too, but her job is picking the booth with the best appearance. (She loves meatloaf, too, for the record.)

My co-judge, Joe Stumpe. He's smiling because he hasn't eaten all that loaf yet.

Spectators are allowed to attend, observe and sample right along with us. Admission for spectator tasters is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 5 to 12. The Anchor will offer side dishes as well.

It was hard to choose a winner last year, but we finally settled on the loaf cooked by Don Lucero, the head chef at Via Christi Hospital on East Harry.  He created his loaf in an angel food cake pan, stuffing it in the center with all sorts of cheesy goodness. (I found last year that I prefer any loaf that includes bacon and cheesy goodness.) I heard that Don will return on Saturday to defend his title.

Will you join us?

Cajun food, Cajun tunes at tonight’s Riverfest

Food fans enjoy last year's Cajun Food Fest.

Besides the greasy goodness of the food courts, the second most popular food attraction at the Wichita River Festival each year has to be the Cajun Food Fest.

The event, which will go on from 5 to 8:30 tonight near the Tripodal sculpture outside Century II, is now in its 26th year. Chefs will serve red beans and sausage as well as other Cajun favorites. Meals are $7 apeice with a festival button.

Cajun fans can stroll with their food over the WaterWalk Pavilion, where the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band will perform jambalaya-friendly music from 6 to 8:45 p.m. Over at the Pavilion, which is on the lawn south of the Hyatt, the Harvest Kitchen/Bar will be serving shrimp po’ boys and muffuletta pasta salad.

A good time, as the Cajuns would say, is gar-awn-teed.

Restaurant odds and ends

Please feast on this little roundup of restaurant tidbits, which includes ribs, hot wings and a Sue Sylvester moment.

Mr. Ka-Pow’s, a restaurant at 4734 S. Broadway, is putting on a hot wing eating challenge for charity on Saturday. Competitors will attempt to eat 12 Dragon Fire hot wings, presumably the hottest of the hot. The first competitors to finish win prizes ranging from $300 in cash to a $100 gas card. Participants are encouraged to donate $30, and money raised benefits Alternative Gifts International. The first heat starts at 1 p.m. Register here or call 316-522-5276.

Fire It Up BBQ at 4626 S. Senca is serving all-you-can-eat ribs for $9.99 from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. The deal is for dine-in customers only, though the restaurant also is serving $12.99 carry-out slabs.

Panda Express at 11787 E. Kellogg will donate 20 percent of the proceeds taken in from  from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Participants must present a flier that can be picked up at any Via Christi gift shop or from Via Christi Foundation at 723 N. McLean, Suite 310.

This might not be the most appropriate time to share this, but I vowed that next time I wrote about Panda Express, I’d try to include this Sue Sylvester moment from a recent episode of “Glee.” (I, for the record, sorta liked Panda Express.)

Who had a White Castle?

Now I didn't know those burgers were hole-y. Did you?

The Square Burger Award goes to my friends Beccy Tanner and Jaime Green, who quite competently covered the pandemonium that was the White Castle birthday celebration yesterday in the Dillon’s parking lot.

A pressing work commitment kept me away, but I heard lots of stories from those who were there — stories of 90-minute waits, slider shortages and grilled onions. My friend Katie texted to tell me she went but left empty handed. “We lasted about three minutes in line,” she said. “We’re not waiters.”

Another friend described the scene as a “a mess of humanity and beef.”

Were you there? Was it worth it? Let me know if you had a “gut bomb” and how you’re feeling today.

And if you missed it (or if you’re also not a “waiter,”) watch Jaime’s video below.

The allure of teeny tiny burgers

I hope you did not miss Beccy Tanner’s story last week about the one-day return of White Castle to Wichita.

It all happens tomorrow,when the fast food chain known for tiny square burgers will return to Wichita — where the first White Castle opened in 1921 — to celebrate its 90th birthday.

From 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Wichitans can buy two sliders for 90 cents (chips and a drink are an extra 90 cents) from sizzling grills set up in the Dillons parking lot at Central and Rock. Proceeds will go to the Kansas Food Bank.

White Castle left Wichita in 1938, never to return, and to this day, Wichita “gut bomb” fans grumble that the city doesn’t have a White Castle. Now, the only place in Wichita you can get a White Castle burger is in the freezer section.

Your nearest other option: Drive to Salina and try the similar teeny tiny cozy burgers at Cozy Inn. And be prepared to smell like grilled onions for a good month afterward.

