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.
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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, 11-20 on Tuesday and 21-30 on Wednesday. Today, you get 21-30, and I’ll wrap in up on Friday with the final 10. (A booklet containing the whole list was included in Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, and extra copies should be out on racks in Dillons in about a month.)
And by all means, let me know what you think I missed. Just go to Dining with Denise on Facebook and leave a comment.
31. Little Saigon, Banh Mi
If you’ve never had a Vietnamese sandwich known as banh mi, today’s the day to change that. And the place to change it is Little Saigon, which makes the best one in town. It features a choice of meat (get char broiled pork) stuffed onto a buttered French roll and topped with cucumber, carrot, cilantro and jalapeno. Douse the meat with a little soy sauce to maximize the flavor. $7.95, 1015 N. Broadway, 316-265-0054
32. Manna Wok, Bi Bim Bap in a Hot Stone Bowl
Few things will make your stomach happier on a cold winter day (or, come to think of it, on a hot summer day) than Manna Wok’s version of this Korean dish. It features rice topped with a mixture of veggies like spinach and bean sprouts that are arranged in compartments then topped with a runny fried egg. It’s served in a hot stone bowl, which gets so hot, it’s hard to eat a bite for several minutes after the dish arrives. And it’s so hot that the rice touching the bowl turns crispy, crunchy and perfect. $8.50, 4865 E. Harry, 316-684-5512
33. Marchello’s, Meat Lasagna
This restaurant is one of several in town that makes lasagna Wichita-style - assembled then baked until bubbly in a metal dish that arrives at your table so hot, you can’t touch it. Marchello’s version is one of the best. Say yes to the salad bar, and drench your lettuce with the orange-hued house Italian dressing. $8.49, 3107 S. Seneca, 316-522-6662
34. Molino’s, Piratas
It looks like an oversized soft taco, but Molino’s pirata is so much more. It’s an 8-inch tortilla filled with meat of choice (I always get carnitas) as well as with spicy pico, guacamole, lettuce and a metly, rich queso that sticks to your teeth. It’s folded over and grilled until crispy on the outside. One is plenty, but you’ll want two. Or more. $5.99 or two for $10.99, 1064 N. Waco, 316-977-9336 and 7817 E. 37th St. North, 316-260-5600
35. My Tho, Beef Stew
Vietnamese beef stew is not really like your mom’s beef stew. It has hunks of steak and potato, yes, but the rich, orange broth the meat and veggies are floating in has layers and layers of flavor. You can order it with noodles or with a hunk of French bread, and it comes with a side of pho toppings like bean sprouts and jalapenos. $7.25, $8.25, 500 E. Central, 316-262-5452
36. Meddys, Garlic Chicken Platter
If you love garlic, you’ll love this dish from Meddy’s, made with half a chicken that’s been hand-rubbed with 12 spices then baked and tossed in a bowl with fresh garlic, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice. It comes with a side of grilled potatoes, pickled turnips and garlic paste. $11.99, 7906 E. Harry, 316-558-9890, and 2300 N. Greenwich, 316-425-6871
37. Neighbors, Pan-Fried Chicken
I’m frequently asked who serves Wichita’s best fried chicken, and my answer is always Neighbors. This bar and grill pan fries its chicken, which results in an extra-crispy skin and juicy meat. If you go on Tuesdays or Sundays, fried chicken is on special so you can get yours quickly. Any other day, it takes about 30 minutes for the kitchen to fry the chicken, so be prepared to wait. $12.99 for a half-chicken dinner, $10.99 for a two-piece, 2315 W. 21st St. 316-838-1338
38. Newport Grill, Rock Shrimp Cigars
This well-known appetizer from Newport’s menu is like an egg roll, only it’s elegantly stuffed with shrimp, mascarpone, fresno chili and daikon radish then sliced and served on a swirl of pineapple sauce. $14, 1900 N. Rock Road, 316-636-9555
39. N&J Cafe, Chicken Hummus Shawarma
It’s listed on the appetizer menu, but the chicken hummus shawarma from this favorite Mediterranean restaurant is a perfect meal, too. It features a ring of the restaurant’s smooth hummus filled in the center with a mixture of sauteed red onions, tomatoes and secret spices. Scoop it up with N&J’s soft and crispy pita bread, a basket of which your server will drop at your table. Also available topped with beef or gyro meat. $7.50 for a small, $9.75 for a large, 5600 E. Lincoln, 316-681-3975
40. Old Mill Tasty Shop, Chicken Salad Sandwich
This iconic soda fountain in downtown Wichita has been around for 85 years, but its most popular dish is the work of current owner Mary Wright. The New York chicken salad is so legendary, the restaurant even had T-shirts printed in homage. Theirs is super creamy with a crunch provided by celery, onion and cashews. It’s served on egg bread with a slice of Swiss cheese. $5.25 for half, $7.25 for whole, 604 E. Douglas, 316-264-6500