A year ago, we put together a guide called “50 Wichita Restaurants You Should Try.” And trust me, it was nearly impossible to figure out which 50 restaurants to include. Wichita has at least four times that many fabulous places to dine.
This year, we’re getting a tad more specific. This time around, you’ll find a list of 50 dishes you should try. Scratch that - more like “50 Dishes you HAVE TO try.”
The list includes appetizers, desserts, drinks, main dishes and lots and lots of pizza. Many of these are my personal favorites, dishes I order again and again because I love them so much. I also consulted with readers of Dining With Denise to make sure I wasn’t missing any, and they had plenty of ideas, too.
Again this year, I tried to focus on dishes made at locally-owned restaurants, though I would have no trouble coming up with 50 dishes I love from chain restaurants, too.
I suggest you put on your loose-fitting pants and get to work. If you keep at it, you’ll have them all tried by the time I get the next guide out.
I published the first 10 on the list on Monday, and today, you get 11-20. I’ll share 10 more every day this week. (A booklet containing the whole list was included in Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, and extra copies should be out on racks in Dillon’s in about a month.)
I’ll post 10 more every day this week. And by all means, let me know what you think I missed. Just go to Dining with Denise on Facebook and leave a comment.
11. Charlie’s Pizza Taco, Pizza Taco
It’s so weird, you’d think it would be gimmicky and gross. But a pizza taco, invented in nearby Pratt, is actually a weird idea that works. It’s made with a thin piece of pliable pizza crust stuffed with choice of beef, sausage or chicken (get sausage) plus Mozzarella cheese, shredded lettuce and pizza sauce. The creation is then folded up like a taco, sliced and served. It’s definitely more pizza than taco, but that’s a good thing. And it’s so big, you’ll need a knife and fork to eat it. $9.25, 602 N. Tyler Road, 316-440-6029
12. Chester’s Chophouse’s, Tumbleweeds
Yes, this is one of Wichita’s finest fine dining restaurants. And yes, it has an experienced chef who never makes a bad dish. But one of Chester’s best offerings is its Tumbleweed, an alcoholic ice cream drink from its dessert menu. It’s one of the best things you can order later in the evening when you’re ready for a break from the bar scene. One order is enough for two or more to share. $15, 1550 N. Webb Road, 316-201-1300
13. Chiquita’s Corner, Cheese and Potato Enchilada and Fried Taco
You might not expect some of Wichita’s best Mexican food to be produced in a tiny walk-up-only hut in a residential neighborhood, but Chiquita’s Corner will defy that expectation. The restaurant produces a hard-to-forget cheese enchilada, whose tortilla is soaked in a red ancho sauce before being stuffed with potatoes, cheese and onions. The taco also has potatoes in it, as well as peas, and it’s filled with ground beef before it’s pinned, deep-fried, then topped with lettuce, cheese and a squirt of salsa. Taco $3.50. Enchilada $3, 828 W. 11th Street. 316-259-7079
14. Churn & Burn, C&B Salted Caramel
Wichita’s most unique ice cream shop uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze the ice cream. Then they mix it into tempting coffee-based concoctions like this one, made with vanilla ice cream, espresso and salted caramel chunks from Nifty Nut House. Then it’s topped with homemade whipped cream and caramel sauce. Worth every calorie. $7.47 for a large, 548 S. Oliver, 316-425-7766
15. College Hill Deli, Gyro
Wichita has a lot of gyros, but one of the best comes from College Hill neighborhood favorite College Hill Deli. It’s made with marinated beef gyro meat that’s rolled in Greek-style pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and a homemade cucumber yogurt sauce with choice of side. Choose the fattouch. $6.50,3407 E. Douglas, 316-687-0202
16. DeFazio’s, Sausage Manicotti
DeFazio’s has been a neighborhood Italian restaurant favorite for 35 years, turning out always-reliable Italian dishes. (Actually, I call what DeFazio’s makes “Wich-Italian.”) But the crowd favorite is the sausage manicotti, stuffed with a blend of sausages and cheeses and baked until bubbling with red sauce. Don’t forego the pre-meal ritual of the Italian salad with pickled eggplant and perfectly greasy orange Italian vinaigrette. $9 for one sleeve, $14 for two, 2706 N. Amidon, 316-838-0709
17. Dempsey’s Burger Pub, Egg Burger
A fried egg makes just about everything better, and that’s also true at Dempsey’s, where just a plain burger is pretty darn good. The egg burger is even better and features bacon and Swiss cheese plus a fried egg topper. Be sure to ask for the egg over easy and let the yolk ooze over everything. $9.25, 3700 E. Douglas, 316-425-3831
18. District Taqueria, Queso Dip and Chips
You’ll order this trendy taqueria’s queso dip expecting the liquid, creamy stuff you get from other Mexican restaurants. But what you’ll get is a little mason jar full of a cold, thick dip made with a combination of cream cheese, chipotle peppers, house salsa, fresh peppers and garlic. $4.25, 917 E, Douglas, 316-832-8155
19. Doo-Dah Diner, Crab Cake Benedict
Patrick and Timirie Shibley rightly guessed five years ago that Wichita might respond well to massive plates of diner goodness, sort of like the stuff featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Since then, Doo-Dah has become a Wichita favorite, and the crab cakes Benedict, which feature French-style lump crab cakes on top of hash browns with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, grilled asparagus and jalapeno bacon crumbles, is the diner’s best seller. $15.99, 206 E. Kellogg, 316-265-7011
20. Felipe’s Cheese Enchiladas
There’s just something about the way the cheese melts, gets crispy on the edges and adheres to the metal serving trays at Felipe’s that make it unforgettable. Avoid any extra toppings or fillings. Just cheese will do. $7.99 for two, several Wichita locations