Before they moved to Wichita in 2007, Gregg and Lynn Marshall didn’t eat out a lot.
Their kids were small, and so was their town. There was a good home-cooking place in Rock Hill, South Carolina — where Gregg was head coach at Winthrop University from 1998 to 2007 — but to get a meal anywhere much fancier than Applebee’s, the Marshalls had to drive over to Charlotte. And they rarely did that.
Since moving here in 2007, though, Lynn Marshall has developed into a bit of a foodie. She’s a vocal fan of local restaurants, and finding a new one she likes thrills her, especially a salty, saucy hole in the wall. Her desire for knowledge about Wichita’s dining scene is intense, and she frequently sends message to Dining with Denise asking for tips or sharing finds.
Lynn, who also has honed her skills as a home cook during her tenure in Wichita (her friends and family rave about her shrimp and grits), loves to dine outdoors, craves spicy food and anything flavored with Buffalo sauce, and doesn’t mind chatting with basketball fans who spot her and Gregg when they’re dining out — as long as they’re polite.
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The couple eats out two or three times a week, Lynn said, and they always try to go out to lunch when Gregg has a day off. Lynn also can be spotted lunching around town with her girlfriends, including her restaurant guru and best pal Diane Fletcher.
The Marshalls frequently dine out when the Shockers are on the road, so Lynn has lots of opportunity to compare the food she loves in her adopted hometown to what she gets in big cities across the country.
Wichita, she’s determined, is a pretty good place to eat out.
“I love the food here,” Lynn said during a recent lunch at one of her favorites, Saigon at 1103 N. Broadway. “I think there’s great variety, and I think there are a lot of really talented chefs. I think we hold our own. Maybe you’re not looking at a mountain or an ocean while you’re eating it, but I think our city is well represented.”
“I really do, Gregg,” Lynn added, addressing her husband who was dipping his egg roll in a complicated soy sauce/ Sriracha mixture he had just assembled.
“You don’t have to convince me,” he replied.
Just for fun, and because I was curious, I asked Lynn recently if she’d assemble for me her list of favorite restaurants in Wichita and tell me what she likes to eat there.
She was excited to do it, but also a bit worried. She has so many favorites, and many of Wichita’s restaurant owners have become friends. What if someone felt left out?
She insisted that I list her picks alphabetically, just so no one could accuse her of liking one more than the other.
Here they are: Lynn Marshall’s favorite Wichita restaurants and what she orders there. Note: Her list remains intact, despite her daughter Maggie’s attempts to edit it for her.
Bomber Burger, 4860 S. Clifton: If anyone can handle the salty owner of this famous Wichita hole-in-the-wall burger joint, it’s Lynn Marshall. After she discovered the restaurant, owned by the outspoken and uncensored Chris Rickard, it quickly became one of her favorites, and Rickard knows what Lynn wants when she comes in: the Gumby Burger, topped with jalapenos and guacamole. He also knows she wants a Dos Equis with her burger. “Chris just says, ‘Dos?’” Lynn said. “And I say, ‘Dos.’”
Bricktown Brewery, 2035 N. Rock Road: This restaurant holds a special place in Lynn’s heart because it’s part of her pre-game ritual. Before each home Shockers game, she and some friends meet there for dinner and sit at a special table in the bar. She usually just orders chicken nuggets with celery and carrots because she’s too nervous to eat, she sad.
Chester’s Chophouse, 1550 N. Webb Road: People who dine at high-end restaurant Chester’s Chophouse will frequently spot the Marshalls there. It’s one of their favorite restaurants, and once, while dining there, they even got to meet one of Gregg’s favorite actors: Harrison Ford. Lynn’s favorite dish at Chester’s is a KC Strip cooked Pittsburgh style, which leaves it charred on the outside but pink on the inside. She’s also game to try any of Chef Bobby Lane’s fish specials.
Dempsey’s Burger Pub, 3700 E. Douglas, 550 N. Rock Road: Lynn says Dempsey’s is one of her favorite hangouts, and she is able to satisfy her Buffalo chicken sauce craving with the restaurant’s Buffalo Bird, a chicken sandwich topped with a blue cheese cream spread and Buffalo sauce. She and Gregg also always get a half order regular fries and a half order of fire fries, which are tossed with chili oil and chili pepper flakes.
