Restaurant owners’ favorite local dishes
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.
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’ve published 10 of them every morning this week, and today, we’re at the end with 41-50. (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.
41. Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria, Manzoni Pizza
You’ve never tasted a pizza like this before – at least not in Wichita. It’s made on the restaurant’s signature light-as-air crust then is is topped with Berkshire prosciutto, mozzarella, olive oil and a generous amount of lemon zest, which brings a zing that brightens all of the other flavors. $15, 1706 E. Douglas, 316-866-6525
42. Picasso’s, Ginormous Pie
This Delano pizzeria makes giant, New York-style slices on chewy homemade crust. You have to try a slice, but you really have to try the pizzeria’s 26-inch pie, which is so big, you’ll have to put it in your trunk if you take it to-go. It’ll impress your friends, wow your kids and feed a very big crowd. Call at least an hour in advance. $31.50, each additional topping $5.99, 621 W. Douglas, 316-267-5423
43. Public at the Brickyard, Farmer’s Cobb Salad
Diners are universally crazy about Public’s prairie sliders, but the restaurant has another must-try dish on its menu. The Farmer’s Cobb salad is made with with Yoder salami and bacon, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, white cheddar and greens with honey mustard dressing. To make it even more veggie-rific, ask to have a serving of grilled green beans added on top. $9, 129 N. Rock Island, 316-263-4044
44. Restaurante Usuluteco, Pupusas
Pupusas are El Salvadorian, and the best place to get them is at this restaurant. They’re thick corn tortillas that are stuffed with choice of fillings, ranging from ground pork and cheese to beans to smoked ghost pepper cheese. They come with a cabbage slaw and salsa for topping. $1.95-$2.95 apiece, 2265 S. Seneca, 316-409-3820
45. Sabor Latin Bar & Grill, Polenta Tower
If you’re not a vegetarian, your eyes might scan right by the menu headline “vegetarian dishes.” And although Sabor grills some great Latin meat, this vegetarian dish is among the best offerings on the whole menu. The kitchen starts with an artful base of pureed spicy black beans then tops it with layers of golden polenta, roasted tomatoes, cremini and portobello mushrooms, melty manchego and Mozzarella cheeses, spinach and jalapeno drizzle. $15, 309 N Mead, 316-201-4880
46. Saigon Oriental Restaurant, No. 45
Not many people in Wichita need an introduction to Vietnamese food. But if they do, No. 45 is a good place to start. In Vietnamese, the dish is called bun, and it’s a bowl of vermicelli noodles topped with lettuce, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts and a bright pink charbroiled pork. A sweet and vinegary sauce is served on the side for drenching. No. 45 also comes with one of Saigon’s fried egg rolls, which are the best in town. $7.95, 1103 N. Broadway, 316-262-8134
47. Sport Burger, Cheeseburger
There’s a reason people are willing to sit in an awkward drive-through line at this tiny, 69-year-old Valentine diner at Hillside and Douglas. Their cheeseburgers, which are just $1.49 apiece, feature a seasoned and smashed pattie topped with juicy grilled onions. At this price, you can afford to indulge in a whole bag of them. $1.49, 134 N. Hillside, 316-683-6503
48. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, Chicken Curry over Rice
It’s served only on Wednesdays, and every other day of the week, you’ll torture yourself dreaming about it. This restaurant’s signature soup, created by its late founder Tanya Tandoc and lovingly recreated weekly by chef Kelly Rae Leffel, features a velvety, creamy curry ladled over white rice and topped with a sweet and chewy apple chutney. $11.50, 1725 E. Douglas, 316-267-7687
49. Taqueria El Fogon, Al Pastor Tacos
You can see the pork rotating on a “trompo” behind the counter at this unassuming, cash-only restaurant that’s tucked away near Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph. The bright red meat is cut thin but served juicy and tastes of chilies and pineapple. Tacos are served simply on corn tortillas with chopped onions and cilantro. $1.75, 1555 S. Bluffview, 316-681-0969
50. Ziggy’s, Taco Pizza
This Wichita pizzeria, which just added a second location, makes excellent pies that are curiously rectangular. The best (and most colorful) is the Mamacita’s taco pizza, which is topped with a thin layer of refried beans and taco sauce plus choice of ground beef or chicken, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. It’s topped with crushed Doritos and served with a side of sour cream and salsa. $12.99, 3700 E. Douglas, 316-613-2529 and 12115 E. 21st St. North, 316-779-8181