A Valentine’s dining guide for procrastinators

If you’re one of the brave souls opting to brave the Feb. 14 restaurant crowds, I applaud you. Please let me know how that goes.

But if you’re a procrastinator — or just don’t like fighting for air on the busiest dining day of the year — several restaurants are planning to extend their Valentines Day offerings throughout the weekend. (I’m going for Bocconcini’s dinner because I simply must have that chocolate ravioli, but I’m going on Friday instead.)

Following are some of the restaurants offering specials for those who are putting off their celebrations a bit.

Abuelo’s, 1413 N. Waterfront Parkway, 316-634-2230: The Mexican restaurant is offering a dinner-for-two special good through Sunday that includes fajitas plus a choice of dessert for $29.99.

AVI Seabar & Chophouse, inside the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, 135 N. Waco, 316-262-3300: The restaurant is serving a $79-a-couple meal that includes choice of appetizer, salad, filet mignon with coconut shrimp or grilled or blackened salmon with coconut shrimp plus a dessert to share and one glass of champagne each. The special is available from 5 p.m. to close through Saturday, and the regular menu will be available as well. Call for reservations.

Bocconcini Italian Eatery, 4811 E. Central, 316-613-2523: The Italian restaurant is running a special four-course Valentine’s Day meal through Saturday. It’s $35 a couple without alcohol or $55 with choice of a bottle of red wine, white wine or prosecco. The dinner includes choices for each course, and among the entree options are lemon chicken, pork saltimbocca and pancetta-wrapped salmon. Call for reservations.

Hereford House, 1400 Terradyne Drive, Andover, 316-733-7800: The restaurant has a standing offer of a four-course dinner for two for $65. Call for reservations.

Newport Grill, 1900 N. Rock Road, 316-636-9555: Newport will offer a special Valentine’s Day dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. through Saturday. It’s $50 a person and includes a steak and lobster dinner, a salad and a dessert of chocolate terrine with a raspberry coulis. The regular menu also is available, and those diners can add the dessert for $6. Reservations are recommended.

Zaytun, 2020 N. Woodlawn, 316-613-2474: The Indian/Pakistani/Turkish restaurant will be serving a four-course meal for $25 a person from 5 to 9 p.m. through Saturday. Among the several entree choices are tandoori chicken masala and Australian lamb shank. Call for reservations.

Wichita a test market for new Abuelo’s dishes

Restaurants sure do love to test their new dishes on Wichitans. Now, Wichita is one of eight markets testing out a new tapas and small bites menu at Abuelo’s, the Mexican restaurant at 1413 N. Waterfront Parkway.

The items on the menu range in price from $2.99 to $5.99 and now are available at both lunch and dinner.

Here are Abuelo’s descriptions of the new dishes:

Classic nachos – Crispy tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, seasoned ground beef, chicken or refried beans in any combination. Served with sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo and jalapeño slices

Acapulco shrimp cocktail – An individual-sized light and fruity Mexican shrimp cocktail, served with crispy flour tortilla chips
Jalapeño cheese fritters – Delicious minced jalapeño and cheese fritters, hand-breaded and fried to golden perfection. Served with ranch dressing for dipping

Mexican flat bread pizza – A flour tortilla baked with a white cream sauce and topped with fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Monterrey Jack and Mozzarella cheese

Chicken and spinach mini chimis – Two small chimichangas stuffed with spicy, tender pulled chicken, spinach and cheese, golden fried and served with a honey lime ancho cilantro sauce

Bacon-wrapped shrimp – Three wood-grilled, bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with jalapeño and cheese

The other seven test markets: Peoria, Ariz.; Chandler, Ariz.; Lakeland, Fla.; Kissimmee, Fla.; Columbus, Ohio; Myrtle Beach, S.C. And Hampton, Va.

For more information, call Wichita’s Abuelo’s at 316-634-2230.

Discount for military famillies at Abuelo’s

Abuelo’s, the Mexican restaurant at1413 N. Waterfront Parkway that recently honored teachers with a dining discount, now is honoring members of the military and their families.

On Monday, diners who show a valid military ID or dependent ID when placing their orders will receive a 20 percent discount. The deal is good from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information, call 316-634-2230.

Pulled pork sliders tonight, carnitas tacos tomorrow

Shrimp po' boy with muffaletta pasta salad.

Attention: This will be my last 2011 post about Wichita River Festival food. (I hope. )

Last night, before terrifying tornado sirens sent me screaming into the wall-clouded night, I finally got over to the new WaterWalk Pavilion, where the festival is serving food from local restaurants from under a giant tent filled with lots of tables.

Festivalgoers also can hear music from local bands (my friend Jaime’s band The Mudbugs were playing last night until terrifying tornado sirens sent them screaming into the wall-clouded night), and they also can buy adult beverages, including beer, wine and mixed drinks.

I was happy with the shrimp po’boy I had. The Hyatt’s head chef Paul Freimuth was under the tent, frying up the shrimp and squirting on the zesty Cajun sauce himself. The whole plate of food you see above cost me $8, and it was filling. I thought that was a good deal considering that my favorite burrito over at the main food court also costs $8.

You have two more nights to check out the WaterWalk Pavilion. I can personally vouch for the quality of both restaurants and for the quality of all the bands. My friend, Adam, plans in Mumblin’ Jones, and Mudbugs lead singer Carter Green pulls double duty in very fun cover band Smugglin’ Yo Yo’s.

See you there?

