Category Archives: Wichita Eagle Dining Panel

Needed: Wichita restaurant reviewers

Almost a year and a half ago, we assembled our inaugural Wichita Eagle Dining Panel.

We selected 12 local foodies whose knowledge about the Wichita restaurant scene was above average and asked them to begin visiting and rating older restaurants.

Since May of 2012, the panel has reviewed dozens and dozens of restaurants, and in the process has turned me on to places I didn’t know were so good – Paleteria La Reyna, Pho Chopstix and Little Saigon among them.

Now, it’s time to re-stock the panel. We’re keeping some of our most dedicated reviewers, including Philip and Stephanie Warren, Ching Brubaker and Brandi Koskie. But we’re also looking to add new ones.

If you’re interested in applying for a spot, please write a short review of any local restaurant and e-mail it to me by Friday, Nov. 1.

Give me a sense of what the restaurant was like, discuss dishes you liked and didn’t like, and include a description of the ambience and service.

Need an example to follow? Read some of my reviews in the “recent reviews” section of this blog, or check out some samples from other dining panelists by clicking on the names above.

Please note that if you have immediate family members who own local restaurants, we won’t be able to add you. The job is unpaid, but we do give our panelists $25 a review in the form of a gift card to reimburse them for the price of the meals. You can write as frequently as you’d like, but we do ask panelists to try to contribute a review every couple of months.

We’ll choose our panelists and try to get the new group up and going by early November.

Questions? Either e-mail me or call me at 316-268-6327.

Usuluteco Restaurant will double in size

A plate of pupusas, photographed by Andrew Gough

The pupusa business is good.

It’s so good that Usuluteco Restaurant, the popular El Salvadoran restaurant at 1714 E. Northern, near Hydraulic and Wassall, is about to double in size.

Owners have taken over and remodeled the space next door, which will increase the restaurant’s capacity from 49 to 100. The new spot is ready to go, but the owners are still waiting to clear up some red tape with the city. They hope to start using the space sometime in mid-November.

Pupusas, for those who don’t know, are dense, handmade corn tortilla shells stuffed with various meats, cheeses, beans and roasted peppers, then grilled.  They’re amazing and should be consumed regularly. You can read all about the restaurant in Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member Andrew Gough’s review, which ran in July.

Usuluteco’s hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.  For more information, call 316-409-3820.

Relish this review of Timbuktu

A burger and fries from Andover's Timbuktu.

Philip Warren, the Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member I blame fully for my new obsession with Paleteria La Reyna, is at it again.

Check out his latest review of Andover’s Timbuktu, one of the many legendary burger places I have yet to visit. He was taken to task a little by website readers for failing to mention the restaurant’s jalapeno relish, which I get the impression is pretty legendary in its own right.

Philip Warren

In retrospect, he said he should have mentioned it but maintains that the burgers are just as good without it.

Also, Phil wins the award for best restaurant review opening paragraph ever. Could anything be more true?

“Sometimes you just need a good cheeseburger and beer to reaffirm that all is still well and good in the world.”

Last chance: Riverfest foodcourt fare

The two-pound Mega Monster Burger at Monster Grill. Photo by Andrew Gough.

After Saturday, that’s it. No more River Festival fare until NEXT JUNE!

This week, members of the Wichita Eagle Dining Panel and Intern Matt have been reviewing some of the delicacies offered at the main food court, set up in the middle of Douglas between Waco and Water.

So far, we’ve reviewed the two-pound Mega Monster Burger, Pork Tuscany on Pita, and a lamb gyro.

Below, you will find more reviews that might help you decide where to dine on the festival’s final days.

For the record, my two favorite items at the food court are the fried pickles from Hoopingarner’s Philly Steak and the Original Corn Roast corn, slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt.

A few more reviews:

Read More »

Wichita Eagle Dining Panel review: Thai House

Deliciousness from Thai House. Photo by Ching Brubaker.

I’m continuing to love the work of the members of the Wichita Eagle Dining Panel. They’re enthusiastic, smart and — BONUS — it turns out they’re great food photographers.

Today’s Go! section was too full of River Festivalness to fit in Ching Brubaker’s first effort. We’ll publish her review of Thai House on Sunday. You can take a look at it now online, but I warn you, don’t read hungry.

I also failed to point out last week’s review of Paleteria La Reyna by Philip Warren and the previous week’s Pho Chopstix review by Natasha Creasman. These both are places I can’t wait to visit in the very near future. They sold me, for sure.

Also, watch the paper this week for reviews of River Festival food court food from panel members Warren, Andrew Gough and Jeff Christensen.

Bann Thai’s grand opening is today

I’ve heard some good reports out of Bann Thai, the restaurant that took over the space at 6249 East 21st St. N. recently vacated by Siam Cuisine.

Owner Tui Jackson opened the restaurant on April 14, and she’s celebrating her grand opening though today. Those who spend $20 or more get 15 percent off of their bill, and she’s offering free samples of appetizers and Thai desserts today, too. She’ll have live music from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight.

Tui proudly makes everything from scratch, even her sauces. Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member Sigrid Trombley has been twice for lunch and says she likes the food. Her only word of warning: If you like your Thai food hot but not nuclear, order conservatively. Sigrid, who likes spicy food, ordered hers medium hot but was overwhelmed by the results.

The outside of the restaurant still needs a little work. The awning over the front is missing, and a giant banner hung on the front advertises “MASSAGES.” But pull in and you’ll see the restaurant’s name printed in the window.

Bann Thai is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-239-5485.

Dining Panel review: Lalo’s Express

Lalo's Express tacos.

Our second review by The Wichita Eagle Dining Panel ran this week, and so far, this experiment is working out quite well.

Andrew Gough visited and reviewed Lalo’s Express,a place I’ve wondered about for a long time.

Andrew Gough

It’s at Harry and Seneca and is one of those many, many mysterious south-side places I see when I drive on the south side and think to myself, ‘Why don’t I ever eat on the south side?”

After reading his review and looking at his mouth-watering photos, I’m definitely going to make it a point to cross Kellogg for lunch.

And soon.