Recognizing Wichita’s best popcorn

Popcorn ILLUS.jpgNational Popcorn Day was on Sunday, but many popcorn lovers are celebrating it throughout this week. (Sonic Drive-In, for example, has declared today National Popcorn Day and is celebrating by offering servings of its popcorn chicken for $1.)

My family loves popcorn so much that last year, I bought a movie theater-style popcorn making machine to have in the house, and it gets used several times a week. I’ve also become rather knowledgeable about the best popcorn poppers around Wichita. Here are my picks:

1. Warren Theatre popcorn: If you’ve attended a movie in a town other than Wichita recently, you know how good we have it with our luxurious Warren Theatres — who also happen to make some delicious popcorn. If you have the discipline to skip the butter, the Warren also has self-serve stations where patrons can sprinkle their corn with flavored salts, from nacho cheese to cinnamon sugar. The best part of Warren popcorn, though: If you order a large, they’ll REFILL IT FOR FREE. I picked up this tip a year ago, and it’s been a life changer.

2. Mort’s, 923 E. First St.: Mort’s is among the bars in Wichita that has an always-popping popcorn machine,  and patrons are encouraged to help themselves for free. Mort’s popcorn is special because it’s liberally coated in jalapeno salt, giving it a delicious kick. Pair it with a vodka martini and thank me later.

3. Heroes, 117 N. Mosley: Heroes is another Wichita bar that keeps the popcorn popping in a machine set up in the back. Patrons can self-serve into plastic baskets and much away while they wait for their beers and burgers.

It’s worth nothing that Wichita also has a few gardening centers and hardware stores that provide popcorn to shoppers.

Do you have a favorite popper I’ve overlooked?

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 whitney@jacobliquor.com.

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.

A whole new Heroes

This is what Heroes looks like without carpet.

Heroes in Old Town has been closed since Sunday while workers pound away on a half-million dollar remodel. New manager Jason Fisher had hoped to be ready to re-open this afternoon, but things got behind, as they tend to do.

If all goes well, though, he’ll be ready to open at lunchtime on Friday. When customers re-enter, they’ll find a new-and-improved Heroes, complete with a carpet-free concrete floor (better for sloshed beer absorption), new standup drink bars and brand-new booths and bar stools.

A new, expanded patio should be ready to go by Cinco De Mayo (May 5), and Fisher and Co. also are working on adding 19 new items to the menu, including bierocks, enchiladas, salmon and several new salads.

I’m going to inspect the new menu sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll report back. All I can say is that Fisher BETTER leave my buffalo chicken pizza right where it is.

I’m kidding. Kind of.

Mmmmm. Green beer.

Green food coloring makes beer taste better on March 17.

This snap by my talented BFF Jaime was too pretty not to share. She shot it while at Heroes over lunch today, but she swears she was working and not imbibing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

BREAKING LUNCH NEWS!!!

I don’t have breaking lunch news to report very often, but today I do.

Heroes in Old Town just posted on Twitter that, in honor of Snowmageddon, they’ll serve any menu item featuring bacon for half-price. Keep in mind that Heroes is home of sweet pepper bacon.

That might just be worth the pain of going outdoors.