Restaurant gift cards are always a safe choice for food lovers on your Christmas list. And now that so many Wichita-area restaurants are offering bonus cards to gift card purchasers, they’re often a profitable choice, too.
But they’re not the only choice.
Several local restaurants, cooks and chefs offer items that would make delicious gifts for foodies this Christmas. Following is a list of ideas.
Restaurant recipes revealed: Occasionally, local chefs are generous enough to share the secrets behind some of their best dishes. Notorious among them is Tanya Tandoc, who for years has been selling packages of her most popular recipes from her Tanya’s Soup Kitchen (chicken curry, tomato bisque and bread pudding among them). This year’s printings are spiral-bound, and she’s offering six volumes worth. They’re $45 for all six volumes or $10 per single volume and are available at the restaurant, 1725 E. Douglas, or at Lucinda’s, 329 N. Mead in Old Town Square.
Another place to get restaurant recipes: The Junior League has a new cookbook out called “Pinches & Dashes: Recipes & Life Measures,” and it includes recipes provided by nine local restaurants: Caffe Moderne, Chester’s Chophouse, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Newport Grill, Luca Italian Kitchen, River City Brewery, Sabor, Watermark Books & Cafe and YaYa’s EuroBistro. It’s $28.95 and is available at places such as Watermark Books and The Plaid Giraffe or online at jlwichita.org. Proceeds will go toward organizations that combat child abuse.
Super salad dressings and seasonings: Le Monde at 602 N. West St. sells its delicious and tangy fattouch dressing for $8.99 a bottle, which customers can bring back to the restaurant for $4.99 refills. And Byblos at 3088 W. 13th St. offers its fattouch and Greek dressings for $3.95 and its garlic dressing for $5.95. Fans of the restaurant often buy bottles by the case and ship them to their loved ones across the country, said owner Ilham Saad..
Restaurant fans also can find spice blends for sale at some restaurants, including Freddy’s Frozen Custard, which sells its seasoning (particularly good shaken on fries or added to meat before grilling) for $3.99 a bottle. They’ll throw in a free bottle with the purchase of a $25 gift card.
Chef training: Throughout the year, Wichita’s most popular chefs can be found sharing their skills in local cooking classes. Cooking at Bonnie’s Place at 9747 E. 21st St. (316-425-5224) frequently offers classes by chefs such as Bella Vita Bistro’s Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder and Bocconcini’s Nathan Toubia. On Jan. 24, Carrabba’s Joe Parten is leading a class on Italian cooking. The school sells gift certificates, and most classes cost $40 or $45 a person.
Another option: Popular local chef Jason Febres frequently leads cooking classes at his Taste & See at 3825 E. Harry, which is a lunch spot/party venue and cooking class venue all in one. Gift certificates are available. Call 316-771-7393 for a list of classes.
For the chocolate lover: Wichita is lucky to have several local purveyors of decadent sweet treats. Besides the obvious Nifty Nuthouse at 537 N. St. Francis, which is packed with people in search of double-dipped malt balls throughout the holiday season, shoppers also can find elaborately wrapped packages of gourmet chocolates at Cero’s, 1108 E. Douglas, and Cocoa Dolce, 2132 N. Rock Road. A beautiful holiday mix at Cocoa Dolce offers a package of chocolates flavored like gingerbread, pumpkin spice truffle, egg nog and more.
Membership and its privileges: If you have a relative who likes kitschy throwback supper clubs (and really, who doesn’t?), you could buy a membership to Wichita’s legendary Candle Club at 6135 E. 13th St. The membership is $50, and dues are $25 a month. Stop by or call the restaurant at 316-684-7281 for details on setting up a gift membership.
Other restaurants, such as Granite City, offer memberships that will benefit loyal customers. For $20, a Granite City “Mug Club” membership offers holders a 10 percent discount on all food orders, special pricing on beer, invitations to tapping parties and other regular discounts. Wichita’s Granite City restaurants are at 2244 N. Webb Road and 2661 N. Maize Road. Memberships are available at www.granitecitymugclub.com.
Mmmmm meat: What would be more dramatic than offering a refrigerated gift on Christmas morning? Piccadilly Grill at 7728 E. Central is selling its Steak Gift Boxes this holiday season. Choices include four 8-ounce center-cut choice filets with Montreal seasoning or six 8-ounce smoky bacon-wrapped shoulder tenders with Montreal seasoning and coffee and spice rub, both for $49. Other cuts are available, too. Call 316-681-1100 to place an order.
Gift cards: If you choose to go the gift card route – and there’s nothing wrong with that – consider some of the many restaurants offering bonus cards. Places such as Abuelo’s, On the Border, Jason’s Deli, Chipotle and many more are offering incentives such as $5 bonus cards or certificates for free food to gift card purchasers.