TONIGHT

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

SATURDAY

Smugglin’ Yo-Yo’s. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Ten Day Wish, 7 to 9:45 p.m.
Food from Abuelo’s, served 6 to 8 p.m.
Bacon wrapped shrimp with chile con queso $9
Carnitas tacos  $6
Steak fajita taco  $6
Chicken fajita taco $5
Chile con Queso, chips and salsa $5
Fresh guacamole, chips and salsa $6
Chips and salsa $3

Cinco De Mayo: Cheap Corona for all

Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, an annual excuse to eat fajitas, drown margaritas and fiesta through the night.

Several local restaurants and bars are putting on Cinco De Mayo parties and offering Mexican specials.

Here’s a guide to where to some of the places you can spend your May 5. Let me know if I’m missing someone…

Cinco De Vino Wine Tasting and Mexican Food Fiesta: The YMCA is raising money for its Strong Kids campaign with a wine and Mexican food party at Rock Island Studios, 338 N. Mead. Food will be provided by Abuelo’s, and tickets are $35 by calling 316-264-4066, extension 223, or $40 at the door. Also, $15 designated driver tickets are available. The party is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Carlos O’ Kelly’s, several Wichita locations: The local chain says Cinco De Mayo is its busiest day of the year and is offering 1/2 price house margaritas all day, meaning a full size is $2.50. A Cinco Sampler is $9.99, and chili con queso is $1.50. The restaurant also will be giving away T-shirts, hats, maracas and more.

Felipe’s at 21st and Woodlawn is offering its third annual Cinco De Mayo party, which will include $3 Coronas, $5 margaritas, $3 Bud Lights and more.

Heroes, 117 N. Mosley: The recently overhauled bar will offer $2 Coronas, $3 Cuervo Silver shots and will feature its soon-to-debut white queso with tri-colored chips. The Cuervo “Shot Girls” will vista the bar at 9 p.m.

Abuelo’s, 1413 N. Waterfront Parkway: The restaurant will offer $5 “Mexican Flag” margaritas, beer specials and free shakers and shot glasses to early margarita orderers. Diners also can find food specials from 3 to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close in the bar and patio areas.

Fizz Burgers & Bottles, 7718 E 37th St. N., 316-260-2888: The burger restaurant is offering a chorizo taco dinner plus buckets of bottles: four beers for $12 or four sodas for $10. The restaurant also will award a Cindo de Mayo gift basket to one Facebook fan who “likes” the page before 5 p.m. today.

Good eats at Winefest

I love Winefest. I love it so much. Look how much fun I had there last year with my friends Kim and Jill. We ate at least a pound of sushi-style ahi tuna, learned that we love SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc,  hobnobbed with Guy Bower and Brett Harris, and went out to Chester’s for Tumbleweeds when it was all over. Ahhhh. Good times.

This year, I can’t go because I’m otherwise engaged, and I’m very unhappy about missing it. This is one fun event.

You can read my story about the Grand Tasting online tomorrow and in the Go! section on Friday, but in the meantime, I have a list of all the restaurants that will be at Saturday night’s Grand Tasting and what delicious bites they’ll be serving. Organizers secured 14 restaurants this year, including a few new ones — Newport Grill and Gaslamp Grille among them.

Tell me how it is if you go. Sniff. Sniff sniff.

Read More »

Three tweets that made me hungry today

tweetkatie

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tweetsarah

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tweetpanera

Free queso tastes better

chiliconqueso-thumb-1What ‘s better than a giant bowl of melted cheese food spiked with peppery hotness?

A FREE giant bowl of melted cheese food spiked with peppery hotness.

There is free queso to be had in a couple of Wichita restaurants. One is Jose Pepper’s at 11423 E. 13th St., where dine-in customers who order an entree can get free cheese dip all day on Mondays and Tuesdays and can choose from three varieties — espinaca con queso, chili con queso or queso rizo.

The other is Abuelo’s at 1413 Waterfront Parkway, which during the month of July is putting on a “crayons for queso” school supply drive.  Diners who bring in new school supply items will receive a free appetizer or dessert, including queso. The supplies will be donated to local schools, and the supplies that qualify dippers for the deal are 16-count boxes of crayons, 12 packs of pens or pencils, 2 packages of loose leaf notebook paper, 2 spiral notebooks or one box of tissues.

Art while you eat

A very...melony mural adorns a wall at Copper Oven.

A very...melony mural adorns a wall at Copper Oven.

I’ve ingested many a skillet with eggs over-easy while staring, eyebrows furrowed, at the very curious watermelon mural that adorns the back wall of Copper Oven, a delicious and popular eatery at 2409 W. 13th St. What exactly is going on in this eye catching art work? It almost seems as though a father and son are patiently waiting for a crowd of sliced melons to break into dance on the disco floor.

Restaurant owners love decorating with murals, and Wichita has lots of them. Artist Steve Murillo’s colorful murals can be found on the walls at Larkspur, River City Brewery and Caffe Moderne. I’ve always loved the calming blue sky/cloud mural on the ceiling at Abuelo’s. And many Mexican restaurants in town have conquistador murals (of varying quality) to be enjoyed and studied over margaritas.

What’s your favorite Wichita restaurant mural?

*UPDATE* Reader Pat Handley alerted me to the fact that the watermelons in this mural are from “Sandias Con Leyenda: Viva la Vida” a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. He also points out that the man in the painting looks like Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s husband. So much for the melon disco theory…