Restaurant News & Reviews

June 18, 2010

Dining down memory lane

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Eagle on July 30, 2004.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Eagle on July 30, 2004.

Carol Beat can still taste the open-faced turkey, asparagus and cheese sandwiches from Dr. Redbird's Medicinal Inn, where she and co-workers would often dine in the '70s and '80s.

Margie Hale and her girlfriends had a standing Saturday lunch date at La Palma, a one-time popular Mexican restaurant that served the best chile con queso in town.

On special occasions, Joyce Straughen's family went to Elizabeth's, the home of her mother's favorite baked Alaska.

Last week, we asked readers to reminisce about their favorite Wichita restaurants of the past, and we were overwhelmed with responses.

If memories were edible, Wichitans wouldn't need nourishment for weeks.

This week, we'll share the restaurants that earned the most mentions. In two weeks on this page, we'll name the best of the rest.

Among old eateries readers remember most:

* Dr. Redbird's Medicinal Inn: This restaurant, known for its excellent coffee and high-piled sandwiches, got the most mentions from Eagle readers. Its menu was unusual and offered cleverly named dishes like "The Doctor's Consumption Cure."

Owned by Richard and Marni Vliet, who also started the Looking Glass and the original Larkspur, Dr. Redbird's had several locations throughout the '70s and '80s, the most popular one on Douglas.

"It had the best sandwiches I've ever tasted," said another fan, Teresa Cansell.

* La Palma: German Reyes, a native of Bogata, Colombia, opened this home-style Mexican restaurant at Lincoln and Governeour in 1974.

It moved to the historic Wishbone building at 5231 E. Central, where it remained until it closed in 1992.

Several readers salivated over La Palma's food, including the ham- and bean-filled flautas, the pork chile verde and the fresh tamales.

"I still judge other Mexican restaurants by La Palma," said Sondra Bandy Koontz.

* The Fife and Drum: Also a one-time occupant of the Wishbone building, the Fife and Drum was opened by Steve Xidis in the 1960s. Joyce Straughen says she can't forget the restaurant's fabulous lemon meringue pie.

* Hickory House: It closed in 1983, but many Wichitans still miss the Hickory House, which operated for years at 1625 E. Central.

Jane Aitken remembers salad carts that were wheeled to tables and left until the food arrived.

And Kirby Commer remembers going there as a child in the '50s and '60s. He still thinks about the delicious German sauerkraut and deep-fried shrimp.

* Elizabeth's: Located at Kellogg and Bluff, this family-style restaurant was a Wichita favorite.

Katie Christenson remembers eating the chocolate meringue pie and getting a little toy each time she visited.

And Dolores Crum remembers the restaurant's "surprise entree."

"Instead of deciding what to order, you ordered the surprise and you received one of the entrees," Crum said.

This story was published two weeks later, on Aug. 13.

When we recently asked readers to share their memories of Wichita restaura nts from the past, we got a super-sized response.

Two weeks ago, we shared the names of the restaurants that were most often mentioned by readers - favorite establishments like Dr. Redbird's Medicinal Inn, La Palma and the Hickory House.

This week, as promised, we're listing the other restaurants from the past that received multiple mentions.

And they are:

* The Looking Glass: Located at 412 E. Douglas, The Looking Glass was a popular downtown eatery in the 1970s and early 1980s known for dishes like crepes and salads with Swiss cheese dressing.

* Shakey's Pizza Parlor: This restaurant was described by one reader as "the place to go eat pizza and drink dark beer in the late '60s."

* Applegate's Landing: A Pizza-Hut spin-off restaurant in the '70s and '80s, this popular eatery had at least three locations including the original at 13th and Oliver. It featured pasta, pizza and a salad bar set up in the bed of an old antique truck.

* Ichiban Japanese Restaurant: Also a staple of the 1970s, Ichiban, at 1002 S. Seneca, featured table or floor seating and served excellent tempura.

* Diamond Head Restaurant: First in the Seneca Square shopping center and later at 5825 W. Central, this favorite restaurant served Chinese cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. One reader fondly recalled the flaming volcano appetizer tray.

* Mr. Dunderbak's: A popular Bavarian restaurant, Mr. Dunderbak's operated for years in Towne East Square.

* Ferrell's: This old-fashioned soda shop in Towne East was wistfully recalled by several readers who wished they could take their children there today.

* Longneckers: This oversized burger joint opened at Central and Woodlawn in 1984 and earned many fans with its build-your-own burger concept.

* Garvie's Restaurant: Back in the 1950s, this well-loved downtown restaurant served dishes like ham loaf, pineapple cake and peas with Spanish peanuts.

* Ralph Baum Burger: Several readers said their mouths still water for Ralph Baum burgers, sold from many Wichita locations.

* Wolf's Cafeteria: It was closed in the 1960s to make way for Century II, but this cafeteria still lives in the memories of several readers.

* Albert's: Of course, many readers also remembered Albert's, the Chinese restaurant that closed in 2001 after 54 years in business.

* Recent memories: Some readers mentioned restaurants that haven't been gone for very long like Garden Cafe, Semolina, Gambucci's and Amarillo Grill.

* And the rest: Among the other restaurant names that were mentioned: Le Beaujolais, The Old Way Station, Chateaubriand, The Lazy R, Portobello Road, Bill's Big 6, The Drive-In Market, El Charro, Henry Burger, Polar Bear, Sidman's, Magnolia Cafe, Holly Cafe, Hope's Hamburger Hut, Pete's Place, White Cliff's of Dover, King's Food Host, Ken's Club, Tom and Sonny's, Griff's Burger Bar, Pasta Mill, Steak & Ale, The Connoisseur, Grandy's and White Castle.

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