Linkhaus is arguably the slickest and fanciest of the hot dog restaurants that have cropped up in Wichita over the past year.
It was opened in May in a new glass-and-metal building at 37th and Rock by a group of investors that includes local orthopedic surgeon Robert Eyster.
The restaurant's main attractions are its menu of 13 creatively topped hot dogs and brats and its crispy and delicious double-fried tater tots.
But its concept is a tad confusing — Linkhaus is trying to be a hot dog stand, a breakfast spot and a nightlife destination, all at once.
ON THE MENU: Linkhaus serves designer hot dogs, ranging from a traditional Chicago Dog to one topped with kimchi, plus a build-your-own option. Each dog comes with a side of tots, or you can order them topped with cheese, chili or pico de gallo. The restaurant also serves salads and breakfast bowls and has veggie dogs on the menu.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: We wanted to be thorough, so we ordered six of the menu's 13 dogs — quite an undertaking for one sitting. Not realizing that each dog came with a side of tots (the menu doesn't note that), we also ordered two servings of the double-fried delights, so we left with a ton of extra tots.
That's not necessarily a problem, though, because the tots are the best feature at Linkhaus. Perfectly salty and totally crisp, they're almost impossible to stop eating.
We weren't as enthusiastic about all of our dogs, however, even though they looked great, and the toppings were colorful and imaginative.
A curry brat, for example, came topped with pickled carrots, red onion, green chutney and radish slices, and the South of the Border dog was piled with red onions, jack cheese, avocado slices, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos.
The problem with all the dogs was the dogs themselves — a collection of brats, Vienna beef hot dogs, polish sausages and traditional hot dogs. Though the menu claimed that most were infused with a corresponding flavor (such as curry or chorizo), they were universally bland and under-seasoned, and in most cases, the toppings couldn't correct that problem.
Among the dogs we most enjoyed was the Chicago Dog, a wiener classic topped with mustard, pickle relish, white onion, cherry tomatoes, sport peppers, celery salt and a pickle spear. Though its poppy seed bun was a bit too soft to support all that stuffing, it had a nice overall kick.
The grilled pepper dog also was good. What it lacked in color it made up for in grilled goodness from its red and green peppers, onions and poblanos, all cooked till soft in balsamic vinegar then topped with spicy mustard and sweet baby pickles.
Though it was fun to sample all the dogs, we didn't leave wishing we could have had more of anything. (Except the tots.)
Linkhaus also serves a menu of salads, and various combinations of the restaurant's best toppings, including cherry tomatoes, bacon, and all varieties of peppers. In the morning, it has breakfast bowls, featuring those terrific tots, scrambled eggs and a variety of toppings, from sour cream and chives to sausage gravy.
AMBIENCE: The architecture is beautiful — a soaring ceiling, a glass front and lots of natural light streaming through. The industrial decor includes marble-topped tables stamped with the Linkhaus logo, attractive white chairs and a professional paint job, which includes script on the walls that touts the restaurant's attributes.
PRICE RANGE: We've heard various complaints about the prices at Linkhaus since it opened, but we found them to be reasonable. The individual dogs and brats are huge, and the toppings are generous, so one should easily satisfy the average person. Served with a large side of tots, all the dogs cost either $5.50 or $6.50. Breakfast bowls are $3.99. Salads range from $5.99 to $7.99.
SERVICE: Good. Customers order at the counter, take a number and then pick up their meals when they're ready.