ESPN writer Myron Medcalf covers college basketball, and he travels for work all the time.
Whenever he’s about to head to a new place, the Minneapolis-based Medcalf – who’s a foodie on the side – sends out a message to his Twitter followers, asking them where he should dine while visiting.
He always gets replies, he said, and he usually comes away with four or five solid suggestions.
“I usually get a positive response,” he said on Thursday, just before heading to Koch Arena to watch the Shockers defeat University of Central Florida. “But I’ve never had a response like I got from Wichita people.”
Earlier this week, I noticed and wrote about all the traffic Medcalf was getting on Twitter in response to his question about dining options in Wichita. (Medcalf revealed that he was in town working on an in-depth story about the Shockers.)
I even joined in the tweeting.
Respondents had all kinds of suggestions. One told him to avoid barbecue. One told him to go to Sport Burger – or else. One even planned and posted a meal-by-meal itinerary especially for Medcalf.
When he arrived in town on Wednesday, Medcalf said, he could not believe the number of responses he’d received (100 and counting) and how enthusiastic everyone was. He figured he’d better get to eating.
His first stop was Little Saigon, 1015 N. Broadway, where he had a bowl of pho soup that he said was in the “legit top three” of all pho he’d ever eaten.
“I go to a lot of Vietnamese places around the country, and you judge the pho by the broth,” he said. “When I got it, I took a few sips then I made some noises might have made a few people uncomfortable. It was so good.”
It was late, and he had a lot of restaurants on his list, so he decided to continue on to second dinner and went to Molino’s, 1064 N. Waco, where he sampled some street tacos and took a selfie with owner, Mario Quiroz.
“I didn’t realize Wichita had so much good Mexican food,” he said.
On Thursday morning, it was off to Doo-Dah Diner, 206 E. Kellogg. By the time Medcalf arrived, his local culinary fame had grown, and the owners recognized him. They insisted he try everything, including monkey bread and the Triple D breakfast with banana bread French toast, corned beef hash and eggs Benedict.
“Then they brought biscuits and gravy, and it might have changed my life,” Medcalf said.
After he was finished working Thursday night, he followed Wichita’s directions and went to The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, where he was too full to sample anything but tater tots and some local beer.
But he loved the atmosphere, which he said rivaled some of the best bars he’s visited in New York City.
“I didn’t think Wichita had this kind of cool laid back vibe,” he said “It’s like people are really laid back and chill.”
On Thursday night, he was already planning where he’d dine Friday before heading back home and he was considering taking the suggestion of Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, who also chimed in and encouraged Medcalf to check out Chester’s Chophouse and Georges French Bistro.
Medcalf said he was surprised not only by how many people offered him suggestion but also by how proud Wichita was of its dining scene – and how truly good the restaurants he visited were.
He’d been to Wichita once before, but just for a day and not for a basketball game.
After this week, though, he’s a believer.
“This is the best surprise in the Midwest,” he said. “People should check out the food and the basketball because they’re both great.”