District Taqueria, 917 E. Douglas: Lynn likes the vibe at this downtown taqueria, and a friend turned her on to the restaurant’s Torta Ahogada, an occasional special that features barbacoa and roasted pork served inside a fork-and-knife sandwich that’s drowned in a spicy chili broth.
Doo-Dah Diner, 1530 S. Webb Road: The Marshalls have long been fans of Doo-Dah Diner owners Patrick and Timirie Shibley, who for years have catered pre-game meals for the basketball team. The couple was among the guests at the restaurant’s recent soft opening of its new location at 1530 S. Webb Road. Lynn says that her favorite dish there is pork belly, which Gregg calls “the filet mignon of bacon.” It’s a favorite of Chef Patrick, who serves it with grits, with eggs, on top of waffles, etc.
Flint Hills National Golf Club Clubhouse, #1 Flint Hills Drive: Lynn loves the little eatery inside the club where she frequently goes to hone her golf game. They serve amazing cheeseburgers she said, and one of the staff members visits a secret tomato stand in Rose Hill to get the tomatoes to top them. Also, she says, “the breakfast is ridiculous.” Ridiculous in a good way.
Georges French Bistro, 4618 E. Central: Lynn loves Georges, and she especially loves all the servers at Georges, who she considers top-rate and professional. She usually orders the Trout Amandine and also is a big fan of all the restaurant’s soups, especially its tomato and French onion. When she visits with friends, she orders a baguette of bread, and she’s careful to warn them that the baguette is just hers. If they want bread, too, they’d better order their own.
Greystone Steak and Seafood, 9719 E. 21st: Lynn always gets the marinated rib eye, which has a Hawaiian flair and is served with a slice of grilled pineapple on top.
Hog Wild Pit BBQ: One of the Marshalls’ best buddies in town is Hog Wild owner T.D. O’ Connell, and Lynn loves his restaurant for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes killer ribs, and she often gets a giant plate of them to herself. But she also loves their catering, and the restaurant also frequently serves the Shocker players. “When it comes to feeding our team, they do such a good job,” Lynn said.
Il Vicino, 4817 E. Douglas, 2132 N. Rock Road: Lynn loves both locations of this restaurant, and she really loves its Penne Alfredo with shrimp.
Molino’s, 1064 N. Waco: She hasn’t found much she doesn’t like on the menu of this popular Wichita Mexican restaurant. But Lynn’s favorites are the queso fundido, which is a cheese dip served flaming, and the elote, a corn dish made with mayonnaise and cream. “I like everything, but those two are the best,” she said.
Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway: The owner of Saigon, Hanh Bui, appears to be as big a fan of Lynn as she is of him. Fletcher introduced her to the Vietnamese restaurant, and it’s now one of her favorites. She usually gets #49, noodles with chicken. But Saigon’s egg rolls are one of her favorite indulgences, and she can’t get enough of them. Bui also has gotten Lynn hooked on the restaurant’s hot tea and on its cafe sua. He always hands her a Styrofoam cup full of the Vietnamese iced coffee when she comes in.
Sport Burger, 134 N. Hillside: Lynn loves this tiny burger joint’s basic burgers, which are just $1.49 apiece, and she loves gazing at the restaurant’s sinful cheese fries. “I would like to get the cheese fries, but I never do,” she said. “Maggie does.”
Stroud’s, 3661 N. Hillside: The chicken is great, Lynn says. But she mostly fell in love with Stroud’s because of its attention to detail when catering. The restaurant frequently feeds the Shocker players, and they never get it wrong, Lynn said. “They never forget anything.” One of the things they never forget to bring: a serving of catfish just for Lynn.
Wine Dive, 4714 E. Douglas: This restaurant has one of Lynn’s favorite outdoor patios, and she has several funny stories about things she’s seen while dining there. When it comes to dining, she loves the restaurant’s mahi mahi.
Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, 1725 E. Douglas: It’s hard for Lynn to name one thing she likes at Tanya’s because she likes it all. What she orders depends on what the special is that day, she said. “I love all their soups and sandwiches.”
Ziggy’s, three Wichita locations: This restaurant is an obvious choice for Lynn and helps satisfy her buffalo chicken obsession. She always orders their Buffalo Chick Town sandwich with Ranch dressing. Required: Another side of Ranch to dip it in.