Dining With Denise Neil

The many ways this list of Kansas’ best hole-in-the-wall burger joints gets it wrong

Bomber Burger is called one of Wichita’s best hole-in-the-wall burger joints by a new list. It’s also described as “such a friendly place.”
Bomber Burger is called one of Wichita’s best hole-in-the-wall burger joints by a new list. It’s also described as “such a friendly place.”

A new list that purports to know the 11 Best Hole-In-the-Wall Burger Joints in Kansas has me scratching my head.

My first thought: Dempsey’s Burger Pub is a hole-in-the-wall? A good burger, yes. A hole-in-the-wall? Not so sure about that.

My second thought: A few Wichita spots are clearly missing.

My third thought: How soon can I get out of town to try all of the small-town burger joints on this list?

The list, put out by list-factory www.onlyinyourstate.com, was published last week and has inspired much online burger discussion locally.

(FILE VIDEO -- JULY 6, 2016) Friends Tom Kluge and Kent Kruske have been visiting local burger joints together for 15 years. They have a spreadsheet with remarks about their dining experiences.

The Wichita burger spots that made the list: Bomber Burger (4860 S. Clifton) at No. 2, and Dempsey’s Burger Pub (3700 E. Douglas) at No. 5. Though Bomber Burger, the tiny, no-frills hut owned by the famously salty Chris Rickard, is most definitely one of Wichita’s most well-regarded holes-in-the-wall, Dempsey’s — as small as it is — is really more of a neighborhood hangout. Its burger is good, but the restaurant is not greasy, tiny nor in the right setting to qualify as a hole-in-the-wall, in my opinion.

Another thing about this list: It calls Bomber Burger “such a friendly place,” a description that surly (and proud of it) owner Rickard would likely scoff in the general direction of. He can be friendly, sure, but it’s not his No. 1 quality. Burger making is. And he’s the first to admit it.

I can’t, however, disagree with the inclusion of Salina’s Cozy Inn, home of the greasy sliders, and now I’m intrigued by several other not-too-far-from-Wichita nominees on the list: Emporia’s J’s Carryout and Winfield’s Burger Station among them.

Take a look at the list and tell me what you think. Is Dempsey’s a hole-in-the-wall? Is Bomber Burger “such a friendly place”? And shouldn’t Ty’s Diner or Jack’s Coffee Shop be on this list?

(FILE VIDEO) Wichita Eagle food writer Denise Neil takes a look at some Wichita restaurants with small properties and big reputations. What makes a good "hole in the wall"? Find out in the first episode of "Dining with Denise." (2016)

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