Exciting dining addition to Riverfest

Sometimes, the Wichita River Festival wears me out. (I’ve only been covering it for 13 years, ya know.)

But one thing I always love about the festival is the food (which I’ve been reviewing for 13 years, ya know.) I’ve come to love some of the annual offerings, and each year I can’t wait for my Tad’s Bodacious Burrito or tray full of deep fried dill pickle spears (with dipping sauce.)

This year, the festival is offering a new type of food court that could be very cool. The Waterwalk Pavilion will be set up nightly on the lawn near the Hyatt fountains. Under a huge tent, a local restaurant will sell food, and nearby, a local band will perform. Adult beverages will be served, and a new rule allows partakers to walk with their drinks in hand along the river.

The festival is trying to attract a young professional crowd with the new event, and if I count as a young professional, their efforts are probably going to work on me. Following is the schedule festival president Janet Wright sent me. They’re still trying to find a few restaurants to fill in on certain nights, but I plan to be there for sure on June 9 and June 11.

Saturday, June 4

6 – 9:30 p.m. – Grateful Not to Be Dead
6 – 8 p.m. – Carlos O’Kelley’s Mexican Café
Chicken Burrito Wrap with Beans, Chips & Salsa, $10
Chili Con Queso with Chips & Salsa, $10
Carlos Nachos Supreme, $7

Sunday, June 5

6 p.m. – Rachelle Coba Band
6 – 8 p.m. – BBQ from the world-famous Wichita Wagonmasters grill
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $8
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Brat, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $10

Monday, June 6

7:30-8:45 pm – Flatland String Band
Restaurant TBA

Tuesday, June 7

7:30-8:45 pm – Walnut River String Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Truffles
Choice of meatball sub or chicken parmigiana sub, pasta salad, chips, cookies, $7
Choice of pasta Caesar salad, garlic bread, roasted potatoes with vegetables, brownies $10

Wednesday, June 8

7:15-8:45 pm – Swing Daddies
6 – 8 p.m. – Caffe Moderne
Chicken Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10
Southwest Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10

Thursday, June 9

6-8:45 pm – Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Hyatt Harvest Kitchen & Bar
Choice of dirty or white rice, chicken and Andouille sausage
jambalaya, crawfish & pepperjack cornbread, $8

Friday, June 10

6-9:30 pm – Mumblin’ Jones
6 – 8 p.m. – Toni D’s
Beef & pulled pork sliders, $10
Vegetarian sliders, $10
Both served with potato chips, choice of potato salad or
Italian pasta salad & homemade cookie

Saturday, June 11
4:30-6:30 pm – Smugglin’ Yo-Yos
7:00-9:45 pm – Ten Day Wish
Restaurant TBA


Pepsi Products                     $3 or 2/$5.00

Budweiser                                          $4.00

Craft Beer                                          $4.00

Wine & Specialty Drinks            $5.00

River City Ribfest: Sounds fun to me

I just got word from Intrust Bank Arena about a rib-tastic sounding new event they have planned for August.

The River City Ribfest will be staged Aug. 25-27 outside of the arena on Cessna Plaza and in the south parking lots.

It’ll have barbecue, music and rib aficionados competing for cookoff titles such as “Best in Show” and “People’s Choice.” Six national rib vendors will be there, and both local and regional bands will perform. It also will have a beer garden, a kid’s play area and a VIP section.

The Ribfest will be sponsored by House of Schwan and Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. Tickets are $4, free for children 12 and under. You can read more information about the event here.

I love ribs, and I love festivals centered around food. I don’t love August, however, but maybe it’ll be one of those unseasonably cool, almost-September weekends. Plus, it’ll be a nice appetizer to the Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff, which takes place on the other side of the arena a month later.

It’s gonna be a kibbee-rific weekend

Wichita is lucky to have so many great Lebanese cooks, and I can personally attest that some great Lebanese cooking is going to happening this weekend at the annual St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church Mediterranean Festival.

At Gridiron last weekend, cast member Sarah Kallail, whose grandma is one of the great cooks, brought several samples backstage for the cast to test out. Among the dishes we were able to preview: Meat pies, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baklawa (the church’s preferred spelling) and some of the best kibbee I’ve ever tasted.

Apparently, the co-chairs of the event traveled to Lebanon this summer to get in touch with their cooking heritage and gather up traditional recipes, which they’re trying out on this year’s festivalgoers.

The event will be at the church at 344 S. Martinson from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Patrons buy $1 tickets at the door and then choose their items a la carte. Most things range from $1 to $6.

For more information, call 316-264-1576.