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Monday, April 14, 2014

Food worth driving for

BY DENISE NEIL
The Wichita Eagle

If you live in Wichita, you don't have to get out of town to have a unique and delicious dining experience.

But isn't it good to know that you can?

Smaller communities near Wichita are home to many road-trip-worthy eateries — burger joints, Mexican restaurants, coffee shops, down-home cafes and more.

Following is a list of some of the places you might want to check out next time your stomach is empty and your gas tank is full:

Newton — The Breadbasket

Address: 219 N. Main St., 316-283-3811

Distance from Wichita: 27 miles

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

One of Newton's best known eateries has an eclectic menu: a daily breakfast buffet, a dry-erase-board lunch menu, a full bakery, and on Friday and Saturday nights, an authentic German buffet.

The popular German buffet (served from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) features dishes such as verenika — sort of a German tortellini that's steamed, fried and topped with ham gravy, German sausages, cabbage borscht and more. The daily sandwich board always has reubens and bierocks alongside a large selection of soups and salads.

And breakfast, served from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, includes fresh cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos and more.

Valley Center: Bravo's Italiani

Address: 218 W. Main St., 316-755-9966

Distance from Wichita: 15 miles

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Owner Kas Zendeli, who fled the crowded Dallas restaurant scene for a quieter, smaller town, opened Bravo's Italiani on Halloween of last year and now is drawing fans to Valley Center with his Italian cuisine, including pasta, tirimisu, New York-style pizza and fried calamari that some say is the best in the area. The restaurant has a full bar and a nice website — bravositaliani.com.

Hesston: Ruffino's

Address: 4 Leonard Court, 620-327-2328

Distance from Wichita: 35 miles

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

Ruffino's opened in March and specializes in Italian food, especially pasta. It offers daily specials such as chicken lasagna, stuffed red bell peppers and more. Vichdan Burniku is the owner.

Andover — Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant

Address: 119 W. Central, 316-733-2332

Distance from Wichita: 12 miles

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays

Adriana Molina is one of three partners in a small, colorful, family-owned restaurant that serves Mexican food she describes as authentic.

The 2-year-old restaurant specializes in dishes such as molcajetes — a meaty, saucy dish served in a lava rock bowl — and enchiladas suizas. And Las Palmas is famous for its $1 margaritas, served all day on Thursdays.

Sedgwick — Cy's Hoof & Horn

Address: 425 N. Commercial Ave., 316-772-5329

Distance from Wichita: 23 miles

Hours: The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Cy Lampe owns this well-known steakhouse, which specializes in ribeyes, filets, KC strips and chicken fried steaks. It's a country sort of place, with deer and buffalo heads mounted on the wall and the Kansas delicacy known as calf fries sizzlin' the fryer.

Derby — Pizza John's

Address: 208 S. Baltimore Ave., 316- 788-2011

Distance from Wichita: 12 miles

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays

Pizza John's is a Derby landmark that's been attracting pizza and pasta fans for 41 years. John McCulloch, the rascally owner who describes the restaurant as "a pain in the left ear," makes his pizza crust fresh daily. The restaurant also is known for pasta dishes and sandwiches, all served in a 1980s pizzeria atmosphere.

PART II

The list of good restaurants in nearby towns turned out to be so long that there wasn't room to print all of it here. Look for Part II, which will feature restaurants in Winfield, Wellington and more, in two weeks.

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