R Coffee House offers food, java in neighborhood setting

05/15/2014 4:09 PM

05/15/2014 4:11 PM

Sitting on the corner of 11th and Bitting in Riverside, among beautiful trees and quaint apartments, next to a little barber shop and disc golf store, is R Coffee House. It’s a place where everyone in the neighborhood hangs out to enjoy coffee, good food, live jazz, open poetry and stories.

The small building has been a coffeehouse for many years and holds a special place in the Riverside community’s culture. Angelo Rodriguez purchased the business, formerly known as the Riverside Perk, in September 2012 and has received much praise from the neighborhood since. The Rodriguez family also owns Anna Murdoc’s Cafe downtown, known for its creative recipes that focus on authentic, feel-good Mexican food with a contemporary, experimental twist.

ON THE MENU: The menu includes a great selection for breakfast, including biscuits and gravy ($3 for a half order or $5 for full order), French toast ($5), an open-faced omelet breakfast burrito ($6) and grilled breakfast sandwiches ($5). Lunch includes Angelo’s signature cranberry and tomato chicken salad sandwich on ciabatta ($6.50) and a seafood salad sandwich on ciabatta ($6.50). All sandwiches and paninis come with a side of potato salad or bag of chips. Every Wednesday, R Coffee House showcases a vegetarian menu.

Rodriguez is known for his creative, in-the-moment daily menu options, and I was encouraged by a group of customers to follow the Facebook page to find out what special entree is being featured each day. Recently, featured entrees included barbecue brisket, enchiladas, carne asada burritos and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

DON’T-MISS DISHES: The best thing I ordered was the open-faced omelet breakfast burrito ($6). This signature burrito starts as a three-egg omelet filled with fresh and lightly sauteed spinach and red onion, then fried potatoes, ham, bacon, mushrooms, tomato and melted cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. The omelet was layered in the middle of a lightly toasted flour tortilla and sprinkled with shredded cheese. I could tell that it was cooked with flavor in mind as the fresh spinach, mushrooms and tomato were still crisp to the bite and the ham full of its tender-honey savor, not flat or overcooked. The dish doesn’t come with a side item, and it wasn’t needed. I was very satisfied.

Angelo also hit an iced-coffee-lover’s home run with a drink called the “Yin Yang” ($4), featuring a shot of espresso, a splash of half and half, and a few drips of caramel and white chocolate poured over a snow cone. It was brilliant. I can’t say enough about this uniquely creative drink. This is a must-try item.

ATMOSPHERE: The dining area has limited seating, and when the weather is right, R Coffee House has the best outdoor seating in Wichita. The walls are bright and showcase the work of local artists. This month’s art comes from the students of Marshall Middle School. While I sat eating, students from Wichita State University came in and played jazz. Live music happens five to six days a week, including every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The feeling was very warm, organic and family friendly.

PRICE RANGE: Most dishes are between $4 and $6. Specialty espresso drinks are around $3 to $4.50. R Coffee House serves PT’s direct-trade coffee from Topeka, which is a huge plus for me.

SERVICE: The day I visited, the service was surprisingly quick. Even though every meal is made from scratch, I waited less than 10 minutes for my meal and coffee. My food was hot, the presentation was nice, and my espresso was fresh.

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