Dining With Denise Neil

Recognizing Wichita's best popcorn

National Popcorn Day was on Sunday, but many popcorn lovers are celebrating it throughout this week. (Sonic Drive-In, for example, has declared today National Popcorn Day and is celebrating by offering servings of its popcorn chicken for $1.)

My family loves popcorn so much that last year, I bought a movie theater-style popcorn making machine to have in the house, and it gets used several times a week. I’ve also become rather knowledgeable about the best popcorn poppers around Wichita. Here are my picks:

1. Warren Theatre popcorn: If you’ve attended a movie in a town other than Wichita recently, you know how good we have it with our luxurious Warren Theatres — who also happen to make some delicious popcorn. If you have the discipline to skip the butter, the Warren also has self-serve stations where patrons can sprinkle their corn with flavored salts, from nacho cheese to cinnamon sugar. The best part of Warren popcorn, though: If you order a large, they’ll REFILL IT FOR FREE. I picked up this tip a year ago, and it’s been a life changer.

2. Mort’s, 923 E. First St.: Mort’s is among the bars in Wichita that has an always-popping popcorn machine,  and patrons are encouraged to help themselves for free. Mort’s popcorn is special because it’s liberally coated in jalapeno salt, giving it a delicious kick. Pair it with a vodka martini and thank me later.

3. Heroes, 117 N. Mosley: Heroes is another Wichita bar that keeps the popcorn popping in a machine set up in the back. Patrons can self-serve into plastic baskets and much away while they wait for their beers and burgers.

It’s worth nothing that Wichita also has a few gardening centers and hardware stores that provide popcorn to shoppers.

Do you have a favorite popper I’ve overlooked?