I can’t decide what I like best about Yolo Grill.
Is it that its earnest owners, Aaron and Cindy Cline, named it Yolo – after the online abbreviation “YOLO” – because they’d always wanted to own a restaurant, and after all, You Only Live Once?
Is it because the couple is always in the restaurant, cooking the food themselves and tending to customers?
Is it because they’ve taken a somewhat depressing space that tends to get a new tenant every year and turned in into an inviting, hustling business?
Or is it the crispy edges on their char-grilled burgers?
I think it’s the crispy edges.
The Clines gave it a fresh coat of bright green paint, spruced up the inside, and started serving burgers and Reubens that have quickly developed a following.
We tried the bacon cheeseburger and the mushwiss burger, each of which was $4.90. The bacon cheeseburger featured a generous patty with those wonderful crispy char-grilled edges, and the bacon on top was crisp and flavorful. The mushwiss burger was equally good, and the sauteed mushrooms were so good, we contemplated ordering a side just to snack on.
For the $2 “combo” up-charge per burger, we got two large drinks, an order of small fries and an order of onion rings. We liked the fries, which were the hand-cut variety that come out dark brown with the skin still on. They were a little mushy but nicely salted, and the portion was reasonably sized. It wasn’t the mountain of fries many burger places serve, but for an extra $1.50 or $2.50, Yolo will pile more on.
The onion rings had a non-greasy breading, which had a fine flavor but didn’t adhere very well to the onions. The fries were better.
Our only complaint about the burgers were the homemade buns, and it’s a small complaint. The bread had a great yeasty flavor, but after soaking up burger goodness for a few minutes, it started to disintegrate and crumble.
At the advice of the helpful and friendly cashier, we ordered Yolo’s Reuben, too. He proclaimed himself a Reuben expert and rattled off a list of Wichita’s other best Reubens as proof. (The Artichoke, Merle’s Place and the Anchor were his picks.) But he insisted that Yolo’s was right up there, and I’d have to agree. The corned beef, which Aaron Cline brines himself, was thick and juicy, and the warm homemade sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and melted Swiss cheese that topped it made a delicious adhesive. It was all stuffed between large slices of rye. (The cashier also revealed that the Reuben is sometimes unavailable at lunch, depending on demand from the day before.)
We also liked the grilled chicken wrap ($5), which was dripping with a spicy chipotle ranch sauce. The wrap was fresh made, so the lettuce and tomato on one side were still cold, while the juicy chicken chunks on the other were warm.
My favorite thing about the meal: I finally found a Wichita restaurant that serves one of my favorite indulgences – fried pickles – in the shape of spears rather than coins or chunks. Yolo’s delicious fried pickle spears are $3.70, and the portion is generous, served with a side of ranch dressing.